Online criminal justice program ranked No. 1 ‘Best Buy’

Western Carolina University’s online bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice has been given a No. 1 national ranking in affordability by the distance education information clearinghouse

WCU’s program is listed first among a group of top 10 “Best Buys.” The rankings are based on a survey of 35 regionally accredited universities that offer bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, law, legal studies and homeland security through distance education.

North Carolina students who enroll in WCU’s program pay about $9,000 for the program, while the average cost for a bachelor’s degree in the justice area is above $38,000, according to the survey.

“Distance education is all about making education more accessible, especially for working adults in need of career-specific higher education,” said Vicky Phillips, the Vermont company’s founder and chief education analyst. “The cost of college is a huge inhibiting factor for most Americans. Western Carolina University is to be lauded for taking the initiative in making higher education more affordable, and therefore more accessible, for learners in North Carolina.”

WCU Professor Ron Hunter, who until recently served as head of the university’s department of applied criminology, said the department is proud of the “Best Buy” ranking and that it is a tribute to the leadership of William D. Hyatt, a criminal justice professor who oversaw the program’s inception, Carlie Merritt, assistant professor and the program’s former director, and Pat Brown, dean of distance and continuing education.

For more information about the program, contact Aaron Vassey at (828) 227-2172 or