The demand for professional employees within the criminal justice system is expected to increase at a rate faster than the average for other occupations despite a projected crime rate within the United States reported by preliminary FBI statistics for 2010. Job prospects for workers who uphold social control, deter and mitigate crime, or workers who sanction those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts are dependent upon government funding and the number of individuals facing criminal penalties. Most criminal justice jobs require an associates degree, bachelors degree, or masters degree as a prerequisite for employment. Compliments of internet technology, many students may obtain degrees necessary for employment through online courses without leaving their present job or family responsibilities while earning their degree.

As job prospects in various sectors of criminal justice are expected to be competitive, particularly for jobs within State and Federal agencies, finding an online criminal justice degree program depends largely upon a student’s needs and preferences. To assist in the selection process, we’ve put together a list of the best accredited colleges and universities offering the most marketable and reputable online criminal justice degree programs in 2011. The following list of the top online schools for criminal justice degrees also offers a variety of course concentrations suited to facilitate a wide range of career possibilities within criminal justice:

1. Colorado Technical University Online

Colorado Technical University (CTU) was founded in 1965 with it’s main campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. CTU is a private institution for higher learning with maintains not only its main campus but also campuses in Denver, Pueblo, and Westminster, with out of state campuses located in North Kansas city, Missouri, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Ownership of CTU was assumed by the Whitman Education Group, Inc. in March of 1996 and in July of 2003, Career Education Corporation assumed CTU after merging with Whitman Education Group, Inc. CTU allows students the opportunity to complete a number of accredited undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees based in business, management, and technology. CTU has been a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) and The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has accredited CTU regionally since 1980. Many of CTU’s on campus and online programs are accredited by state and industry organizations. In addition to on campus studies, CTU offers many online degree programs for students nationwide who may finish their degree largely or entirely online. Depending upon the path a student chooses, CTU offers students multiple options to completing a degree. For those seeking an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice CTU provides online programs specifically tailored to those with job or family responsibilities and also offers a master’s degree program in management with a concentration in criminal justice. Though each criminal justice degree program is tailored to suit a student’s path, most programs include: investigation and law enforcement, law and courts, parole and juvenile justice, homeland security, and public administration.

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2. Keiser University eCampus

Keiser University is a formerly for profit, presently private university founded as the Keiser School in 1977 by Arthur Keiser and his mother, Evelyn, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Keisers created the school to accommodate growth and training for employment eligibility in regional business and healthcare communities. The university quickly expanded with the addition of paralegal and computer programs in 1982 and the school assumed the name of the Keiser Institute of Technology. Just four years later, the school awarded students with associates degres and became Keiser College. In 2001, Keiser began its first bachelor degree programs and five years later became Keiser University with 14 campuses throughout Florida, including its main campus in Fort Lauderdale and campuses located within Fort Myers, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Kendall, Lakeland, Melbourne, Orlando, Pembroke Pines, Port St. Lucie, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa, and West Palm Beach. By 2009, Keiser grew to accommodate 17,000 students offering over 50 programs accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and schools for students seeking associate, bachelor, masters, or doctoral degrees. Keiser’s online degree programs offer flexibility, practicality, financial aid for those who qualify, and a highly personalized learning experience for students with day, evening, and online classes. Keiser’s criminal justice programs offer degrees at associates, bachelors, and master’s degree levels as well as personalized attention and career placement services. Students who graduate with an associate’s degree often find entry level employment in the field of law enforcement. Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree often gain middle level management positions in multiple criminal service occupations. Keiser’s online criminal justice degree programs are specifically tailored for students with job or family responsibilities seeking to achieve personal and/or professional goals necessary for employment in the field of criminal justice. Courses for students enrolled in criminal justice include: introduction to criminal justice, introduction to corrections, introduction to law enforcement, introduction to juvenile procedures, criminology, criminal law, criminal investigations, and criminal procedures.

