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Online Colleges for Criminal Justice

Chances are excellent we've all encountered criminal justice graduates — while passing through airport security or interacting with those who police our streets and highways. This makes it an attractive career option for anyone with the desire to contribute to the well-being of their community or the drive to seek justice for other members of our society.

To help guide career exploration in this field, we gathered the data behind some of the best online programs for criminal justice. You'll also hear from experts in the field, learn details about types of degrees offered at these top schools and, of course, gain insights into the types of careers and roles available.

Best Online Colleges for Criminal Justice

We leveraged a range of data, including from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), to generate a quantitative snapshot of online programs in criminal justice across the U.S. This list has been generated through a unique methodology, which you can read about in more detail at the bottom of this page. Below you will find the 10 best colleges for an online degree program in criminal justice.

1

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$13,427
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
28.71%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
50
School Type
4-year

This public university founded in 1894 offers five degree concentrations for undergraduates seeking a bachelors of science in criminal justice: police, corrections, violence, crime and mental health and homeland security. For those seeking a more rapid course of study, professional certificates or graduate-level work, the university also offers:

  • An accelerated B.S. to M.A. in criminal justice and criminology
  • Three master's degree programs: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Master of Arts in Security Studies and a Master of Science in Security Studies
  • An interdisciplinary doctoral degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Six certificates: Domestic Violence Prevention, Forensic Criminology, Leadership & Policy Development, Security Studies and Victim Studies.

UMass Lowell's School of Criminology & Justice Studies earned our No. 1 ranking based on its standout affordability — No. 2 ranked overall on this metric — and a commitment to online education. This was shown by the sheer number of distance education programs offered at all subjects and levels — 50 — the second highest in the top 10. Criminal justice is also a prominent part of that online offering: Nearly 11 percent of all degrees and certificates granted were in criminal justice.

Accreditation:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Location:

1 University Avenue
Lowell, MA 01854-5104
2

Sam Houston State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,618
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
46.32%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
19
School Type
4-year

Prospective students at Sam Houston State University will have multiple tracks to consider within three broad disciplines: Criminal Justice and Criminology, Forensic Science, and Security Studies, which includes anti-terrorism. Here's more detail about the online programs and degrees offered:

Graduates of the Criminal Justice and Criminology program work directly with crime victims, most often in law enforcement or corrections. Degrees granted that are fully online or with an online component:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management
  • Master of Science in Victim Services Management
  • Master of Science in Homeland Security

Nearly 18 percent of online programs offered by SHSU are centered in criminal justice, giving it a "prominence" rank of No. 8 out of all schools studied. For those seeking specific educational opportunities in the security field, this may be a good choice. Its security studies graduates work in public and private security, intelligence, and security management, according to the school's program description.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Location:

1806 Ave J 
Huntsville, Texas 77340
3

Missouri Southern State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,877
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
41.41%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
7
School Type
4-year

For our No. 3 school, the focus is on criminal justice administration for both distance and on-campus learners. Department tenets include international perspectives to criminal justice and promoting community service. Degrees offered exclusively online are the Criminal Justice Administration bachelor's degree and the Associate of Science in Law Enforcement.

Missouri Southern State University ranked highly for affordability, coming in 29th out of 167 programs on this metric. It's also highly accessible to a wide range of students, ranking No. 12 for the number of applicants admitted and first among the top 10. It also shares a quality with the other top-ranked schools when it comes to criminal justice — degrees specific to this discipline are a significant part of the school's curriculum. At MSSU, criminal justice degrees amount to nearly 18 percent of all degrees and certificates awarded.

Accreditation:

  • The Higher Learning Commission
  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
  • Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Location:

3950 E. Newman Road
Joplin, Missouri 64801-1595
4

Westfield State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$8,815
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
30.94%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
4
School Type
4-year

Westfield State University offers a bachelor's and master's degree in criminal justice. Students can also elect a part-time track or fully online for a bachelor's in criminal justice. WSU also offers a graduate certificate in Homeland Security Studies, which requires a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite.

The school ranks the highest in the top 10 for its graduation rate -- 63 percent -- and came in No. 1 of all programs studied for its tuition affordability. Thirteen percent of degrees granted at WSU are in criminal justice. In all, 75 percent of students are admitted, making it one of the more accessible programs around.

