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Top 10 Online Criminology Certificate Programs for 2021


Choosing a new career as a criminologist or crime scene investigator is one of the top career moves that many people are making recently. There are many areas of interest within the criminology field to find employment and the degrees do not necessarily take long to complete. Job positions as a criminologist can be very lucrative as well. The first step is finding the right criminology certificate program that fits your needs. Below are the top 10 online criminology certificate programs for 2021. What makes them the best? Well, some of the most important factors that students look for are found in these top ten schools. Here are some pointers on choosing an online criminology degree that will help you become a successful criminologist. 

What makes the best online criminology certificate the best?

  • Accreditation- Choosing an accredited program should be one of your top priorities when applying for a criminology certificate. In addition, many employers prefer to hire new hires from those who graduated from accredited programs. 
  • Structure- Be aware of the course requirements for the program. For instance, how many study hours are expected for each week of work? Or, how accessible is the online platform for students who also work full time? 
  • Affordability- Determining your cost of attendance is usually an important factor and sometimes a huge commitment to bear. Finding an affordable choice is the key. 
  • Supportive online community- As an online student, having the connection to socialize with other classmates is also helpful. Especially if it is to ask questions about a project or assignment you may be struggling with. 
  • Concentration within the degree- Sometimes a degree such as the criminology certificate also offers a specialization or concentrated topic with the program. This may be helpful for those students who want to focus on one particular aspect of criminology. 
  • World-Class Instructors- Another exceptional choice in choosing the best (and right) school for your online criminology certificate. 

With all this in mind, here are the top schools that have met this criteria. 

1. Purdue University Global

The Certificate in Criminal Justice online at Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global offers a Crime Scene Technician Certificate, designed for working professionals in the field of criminology. It is also one of the best Online Criminology Certificate Programs in the Nation. The curriculum will cover the exploration of analytical procedures used by crime scene professionals of today. Students will learn the process of accurate processes of documentation, collection, and preserving data and evidence. In addition,  a comprehensive understanding of applying ethical investigative methods used in forensic science, preparing written reports detailing the crime scene, and overseeing investigations will be taught. Examples include homicides, sexual assaults, robberies and burglaries. Credits earned through the certificate program can also apply toward a Purdue Global associate’s or bachelor’s degree program. Courses are ten weeks in length and equal to 41 credits upon graduation.

The Purdue University Global criminology certificate is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. It also provides top instructors from around the nation. Many graduated crime scene technicians seek employment in work environments such as law enforcement agencies and medical examiners’ offices.

2. Ohio State University

The Certificate in Criminal Justice online

The Criminal Justice Administration Certificate at Ohio State University offers working professionals and students with this 15-credit hour certificate degree in Criminology. Designed for meeting the needs of working professionals, it offers an online program that serves to help students advance in their criminology career or prepare them for a new outlook on an established position. This Criminal Justice Administration certificate is for those contemplating a career change to the criminal justice field or just wants to build up on new skills and knowledge to become more successful in their criminal justice workplace. The certificate in Criminal Justice is presented by the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, partnered with the Department of Sociology. The complete course curriculum is available online. Tuition rates vary, however most students agree that Ohio State is one of the top affordable choices for a criminology certificate. The certificate completes in three to four semesters. 

3. UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst’s Criminology and Criminal Justice System Certificate offers an attractive curriculum program for working professionals in the criminology field. Whether the student is planning to start a new career as a criminologist, or continuing their current criminology studies the certificate is worth it. Graduates of the certificate program will find employment in a variety of areas. These may include criminal defense lawyers and district attorneys, special agents with the FBI, police officers, and probation or parole officers. Once a student enrolls in the final course for the certificate, they need to fill out a Completion Form. Students who live within the commonwealth of Massachusetts will also need to take at least three more classes through the Continuing & Professional Education (CPE). In addition, A GPA of 2.0 or better is required for completion of the program. 

