Top Low-Cost Online Bachelor’s in Criminology

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online criminology degree

A top low-cost online bachelor’s in criminology prepares graduates to work as a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist. These professionals earn a median $55,690 annual salary. This salary allows workers to live comfortably in most parts of the United States. BLS projects the profession to grow 4% from 2019-2029, about as fast as the average projected growth rate for all U.S. jobs. 

A college degree remains a sound financial investment despite rising tuition. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that professionals with a bachelor’s earn approximately $350 more weekly than their peers with an associate degree. The salary gap only widens for workers with only some college education or a high school diploma. Earning more equates to a better quality of life and the ability to save for a home and retirement. 

A bachelor’s in criminology also qualifies workers to apply to a master’s in social work, psychology, or criminal justice program. A master’s degree increases salary potential and may make professionals eligible for a promotion.

Recent high school graduates and prospective nontradiational college students should explore online education’s benefits. Many online bachelor’s in criminology degrees offer an asynchronous curriculum. Learners complete coursework around their busy schedule, such as working full time or raising children.

Methodology

In our search for the best online kinesiology bachelor’s degree programs, we applied our standard rating and ranking methodology, using tuition to break any ties.


Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Criminology

#1 — University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

  • Tuition: $129/credit in-state; $553/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

UF’s top low-cost online bachelor’s in criminology features a 120-credit curriculum with required courses in law and society, advanced principles of criminal justice, and criminological theory. Graduation requirements include an exit exam and an extended research paper.

UF degree-seekers work with an advisor to select electives such as introduction to law enforcement, media and crime, and juvenile justice. Learners may explore courses in other departments and pursue a second major or minor.

#2 — Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

  • Tuition: $180/credit in-state; $686/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

FSU’s bachelor’s in criminology program requires no on-campus visits, making it appealing to prospective learners worldwide. Learners take courses part time, and the flexible curriculum allows them to double major. Applicants should already possess an associate degree from an accredited community or junior college.

FSU’s top low-cost online bachelor’s in criminology features an optional internship. Participants work 20-40 hours per week at an approved job site. Interns must possess junior or senior status and a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA. Internship sites change each semester but may include the U.S. Probation Office or the Institute for Intergovernmental Research.

#3 — Portland State University

Portland, Oregon

  • Tuition: $279/credit in-state and out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

PSU features an online BA and BS in criminology. Both offer five-week courses, making this top low-cost online bachelor’s in criminology an excellent choice for accelerated degree-seekers. Courses include policing in America, American courts, and criminal law and legal reasoning. Students explore unique electives, such as applied crime mapping and geographic criminology.

PSU keeps degree-seekers on track for graduation by providing learners with a guaranteed spot in all major courses. Other student success initiatives include advisors available to learners during regular business hours. The University Career Center website curates the latest internships and publishes guides covering application tips, as well.

#4 — University of Nebraska at Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska

  • Tuition: $259/credit in-state; $534/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

UNO’s criminology program features four learning outcomes, including mastering core topics, analyzing policy, and synthesizing information. Students select electives to hone these skills, such as law and the black community and writing for criminal justice. Learners work with an advisor to create a unique concentration, and the flexible curriculum allows for a minor.

Students choose a capstone experience. Options include a 160-hour internship at an approved job site. Other degree-seekers complete an original research project or take an upper-division course in comparative justice systems.

#5 — Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, Texas

  • Tuition: $244/credit in-state; $653/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

SHSU’s program comes as a BA or a BS. Electives include cybercrime, forensic science, and child abuse and neglect. Incoming freshmen may take general education courses entirely online or in a hybrid format. SHSU graduates work as a police officer, probation officer, or lawyer.

Criminology students enhance their educational experience by signing up for an internship course. Potential internship sites include local law enforcement, INTERPOL, and the FBI. Other enrichment opportunities involve minoring in a related subject, such as communication studies, psychology, or information assurance.