Accreditation:

  • Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Location:

577 Western Ave.
Westfield, Massachusetts 01086-1630
5

Saint Leo University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$20,520
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
71.16%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
57
School Type
4-year

Saint Leo University offers a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice with specializations in Criminalistics and Homeland Security. The university also offers graduate-level criminal justice degrees with a range of specializations:

  • M.S. Criminal Justice - Corrections
  • M.S. Criminal Justice - Critical Incident Management
  • M.S. Criminal Justice - Behavioral Studies
  • M.S. Criminal Justice - Criminal Investigation
  • M.S. Criminal Justice - Forensic Science
  • M.S. Criminal Justice - Legal Studies

Overall, the school offers the most distance education programs — 57 — among all subjects and among all our top 10 schools, which can be a key indicator of a commitment to online learners. In all, nearly 14 percent of all Saint Leo University criminal justice degrees and certificates are in criminal justice. It's also another highly accessible program, with 72 percent of students admitted.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges
  • Schools Commission on Colleges

Location:

33701 State Road 52
Saint Leo, Floria 33574-6665
6

University of Maine at Fort Kent

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,575
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
61.26%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
8
School Type
4-year

The University of Maine at Fort Kent offers a Bachelor's of Science in Rural Public Safety Administration, Associate of Arts in Emergency Management & Homeland Security and an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice. Uniquely, the rural public safety degree is a liberal arts degree with an emphasis on governmental and nongovernmental management and public safety. Students can use this degree to launch a variety careers, including those that enforce game and conservation laws.

The programs offered at the University of Maine at Fort Kent are accessible to many students, with a 75 percent acceptance rate and nearly 13 percent of all degrees offered are within the discipline of criminal justice. But this may not be the right school for those seeking a lot of online programs to choose from — just eight degree programs — in all disciplines are offered online.

Accreditation:

  • Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • The Bachelor's of Science degree in Rural Public Safety is further accredited through the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)

Location:

23 University Drive
Fort Kent, Maine 04743-1292
7

SUNY College of Technology at Canton

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,855
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
57.20%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
10
School Type
4-year

Criminal justice degrees at SUNY College of Technology at Canton are housed within the School of Science, Health and Criminal Justice and focus on the more technology driven aspects of law enforcement and public safety.

They offer the following criminal justice degrees:

  • Bachelor's of Technology in Criminal Investigation
  • Bachelor's of Technology in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement Leadership
  • Bachelor's of Technology in Homeland Security

More than 14 percent of classes are offered on line at this State University of New York college are within the study of criminal justice. It's not quite the most affordable in terms of programs within state-run colleges or universities, ranking 45th overall, but it's highly accessible, accepting 81 percent of applicants.

Further, Canton earned a spot in our top 10 because nearly 15 percent of all degrees granted are within criminal justice.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Location:

34 Cornell Drive
Canton, New York 13617-1098
8

Chaminade University of Honolulu

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$21,780
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
48.42%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
20
School Type
4-year

The Chaminade University of Honolulu's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers associate, bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice. The master's degree focuses on criminal justice administration, which prepares students to teach in an academic setting or go on to a more advanced degree.

According to the school, it's the largest and oldest criminal justice program in Hawaii. For students looking to parlay their law enforcement experience into law school entry, Chaminade's undergraduate program has a pre-law track as well.

Chaminade ranked highly for the number of criminal justice classes offered online, a key indicator for prospective students looking for a range of distance education classes to choose from. Coming in at No. 5, more than 19 percent of online classes are in criminal justice. Acceptance is high, with 86 percent of applicants gaining admission.

However, for students seeking affordability as a top concern, Chaminade ranked the lowest in the top 10 for affordability with a No. 100 rank out of 167 schools.

Accreditation:

  • Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Location:

3140 Waialae Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816-1578
9

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,488
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
15.95%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
8
School Type
4-year

The Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville two majors and two minors within the study of criminal justice: a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a bachelor's degree in forensic investigation. Minors include law enforcement, correctional, or forensic investigation.

