Program Overview

Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Legal Studies Degree Online Overview

Earn your online bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Peru State College Online and discover a fascinating career helping make communities and individuals stronger and safer.

The important field of criminal justice touches our lives in many ways and covers a wide range of services and functions, from law enforcement, courts and prisons, to counseling services and a number of organizations and agencies people depend on every day.

Because upholding our nation's legal system is so critical, this is a field with enormous potential. And with an online criminal justice degree from Peru State College, you can secure a rewarding career to be proud of. We offer three specializations that allow you to delve deeper into a specific interest, including criminal justice counseling, administration and legal studies. You simply choose the path that best aligns with your particular passion in this essential, honorable line of work.

Peru State's online criminal justice – legal studies program is perfect for those interested in careers in law, the court system or in public administration. With this fascinating program, you'll gain foundational knowledge in criminal justice with an emphasis in commercial law, constitutional law, government principles and more.

Impressive distinctions Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Peru State College ensures the utmost quality across all of our online degrees. But what makes our online legal studies option even more appealing are the premium flexibility, expert faculty, renowned high value, and an engaged online community you can count on for support.

With deep, 150-year roots, Peru State College has been offering online programs for more than 20 years. And today, our expertise online adds up to a smooth educational journey for you, from enrollment through graduation.

It's time to turn goals into action. Welcome to Peru State College Online, where you can earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice – legal studies designed expertly for you.

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Nationally Recognized
for Affordability

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22:1 Student-
to-Faculty Ratio

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Generous Transfer Policy
(Up To 90 Credit Hours)

Why Choose a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice Legal Studies Degree Online?

At Peru State College Online, the online criminal justice courses throughout the 120-credit-hour program are taught by renowned faculty, with real-world, criminal justice experience themselves.

Our faculty members have worked or work in policing, corrections, parole and probation, and make it their priority to stay on top of current criminal justice and administrative practices. Through our continually refreshed curriculum, you are ensured solid knowledge essential to launching or enhancing your career.

Rest assured, your instructors are experts in online teaching, as well, and strive for a smooth, interactive experience for you and your classmates. By keeping the online classroom smaller than you would typically find with a physical campus, the faculty is able to respond quicker, and focus on meaningful interaction with students one-on-one and as a group.

Our online testing practices are also quality-designed to help you perform at your best, with proctored exams giving way to a more personalized, less stressful experience.

Getting excited about your degree path with us? Our online criminal justice courses form the basis of a quality education designed for your ultimate success.


Through the bachelor's degree in criminal justice – legal studies, you can anticipate the following learning goals and outcomes:

  1. Students will have content knowledge in the criminal justice field

    1. Students will be able to explain the major components of the criminal justice system.
    2. Students will be able to synthesize information from a variety of sources.
  2. Students will communicate effectively both in written and verbal form

    1. Students will be able to present research on criminal justice topics.
    2. Students will be able to write criminal justice reports for incidents that occur in the field.
  3. Students will think critically

    1. Students will be able to evaluate a comprehensive analysis of a juvenile court case.
    2. Students will be able to demonstrate basic knowledge of information technology as applied to criminal justice research and practice.
  4. Students will be able to use problem-solving skills while making informed decisions.

    1. Students will be able to implement an effective solution for an emergency exercise.
  5. Students will develop applied skills to be used in the criminal justice field

    1. Students will be able to participate and document simulated criminal justice activities.

Transfer Credits


Credit for Experience You Already Have

We make it easy to transfer to Peru State College Online. With nearly 80% of our students transferring in, we're glad to evaluate all possibilities to make the most of knowledge you've gained elsewhere.

  • Prior college Coursework
  • Corporate and military training
  • Even life and work experience

It all adds up to maximum transfer credit, and minimal time and tuition to graduation and the new life waiting, for you.

Up to 90* credit hours are accepted from an accredited college or up to 66 from a community, vocational or tech college. You could start at Peru State College Online already 75% finished with your program!


Low Tuition, Top-Value Education

Per credit hour

One Rate
For any state

Free Application
No other per-credit hour fees

At Peru State College Online, we take it all seriously – including your education investment. Our students work hard on their education, so we do our part to make it as affordable as possible. Peru State's approach of hiqh quality at a competitive cost works well for both you and us, earning our college the distinction of being a Top ROI, Best Buy and Best Value.

What's our secret? No surprises here …

  • At a lean $299 per credit hour, our low, “one-rate, any-state” tuition simplifies things, with no other per-credit-hour fees to worry about.
  • Other cost-friendly options are available, too, like transfer credit, financial aid, and corporate or military tuition assistance, if applicable to you.
  • Finally, it's free to apply.

Less financial stress for you, enormous pride for us. Ready to make the most out of your education dollars? At Peru State College Online, you'll find transformative education offered affordably, for you.

