Earning your bachelor’s of science degree in criminal justice and criminology is like opening the door to a new world of advantage and opportunity. Perhaps you’re interested in a public sector career in policing and law enforcement. Maybe you’re drawn to courts or community correction. Perhaps you’re thinking about private sector service providers such as in-residential treatment centers, asset protection, or loss prevention.

Wherever you’re heading in this new world, Ball State’s degree in criminal justice and criminology, available 100 percent online, can give you the confidence to get there, to make a difference, and to advance in that new world of career opportunities.

Quick Facts

  Next Start Date: August 19, 2024

Who Should Apply?

Criminal justice professionals who are juggling jobs, family, and other obligations or individuals who are employed in another area but are interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice and criminology will find this program an outstanding option.

All courses are asynchronous, meaning there are no specific times that you need to log in. You can finish your coursework on your own schedule, as long as you complete weekly assignments by their deadlines.

Transfer Credits

Many adult students already have some college credit completed when they begin their studies with Ball State Online. In fact, more than 90 percent of bachelor’s degree seekers transfer some or all of their previous credits. If you fall under this category, contact your student success specialist to learn more about transferring your credits to Ball State.

Ivy Tech and Vincennes Graduates

If you have an associate of science degree in criminal justice from Ivy Tech Community College or Vincennes University, you can begin earning your Ball State bachelor’s in criminal justice and criminology entirely online, and with a Junior status.

Contact your program advisor to start developing your personal plan of study.

Grants for College

Good news for Indiana adult students! The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is offering college grants for adults returning to college, or even beginning their educational journey. The Adult Student Grant awards up to $2,000 to help pay for your college expenses and is renewable. This grant is available to Indiana residents, aged 25 and older, who are enrolled or will be enrolled in an undergraduate program.* Review the requirements below and learn if you qualify for the Adult Student Grant.

Learn More about the Adult Student Grant

*Additional requirements are listed on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education Adult Student Grant website.

Ball State's degree in criminal justice and criminology offers a giant competitive advantage as you advance your careerit can be customized to match your career goals. The list of required courses has been shortened, so that you can choose from more elective courses. Let your advisor know if you want your degree plan to specialize in policing, courts, victimology, corrections, or special populations.

As you may know, criminal justice employers are increasingly looking for employees with bachelor’s degrees. Ball State’s answer to this need is a program that prepares you with strong writing, communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills. For instance, to be a probation officer in the state of Indiana requires a bachelor’s degree, and many police departments and law enforcement agencies strongly prefer one for their officers even if they do not technically require it.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the expansion of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11 has increased the need for all levels of law enforcement and criminal justice.

“Criminal justice continues to be a solid area for employment even during slow economic times,” notes the news magazine, which provides authoritative sources of college and university rankings. “Some of the jobs that command large salaries require a bachelor’s degree while others need a master’s degree or higher.”

A bachelor’s degree is required for most state and federal positions and is becoming increasingly important for municipal and county positions. Personnel with less than four years of college may still be hired in some municipal and county agencies, but career advancement is often limited.

Our criminal justice and criminology majors often land jobs before graduation.

The criminal justice and criminology field is a crowded marketplace. But a bachelor’s degree can lead you in a number of career directions, including professional positions in probation departments, law enforcement agencies, correctional institutions for juvenile or adults, parole offices, or community treatment and service settings.

While the list of potential occupations is substantial, the more frequently chosen careers include the following:

  • Law enforcement positions are found in the city, town, state, federal police departments and agencies.
  • Probation officers are employed in local, state, and federal courts where they handle cases of offenders being brought to the attention of the courts.
  • Institutional counselors work in adult and juvenile correctional institutions as counselors and social service providers.
  • Correctional officers are employed in security institutions as custodial staff to provide security and safety of institution’s population and staff.
  • Parole officers are responsible for the supervision of adult and juvenile defenders released by state or federal agencies.
  • Victim or witness advocates are employed in local, state, and federal agencies to assist victims of crimes and witnesses to crime.

