Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs

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The academic field of criminal justice explores how laws are created, interpreted, and enforced within different countries, states, municipalities, and other jurisdictions. Careers in criminal justice generally fall into two occupational categories: legal professions, such as lawyers, paralegals, and judges; and law enforcement professions, such as police officers and detectives, bailiffs, probation officers, and forensic investigators. Most career pathways in this rewarding field are attainable with a bachelor’s degree or less, and an online master’s in criminal justice can help students further distinguish themselves in the job market.

Criminal justice is regularly recognized as having some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, especially for students who earn a master’s degree.

Master’s in criminal justice online programs build on the foundational knowledge and skills of undergraduate studies. The curriculum leans heavily on case studies, using real-world examples to illustrate complex theories and psychological approaches to law and criminology. Criminal justice master’s students often choose to earn a degree specialization in niche areas like homeland security, behavioral science, or forensic technology. Many online criminal justice master’s degree programs culminate in a thesis paper or capstone project, giving students the opportunity to demonstrate the new knowledge and skills they have gained. Others offer supervised hands-on training as part of an internship or practicum course.

Learn more about what you can do with a master’s in criminal justice and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

The best online master’s in criminal justice programs prepare students to enter the workforce after graduation and pursue a career related to their areas of interest. Those who plan to work in law enforcement or criminal investigation will take courses designed to build their analytical and critical thinking skills. Students who are drawn to the legal side of criminal justice will learn about laws, policies, and individual cases that have significantly impacted the U.S. judicial system. Degree specializations and internships can further build a student’s career skill set.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online master’s degree programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar education. Students are able to access course materials, turn in written assignments, take exams, and contact their professors at their convenience. Additionally, current technology gives them the opportunity to study away from their home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other portable device with Wi-Fi capabilities. Faculty members also work with students during the latter stages of their program, offering guidance on theses and capstone projects and/or helping them arrange internships close to their home.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER’S IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE?

A master’s in criminal justice will qualify graduates for most entry-level roles in the criminal justice field, as well as managerial titles and other positions normally reserved for applicants with a graduate degree. It’s important to note that certain legal careers — such as lawyers and judges — will require an advanced law degree. These credentials are normally obtained after undergraduate studies have concluded, as an alternative to the master’s degree.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER’S IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROGRAMS?

Choosing the right program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master’s of criminal justice programs in the United States. If you are considering an online master’s in criminal justice, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 University of Central Florida 74.63 3/5 51% Orlando, FL

The University of Central Florida is one of the largest colleges in the country, with more than 60,000 students studying at all levels. The school still manages to keep its student-to-faculty ratios low, ensuring learners receive individualized attention, including online students. The school's online criminal justice master's offers students a political, economic, historical, and philosophical perspective on law enforcement and criminal punishment in the United States. The degree also emphasizes skills in information technology and qualitative and quantitative research methods.

The master of science in criminal justice is comprised of 36 credits. Students can take up to nine hours of graduate-level coursework in another discipline to customize the degree. Core courses include policy analysis, research methods, and justice administration. Students also choose two restricted elective courses, with options including foundations of corrections, juvenile justice, American criminal courts, and foundations of law enforcement. The degree includes a three-credit capstone seminar which combines major program topics. Students must earn at least a 3.0 GPA in core courses and the capstone to be eligible for graduation. Students are not required to complete a thesis, but they must pass a final exit examination.

UCF's Department of Criminal Justice works with the School of Public Administration to offer a dual online master's in criminal justice and public administration. This degree emphasizes skills of organization and analysis that is applicable to careers in both fields, it also prepares graduates for administrative and leadership careers in criminal justice. The dual degree is offered fully online, but not all elective options are available online. Due to state regulations, UCF is also unable to offer online courses to students residing in Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon.