Academic Support

An Engaged Online Community

With no physical boundaries, Peru State College's rich tradition of community on campus easily extends to our family online. You will immediately feel welcome among our circle of faculty, staff and distance learners like you.

  • Our knowledgeable instructors are experts in teaching online. Easily accessible, they include 1:1 faculty interaction, discussion boards and video conferencing as part of your experience.
  • You'll advance alongside others with similar aspirations, and benefit from knowledge sharing and motivating mutual support.
  • Free online tutoring and career services are just a few bonus features that help keep your eye on the prize.
  • And to help ensure a top-notch educational journey, your student advisor will be by your side, offering encouragement and keeping you right on track to graduation.
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Simple, Clear Application Process

Whether you'd like a little help from us or prefer to get started on your own, your journey at Peru State College Online begins with a smooth — and FREE — application process.

  • STEP ONE. Complete the Application for Admission (FREE)
  • STEP TWO. Request your official high school and, if applicable, college transcripts (not required if you are transferring from Chadron State College or Wayne State College)

We promise a speedy response to your application, averaging about 24 hours to process. From there, we'll work together to enroll and get you moving toward your graduation goal ahead.

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"The education, support and experiences provided by Peru State have forever changed my life for the better."
R. Mills, Alum

Flexible, Quality Learning

At Peru State College Online, you'll be pleasantly surprised at just how flexible quality learning can be. All courses are intentionally designed for online learning, and our 120-credit-hour online bachelor's degree in criminal justice – legal studies can be safely accomplished wherever and whenever is best for you.

  • Eight- and 16-week courses
  • Multiple starts throughout the year
  • Easy Canvas navigation
  • No set daily login times
Criminal Justice Core Requirements

You must complete the following requirements in addition to the General Studies requirements. No grade lower than “C-” will satisfy major requirements.

CJUS 110 Survey of Criminal Justice (3 Credit Hours)

This course introduces students to general criminal justice concepts and knowledge about the relationships of crime and criminal behavior. The purpose, role, and interrelationships of the police, other law enforcement officials, the courts and judiciary, corrections, and parole systems are discussed.

CJUS 220 Introduction to Corrections (3 Credit Hours)

This course is a general introductory course that describes the history and development of corrections in America, the various aspects of correctional practices, and issues and perspectives affecting institutional life within the correctional system. Organizational and administrative practices are examined.

Prerequisites: Survey of Criminal Justice

CJUS 230 Policing (3 Credit Hours)

This course covers the major roles of the police in American society. The course investigates the origins of policing and law enforcement, police organization, the functions of police in society, and the polices' relationships to the various components of the criminal justice system. Issues confronting police administration are discussed.

Prerequisites: Survey of Criminal Justice

CJUS 308 Community-Based Corrections (3 Credit Hours)

This course focuses on correctional processes and strategies regarding probation, parole, juveniles, diversion, and other innovative approaches applied in a community setting.

Prerequisites: Survey of Criminal Justice

CJUS 330 Research Methods (3 Credit Hours)

This is an introductory course that concentrates on research methods and designs and statistical analysis procedures used in research projects. This course demonstrates how research methods are utilized in the criminal justice field.

Prerequisites: Survey of Criminal Justice, Statistics

CJUS 340 Criminal Procedures and the Courts (3 Credit Hours)

This course provides an overview of the structure and functions of the criminal court system in the United States, including county, state, federal, and specialized courts. The roles of court personnel, case flow management, a variety of issues confronting the court system, court standards as compared to actual functioning, and court reform measures are studied. Constitutional rules regarding evidence, search and seizure, interrogations and confessions, and suspect identification guidelines receive significant attention. Constitutional rights, remedies, post-trial appeal processes, and criminal procedure during times of crisis receive consideration.

CJUS 360 Criminology (3 Credit Hours)

This course examines the nature and causes of crime as a social phenomenon.

Prerequisites: Survey of Criminal Justice

CJUS 385 Victimology (3 Credit Hours)

This course focuses on the theoretical perspectives of victimization, the scope of victimization in the United States, the justice system's response, victim's rights, restorative justice, and research and evaluation findings. Being exposed to and understanding victimization issues enhances students' knowledge about a comprehensive system of justice rather than a “criminal's justice system.”

CJUS 401 Homeland Security (3 Credit Hours)

This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of Homeland Security, incident management, terrorism and counter terrorism as impacting the United States.

Prerequisites: Survey of Criminal Justice

CJUS 410 Juvenile Deliquency (3 Credit Hours)

This course focuses on the nature and extent of delinquent acts and status offenses historically, theoretical approaches to explain why these behaviors develop including environmental/contextual approaches to explanation, and how the justice system and society legally respond. A variety of cultural and social factors related to delinquency are examined, along with program implications for prevention and intervention.