Platteville was the first college or university in Wisconsin to offer a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, according to the school. Students are also encouraged to take an interdisciplinary approach with minors or coursework in psychology, sociology, political science, safety, accounting, chemistry, biology, business, or computer science.

This Wisconsin school earned a place in our top 10 due to the accessibility of its programs, with 94 percent of applicants gaining admission. It's also a fairly affordable option, ranking 42nd out of our 167 schools for cost of tuition. Overall, it had the lowest concentration of criminal justice programs in relation to all degrees granted, at 9.62 percent.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

1 University Plaza
Platteville, Wisconsin 53818-3001
10

Monroe College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$14,148
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
22.22%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
15
School Type
4-year

Monroe College offers a range of criminal justice degrees, including a master's degree that can be completed in as few as four semesters:

  • Associate Degree in Criminal Justice
  • Associate Degree in Human Services
  • Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor's Degree in Human Services
  • Master's Degree in Criminal Justice

Of all the schools in our top 10, Monroe College ranks highest for its graduation rate, which stands at 53 percent. It also factors highly for the prominence of criminal justice majors, ranking #1 for the number — 25.15 percent — of degrees in criminal justice out of all degrees offered.

For students who might be able to attend classes one of the school's four locations — New Rochelle, the Bronx and Queens in New York and St. Lucia in the Caribbean — Monroe offers a unique program for students eager to gain swift entry into a police academy. Called the PASS program, it features intensive preparation for the entrance exam as well as the physical and mental requirements.

Accreditation:

  • Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

Location:

2501 Jerome Avenue
Bronx, New York 10468
Want to see additional online colleges for criminal justice?
Search our school directory to find the right program for you.

Interview with an Expert
The program strives to make the online experience equal to the classroom experience.

Dr. Mike Hulderman

Criminal Justice Department Chair

Missouri Southern State University

Interview with an Expert
Mike Hulderman

Dr. Mike Hulderman

Criminal Justice Department Chair

Missouri Southern State University

Q:  What qualities make your online criminal justice major such an outstanding program?

A:  The core curriculum and electives are frequently available online, the great value, outstanding professors, and individual attention given to students.

Q:  What support does MSSU offer their online student body?

A:  Distance learning professionals and Blackboard support team are outstanding.

Q:  How does the online criminal justice program differ from the on-campus program (if at all)?

A:  The program strives to make the online experience equal to the classroom experience. The primary difference is lack of face-to-face interaction.

Degree Overview: Criminal Justice

People who are interested in the criminal justice system can gain a deeper understanding of it through an online college for criminal justice. Whether students want to become a parole officer, court administrator, detective or paralegal, these programs can prove a valuable foundation to build a law-based career on. This section explores how that foundation is laid, discussing the coursework and skills criminal justice programs may provide.

Online Criminal Justice Courses

The following are examples of classes students may find in their department, depending on what school they enroll in.

  • Criminology: Criminology is the study of crime and criminals, and courses in this field may focus social and psychological theories of crime, types and causes of crime, social deviance, crime trends around the world, criminal law, and the characteristics of different types of offenders.
  • Forensics: Although many students become interested in forensic science because of television shows, the reality of the work they see in these courses may not always be what they expected. Topics covered might include the techniques for forensic investigations, the Federal Rules of Evidence, and evidence collection, identification and preservation. Related courses may also address forensic psychology and the role profilers play in solving crimes.
  • Victimology: Victimology courses focus on the study of crime victims and may address victims' rights, what crime victims experience as they navigate the justice system, battered-woman syndrome, the Uniform Crime Report and the consequences of being the victim of a crime.
  • Probation and parole: Students in such a course are expecting to learn how the probation and parole systems work. Possible coursework may cover house arrest, pre-sentence investigation, treatment theory and models of community-based corrections.
  • Juvenile justice: These classes covers how children are handled by the criminal justice system and may include information on delinquency prevention and intervention, the relationship between family violence and juvenile crime, childhood psychological development, and rehabilitation options.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

No matter what kind of criminal justice career graduates choose, they are likely to graduate from their criminal justice program armed with a number of useful skills to help them perform their job duties. The following are some skills that students who complete an online education for criminal justice may want to particularly focus on obtaining.

