Anyone searching the internet for an online criminal justice program is likely to come across a number of search results for criminology degrees. Often, the terms are used interchangeably. In fact, when asked their area of study, many criminal justice majors will answer criminology. And depending on their school, they might not be wrong. Some schools don’t distinguish between the two terms and will sometimes combine the two subjects into one program. While they are both related, the truth is that criminal justice and criminology are two very different fields of study. At its most basic, the term criminal justice refers to how laws are made and enforced. It deals with the systems that have been established as a result of crime, such as the court and prison systems. Criminology is the study of crime itself, the sociological and psychological aspects, as well as the means of preventing it. The research of criminologists helps create the responses to crime that are then carried out by criminal justice professionals.

So while they are interconnected pieces of a larger field, using the terms interchangeably could have a negative effect on your studies, depending on your desired career path. You could think you are studying for one career, only to find out that you’re qualifying yourself for a completely different one instead. Because of this, we here at CJD.net wanted to apply our extensive research and ranking system to not only online criminal justice degrees, but also to criminology and other related degrees and concentrations.

Using the same methodology used to create our list of the top four criminal justice programs, we researched all of the available online criminology and related degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. After applying several key metrics that examined areas such as accreditation, value, reputation, faculty, student resources, and graduation rates, we narrowed down those programs to the top 3 in each field of study. Our hope is that, regardless of your desired career, you will have the information that you need to choose the best program in the correct field to achieve that goal.

Criminology

Because of the social aspects of criminology, it shares many characteristics with a social sciences degree. Criminology majors can expect to find jobs in numerous fields, including: detective, investigator, criminal profiler, crime intelligence analyst, victim advocate, or social services case manager.

Bachelor’s Enrollment Information Tuition

#1 Florida State University

Degree Type: Bachelor of Science in Criminology

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 41,226

Retention Rate: 92%

Graduation Rate: 79%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $280.55 (above average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $786.10

Tuition Page: Link

#2 University of Florida

Degree Type: Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Law

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 49,459

Retention Rate: 96%

Graduation Rate: 88%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $129.18 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $552.62

Tuition Page: Link

#3 University of Houston – Clear Lake

Degree Type: Bachelor of Criminology

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 8,665

Retention Rate: 86%

Graduation Rate: 48%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $249.10 (above average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $703.10

Tuition Page: Link

Master’s Enrollment Information Tuition

#1 Western Kentucky University

Degree Type: Master of Arts in Criminology

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 20,171

Retention Rate: 73%

Graduation Rate: 44%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $474 ( average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#2 California University of Pennsylvania

Degree Type: Master of Arts in Applied Criminology

Institutional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 7,968

Retention Rate: 77%

Graduation Rate: 53%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $470 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $479

Tuition Page: Link

#3 Texas A&M University – Commerce

Degree Type: Master of Science in Applied Criminology

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 8,665

Retention Rate: 86%

Graduation Rate: 48%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $345.66 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $735.66

Tuition Page: Link

Cybersecurity/Information Security

Cybersecurity and information security degrees prepare students to defend digital information and computer networks from cyber-attacks and theft. Degree holders are qualified for jobs such as network security analyst, IT specialist, military intelligence computer specialist, and cryptographer, among many others.

Bachelor’s Enrollment Information Tuition

#1 Champlain College

Degree Type: Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security

Institutional Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 3,585

Retention Rate: 80%

Graduation Rate: 57%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $641.45 (above average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#2 Dakota State University

Degree Type: Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 3,047

Retention Rate: 65%

Graduation Rate: 41%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $325.25 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $450

Tuition Page: Link

#3 Felician College

Degree Type: Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

Institutional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 1,953

Retention Rate: 79%

Graduation Rate: 36%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $670 (average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

Master’s Enrollment Information Tuition

#1 City University of Seattle

Degree Type: Master of Science in Information Security

Institutional Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) (verification)

Program Accreditation: The Information Assurance Courseware Evaluation (IACE) Program of the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 2,545

Retention Rate: 82%

Graduation Rate: 65%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $565 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#2 University of South Florida

Degree Type: Master of Science in Cybersecurity

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 41,938

Retention Rate: 89%

Graduation Rate: 67%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $481.43 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $927.17

Tuition Page: Link

#3 Knowledge Systems Institute

Degree Type: Master of Science in Information Security

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC-NCA) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 193

Retention Rate: 62%

Graduation Rate: 50%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $480 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

Information Assurance

The difference between information security and information assurance in very similar to the difference between criminal justice and criminology. Put simply, information security deals with the systems in place to combat cyber-attacks and protect sensitive information. Information assurance assess the overall risks and vulnerabilities of a corporation, institution, or system and puts together a strategy and management plan to minimize them. Like criminologists versus criminal justice majors, assurance analysts deal with the cause, while security specialists deal with the effects.