4. UMass Lowell

UMass Lowell’s Graduate Certificate Program in Forensic Criminology offers both graduate students and professionals a curriculum to expand their knowledge and skills in forensic criminology. The certificate program is perfect for those in the fields of not just criminal justice. Professionals working in the nursing/public health, law and paralegal studies, psychology, and social work  sectors can also benefit from this certificate. Students will learn courses that focus on topics geared to their personal and professional background. For example, topics may include children and families in the legal system, domestic violence, and sexual offenders. The UMass Lowell curriculum may also concentrate on certain populations; served by state and federal court systems, state and federal correctional systems, law enforcement agencies, mental health facilities, and juvenile facilities. The certificate in Forensic Criminology is 12 credits to complete and designed for graduate-level students. UMass doesn’t require a GRE for graduate certificate programs. 

5. Portland State University

The Certificate in Criminal Justice online

The Criminology and Criminal Justice Postbaccalaureate Certificate at Portland State University is among the top Online Criminology Certificate Programs nationwide. Both criminal justice professionals and graduated students of a four-year program will find this certificate worth going for. The program is great for someone who is just interested in expanding their career skill set or starting a whole new career field in criminology. The total program is 40 credits to complete and can take under two years to finish. Also, students can start their first term in the fall, spring, or summer. The complete program is online. Typical courses in the certificate include Theories of Crime & Justice, Crime Control Strategies, Criminal Justice Research, and Criminal Law and Legal Reasoning. There is also a wide variety of electives to choose from.

Once graduated, students at Portland State University learn to explore common factors that create crime, while finding effective measures to prevent crime. Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

6. Blue Ridge Community College

The Certificate in Criminal Justice online

Blue Ridge Community College offers a Foundations of Criminal Justice Certificate to the working professional in the Criminology field. The certificate program is completely online and provides 18 credit hours of academic instruction. Courses include Intro to Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice, Court Procedure & Evidence, Law Enforcement Operations, and Corrections. A political studies class in the Background of American Government is included. Students may be required to take developmental courses in Math and/or English, depending on their high school GPA or pre-enrollment placement tests. Blue Ridge Community College also offers many diverse programs and courses to meet a student’s educational aspirations. There are more than 100 degrees, diplomas, and certificates to choose from. The college also accepts transfer credits to help students on the fast track to learning. Blue Ridge also has a vibrant campus, full of social events, student support groups, and entertainment. 

7. Barton Community College

Barton Community College’s Corrections Certificate is one of the top online Criminology Certificate Programs available today. The program prepares students to serve as correctional facility staff officers through training and academic education. Derived by the Kansas Department of Corrections, the curriculum will also provides approximately 200 hours of  training and skillful knowledge of public safety procedures. The certificate, designed for correctional employees currently working in the field, and anyone interested in becoming part of the corrections industry. The certificate will also help individuals obtain promotional opportunities within the correctional system. Barton also provides support services to students who need assistance in their studies so they can achieve success. In fact, all faculty members are chosen from the industry’s finest. The Corrections certificate can go well with an Associates in Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice. The complete program is 17 credits. 

8. Wayne Community College

The Certificate in Criminal Justice online

Wayne Community College offers the Criminal Justice Technology certificate with a concentration in Management to all working professionals in the criminology field. The Criminal Justice Technology program curriculum provides knowledge of criminal justice systems and operations, while focusing on local, state, and federal law enforcement, judicial processes, corrections, and security services. The curriculum also explore the criminal judicial role within today’s society. The complete program is online and emphasizes on criminology, juvenile justice, criminal and constitutional law, investigative principles, and ethics. It also includes community relations among crime units. Wayne Community college provides small student to teacher ratios. However, additional studies may be covered, such as concepts of government, counseling, communications, computers, and technology. Once graduated, students can expect to have the knowledge to begin a career as either a police officer, deputy sheriff, correctional officer, or loss prevention specialist. WCC is among the best online Criminology Certificate Programs nationwide. 