Plus, you also may find careers as:

  • Research personnel in law enforcement agencies
  • Research personnel in correctional agencies
  • Auxiliary personnel in the field of communication
  • Auxiliary personnel in laboratory work
  • Private investigative agencies
  • Counselors
  • Rehabilitation counselors
  • Staff personnel in private youth agencies
  • Staff personnel in halfway houses
  • Staff personnel in residential treatment centers
  • Corporate security
  • Crime scene investigator
  • Lobbyist
  • Paralegal
  • Secret Service, CIA, or FBI professionals

Considering Law School?

If law school is in your future, criminal justice and criminology is an excellent pre-law program, especially if you have an interest in public law such as prosecution, defense, and government legal representation.

National Reputation

Ball State’s bachelor of science degree in criminal justice and criminology has a national reputation because of its relevant and demanding curriculum, which is taught by a faculty who have a mix of professional experience and high-quality academic qualifications. These faculty members believe in being mentors and bringing positive and continuous improvements to the criminal justice system and related private sector entities.

In addition, you will be studying from a university ranked and well-regarded for its innovation and effectiveness in online education.

Priced Competitively

Ball State’s programs are priced competitively, giving you extra value for your time and money. Plus, more than 75 percent of Ball State students, including many adult learners who work full time, receive some form of financial aid.

Accredited by ACJS

Our program was one of the first in the nation to be accredited by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS), an international association that promotes professional and scholarly activities in the field.

Most degrees in criminal justice and criminology require classes in corrections, policing, criminology, applied research methods, introductory data analysis techniques, and courses related to law and society.

Popular electives include juvenile justice; decision-making and ethics; criminal law and procedure; community corrections; police administration; victimology; and race, ethnicity and gender. Ball State’s program includes those courses.

Where we’re different is that we emphasize best practices and data-driven decision-making, ethics, and cultural competency courses. We also focus on theory, politics, public perceptions, policy development, and policy implementation. Recent shifts by the justice system have put the focus on these core issues, and so have we.

This degree reveals the theoretical, philosophical, and practical aspects of the law as well as the policies that directly and indirectly impact society, social control, and public safety. Program priorities include:

  • understanding the functions and processes of the criminal justice system
  • learning the role of criminology as it informs public policy
  • identification and adoption of best practices

Knowledgeable and experienced faculty are behind the strong reputation of the criminal justice and criminology program at Ball State. You will have the opportunity of interacting one-on-one with our professors.

Same as on Our Main Campus

Classes are taught by the same faculty who teach criminal justice and criminology on campus. They are Ph.D.s, active in research, and early adopters of online teaching. We adhere to the nationally recognized standard of best practices for online learning via the Quality Matters Program. Through this, Ball State faculty have access to ongoing professional development to ensure that courses lead to successful student outcomes.

Professionally Active

Ball State faculty are also professionally active within the criminal justice and criminology field, serving on national and international boards and committees, and participating in national and international organizations which directly influence criminal justice policy.

Diverse Experiences in the Field to Benefit You

Our criminal justice and criminology professors have criminal justice field experience in a variety of public and private sector positions.

To the classroom, they bring their diverse experiences from the field, where they have researched and pursued passions in juvenile justice, corrections, crisis intervention, hate crimes, research methods, adult drug courts, policing, victimology, mental illness, and other areas.

Course Requirements

Ball State’s online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and criminology requires you to fulfill a minimum of 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree.

The curriculum for the online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and criminology is the same as the curriculum used for the program taught on our main campus. To view all requirements, see the course catalog.

View Catalog

Capstone Experience

An important distinction that Ball State offers with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and criminology is a capstone experience, which allows you to bring together all you learned into a meaningful, real-life experience. 

Testing and Advanced Credits

Ball State provides you opportunities to gain college credit via exams such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and Ball State departmental exams.

Or, you may qualify for credits for military service and/or police or other criminal justice system training, education and service.

You can learn more about these from the advisor assigned to you.

You will take the following 24 credits of criminal justice and criminology foundation courses which give you a foundation for whatever you choose to specialize in for your upper division electives.

  • CJC 101 Introduction to Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CJC 102 Introduction to Criminology (3 credits)
  • CJC 211 Race, Gender, and Crime (3 credits)
  • CJC 220 Research Methods in Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CJC 229 Ethics and Decision Making (3 credits)
  • CJC 251 Criminal Law (3 credits)
  • CJC 301 Evaluation Research in Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CJC 495 Capstone in Criminal Justice (3 credits)

Your academic advisor will work with you to put together a customized plan of study to make sure you get through your courses at the pace that works best for you and that will ensure you are picking up any prerequisites in the right order.