Prerequisites: Survey of Criminal Justice

CJUS 495 Seminar in Criminal Justice (3 Credit Hours)

This course requires students to use critical thinking, research, oral and written communication skills to investigate, discuss and explain how major criminal justice theories contribute to an understanding of deviant, delinquent or abnormal behaviors and crime. Particular emphasis is placed on discussion and evaluation of contemporary problems facing one of the elements of the criminal justice system; law enforcement, courts, and corrections. This senior level seminar is the capstone experience and senior competency course for criminal justice students and should be taken in the last year of study.

For Seniors Only.

Required Program Prerequisites

CMIS 101 Information Systems Concepts and Applications (3 Credit Hours)

This course is an introduction to basic computer concepts and Windows-based spreadsheet, database, and presentation graphics software currently used in industry. Development of problem-solving and proficiency using selected commercial software packages is stressed.

PSYC 121 Introduction to Psychology (3 Credit Hours)

This course is a general introduction to contemporary psychology focusing on basic concepts, principles, terminology, trends in psychological research, and the application of this knowledge. General Studies Outcome: Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Soc Science

SOC 201 Principles of Sociology (3 Credit Hours)

This course is an introductory study of group and social dynamics, cultures, social problems, social institutions, inter-group relationships, and the impact of social policies. General Studies Outcome: Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Soc Science

Legal Studies Option

Select eight courses from the following options.

BUS 251 Legal Environment and Contract Law (3 Credit Hours)

This course examines the sources and origins of law and the legal system, legal processes, and fundamental legal principles, with an emphasis on the obligations of parties to a contract.

BUS 252 Commercial Law (3 Credit Hours)

This course examines the legal principles covering sales contracts and negotiable instruments under the Uniform Commercial Code, property ownership, bailments, corporations, partnerships, and other business organizations.

Prerequisites: Legal Environment and Contract Law

BUS 353 Organizational Ethics (3 Credit Hours)

This course applies ethical concepts and principles to moral issues in business: corporate responsibility, discrimination, advertising, competition, whistle-blowing, trade-secrets, multinationals, environment, workers' rights, government regulation, investment, bribes, product liability, and consumerism.

BUS 493 Team Design and Performance (3 Credit Hours)

This course examines the design and performance of work and decisional teams including team composition, authority, communication, roles, support, and leadership. This course will prepare the student to be a successful team member and leader by exploring team evolution, self-management, and conflict resolution. This course is recommended for juniors and seniors in any degree program.

CJUS 190 Criminal Law (3 Credit Hours)

This course will focus on the concepts of substantive criminal law as they pertain to elements of criminal acts. Special focus will be assigned to basic legal concepts such as assigning punishment, voluntary criminal acts and omissions, explaining the nexus between mens rea and actus reus. Topics will also include theories of causation, homicide, theft, affirmative defenses and attempted crimes. Further, contemporary criminal law issues confronting law enforcement officials from crime prevention to court appearance are considered. Special attention will also be given to evidentiary standards relating to rules of relevancy, character evidence and hearsay.

CJUS 390 Ethics in Criminal Justice (3 Credit Hours)

This course will focus on ethical principles and concepts as they apply to elements of the criminal justice system. Special focus will be assigned to the three major areas of criminal justice: police, courts, and corrections. Students will learn about general philosophical theories and ethics designed to govern both individual behavior and institutions as a whole. Students will be provided with a framework for making ethical decisions in order to be successful practitioners in the field of criminal justice.

CJUS 441 Criminal Justice Internship (3 Credit Hours)

This course is designed for students to explore and gain work experience related to their major and anticipated career goals. Students may enroll for 1-12 hours of graded credit. A minimum of forty hours of work experience will be required for each hour of credit per semester. The student will complete necessary paperwork with the employer and the Internship Supervisor. Contact the Center for Engaged Learning for specific details. Prerequisites Required: 45 completed hours and good academic standing

CJUS 450 Criminalistics (3 Credit Hours)

This course introduces students to the basics of forensic science, focusing on the legal and procedural methods of evidence and evidence collection techniques to include fingerprint collection and analysis, firearms identification, gunshot residue, tool marks, footprint and tire mark impressions, forensic serology, blood splatter evidence, forensic photography, DNA theory and analysis, and electronic surveillance issues.

HP 311 Forensics Psychology (3 Credit Hours)

Forensic Psychology is the application of psychology to legal issues. This course will provide a foundational understanding of the intersection of psychology and the law. Special attention will be given to developing an understanding of the most prevalent mental disorders that are encountered in forensic evaluations and how forensic psychologists assists judges and juries in determining criminal responsibility and punishment. Students will learn about the insanity defense, capital murder and the death penalty, competency to stand trial, offender treatment, eye witness and expert testimony and child custody matters. Additional topics to be covered include the psychological underpinnings and motivations for sexual offenses, murder, and repeated criminal behavior.