Department: College of Health and Public Affairs
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $288/credit

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 36

Program Length
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Fall - January 15, July 15 ; Spring - December 1 ; Summer - April 15
GPA: Minimum 3.0 cumulative or in final 60 undergraduate credits
Standardized tests: GRE scores for those with a GPA lower than 3.0

Contact
Department phone: (407) 823-2603
Department email: Eugene.Paoline@ucf.edu (Dr. Eugene Paoline, Professor and Graduate Program Director)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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2 Michigan State University 69.19 3/5 18% East Lansing, MI

MSU, based in East Lansing, Michigan, was one of the first colleges in the country to offer an online criminal justice master's degree, and the school's online program dates back nearly 20 years. The program provides graduates with the skills and knowledge they'll need to become transformative professionals within their field. Students earning their master of science in criminal justice can choose to specialize in judicial administration, security management, or international criminal justice.

Students complete a minimum of 30 credit hours, with core studies including criminal justice management, criminal justice research, and crime causation and prevention. Students in the security management track take additional courses in administration, while those studying judicial administration take courses in court planning and operations.

Online students have the option to participate in MSU's field placement program, allowing them to earn either independent study or internship credit through practical fieldwork in a criminal justice environment. Students work with the school's career development and internship coordinators to arrange an appropriate field experience at a relevant agency within their community. Some of the fieldwork opportunities may be paid internships and others may cover student's travel costs, but most are unpaid volunteer positions.

Most students complete the program in 1-2 years. Learners with work or family obligations are free to take three years or more to complete their criminal justice master's online. Online students benefit from digital library access, an online writing center, and delivery of necessary books and papers from the school library at no cost.


Program Overview
Department: College of Social Science, School of Criminal Justice
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Security management, judicial administration
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $716/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: 12 credits of undergraduate coursework in economics, political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, social work, and history
Credit requirements: 30
Field education requirements: Career-relevant internship experience

Program Length
Program length: 2 to 3 years
Program start dates: Summer, fall, spring

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Summer - February 1 ; Fall - February 1 ; Spring - September 1
Standardized tests: GRE
Work experience: Applicant should demonstrate sufficient educational and occupational experience to pursue graduate studies

Contact
Department phone: (517) 355-2192
Department email: mfinn@msu.edu (Mary A. Finn, Director and Professor)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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3 Florida State University 68.72 3/5 27% Tallahassee, FL

FSU, one of the oldest higher education institutions in Florida, is home to more than 41,000 students, served through the Tallahassee campus and online. The school's master of science in criminal justice is offered entirely online. The program is conducted in an asynchronous format that requires no specific login times or live class sessions. Most students take two courses per semester and complete the degree within two years, though FSU does offer students the flexibility to take either a lighter or heavier course load as their schedules permit.

The online criminal justice master's requires 36 credit hours for graduation. Core courses consist of 15 credits and include survey of criminological theories, computer applications in criminal justice, research methods in criminology, and applied statistics in criminology. Students fulfill the remaining 21 credits with elective courses, at least 12 credits of which must come from the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Elective courses cover more specialized topics in the field, including victimology, penology, criminal justice administration, and the role of police in society. Students are also allowed to select up to nine credits of relevant courses from other academic departments with faculty approval. Transfer students may apply up to six credits of graduate coursework from an accredited institution toward their criminal justice degree.

Online students have access to all the same resources as their campus peers, like academic support, career services, and the reading-writing tutoring center. Online students can also take advantage of the FSU bookstore, which offers ebooks and the CafeScribe digital textbook platform. This allows for interactive highlighting, note taking, and sharing with classmates.


Program Overview
Department: College of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice Studies
Accrediting body: SACSCOC

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 36

Program Length
Program options: Full-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Summer - March 1 ; Fall - July 1 ; Spring - November 1
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Department phone: (850) 645-9169
Department email: mhm1991@fsu.edu (Meghan Martinez, Academic Program Specialist)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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4 Nova Southeastern University 68.18 4/5 54% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Fort Lauderdale's Nova Southeastern University is home to an online master's in criminal justice. Graduates are prepared for a variety of different roles. Individuals already working in law enforcement or first response receive a 20% Valor Award Scholarship, as do veterans and active members of the military. NSU has also been classified as a school with high research activity by the Carnegie Foundation and is one of only 50 institutions in the country to be awarded the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. It's also been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-serving institution.