  • Ethical leadership: Students in criminal justice programs are expected to learn about the laws and ethics that professionals must abide by. This helps them to cultivate ethical leadership skills that will create their professional credibility and guide the way they make daily decisions. In particular, people who pursue parole officer careers need to act as role models to the offenders they work with, and a strong sense of ethics helps them do this.
  • Verbal communication: Criminal justice professionals must frequently speak to the public and testify in court, as well as talk to colleagues about the work they're doing. Strong verbal communication skills -- the same skills they likely used while recording oral presentations in their criminal justice programs -- help them to share information effectively in such situations.
  • Physical fitness: Criminal justice majors who want to work as police or parole officers must train physically for the rigors of dealing with suspects and convicted criminals, which may require running, jumping, climbing and physically moving people. Your education program may be online, but don't let that lull you into neglecting personal physical activity during the curriculum!

Criminal Justice Specializations

Criminal justice training academies provide instruction to those who want to obtain certain jobs in the law enforcement field. For example, prospective police officers are required to enroll in an academy to receive the basic law enforcement training they need to protect and serve their communities. During this training, students may obtain legal, patrol and criminal investigation skills. In addition, training academies may require students to learn about control tactics, firearms, first aid and CPR to receive their diploma.

While focused on criminal justice, these academies also provide training in other areas of law enforcement. Attending professionals may choose to put a greater focus on corrections work, learning how to perform tasks such as dealing with contraband, conducting searches, transporting inmates, booking someone into a jail or prison, and investigating a death inside of a correctional facility. Criminal justice training academies may also offer voluntary certifications in areas such as leadership, working with child abuse victims, alcohol enforcement and law enforcement de-escalation techniques, allowing criminal justice professionals to further specialize their careers.

Criminal Justice Career Outlook

The career outlook in the criminal justice field is strong and growing but often depends on state and local budgets. This means job openings can vary widely upon location and funding. The best job opportunities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), will go to those with a bachelor's degree, military service or those who speak another language.

Criminal Investigator
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$81,490
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
28,300
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
-1.2
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
High school diploma or equivalent

A criminal investigator is a detective who protects people, communities and property from harm by solving crimes through the collection of evidence. He or she is expected to work under intensely stressful conditions and with a great deal of physical stamina. This role can be uniformed, like a police officer, or requiring plain but professional clothing.

A typical day is anything but typical. The investigator might be collecting evidence, rushing to the scene of a crime, interviewing suspects or typing up reports. They often appear in court and are expected to testify under oath in front of a judge and/or jury.

Investigators work cases to which they are assigned and may specialize in specific crimes, such as burglaries or homicides. Since cases can come up at any time, investigators can expect to work nights and weekends.

Requirements include a high school diploma to a college degree, depending on the department and state. Investigators will be expected to undergo extensive training, often in an academy. There are many opportunities for overtime. Promotions are based on test scores and job performance.

Correctional Officer
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$46,750
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
143,000
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3.7
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
High school diploma or equivalent

Much like investigators, correctional officers work under intense and very dangerous conditions.

What's different is that correctional officers often work in closer proximity to and for longer parts of their shifts directly with criminals, some of whom can be violent or have contagious illnesses. According to the BLS: "Correctional officers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations."

The overwhelming majority of correctional officers work for federal, state, and local governments and work shifts at potentially odd hours, including weekends. All will need a high school diploma but most positions require some college coursework, especially on the federal level. Military service is a plus.

The promotional path for a correctional officer is usually to supervisor or administrator, such as the warden.

Probation Officers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$55,380
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
21,300
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3.6
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

Probation officers most typically work with people who are on probation after being released from prison or who have been given probation instead of prison. Their goal is to make sure the probationer does not commit another crime and is no longer a threat to society.

To become a probation officer you will need a bachelor's degree at minimum and will need to pass tests for mental fitness and other abilities to do the job effectively. Many probation officers study criminal justice, with some focus on social work or psychology, especially at the supervisory level, which may require a master's degree.

Probation officers work in a diverse set of environments, including going to a probationer's home or work or meeting up with a probationer's friends and family. They must also make court-imposed deadlines and supervise drug and alcohol testing.