(Note: There were few quality online information assurance programs available, and none of them met our thresholds for ranking. Therefore, we have only ranked graduate IA programs.)

Master’s Enrollment Information Tuition

#1 Iowa State University

Degree Type: Masters of Science in Information Assurance

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 34,435

Retention Rate: 86%

Graduation Rate: 69%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $530 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#2 Capitol Technology University

Degree Type: Master of Science in Information Assurance

Institutional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 793

Retention Rate: 75%

Graduation Rate: 41%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $571 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#3 University of Detroit Mercy

Degree Type: Master of Science in Information Assurance

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 4,945

Retention Rate: 81%

Graduation Rate: 54%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $779 (above average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

Forensics

Forensics is the hard science aspect of crime solving. Typical jobs include medical examiner, crime laboratory analyst, crime scene examiner, forensic engineer, academic assistance (psychological profiles, social science, statistics), or technical assistance (computer/digital analyst, polygraph, composite drawing). More and more, schools are dropping their undergraduate programs in forensics, instead encouraging students to earn an applicable science degree first, and then apply the study of forensics to it at the graduate level. Therefore, we have only ranked master’s programs.

Master’s Enrollment Information Tuition

#1 Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences

Degree Type: Master of Science in Forensic Science

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Program Accreditation: Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 664

Retention Rate: 81%

Graduation Rate: 61%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $585.51 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1152.97

Tuition Page: Link

#2 La Salle University

Degree Type: Master of Science in Economic Crime Forensics

Institutional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 6,242

Retention Rate: 81%

Graduation Rate: 66%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $760 (above average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#3 Carlow Unversity

Degree Type: Master of Science in Fraud and Forensics

Institutional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 193

Retention Rate: 62%

Graduation Rate: 50%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $785 (above average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

Homeland Security

Since the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, many schools have created specialized degree programs in their criminal justice departments to support the aim of the DHS, which is to protect the population from all manner of threats, either foreign or domestic, man-made or natural. Degree holders obtain jobs in counter-terrorism, emergency management and preparedness, information security, and local, state, or federal law enforcement.

Bachelor’s Enrollment Information Tuition

#1 Clayton State University

Degree Type: Bachelor of Applied Science in Homeland Security/Emergency Management

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 7,022

Retention Rate: 67%

Graduation Rate: 33%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $220 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#2 Regis University

Degree Type: Bachelor of Applied Science with a Concentration in Homeland Security

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 9,208

Retention Rate: 78%

Graduation Rate: 59%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $460 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#3 Mercy College

Degree Type: Bachelor of Science in Corporate and Homeland Security

Institutional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 11,272

Retention Rate: 66%

Graduation Rate: 29%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $582.20 (above average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

Master’s Enrollment Information Tuition

#1 Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

Degree Type: Master of Fire Service and Homeland Security Management

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 17,989

Retention Rate: 68%

Graduation Rate: 44%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $476.60 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#2 Arkansas Tech University

Degree Type: Master of Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

Student Population: 12,002

Retention Rate: 67%

Graduation Rate: 45%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $274 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $543 (except for states contiguous to Arkansas, which pay in-state rate)

Tuition Page: Link

#3 Salve Regina University

Degree Type: Master of Science in Administration of Justice and Homeland Security

Institutional Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 2,739

Retention Rate: 84%

Graduation Rate: 67%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $490 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

Police Studies/Law Enforcement

A police studies or law enforcement degree is a specialized concentration in the field of criminal justice for those seeking to join the police force, or for those already in law enforcement and wishing to advance their careers. As a growing number of law enforcement agencies are requiring a college degree for employment, a police studies degree can be the key to obtaining police officer, sheriff’s deputy, correctional officer, or criminal investigator jobs.

Bachelor’s Enrollment Information Tuition

#1 Ottawa University

Degree Type: Bachelor of Arts in Law Enforcement

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 1,626

Retention Rate: 63%

Graduation Rate: 31%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $490 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

#2 Philadelphia University

Degree Type: Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement Leadership

Institutional Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 3,762

Retention Rate: 79%

Graduation Rate: 66%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $680 (above average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link

#3 Tiffin University

Degree Type: Bachelor of Criminal Justice in Law Enforcement

Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (verification)

Department Website: Link

Recommendation: Fully recommended through the CJD.net rating methodology

Institution Type: Private, non-profit

Student Population: 4,100

Retention Rate: 62%

Graduation Rate: 39%

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $440 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Tuition Page: Link