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3. Everest University Online

Everest University, formerly Florida Metropolitan University, was founded in 1999 with several campuses located within the state of Florida in the United States. As a for profit university, Florida Metropolitan University began in Tampa with merely five course offerings and quickly expanded to many on campus and online campus programs by 2007 when the university became known as Everest University Online. The Everest University System quickly became one of the largest educational institutions within the U.S. and Canada offering a diverse, student focused, variety of degrees. Everest presently offers career specific associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in business, accounting, information systems, and criminal justice. Everest gives students the opportunity for highly personalized support, many career oriented courses, skilled instruction offered by professionals, and flexible scheduling suited for any day, night, weekend, or online programs. Everest is a great choice for students seeking training to base a career in the field of criminal justice. Everest offers an associate’s degree of applied science in criminal justice for individuals seeking employment in security or corrections. Everest offers two bachelor degree programs for those preparing for entry level or middle management positions in criminal justice occupations. Everest’s Bachelor of Applied Science degree provides graduates with a solid educational background allowing for secure, entry level or middle management security or corrections careers. Everest’s Bachelor of Science degree provides students with necessary training for middle or higher level positions in a multitude of criminal justice occupations. Courses for criminal justice degree offerings at Everest include: interview and interrogations, criminal evidence, criminal procedure, criminal investigations, criminal justice communications, introduction to terrorism, and introduction to corrections.

4. University of Phoenix

The University of Phoenix was founded by John Sperling within Phoenix, Arizona in 1976. Sperling created the for profit institute for higher learning because “working adult students were often invisible on traditional campuses and treated as second class citizens.” The university began with just 8 students and within two years expanded to San Jose, California. During 1989, the University began its first online programs and quickly grew to over 200 campuses worldwide offering more than 100 programs at the associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degree levels. The University presently has the second largest student body within North America with an enrollment of 420,700 undergraduate students, 78,000 graduate students, and 224,880 full time students. The University provides students with an open enrollment admission policy, requiring only a high school diploma or GED as well as advanced placement opportunities for associate or bachelor degree applicants who qualify upon completing previous learning assessment, previous coursework, experiential learning essays, corporate training, licensing, or certificate qualifications. The University has highly personalized, career specific online programs for students with job or family responsibilities who seek to expand their skills and careers. For students seeking to expand training within criminal justice degree fields, the University offers an associate of arts, bachelor of science and master of science in criminal justice administration and security. Students learn how to develop leadership skills for occupations in law enforcement, corrections, the criminal court system, and security by experienced facility in the form of chiefs of police, sheriffs, district attorneys, special agents, security executives, and wardens. Courses for students within the University’s College of Criminal Justice and Security allow students to concentrate in Criminal Justice Administration, Organization Security and Management, and Administration of Justice and Security to ensure successful careers in security.

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5. American Intercontinental University

American Intercontinental University (AIU) was first known as the American Fashion College of Switzerland. Founded in 1970 by Atlanta, Georgia, natives Jack and Helen Barnette within Lucerne, Switzerland, the school was quickly recognized as an American degree awarding, for profit institute for higher learning one year after its founding. In 1974, the school began offering associate and bachelor degree programs and two years later expanded to open a campus within Atlanta. Within four years, the Lucerne campus went to London and became the American College for the Applied Arts with over 300 students enrolled and expanded its course offerings to include business fields. Presently AIU offers many undergraduate and graduate programs with fields in business, IT, criminal justice, and fashion design with over a 24,000 student enrollment. Over 80 percent of AIU’s students are enrolled in online programs through AIU Online, an internet based online campus that awards degrees upon completion of a 100% online program of study. Online students may advance their professional or personal goals through a variety of programs developed to ensure future success. AIU offers online an associates degree in business administration concentrated in criminal justice and bachelor of science degrees concentrated in forensics, law enforcement, and special populations for those seeking careers in criminal justice. Courses through AIU Online focus upon specializing knowledge and skills based in current industry standards for occupations within court, correctional, or law enforcement systems.