The master of science in criminal justice is a versatile, interdisciplinary degree that offers 12 distinct concentrations, including behavioral science, strategic community planning, investigative forensic technology, and juvenile justice. Each track includes 15 credit hours of core courses along with 12 credit hours of concentration courses. Students in the online criminal justice master's program also have the option to complete a practicum placement, worth either three, six, or nine credits. The practicum allows students to gain hands-on experience through fieldwork in a professional setting, observing standard practices within a criminal justice department or agency and performing supervised duties. NSU helps online students find a practicum experience in their own community.

Students can also choose to complete a master's thesis that's worth six credit hours. Working in collaboration with a faculty member, students in the thesis track perform original research on a relevant criminal justice topic and present their findings to the department. The department provides a free webinar about their program.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Justice and Human Services
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Legal perspective in criminal justice, behavioral science, business administration, public administration, substance abuse, strategic community planning, information systems, conflict and crisis management, child protection and juvenile justice, information security, investigative forensic technology, emergency preparedness leadership
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $705/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 30
Field education requirements: Practicum placement elective option

Program Length
Program options: Full-time
Program length: 2 Years
Program start dates: Fall, winter, spring

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Spring - April 20 ; Fall - August 1 ; Winter - December 10
GPA: Minimum 2.5 in last 60 undergraduate credits or 3.0 cumulative

Contact
Department phone: (954) 262-8601
Department email: Facebook, Twitter

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5 Rowan University 64.98 4/5 16% Glassboro, NJ

Rowan, located in Glassboro, New Jersey, offers a master of arts in criminal justice. The program emphasizes the research-based evaluation of crime prevention and control programs, giving students a deeper understanding of police, courts, and the corrections system. The curriculum also covers major topics in criminal policy, the causes of crime, and the relationship between law and society.

Although the school's online master's degree in criminal justice is offered part-time, it's taught in an accelerated format so students can finish the required 30 credit hours within five consecutive semesters. Courses are taught in eight-week blocks. Each week of coursework starts on Tuesday morning and concludes on Monday night, with assignments often due by 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. The degree includes eight required courses, focusing on topics such as management of criminal justice organizations, research methods, contemporary developments in theory, and criminal justice policy analysis. The program offers three start dates throughout the year, allowing students to begin courses in either summer, fall, or spring. Online student services include a student counselor, digital library access, and 24/7 technology support.

Applicants to the online criminal justice master's must hold a bachelor's degree or equivalent from an accredited institution, and should have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5. Applicants must also submit a professional resume, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of professional objectives that demonstrates graduate-level writing ability. NSU recommends that students complete introductory undergraduate courses in either criminal justice, research methods, or statistics (if not all three) before applying to the program.


Program Overview
Department: Rowan Global Learning & Partnerships
Program Name: Master's of Arts in Criminal Justice Online
Accrediting body: MSCHE
Tuition: $730/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Undergraduate introductory courses in criminal justice, statistics, or research methods are highly recommended
Credit requirements: 30

Program Length
Program options: Part-time
Program length: 2 years, including one summer semester
Program start dates: Spring - January 2 ; Summer - May 2 ; Fall - August 29

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Summer - April ; Fall - July 1 ; Spring - November 1
GPA: Minimum 2.5
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Department phone: (856) 256-4747
Department email: global@rowan.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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6 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus 64.62 3/5 22% Denver, CO

The University of Colorado has campuses in Denver and Aurora, with a student body of more than 19,000. The school's master of science in criminal justice degree is geared towards criminal justice professionals looking to advance in the field and students looking to enter this competitive field. Focused on developing criminal justice leaders, the program emphasizes in-depth knowledge in law enforcement, courts, correctional systems, juvenile justice, and the formulation of laws and codes. Students can specialize their knowledge in areas of domestic violence, police administration, community corrections, homeland security, and policy and planning.