#6 — Arkansas State University

Jonesboro, Arkansas

  • Tuition: $258/credit in-state and out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

Students enrolling in A-State’s criminology program has several annual start dates, personalized attention from professors, and an asynchronous curriculum. The degree confers a BA and features coursework in social justice, the methods of social research, and institutional corrections. The program provides 22-34 free elective credits, allowing degree-seekers to complete a minor in a related field.

A-State’s top low-cost online bachelor’s in criminology offers over 30 major electives. Students select seven, including American municipal government, collective behavior, and world population and society. Degree-seekers preparing for graduate school admissions complete either an independent study project intern with a local law enforcement agency.

#7 — Ball State University

Muncie, Indiana

  • Tuition: $449/credit in-state; $661/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

Students choose Ball State’s top low-cost online bachelor’s in criminology for the program’s three concentration options, each offering unique directed electives. Learners select corrections and human behavior, psychology and the legal system, or law enforcement. Required courses for all degree-seekers include decision-making and ethics in criminal justice, criminal law, and research methods in criminal justice.

The criminology program’s capstone in criminal justice asks students to apply research methods when analyzing data. The skills degree-seekers build in this course allow them to draw conclusions and make recommendations from crime statistics. Seniors take this course alongside data analytics majors.

#8 — Maryville University

St. Louis, Missouri

  • Tuition: $500/credit in-state and out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

Maryville’s criminology program offers courses in sexual violence and aggression, special studies, and criminological theory. Local students preparing for a career as a police officer earn credit by undergoing training at the St. Louis County Municipal Police Academy. Full-time learners graduate in fewer than four years, and 96% of alumni find a job within six months of earning a degree.

The university’s low-cost online bachelor’s in criminology offers more than rigorous coursework. Upperclassmen apply what they learned in the classroom in an optional 145-hour internship experience. Other capstone experiences include an independent study project leading to an extended essay.

#9 — St. Joseph’s College-New York

Brooklyn, New York; Long Island, New York

  • Tuition: $655/credit in-state and out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

SJCNY undergraduates earn a BS in criminal justice practice and policy. The major focuses on evidence-based practices, providing learners with the tools necessary to succeed in a dynamic work setting. Required courses include crime analysis and policy, quantitative applications for criminal justice, and law enforcement and policing.

SJCNY prepares students for graduate study or a career by offering courses in writing for effective communication and library research strategies. The senior-year capstone seminar requires degree-seekers to analyze foundational criminal justice texts and write a research paper. Learners use this paper as part of a job or graduate school application portfolio.

#10 — University of West Georgia

Carrollton, Georgia

  • Tuition: $182/credit in-state; $643/credit out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

UWG’s criminology degree allows accelerated degree-seekers to graduate in just three years if they take courses during the summer terms. The program also accepts up to 90 transfer credits, making it an excellent option for prospective learners with an associate degree. Coursework asks students to analyze social science and the legal system, research methodology, and criminal law.

Some students intern with a local law enforcement agency, while learners preparing for graduate school write a senior thesis. All degree-seekers develop a job or graduate school application portfolio in the required capstone course.

#11 — Missouri State University

Springfield, Missouri

  • Tuition: $8,294/year in-state; $16,498/year out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

MSU’s degree-seekers earn a BS in criminology and criminal justice. Students complete coursework in introduction to the American criminal justice system, policing, and criminal law and the courts. Research methods in criminology provides learners with the analytical and hypothesis formulation skills detectives and other law enforcement professionals need on the job. Some courses rotate based on demand.

The senior seminar asks degree-seekers to evaluate ethical issues facing criminal justice professionals and institutions. Learners report findings in an extended essay. Other graduation requirements include an exit exam.

