What are the most affordable bricks-and-mortar and online criminology schools?
The average total cost of tuition for entire criminology bachelor degree programs, both online and at traditional campus, is around $45,000. However, this is just an average and prices can vary considerably depending on which school you choose.
Among the most affordable colleges you will find is Western Carolina University in North Carolina. With both on-campus and online criminology degree programs, tuition for 2012 is around $7,500 per year for full-time students. Fort Hays State University in Kansas and Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey are both known for their on-campus and online criminology degree programs, which share a price tag of about $5,000 to $6,000 a year.
Although inexpensive, these are not necessarily the best schools for criminology. Tuition at some of the top criminology schools online is considerably higher. The renowned St. Leo University Online, for example, charges over $14,000 a year in tuition, while a year at top-ranked Regis University will cost you around $15,000 a year.
Community colleges also offer non-degree criminal justice programs that can be convenient if you are interested in working in corrections or transferring to 4-year colleges. Alvin Community College in Texas is just 1 example.
How can I connect with other on-campus or online students who are also studying at my school for criminology?
Many top schools for criminology have an on-campus club affiliation with state branches of the Innocence Project, a national organization that aims to overturn wrongful convictions. Here, you can meet other criminology majors and have an opportunity to review trial and appellate records as well as network with attorneys, police officers, forensic examiners and private investigators.
Other associations will include your local on-campus Justice Studies or Criminology Club. Many of the best criminology schools have these. In addition, there are the local chapters of Alpha Phi Sigma or Lambda Alpha Epsilon, national fraternities that promotes professionalism and ethical standards in criminal justice.
Your criminology schools may also have a club for students specifically interested in cybersecurity. If you are interested in topics like cryptography, authentication, intrusion detection and network worms, check to see if your school offers such clubs. Particularly if you are enrolled as an online student at a university with both types of programs, clubs like this can help you meet other students working toward an online degree in criminology.
Since most criminology degree programs are offered both online and on-campus, many colleges offer a free 3-day introduction or orientation course, offering you a chance to see the campus and meet others in your program before embarking on your degree path.
What resources should my bricks-and-mortar or online school offer me when I am studying criminology?
Most accredited schools for criminology provide extensive resources for students, including forensic crime labs where students collect and test evidence as well as virtual labs made especially for online students.
At a top criminology school like Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, students get hands-on experience in psychological research at the McCrystal Laboratory for Behavioral Research. Here they get to assist faculty with research and sometimes even conduct their own independent studies in decision-making and choice behavior.
Many of the best online criminology schools make travel grants available for students to attend professional conferences or participate in cutting-edge research. You can find out about available scholarships through your department, university administration or professional associations.
Be aware that some scholarships target a particular field within criminology, like the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Scholarship or the American Society for Industrial Security Scholarship, and may not be available to all students.
Most accredited schools for criminology will also offer you digital resources in video format, podcasts or DVDs. University of California, Berkeley Law School, for example, offers digital seminars on topics like “Criminology, Law and Public Policy.”
Are there any nonprofit online criminology schools or programs that I could look into?
Some of the best criminology schools for the money are nonprofit colleges that are affiliated with either a religious organization or the military. This does not mean, however, that you must belong to the religion or enlist in the military in order to enroll.
Central Christian College of Kansas, a non-profit institution that offers an online bachelors degree in Criminal Justice and provides students with an iPad pre-loaded with required textbooks. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, is a member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and offers admission to students of all backgrounds and faiths.
The National Polytechnic College in Los Angeles is a nonprofit bilingual institution that understands the challenges of language and cultural differences in attaining the American dream and the role that college plays. Its Criminal Justice program prepares students for entry-level security positions for a low fee of about $15,000 for the entire program.
The American Military University provides an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice primarily for veterans, but it is also available to public safety workers and civilians. It is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is also a member of the North Central Association.