B.S. Criminal Justice - Online

WCU's Criminal Justice Online Program has been rated as a #1 Best Buy in the Get Educated rankings. 

"Online learning allows consumers to choose among America's best colleges in terms of local brand reputation and affordability," says Vicky Phillips, founder of GetEducated.com. "Western Carolina University is an undisputed Best Buy for students searching for an online degree with a top affordability ranking."

Online students in North Carolina pay a low cost of $13,937 for this degree compared to average costs of $44,799 at other institutions or $63,000 at for-profit universities for the same degree.

WCU's Criminal Justice Online Program gives students the convenience and flexibility to pursue a B.S. or minor from their own location while preparing for a professional career or further graduate study. 

All the online program's courses are accessed through the Blackboard course management system—all instructional activities such as lectures, group interactions, reading assignments, class projects, presentations, submission of assignments, e-mail exchange, test administration, and other course functions occur within the Blackboard environment. 

Admission to the Criminal Justice Distance Learning Program is not guaranteed.  The admission process involves two discrete steps. 

  1. Students first apply to Western Carolina University by following the admissions process to the university.
  2. The application and the student's credentials are then forwarded to the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice for consideration. 

Admission to the Criminal Justice Distance Learning Program is highly competitive. Admission requirements for undergraduate students can be found on the WCU Admission Requirements page.

For admission to the Criminal Justice Distance Learning Program, visit the Distance, Online and Continuing Education Admissions website and follow the directions.

To be considered for the Fall semester, all application materials must be submitted by June 1st. To be considered for the Spring semester, all application materials must be submitted by December 1st. We do not accept applications for the Summer semester.

Transfer students must meet the application requirements of the University (above) and:

  • Have one year of documented work experience in the criminal justice field;
  • Have an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree or an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree from an accredited community college;or
  • Have an Associate’s of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree from an accredited community college; or
  • Have substantial progress toward the “44 General Core” courses that satisfy the General Education/Liberal Studies requirement for a North Carolina community college.

Click here to access the supplemental application.

Special Opportunities for Criminal Justice Students

Getting involved in extracurricular activities can help boost understanding of your chosen field and give you the chance to collaborate, socialize, and network with your peers. Browse the links below for the opportunities awaiting you.

Student Association of Criminal Justice Affairs (SACJA)
SACJA is a student-run club open to all students who are majoring or minoring in criminal justice at WCU. Dedicated to promoting criminal justice, both as an academic discipline and as a career choice, SACJA is active in community volunteerism, criminal justice-related student activities, and promoting a higher standard of education. To learn more, call 828-227-2172.

Alpha Phi Sigma - National Criminal Justice Honor Society
Alpha Rho Omega Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma promotes critical thinking, academic excellence, service, leadership, and unity in the field of criminal justice. Contact Lisa Briggs at lbriggs@email.wcu.edu or visit the Alpha Phil Sigma website.


FAQ Criminal Justice Online Program

To be a distance learning student, what type of computer should I have?

All distance learning students should have, at a minimum, a personal computer running Windows XP or a Macintosh computer running system OS X or higher. The computer must be able to connect to the university's network through an appropriate DSL or Cable modem. A minimum of 512 MB RAM memory is essential, as is a 40 GB hard drive. All computers should have either a CD-R or CD-RW (preferred) drive. Systems must be capable of connecting to Western's network, utilize a WCU-supported OS, as well as have a supported version of Microsoft Office. Systems having less than this minimum specification will not perform satisfactorily or meet WCU's computer requirement. Due to limitations, Windows XP Home Edition is NOT supported.

Additionally, all distance learning students should be able to perform common computer functions such as e-mailing, chat, discussion boards, Internet browsing, zipping and unzipping files, downloading and uploading files, keyword searching, and using Microsoft Office products including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, and accessing iTunes.

Common distance learning pedagogies used in the Criminal Justice Online Program include:

  • Chat Rooms–synchronous (at the same time) communication with others in the class
  • Discussion Boards–asynchronous (not at the same time) communication with others in the class
  • Drop Boxes–electronic tool(s) for uploading and submitting written assignments and files
  • Online Tests–self-administration of timed quizzes and exercises
  • Email–communication between two or more members of the class

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be accepted into the Criminal Justice Online Program, a prospective student must meet the application requirements of the University and:

  • Have one year of criminal justice experience, plus
  • Have an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree or an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree from an accredited community college;or
  • Have an Associate’s of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree from an accredited community college; or
  • Have completed the “44 General Core” courses that satisfy the General Education/Liberal Studies requirement for a North Carolina community college.

How is “criminal justice experience” defined for program eligibility?

Applicants are required to document a minimum of one year of experience in the criminal justice field on a supplemental Criminal Justice application as a part of their admission process. Typical work experience would include one year of employment in law enforcement, courts, corrections or military police. A selection committee of criminal justice faculty members will evaluate other significant criminal justice experience.