#12 — Coker University

Hartsville, South Carolina

  • Tuition: $425/credit in-state and out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous and synchronous

Students in Coker’s online bachelor’s in criminology program prepare for a career or graduate school by taking courses in substance abuse, corrections, and white-collar crime. Many courses allow degree-seekers to learn alongside their peers majoring in psychology or sociology. Coker graduates work as a child welfare specialist, corrections officer, or evidence technician.

Seniors attain hands-on experience and enhance their resume by taking a 3-6-credit practicum in criminology course. Requirements include interning full time with a local law enforcement or criminal justice agency. Students and their work supervisor provide updates to professors through e-mail and live video conferencing.

#13 — Mount St. Mary’s University

Emmitsburg, Maryland

  • Tuition: $44,088/year in-state and out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

The Mount has a 124-credit criminology curriculum that includes 39 credits of major courses. For example, the dynamics of majority-minority relations, human rights, and juvenile delinquency. Students select six criminal justice electives, such as human trafficking and ethical dilemmas in criminology.

The criminology major culminates with a senior year capstone experience. Requirements include interning at a local law enforcement agency, performing original research, and developing a professional portfolio. Professors help learners select a suitable internship site. Students also write a theory application paper.

#14 — University of Mount Olive

Mount Olive, North Carolina

  • Tuition: $21,618/year in-state and out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

UMO awards experiential learning credit to learners with relevant knowledge and skills. Required courses within the school’s top low-cost online bachelor’s in criminology program include court systems and processes and criminal justice administration.

The senior research project allows learners to demonstrate mastery of content knowledge and research skills. Students produce an extended essay resembling a master’s thesis. Degree-seekers further prepare for a career by completing a 240-hour internship at an approved law enforcement agency. Learners interested in interning must submit a detailed proposal.

#15 — Kentucky Wesleyan College

Owensboro, Kentucky

  • Tuition: $455/credit in-state and out-of-state
  • Delivery Format: Asynchronous

Wesleyan offers a bachelor’s in criminology with courses in critical issues in policing, forensic psychology, and courts and procedure. Learners who sign up for the independent study course work with a professor to develop a unique reading list and personalized assignments.

Wesleyan’s criminology program features two culminating experiences. The traditional senior seminar asks students to analyze how the criminal justice system works in theory and practice. Degree-seekers also complete at least 20 hours of service learning. All Wesleyan undergraduates perform service learning to enrich their educational experience.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the study of criminology?

A: The study of criminology is deeply rooted in sociology and addresses the “why” behind crime and criminal behavior. In this broad and interdisciplinary field of study, you will also examine how these factors (plus the criminal justice system) relate to human behavior, social environments, and government policy.

Courses cover topics like:

  • the causes and consequences of criminal behavior
  • the structure and functions of the criminal justice system
  • how societies and individuals react to crimes 
  • the geographical elements related to crime and poverty
  • criminal justice policymaking

Q: What concentrations are available in this discipline?

A: A concentration is a focused area of study within your criminology degree. Typically this means that you will take several courses in a specific area within the larger context of your degree. These classes are usually taken within the department of your major. Some examples in this field could include the following:

  • Police
  • Corrections
  • Violence
  • Crime & Mental Health
  • Homeland Security
  • Administration
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Law & Justice
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Mental Health
  • Community Corrections
  • Technology and the Criminal Justice System

Some programs don’t offer an area emphasis but instead encourage you to choose a related minor. While a concentration will dive deeper into a sub-field of criminology and will include coursework inside your same department, a minor will branch out just a bit. A minor gives you a complement to your degree outside of your field and will create a multi-disciplinary approach to your education. Possible minors could include:

  • Information Assurance
  • Inequality and Society
  • Health and Society

However, keep in mind that these options will vary from school to school.

Q: What is the difference between criminology and criminal justice?

A: The main difference between the two is that criminology studies the anatomy of a crime (causes, consequences, etc) and criminal justice will examine how society deals with crime (like court systems, criminal prosecution, etc.). But because the two fields are so similar, you will see a lot of overlap in studies.

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