The online criminal justice master's degree requires a minimum of 36 credit hours to graduate. The five core courses provide foundational knowledge in criminological theory, criminal justice systems and policies, research methods, statistics, and the role of law in society. Students who have no previous experience in the field are required to complete a three-hour internship at a local, state, or federal criminal justice organization.

All students complete either a traditional master's thesis worth three to six credits or a three-credit capstone field project. The capstone course takes the form of a client-based research project, which has students perform independent research in partnership with a government agency or nonprofit organization and create a comprehensive written report on their findings. Students end the program by presenting their findings to a panel of faculty members and other criminal justice professionals.

CU Denver offers a tuition discount to out-of-state residents who take all their courses online, allowing them to pay a competitive tuition rate that is similar to that of Colorado residents. State residents can take the program in a hybrid format.


Program Overview
Department: School of Public Affairs
Program Name: Master's of Criminal Justice
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $625/credit

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 36
Field education requirements: Students without prior professional experience in criminal justice must complete a 3-credit internship

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 1 to 7 years
Program start dates: Spring, summer, fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Spring - December 1 ; Summer - May 1 ; Fall - August 1
Standardized tests: GRE, GMAT, or LSAT

Contact
Department phone: (303) 315-2228 (Sebawit Bishu, Assistant Professor)
Department email: spa@ucdenver.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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7 Troy University 64.00 3/5 54% Troy, AL

As one of the largest and most popular programs offered by Troy University, the online master's in criminal justice provides flexibility in learning and job prospects upon graduation. Students in the master of science in criminal justice program gain the skills to analyze justice and corrections issues, evaluating the effectiveness of policies and practices applied to criminal law procedures. The program also covers strategies for criminal justice management and administration, touching on personnel issues, organizational theories, communication tactics, and problem solving.

The online criminal justice master's is a 30-credit program that can be completed in one year, entirely online. The curriculum consists of 15 credit hours of core courses, including principles of administration, current trends in criminal law, and a survey of research methods in criminal justice. Students also take 12 credits of elective courses which allows them to focus their studies. The degree culminates in a criminal justice capstone course that includes examinations in each of the program's core learning areas. It has students demonstrate critical analysis and integrated learning through the examination of current research and the design and implementation of their own research project. Students must earn at least a "B" in the course to graduate from the program.

Professors encourage students to engage with their peers and build the same types of academic support systems seen in traditional classrooms. Traditional and online students have the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs for criminal justice. The university is also committed to providing support through a range of services and resources, including academic advising, technical assistance, library support, and a writing center.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Criminal Justice
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $494/credit (in-state), $988/credit (out-of-state)

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 30

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.5 cumulative or 3.0 in last 30 credits
Standardized tests: GRE, GMAT, or GMAT

Contact
Department phone: (800) 414-5756
Department email: ask@troy.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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8 University of Massachusetts-Lowell 62.30 3/5 42% Lowell, MA

UMass-Lowell is the second-largest public college in Massachusetts, serving more than 18,000 students from its campus in Lowell and through online programs. The school's master of science in criminal justice is intended for students looking to enter or advance in the field or for experienced professionals who are interested in moving into teaching. UML gives students advanced knowledge in a range of relevant topics, including administration and management, leadership, crisis and emergency management, crime analysis, and public policy.

The master's in criminal justice online is an option for students looking to customize their program. The degree, which consists of 33 credit hours, is available entirely online and can be completed in two years of part-time study. In addition to five required core courses, students are able to select six elective courses to focus the degree based on their interests, which may include victimology, criminal profiling, homeland security, and criminal homicide. Students who can take the program in a hybrid format have a greater selection of electives. Students also have the option to take one independent study course, allowing them to perform directed studies in a topic that falls outside the scope of normal class materials.

