How Much Does a Criminal Justice Degree Cost?

How Much Does a Criminal Justice Degree Cost?

Crime never takes a break: municipalities, states, and the federal government are always in need of those who are ready, willing, and able to protect and defend its citizens. The demand for people in the field of criminal justice continues to grow, leaving new jobs to be filled. If you are passionate about law enforcement, criminal investigation, forensic, legal, and corrections jobs, going back to school to earn your degree might be a great next step for you.

Taking on the financial risk of going back to school may seem a bit daunting to you, but studies continue to show that earning an associate or bachelor’s degree is always a good choice. A degree can help you secure a job with benefits and can also significantly increase the amount of money you make over your lifetime. These factors make it a great time to enroll in a criminal justice degree program and begin your new career in this field.

Once you have decided to take this leap, the biggest question on your mind is likely to be how much you will spend on a criminal justice degree. In order to answer this, there are a few factors you must keep in mind, like which type of degree is best for you and how you want to take classes.

Here are a few things to consider when researching the cost of a criminal justice degree.

An Associate Degree

An associate degree will get you through school and on the job faster. It is a great option for those who want to start a career as soon as possible. Most associate programs take around two years to complete, with a variety of different classes focusing on the core principals within the criminal justice field. An associate degree can help you earn an entry-level job and make you look more attractive to employers.

These courses typically cost less per credit hour than a bachelor’s program and will give you an advantage if you ever want to go back to school and earn additional degrees. The average annual cost for an associate degree is $21,141, according to the U.S. Department of Education. With most schools offering a two-year program, it makes an average total cost of $42,282 for your associate degree.

A Bachelor’s Degree

For those who would like to spend more time in the classroom gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience, a bachelor’s degree is a great choice. Receiving a bachelor’s degree will increase your earning potential and help you qualify for higher-level positions. These classes can introduce you to important criminal justice principals and can also give you more hands-on experience and training for the job you want.

With a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, you can tailor your degree to your interests. This allows you to take classes and learn more about specific areas like law enforcement, criminal investigations, forensics, and legal applications. Bachelor’s degrees tend to cost a little more per credit hour, but this money could be a great investment in your career. Earning a bachelor’s degree can typically range in cost from $10,700 to $31,914 annually. It is important to ask your employer if they offer any programs to help compensate you for your schooling.

Online Schools

Online colleges tend to offer a lower cost per credit hour than a traditional two- or four-year school. Students can also save money on parking and certain fees by enrolling in an online program, since they will not be visiting campus and using its resources.

Other Cost Factors

In additional to your tuition, there are other miscellaneous costs to consider when it comes to a criminal justice education. Don’t forget textbooks, technology fees, and various campus fees (including parking). Students should expect to spend anywhere from $1,000 to upwards of $3,000 for textbooks. Application fees and lab fees will also be included and vary based upon your specific specialty. Health insurance is another important consideration and expense as a college student. This can cost between $1,000 to more than $4,000 each year.

Your living expenses should also be included when you are considering the costs of your education. These expenses can vary greatly depending on where you live and what type of housing you will use. You should expect housing and meals to cost between $10,000 to $20,000 each year while you are earning your degree.


Take advantage of the different student loan programs available. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a great first step to seeing what you qualify for and how you can get funding for your criminal justice education. And don’t forget that the Imagine America Foundation offers a $1,000 tuition discount for eligible students who attend our partner institutions through our scholarship and award programs!

While these numbers may seem overwhelming to you, the job you will get after earning your degree is a great goal that will only help to improve your life. It is important for you to pick the type of degree that best aligns with where you want to be professionally and your family’s best interests. Make sure you take your time and make the commitment that is best for you.

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