How is work experience documented for the admissions process?

Experience is documented by (1) a letter from the sponsoring agency indicating that the applicant has at least one year of experience and (2) an essay by the applicant explaining the applicant’s criminal justice work experience, previous college coursework, and how the applicant intends to use a four-year degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Administration of Justice to enhance the applicant’s career in criminal justice.  The quality and content of the essay portion of the supplemental application will affect admission decisions. Students who have writing deficiencies are advised to review materials provided by the Writing and Learning Commons.

What are the general requirements for the criminal justice degree?

A minimum of 120 semester hours are required. This requirement is comprised of:

  • Criminal Justice: 49 hours
  • Liberal Studies: 42 hours
  • General Electives: 29 hours

In addition, all students are required to complete a minimum of 30 semester hours at the junior/senior level while at WCU to satisfy WCU graduation requirements.

What criminal justice courses are required?

Core Requirement Courses (16 Semester Hours)

  • CJ 150 Introduction to Criminology and Criminal Justice (3 hours)
  • CJ 185 Majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice (1 hours)
  • CJ 280 Research Methods for Criminology and Criminal Justice (3 hours)
  • CJ 355 Theories of Crime (3 hours)
  • CJ 380 Statistical Analysis for Criminology and Criminal Justice (3 hours)
  • CJ 495 Senior Seminar (3 hours)

Administration of Justice Concentration for Distance Learning Students Only (18 Semester Hours)

Concentration Core (9 hours) includes:

  • CJ 305 Social Justice and the Law (3 hours)
  • CJ 343 Criminal Procedure and Judicial Process (3 hours)
  • CJ 434 Legal Liability in Criminal Justice Personnel (3 hours)
  • CJ 439 Criminal Justice Management (3 hours)
  • CJ 470 Criminal Justice Policy (3 hours)

Concentration Electives (9 hours) include:

  • CJ 322 Stress Management in Criminal Justice (3 hours)
  • CJ 358 Computer Applications in Criminal Justice (3 hours)
  • CJ 363 Geographic Information Systems and Criminal Justice (3 hours)
  • CJ 365 Cyber Crime (3 hours)
  • CJ 385 Issues in Correctional Treatment (3 hours)
  • CJ 425 Police Practices and Problems (3 hours)
  • CJ 438 Minorities, Crime, and Social Policy (3 hours)
  • EDM 435 Homeland Security (3 hours)
  • EDM 457 Terrorism (3 hours)

      Criminal Justice Major Electives (15 hours*);

         And other criminal justice courses offered in the distance education program.
         * - The 15 hours of criminal justice electives requirement may include additional concentration core and concentration elective courses.

Can I transfer community college criminal justice courses to WCU?

Yes, students can transfer a maximum of 24 semester hours of community college criminal justice courses into the criminal justice degree. Depending on the community college course, the course will be used to satisfy either a criminal justice core course or a criminal justice elective course.

Any additional hours in criminal justice above the 24-hour maximum will transfer in as a general elective course. Additional information about the transfer of criminal justice courses from a North Carolina community college can be located within the Criminal Justice Distance Learning Eligibility and Supplemental Application.

What Liberal Studies courses are required?

A list of the required Liberal Studies courses and the Transfer of Credit policy can be found here. If you click on the link entitled “WCU Liberal Studies Equivalencies at NCCC Institutions,” you will see a listing of community college courses and the equivalent course at WCU.

Students have the option of completing the 44 General Core requirement offered by the community college system in place of the WCU Liberal Studies requirement. The General Education requirements are somewhat different than those of WCU. Contact your transfer advisor at the community college for more information.

How is the Liberal Studies requirement different if I received an A.A. or an A.A.S. degree at the community college?

Pursuant to University of North Carolina System Policy, students who graduate from an accredited community college in North Carolina and who have earned either an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree will have fulfilled all Liberal Studies (general education) requirement at WCU.

Students who have earned a degree from an accredited institution located outside of North Carolina will undergo a course-by-course evaluation for transfer credits and may have to complete additional courses to fulfill the Liberal Studies requirement.

Students who possess an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree will undergo a course-by-course evaluation for transfer credits. In most cases, the student will be required to complete additional courses at a community college or through WCU to fulfill the Liberal Studies requirement.

Transfer students who have questions in regard to their previous college courses fulfilling WCU’s Liberal Studies or General Education Core requirements are urged to contact Kim Cherry in the University Advising Center.

Can I receive academic credit for BLET or other training I have completed?

No, WCU does not recognize training, certifications, or other continuing education units as being equivalent to academic courses at the university level. Transfer credit will only be awarded for courses offered by institutions of higher education that are accredited by nationally recognized, regional accredited organizations. Evaluation of academic transcripts is conducted by the Registrar’s Office, not the individual department.

Can I receive credit for my experience in the criminal justice field?

No, you cannot receive credit for your experience in the criminal justice field.

What is the tuition rate for distance learning courses?

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