Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Your way of serving your community involves protecting others and upholding the law. ACU’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice helps you realize your vocation and acquire the skills and professional mindset to fulfill your role.

This degree program thoroughly examines the practices and structure of law enforcement, from how the U.S. criminal justice and legal systems operate to leadership principles and an understanding of factors influencing criminal behavior. At the same time, we foster our students’ drive to uplift the world along their individual faith-directed paths. This online criminal justice degree supplies you with the tools to realize your potential wherever you are, including stronger communication, research, analytical, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. 

Your way of serving your community involves protecting others and upholding the law. ACU’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice helps you realize your vocation and acquire the skills and professional mindset to fulfill your role.

This degree program thoroughly examines the practices and structure of law enforcement, from how the U.S. criminal justice and legal systems operate to leadership principles and an understanding of factors influencing criminal behavior. At the same time, we foster our students’ drive to uplift the world along their individual faith-directed paths. This online criminal justice degree supplies you with the tools to realize your potential wherever you are, including stronger communication, research, analytical, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. 

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Build a Safer World for All

Let your persistent spirit guide you forward through a program examining the criminal justice field from practical, sociological, and political angles. As you explore your purpose in society — as a tenacious protector and individual embodying Christ’s teachings — our vibrant, virtual community unleashes your commitment toward something greater. 

Locked-In Tuition

Introducing
Locked-In Tuition.

Our Locked-In Tuition program guarantees you’ll pay the same price for your entire undergraduate degree.

About the Program

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Understand how to safely defend your community. The online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice explores the legal, structural, and procedural sides of the field before introducing you to political factors, sociology-rooted theories, and research methods for gathering and analyzing data. You’ll then explore careers where you can apply what what you’ve learned in the vibrant, growing field of criminal justice.

Program Structure

All the Details on Your Degree

Prepare to enrich society through an understanding of ethics and leadership in law enforcement, a comprehensive perspective of the legal and justice systems, and why certain individuals commit crimes. Review the program’s structure and all course descriptions.

Required Hours

Total: 120 hours
University Requirements: 56 hours
Major: 64 hours (up to 22 hours in electives)

Example Coursework

Law Enforcement Leadership
Professionalism and Ethics in Criminal Justice
Crime and Delinquency
Domestic Violence

Upcoming Start Dates

January 10, 2023
March 7, 2023

Objectives

ACU views our students as purposeful, persistent supporters of their respective communities. You’ll become well-versed in the workings of local and international politics and law enforcement theories and applications to take on active roles that leave an impact. To achieve this outcome, you’ll:

  • gain a comprehensive understanding of criminal justice, policing, and legal systems;
  • elevate your communication, decision-making, analytical, and problem-solving skills;
  • discover how to collaborate with different populations and communities;
  • start to see research and data analysis as tools for developing solutions to ongoing problems, including for determining the causes of crime and devising ways to protect your surrounding community;
  • explore the relationship between human behavior and outside factors to determine why certain individuals engage in criminal behavior;
  • apply criminal justice theories to real-world problems; and
  • become familiar with current criminal justice trends, including the impact of advocacy and social justice.

Curriculum

Reflecting career paths and techniques in the field, the online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice degree program encompasses a 27 credit-hour core, 15 credit hours of supplement courses in political science and sociology, and 22 credit hours of electives in more specialized topics. You’ll explore:

  • key criminal justice system concepts pertaining to crime, control methods, and laws;
  • the history and practices of law enforcement and its role in the criminal justice process;
  • the foundation of criminal law and how it factors into court decisions;
  • strategies for aiding victims of domestic and partner violence;
  • leadership theories relevant to law enforcement and policy;
  • arrest, search, and seizure laws and their applications;
  • procedures of the U.S. legal and court systems;
  • ethics in the criminal justice field and developing your own through a Christ-centered lens; 
  • the U.S. political system, civil liberties and rights, and the structure and functions of the judicial branch;
  • sources of and patterns in criminal behavior; and
  • research methods used in the criminal justice field for gathering data and conducting studies.

Meet the Program Director

Brenda McAdoo, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Dr. Brenda McAdoo, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Dr. Brenda McAdoo is an assistant professor and the program director for ACU’s online Criminal Justice program. Brenda retired in 2020 after over twenty-four years as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In her tenure with the FBI, Brenda investigated crimes against children, violent crime, and organized crime was a member of an Organized Crime Task Force, which investigated groups committing extortion, kidnapping, and murder for hire. Brenda was a member of the FBI Crisis Negotiation Team from 1998 to 2020, serving as team leader for seven years, and served as a certified Federal Mediator from 2007 to 2020 for the Department of Justice. Before joining the FBI, Brenda was a Deputy District Attorney with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, where she prosecuted sexual assault, domestic violence, and narcotics offenses.

Brenda received a bachelor’s in Political Science from ACU, where she was a Jack Pope Fellow, holds a Juris Doctor from Pepperdine School of Law and is a member of the California Bar. She also graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Graduate Certificate in Dispute Resolution and is a certified Mediator in Texas. Brenda is passionate about training future public servants and leaders.

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From prosecutor to FBI agent to program director, ACU alumna, Dr. Brenda McAdoo fuses her mission-mindset with real-life experiences to create an invaluable curriculum for ACU Online’s Criminal Justice students. Learn more about her story and goal as an educator.

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bachelor's in criminal justice

Embrace a vocation where you’ll serve citizens in the name of justice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 7% growth for police and detectives between 2020 and 2030, with potential opportunities present in: 

  • law enforcement;
  • probation and parole services;
  • corrections;
  • advocacy;
  • witness assistance;
  • game warden;
  • emergency management;
  • homeland security;
  • case management; and
  • social services.

As you think about your future, this degree gives you a foundation for law school or a graduate program in criminal justice or public policy.

Lawyer or judge gavel with balance handshake, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

To be considered for admission, students must:

  • Submit official high school and/or college transcripts.
  • Complete the online program application accompanied by a non-refundable processing fee.

Students are not required to submit ACT or SAT test scores.

Graduation Requirements: Students must earn a 2.0 GPA or higher to meet graduation requirements. Additionally, students must earn a C or higher in each major course and have a minimum GPA of 2.25 in the major.

SACSCOC Stamp Color

Abilene Christian University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Ga. 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of ACU.

Abilene Christian University enjoys a strong national reputation as one of the leading private Christian universities in the west and southwest, indicated by various ratings (such as U.S. News and World Report and other reports).