Another name for this profession is a community supervision officer.

To advance in this field you must be dedicated as probation officers can be on call 24 hours a day. The typical path of promotion is to supervisor.

Private Detective
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$53,530
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
11,000
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
5.2
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
High school diploma or equivalent

A private detective is different from a criminal investigator. For one, they typically work for themselves or private corporations, not government agencies. Private detectives also deal with gathering evidence, not enforcing laws.

The working environment for a private detective is variable. They can be out in the field conducting surveillance or working the phones gathering background information from friends, family and colleagues.

Private investigators may not need a college degree, but most states require private detectives to be licensed. Private investigators can also specialize in such niches as forensic computer investigators, uncovering technology-related crimes.

Private detectives may also consider taking courses in psychology as strong interviewing skills are an absolute must.

The pathway to promotion for a private detective is often toward a supervisory role.

Methodologies and Sources

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer at least one degree or certificate in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on six criteria, using the weights specified:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 20%
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded by the school in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 30%
  5.  Related subjects, based on the number of similar programs that the school offers at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%
  6. Variety of degree levels, based on the number of degree and certificate levels out of a possible nine that the school offers in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 15%

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Justice. Local Police Departments, 2013: Personnel, Policies, and Practices, released May 2015, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/lpd13ppp.pdf
  2. Missouri Southern State University Course Catalog, Accessed October 2016, http://www.mssu.edu/academics/arts-sciences/criminal-justice-administration/criminal-justice-administration-courses.php
  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed October 2016: Criminal Investigators, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm; Private Detectives and Investigators; http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/private-detectives-and-investigators.htm; Correctional Officers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/correctional-officers.htm; Probation Officers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm
  4. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15 and 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  5. Schools: UMass Lowell, https://www.uml.edu/; Sam Houston State University, http://www.shsu.edu/; Missouri Southern State University, http://www.mssu.edu/; Westfield State University, https://www.westfield.ma.edu/; Saint Leo University, http://www.saintleo.edu/; University of Maine at Fort Kent, https://www.umfk.edu/; SUNY College of Technology at Canton, http://www.canton.edu/; Chaminade University of Honolulu, https://www.chaminade.edu/; University of Wisconsin-Platteville, https://www.uwplatt.edu/; Monroe College, https://www.monroecollege.edu/
  6. Criminal Justice Degrees & Classes, Kaplan University, Accessed June 2017, http://www.kaplanuniversity.edu/public-safety/criminal-justice-programs.aspx
  7. Criminal Justice Bachelor of Science, Penn State World Campus, Accessed June 2017, http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/criminal-justice-bachelors/overview
  8. Criminal Justice Degree Online, Penn Foster College, Accessed June 2017, https://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/law-enforcement/criminal-justice-bachelors-degree/program-details
  9. Bachelor of Arts in Social and Criminal Justice, Ashford University, Accessed June 2017, https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/criminal-justice/bachelor-of-arts-social-criminal-justice
  10. Career Services: Criminal Justice Skills and Related Careers, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Accessed June 2017, https://www.ipfw.edu/offices/career/students/whatmajors/criminal-justice-skills-and-related-careers.html
  11. 3 Soft Skills to Master for Criminal Justice Careers, American InterContinental University, Accessed June 2017, http://www.aiuniv.edu/blog/march-2014/3-soft-skills-for-criminal-justice-careers
  12. Experts Explain Everything You Need to Know About Careers in Criminal Justice, Rasmussen College, Accessed June 2017, http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/justice-studies/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-careers-in-criminal-justice/
  13. 5 Qualities the Best People in Criminal Justice Tend to Have, ECPI University, Accessed June 2017, https://www.ecpi.edu/blog/5-qualities-best-people-criminal-justice-tend-have
  14. http://www.nvcja.org/
  15. https://fortress.wa.gov/cjtc/www/
  16. http://www.hrcjta.org/
  17. http://www.hrcjta.org/criminal-justice-academy-courses.php
  18. https://www.uhd.edu/academics/public-service/criminal-justice-training-center/Pages/default.aspx
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Methodologies and Sources