Academic Advising electives provide students with in-depth examination of topics relevant to the criminal justice system and the application of criminology to the profession. Your advisor can help you choose the best ones that applicable to a specialization of your choosing.

Choose 24 credits from:

  • CJC 211 Race, Gender, and Crime (3 credits)
  • CJC 229 Decision-Making and Ethics in Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CJC 230 Introduction to Policing (3 credits)
  • CJC 240 Introduction to Corrections (3 credits)
  • CJC 250 Introduction to Courts (3 credits)
  • CJC 309 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency (3 credits)
  • CJC 332 Victimology (3 credits)
  • CJC 333 Policing in a Free and Diverse Society (3 credits)
  • CJC 340 Institutional Corrections (3 credits)
  • CJC 341 Community Corrections (3 credits)
  • CJC 350 Criminal Evidence and Procedure (3 credits)
  • CJC 397 Constitutional Issues in Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CJC 398 Human Services in Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CJC 399 Special Populations in Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CJC 410 Special Topic in Criminal Justice and Criminology (3 credits)
  • CJC 479 Professional Experience in Criminal Justice and Criminology (3 credits)      
  • CJC 490 Independent Study in Criminal Justice (3 credits)

Related Online Minors

If you have an interest in individuals with behavioral disorders or cognitive disabilities, you may want to consider online minors in applied behavioral analysis or autism to complement your bachelor’s degree.

University Core Curriculum

Your core curriculum classes are designed to give you the fundamentals of a well-rounded education needed to meet the broad responsibilities of citizenship in a free society. All Ball State students earning a bachelor's degree take core courses. Learn more about the Ball State core curriculum.

NOTE: The core courses in this section are available for online or main-campus students. However, there are core curriculum courses offered on the main campus that are not available online. Whether you are an online or main-campus student, you should work with your advisor to choose the courses best for you.

Tier 1 of the Ball State core curriculum includes the largest number of classes. These foundational courses include subjects you will need to be well-versed for the rest of your college courses and in life.

  • ENG 103 Rhetoric and Writing (3 credits)
  • ENG 104 Composing Research (3 credits)
  • COMM 210 Fundamentals of Public Communication (3 credits)
  • MATH 125 Quantitative Reasoning (3 credits)
  • HIST 150 The West in the World (3 credits)
    or HIST 151 World Civilization 1 (3 credits) and HIST 152 World Civilization 2 (3 credits)
  • FIN 101 Personal Finance for Fiscal Wellness (1 credit)
    or, FIN 110 Personal Finance (3 credits)
  • PFW 160 Physical Fitness and Wellness (2 credits)

Business Administration Majors

Instead of Math 125, you are required to take the following two math courses:

  • MATH 111 Pre-Calculus Algebra (3 credits)
  • MATH 132 Brief Calculus (3 credits)

Select one course from each category below.

Fine Arts: Select one course:

  • DANC 100 Intro to Dance History (3 credits)
  • THEA 100 Intro to Theatre (3 credits)
  • AHS 100 Intro to Art (3 credits)
  • MUHI 100 Intro to Music (3 credits)
  • MUHI 139 Perspectives of Jazz (3 credits)
  • MUST 100 Fundamentals of Music Theory (3 credits)

Humanities: Select one course:

  • COH 100 Introduction to Health Consumerism (3 credits)
  • HIST 201 American History,1492-1876 (3 credits)
  • HIST 202 United States History, 1877 to the Present (3 credits)
  • JOUR 101 Media and Society (3 credits)
  • PHIL 100 Intro to Philosophy (3 credits)
  • RELS 160 Religion in Culture (3 credits) 
  • SP 102 Beginning Spanish 2 (4 credits)

Natural Sciences: Select one course:

  • ANTH 105 Introduction to Biological Anthropology (3 credits)
  • ASTR 100 Introduction Astronomy: A Study of the Solar System and Beyond (3 credits)
  • GEOG 101 Earth, Sea, and Sky: A Geographic View (3 credits)
  • GEOL 101 Planet Earth’s Geological Environment (3 credits)
  • HSC 160 Fundamentals of Human Health (3 credits)
  • NREM 101 Environment and Society (3 credits)
  • PHYC 110 General Physics 1 (4 credits)