9. California University of Pennsylvania

California University of Pennsylvania’s Applied Criminology Certificate offers students with an online program, designed for working professionals. The program gives students interested in a law-enforcement career, a competitive edge in the criminology field. The graduate certificate program is a total of 12 credits; However, some students may finish it in just two semesters on a part-time basis. Faculty members in the applied criminology degree program are mostly full time employees and tenured. The program also offers several start dates, providing flexibility, which is great for working professionals. The graduate certificate is also a stackable certificate that can be applied to an online Master of Arts in Applied Criminology or another degree program at Cal U.

In addition, The certificate program also offers specialized courses, such as ethical and legal aspects of criminology, advanced criminological theories, research methods in criminology and applied research in criminology. In 2017,  The U.S. News & World Report recognized Cal U for best online programs in graduate education. It ranked at #7 in 2017 for top online criminology degrees. 

10. Durham Tech Community College

Durham Tech Community College provides a Criminal Justice Technology Certificate. The program offers both students and working professionals a comprehensive curriculum, designed to provide knowledge of the criminal justice systems and operations. The course will focus on all aspects of government, including local, state, and federal law enforcement, judicial processes, corrections, and security services. The Criminal Justice Technology certificate also covers areas of criminology, juvenile justice, and criminal and constitutional law. Investigative principles, ethics, and community relations may also be discussed throughout the program. The total certificate program is 15 credit hours to complete. Through this program, students at DTCC will find a variety of employment opportunities. This will include areas with the local police department, county clerks offices, correctional systems, probation/parole surveillance, or working along federal government agents. DTCC also offers many undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dual enrollment is also available to eligible students. 

Why Should I Get My Criminology and Criminal Justice Certificate Online?

The rise of criminal acts are constantly growing throughout our nation and globally. Sadly, it has been part of our society’s problems for quite some time, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. There is a huge need for good men and women to stand up against the injustice of today’s criminals and crime lords, (whoever and wherever they may be).  There are many ways to solve this issue. One way is through good people who have a strong desire to fight injustice and earn an online criminology certificate. 

Online Criminology Certificate programs are usually offered to working professionals in the field.  It is similar to the Criminal Justice master’s degree, since it is usually acquired after a bachelor’s degree. However, in a more accelerated format. Most certificates, whether the criminal justice or some related concentration tend to have 12 through 18 credits till completion. An average master’s degree will most likely have closer to 24 through 48 credits. Of course, it all depends on the concentration chosen. An online certificate in criminal justice will provide the student or working professional with the same educational goals as does the masters, yet with less time.  So, choosing to earn an online program in criminology or criminal justice will offer many career opportunities within the least amount of time. An online certificate program tend to be more affordable, in some cases.

What Can I Do with a Certificate in Criminology and Criminal Justice?

In today’s society there are many job opportunities with an online criminology certificate. Some jobs within the criminology field are public service positions, while others are more for those working from a cubicle. There are also different types of skill sets a person might need or be required to have within the field as well. In fact, having a diverse background of work experience in different aspects of the criminology field may help a graduate with even more opportunities, and also a higher salary. Below are some of the top career options for someone with an online criminology certificate. 

  • Forensic Science Technicians
  • Financial Examiner
  • Fraud or Criminal Investigators
  •  Juvenile Correctional officer
  • Private Investigator
  • law Enforcement officer
  • Border patrol agent

How Much Can I Make with a Certificate in Criminology and Criminal Justice

With a certificate in Criminal Justice or Criminology, the average salary pay will depend on certain factors, such as employer, skills, highest education status, and work background. Here are some basic pay averages for some of the top jobs in the criminal justice field.

Juvenile Correctional officer– $44,573/ year. Regular Correctional officers may make a little over this amount.

Law Enforcement officers – $67,290 per year. Another name is the Police or Detectives

Forensic Science Technicians– $ 64,890. Another name for this is Crime Scene Investigators. 

Financial Investigators(examiners) – $81,430 per year. This also similar to Fraud Investigators.

Border patrol agent – $55,214 – $89,054 a year. This is similar to Homeland Security positions.

Private Investigator – $53,320 per year. They tend to be retired police officers or detectives, or ex-military service members.

Related Ranking:

Top 10 Online Public Safety Certificate Programs

Top 25 Most Affordable Security Degree Programs


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Securitydegreehub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.