University of Central Florida

Department Information

  • Evaluation Score: 10/13,  Email Rating: A (3), Quality Rating: B (7)
  • Tuition: $228/credit in-state and $765/credit out-of-state
  • Department Website:
  • Faculty Page: Link

What we really liked

  1. Very low in-state tuition ($228/credit)
  2. 6th highest retention rate, 8th highest graduation rate*
  3. Won four Sloan Consortium awards
  4. The curriculum offers specialities like serial murder, security management, and crime mapping.
  5. Faculty includes previous a Chief of Investigations,  Director of Police Services, and a recipient of the Fulbright-Hays fellowship

*All retention and graduation rate comparisons are relative to the total 107 criminal justice programs in our original list.

This is the best online program in Florida. The only thing holding it back is its steep out-of-state tuition

How was their response? Associate lecturer Mary Ann. Eastep provided a very thorough response to our questionnaire. She explains Central Florida's strengths lie with its internship opportunities:

“…local program graduates (Director of Oaks Probation Center, U.S. Probation Officer, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Immigration and Enforcement Office, Special Agent in Charge of NOAA Enforcement Office) host program interns regularly, providing networking and employment opportunities.”

And unlike many other online programs, they do not hire adjunct professors to teach their online courses:

“…we do not hire adjunct faculty to teach online courses.  The faculty that teach your courses will not be teaching the same online courses for two or three other colleges.

She also describes student resources and delivery of instruction.

“Our Center for Distributed Learning is very actively involved in the teaching and learning process.  Workshops are held on campus and online for faculty to keep current and engaged.  Our university uses the Canvas platform, which is very intuitive.  Students love it!  It is very clean and easy to adapt to phones and other devices.

What we didn't like: Very expensive out-of-state tuition ($765/credit). Although Central Florida performed nearly as well as the top programs, its price hurt its final ranking. At that price, students who are not residents of Florida probably should enroll elsewhere. However, we do believe it should be the top choice for students who are residents of Florida.

University of Oklahoma Norman Campus

Department Information

This is another solid program for criminal justice students, held back primarily by an expensive out-of-state tuition. For residents of Oklahoma, they should consider it over our #4 pick, Sam Houston State.

What we really liked

  1. Very low in-state tuition ($263/credit)
  2. 7th highest retention rate, 6th highest graduation rate
  3. 8-week long accelerated courses
  4. Primary faculty members include a representative of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and previous Chief of Police for Broken Arrow
  5. The program is created with adult learners in mind

Less expensive than #1 WSU ($570/credit) but still not as affordable as ASU ($440/credit)

How was their response? Professor Marcus Mendoza responded to our questions about the program. When asked what sets the university's criminal justice degree apart from others:

“Our  BSCJ program is set apart by the fact that we are the University of Oklahoma, a well-known, well-regarded major research university with over 100 years of pride and experience providing exceptional degree programming.”

They also emphasize hiring “professors of the profession” who are

“individuals who are either still actively engaged in law enforcement or corrections careers, or who have recently retired.”

He even explains the program is popular with out of state students as well,

“I can tell you that we have police officers and corrections officers who have graduated from our program in several states. We have a large contingent of Las Vegas Police Department officers in our program, for example.”

What we didn't like: Not as much national ranking recognition as our other favorite programs (no mention on US News Online Bachelor's list).

University of Louisville

Department Information

The University of Louisville has a strong criminal justice program, but its high and equal resident and nonresident tuitions ($460/credit) brought down its score. It is especially notable because of its intimate connections with local state departments, which means good employment prospects for people living in Kentucky.

What we really liked

  1. Modest tuition ($460/credit)
  2. Faculty includes a former Director of the Southern Police Institute, the Southern Police Institute's current director, and a past president of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.
  3. A diverse set of elective courses and concentrations available

Because of their local reputation, if you live in or around Kentucky, this may be the best program 

How was their response? Department Chair Dr. Deborah Keeling had this to say about the industry connections attached to the program:

“Our graduates move “up” in the organizations generally faster than individuals who do not have undergraduate degrees or those with associate degrees.  We have prior students who are currently chiefs of police, individuals who progressed to the rank of warden in the prison system, our current state commissioner of corrections is one of our graduates, progression within the FBI to special agent in –charge and to assistant to the Director of the FBI”

Another point that makes the Louisville worth mentioning is the flexibility of content within its program:

“We offer a wide range of elective courses so you can “tailor” your coursework to meet your interests.”

What we didn't like: Louisville did not score as well as our top picks in the quality of its responses to our questions. 20th highest retention rate, 28th highest graduation rate (low in comparison).

Does this mean every other program on the original list is not good?

Not at all. We are aware that our ranking process is not perfect and that it may filter out otherwise good options. Sam Houston, one of our top four programs, originally was filtered out of the reviewing process because it had a lower graduation rate than the national average. But, beyond that, we loved the program. It wouldn't make sense to discredit an entire program because of one statistic.

With this in mind, we individually reviewed programs that missed the mark somewhere along our methodology. After taking into account tuition, regional reputation, and the quality of professor response from these filtered programs, we agreed there were a select few that deserve honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

For the programs below, we recommend nearby residents take advantage of their reputation with local, state and county employers. For everyone else, our top picks would be better.

The highest scoring programs that did not respond to our student inquiry 

These nine programs would have made the final group if their departments responded back to us:

  • University of Massachusetts-Lowell (our #1 budget pick)
  • Roger Williams University
  • DeSales University
  • Saint Louis University
  • California Baptist University
  • Champlain College
  • Drury University
  • University of Wisconsin-Platteville
  • Bemidji State University

Programs that were filtered out, but that we can recommend based on affordability

  • Florida International University*

*Only reported a 52% graduation rate, which is just 1% less than the national average, but very cheap in-state tuition ($155/credit) and affordable out-of-state ($333/credit).

Programs that were filtered out but deserve mentioning because of the quality of their professor response

  • University of Toledo (an outstanding response)
  • Limestone College
  • Northwestern State University of Louisiana
  • Montana State University-Northern
  • Thomas University

Programs that were filtered out but deserve mentioning because of their otherwise high score

  • Portland State University
  • Drexel
  • Lynn University


Programs that failed our thresholds, but from which we require more information before advising students to not attend, were labeled Unranked. They may, however, be perfect for certain students under the right conditions.

We advise students to still consider some of these programs if they are within their state of residence, or if they fulfill a special requirement. We explain this in further detail in our guide to choosing the right program.

Everyone else

Programs that failed our thresholds, and where there was overwhelming evidence that better programs in the state existed, were labeled Not Recommended.

We address these on schools we do not recommend.