Social Sciences: Select one course:

  • ANTH 101 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (3 credits)
  • COMM 240 Intro to Interpersonal Communication (3 credits)
  • CJC 101 Intro to American Criminal Justice System (3 credits)
  • CJC 102 Intro to Criminology (3 credits)
  • CT 100 Future Technology Innovations (3 credits)
  • CT 115 Social Media Video Algorithms and Video Content Elements (3 credits)
  • ECON 116 Survey of Economic Ideas (3 credits)
  • ECON 201 Elementary Microeconomics (3 credits)
  • GEOG 150 Global Geography (3 credits)
  • POLS 130 American National Government (3 credits)
  • PSYS 100 Introduction to Psychological Science (3 credits)
  • SOC 100 Principles of Sociology (3 credits)
  • SOC 224 Family and Society (3 credits)
  • SOC 242 Social Problems (3 credits)
  • SOC 260 Social Interaction (3 credits)

One course is required from both categories.

Fine Arts, Design, and Humanities: Select one course:

  • COMM 322 Communication and Popular Culture (3 credits)
  • GCM 184 Graphics: Computer Applications (3 credits)
  • GCM 286 Graphics: Fundamentals of Photography (3 credits)  
  • HIST 310 Introduction to the History of Business in the United States (3 credits)
  • CT 112 Computer Applications for Design Solutions (3 credits)
  • MMP 100 Survey of the Music Industry (3 credits)
  • PHIL 202 Ethics (3 credits)—Can also be counted as a writing emphasis course
  • THEA 207 Design Awareness for the Non-Major (3 credits)

Natural and Social Sciences: Select one course.

  • ANTH 231 Cannibals, Warriors, and Princesses: Native Americans in Popular Culture (3 credits)
  • CJC 229 Decision-Making and Ethics in Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CJC 332 Victimology (3 credits)
  • CJC 333 Policing in Free and Diverse Society (3 credits)
  • CJC 350 Criminal Evidence and Procedure (3 credits)
  • ECON 202 Elementary Macroeconomics (3 credits)
  • ECYF 250 Family Relations (3 credits)
  • GEOG 265 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (3 credits)
  • GEOL 206 Oceans and Nations (3 credits)
  • HSC 180 Principles of Public Health (3 credits)
  • HSC 261  Health, Sexuality and family Life (3 credits)
  • SOC 235 Sociology of Gender (3 credits)
  • SOC 328 Globalization and the Social World (3 credits)
  • SOCW 325 Human Behavior and the Social Environment 2 (3 credits)
  • WGS 210 Intro to Women's and Gender Studies (3 credits)
  • WGS 220 International Women's Issues (3 credits)

The requirements for this will depend upon your individual course of study and needs.

Consult with your academic advisor when planning your senior year.

All Ball State students are required to take a course that is writing intensive. You may choose from:

  • ISOM 249 Foundations of Business Communication (3 credits)
  • MUSE 265 Basic Music for Classroom Teachers (3 credits)
  • NEWS 105 Journalistic Storytelling: Introduction (3 credits)
  • PHIL 202 Ethics (3 credits)—Can also be counted as a Tier 2 course
  • SOCW 250 Human Behavior and the Social Environment 1 (3 credits)
  • THEA 317 Pre-Modern Theatre History to 1700 (3 credits)

Ready to Apply?

An application and all required application materials must be received two weeks prior to the start of classes for a given term in order to be considered for admission to Ball State. Our semester start dates can be found in Ball State’s academic calendar.

Plan for at least 3-4 weeks for staff from your previous schools to send official transcripts to Ball State. We will review your application as soon as we receive all of your application materials.


Students from Other States

Ball State is authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to accept online students from all U.S. states. However, if you are considering a program that leads to professional licensure, some states may have additional regulations. Review our state authorization website if you live outside of Indiana and contact us if you have questions.

Want to Learn More

Do you have questions about this program or online learning?  We're here to help!  You may request more information using our online form, or feel free to reach out directly to one of our staff.