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6. Columbia Southern University

Columbia Southern University (CSU) was founded by Dr. Robert G. Mayes, Sr. in Orange Beach, Alabama during 1993. CSU is an online only, privately owned higher education institute which began awarding degrees in Environmental Engineering and Occupational Safety and Health in 1994. Two years later, CSU added additional degree programs in business administration, computer science, criminal justice administration, fire science, information technology, and health administration. In 2001 CSU’s programs were accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council and the Higher Education Transfer Alliance (HETA). CSU is well recognized as being the first of eight online institutions to offer a Doctorate In Business Administration. CSU is also one of Delta Airlines’ six academic partners and one of 140 institutions providing tuition assistance through GoArmyEd, the U.S. Army’s central tuition assistance portal. CSU was developed to allow students to balance family or work responsibilities while providing many quality educational programs. Students interested in a criminal justice degree may enroll in an associates, bachelors, or master degree program specifically designed by professions within the field. Course offerings for CSU online include: theory and practices of law enforcement, theory and practices of corrections, juvenile delinquency, criminology, criminal law, and judicial process.

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7. Virginia College

Virginia College is a private for profit educational institution founded in Roanoke, Virginia during 1983. As a propriety college, Virginia College offers degrees related to specific careers and occupations. In 1989, Virginia College was acquired by Education Futures, Inc. and just 3 years later opened it’s first branch campus in Birmingham, Alabama. A second campus followed during April 1993 in Huntsville, Alabama, with several other campuses located throughout the Southeastern U.S., including online degree programs. Virginia college offers certificates, diplomas, and degrees for students interested in health and medical, information technology, business, office management, and criminal justice careers. Students with job or family responsibilities interested in criminal justice related careers may gain associate, bachelor, or master degrees in law enforcement, courts, juvenile justice, parole, corrections, and the private sector through programs available online. Virginia College’s online criminal justice program includes courses designed to allow students to shape their education to achieve their educational and career goals though as a non regionally accredited institution, many credits students earn will not transfer.

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8. Kaplan University

Kaplan University was originally founded as the American Institute of Commerce in 1937 before changing its name to Quest College. The American Institute of Commerce was established in 1937 before changing its name to Quest College. In 2004, Quest was purchased by the Davenport, Iowa based Kaplan University with main administration located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Kaplan began offering multiple levels of degree programs as a for profit institution with an open admissions policy and expanded to 10 campuses in Iowa, Nebraska, and Maryland. Kaplan also offers online support centers to students based from locations in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona. Students seeking certification or associates, bachelors, masters, degrees in education, business, information, technology, arts and sciences, healthcare, nursing, criminal justice, and law. Kaplan students who meet qualifications may receive federal student loans and Pell grants. Kaplan offers online instruction to over 66,000 online and on campus students with over 3,600 qualified professors who are licensed and practicing in their fields. Kaplan is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has membership to the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Students with an interest in criminal justice occupations must meet weekly course assignments and examinations upon completing live seminars, PowerPoint presentations, and audio lectures. Courses include: critical legal issues in criminal justice, criminological theory, organization behavior, applied action research in criminal justice, and action research project in criminal justice.

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10. Salem International University

Salem International University (SIU) is a private learning institute based in Salem, West Virginia. Founded by the Seventh Day Baptist Church as Salem College during December 1888, the school merged with Teikyo in 1889 to expand internationally and was renamed Salem-Teikyo University. During 2000, the alliance ended and the institute was bought out by investors based in Singapore. The school assumed the name Salem International University and 5 years later was bought out by Slalem Education LLC. SIU is well known as a liberal arts, teacher education, and nursing college. SIU enrolls 835 undergraduate and graduate students and offers a unique learning atmosphere complete with specialized training and a variety of certificate and degree options. SIU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. SIU allows students to complete their studies more rapidly than most other traditional or online universities by delivering programs via a monthly format to increase accessibility and effectiveness for students with work, time, or family constraints. Most associate degree programs offered by SIU require only a 20 month time investment, with bachelor degree programs requiring only 40 months, and graduate programs requiring only 12 months since classes are only 4 weeks long. SIU’s degree programs offer those interested in a career in criminal justice with job or family responsibilities, an effective way to earn their Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice via online programs in a relatively short period of time. Courses include: administration of justice, criminal law, criminal evidence and constitutional procedure, police operations, corrections systems, juvenile corrections, criminal investigation and forensics, use of technology in criminal justice, international perspectives on criminal justice, white collar crime, criminology, constitutional law, substance and ethical issues in criminal justice.

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