PSCI 201 American National Government (3 Credit Hours)

This course is a thorough introduction to the U.S. political system, its institutions and processes. Topics will include the Constitutional founding, federalism, political culture, Congress, the Presidency, judiciary, bureaucracy, public opinion and the media, the electoral process, and civil liberties. General Studies Outcome: Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Social Science

PSCI 202 State and Local Government (3 Credit Hours)

This course includes description and analysis of political institutions and behavior in American states with interstate comparisons and comparisons between state and national political systems. Lecture topics include the development and role of American local government, its forms and structures, and the relationship to the federal government. General Studies Outcome: Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Social Science

PSCI 426 American Constitutional Law (3 Credit Hours)

A study of the historical and political context of constitutional doctrine through major decisions. The emphasis is on constitutional growth as it relates to the fundamental structure of American government and the social order. Dual-listed as HIST 426. General Studies Outcome: Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Social Science

Prerequisites: American National Government

PSCI 468 Public Administration (3 Credit Hours)

Students will study a range of topics involved in the administration of public agencies. Topics will include the history of America's public service, the development of intergovernmental relations, bureaucracies, public personnel, budgeting, decision making, evaluation procedures, and regulatory administration. This class will encourage students to investigate the role of public administration in the past and today, as well as to conjecture the possibilities for the future. Dual-listed as BUS 468. General Studies Outcome: Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Social Science

Prerequisites: American National Government

SOC 255 Diversity Issues in the United States (3 Credit Hours)

This course provides a comprehensive review of majority-minority relations in the United States and begins with an introduction of the sociological framework of the study of minorities, culture, prejudice, discrimination and intergroup relations. Subsequent weeks will be spent learning specifically about the experiences of a wide variety of minority groups, each starting with a socio-historical perspective and ending with a sociological analysis of their contemporary situation. General Studies Outcome: Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Soc Science

SOC 300 Contemporary Social Problems (3 Credit Hours)

This course is an introduction to the causes, treatment, and prevention of selected social problems with particular emphasis on the problems of conflict and inequality. General Studies Outcome: Community, Regional and Global Studies/Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Soc Science

SOC 322 The World's Religions (3 Credit Hours)

This course provides an introduction to the world's major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism,and Christianity. Central to the understanding of each will be knowledge of: location and history of the origins of the faith, especially in relation to world history; the difference between philosophy and religion, and where each fits; basic theological concepts; and social teachings. Dual listed as PHIL 322. General Studies Outcome: Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Soc Science

SOC 340 The Family (3 Credit Hours)

This course provides an examination of the role of the family in contemporary society with an emphasis on the factors influencing the family structure, functions, and roles, and their implications for both the community and individuals at varying stages of the family life cycle. General Studies Outcome: Methods of Inq and Explanatory Schema – Soc Science

Criminal Justice Legal Studies Career

With your online bachelor's degree in criminal justice – legal studies, there are a number of fascinating career options to explore.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of police and detectives is projected to grow 5% by 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The continued need for public safety is expected to lead to new openings for officers, although demand may vary by location. In May 2019, the median annual wage for police and detectives was $65,170, and $54,290 for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists.

The BLS also reported the median annual wage for legal assistants was $51,740 in May 2019. Employment of legal assistants is projected to grow 12% by 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Specific careers available with an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice – legal studies include:

  • Police Officer
  • Sheriff
  • Bailiff
  • Bank and Financial Crimes Fraud Examiner
  • Child Investigative Specialist
  • Computer Forensics
  • Correctional Officer
  • Correctional Treatment Specialist
  • Court Clerk
  • Crime Lab Analyst
  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Crimes Against Person Investigator
  • Crimes Against Property Investigator
  • Dispatcher
  • Drug and Alcohol Specialist
  • Family Case Worker
  • Federal Employment (FBI, CIA, DEA-restrictions apply)
  • Fire Investigator
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Military
  • Private Security/Protection Expert
  • Parole or Probation Officer
  • White-collar Crime Investigator

An abundance of opportunity. A rewarding, impactful career. In the fascinating field of criminal justice, the world needs professionals like you, driven to make a difference. So, come to Peru State College Online, and discover quality criminal justice education designed exactly for you.

Job titles and salaries reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Accredited and Respected

Firmly established since 1867, Peru State College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1915.

HLC is an institutional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to accredit degree-granting colleges and universities.

Peru State received notice in July 2022 of its continued accreditation by HLC with the next Reaffirmation of Accreditation in 2031-32.

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20+ Years Online, Peru is for You.

Since 1999, Peru State College has transformed students' lives 100% online. Our decades of experience give rise to a remarkable online education, complete with affordable, quality learning supported by faculty and staff who genuinely care. Join us and learn for yourself, why Peru is for you.


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