Online students benefit from assigned advisors who work with them from matriculation to graduation. Student services include academic advising, career mentorship, 24-hour technical assistance, library services, and support finding a local field placement or internship.


Program Overview
Department: School of Criminology and Justice Studies
Program Name: Master's in Criminal Justice
Accrediting body: NEASC
Tuition: $575/credit

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 33

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program start dates: Spring, summer, fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: Minimum 2.8
Standardized tests: GRE, MAT

Contact
Department phone: (978) 934-4139
Department email: Eika_Hunt@uml.edu (Eika Hunt, Administrative Assistant)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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9 University of Louisville 61.62 3/5 17% Louisville, KY

Based in Louisville, Kentucky, UofL is committed to providing quality programs through modern technology, and that philosophy extends to the school's online master of science in criminal justice. The program focuses on different approaches to the criminal justice system, including administration, legal issues, theories of crime and delinquency, and statistical and research-based methods.

The curriculum consists of 36 credit hours, including 15 hours of core courses and 18 hours of electives. Students can focus their studies through elective courses, with options such as capital punishment, domestic violence, international terrorism, and the relationship between criminal justice and the media. Students also complete a professional paper as part of their graduation requirements.

All classes are available asynchronously, and accelerated terms last six weeks. Students can choose from six different start times each year and can complete the program in three intensive semesters. Students commonly complete the criminal justice master's degree online within two years. Applicants can save time and money by transferring up to six graduate credits from another accredited institution. Graduates of Kentucky's Southern Police Institute administrative officers course graduate track can transfer to UofL with 12 credit hours. The academic relationship leads to a seamless credit transfer process, allowing Police Institute graduates to transfer without submitting documentation of credit.

Active-duty service members and Kentucky National Guard reserve members may be eligible to receive a dramatically reduced tuition rate. All students receive the same in-state tuition rate, regardless of residence. Online students also have access to tutoring, advising, tech support, a virtual library, and an online writing center. An online demo course is available.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Criminal Justice
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $714/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 36

Program Length
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Fall - August 21 ; Spring - January 8 ; Summer - May 8, May 30, July 5

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Department phone: (502) 852-6567
Department email: justice@uofl.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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10 East Carolina University 61.62 3/5 39% Greenville, NC

With over 28,000 students, ECU is the third-largest higher education institution in North Carolina, serving students through its main campus in Greenville and distance learning programs. The school's master of science in criminal justice is available fully online, giving students the flexibility to advance in the criminal justice field, teach criminal justice studies at the college level, or pursue a doctoral program upon graduation.

ECU's online criminal justice master's program requires 36 total credit hours to graduate, which includes 18 credits in core courses and 18 credits in electives. Core courses cover foundational knowledge in subjects such as criminal behavior, justice administration, and program evaluations. Electives offer more specialized subjects that allow students choose a professional focus. The program includes three options for certification: public management and leadership, criminal justice education, and security studies. The public management and security studies certificates require 15 credits of courses, all of which can be applied toward the 18-credit elective requirement. The education certificate requires 18 hours of credits, nine of which can be applied toward elective credits. All students must complete a professional paper, which requires independent analysis of a relevant topic performed under faculty guidance.

The department encourages collaboration and involvement by engaging in class discussions and projects and through social media channels. The school has a regular newsletter to keep students updated on departmental news and advancements within the field. Other avenues of engagement include the Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society and the Criminal Justice Student Organization. The career services department helps students find employment.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Criminal Justice
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $370/credit (in-state), $1,002/credit (out-of-state)

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 36

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Fall - April 1 ; Spring - October 1 ; Summer - April 1
GPA: Minimum 2.7
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Department phone: (252) 328-4192
Department email: just@ecu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook

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11 Mississippi College 61.25 3/5 22% Clinton, MS

MC's loss prevention degree includes a strong foundation in administrative justice. Students take specialized courses that prepare them for careers in security management, including criminal investigations and consulting, loss management, and private investigation. The degree requires 30 credit hours to graduate, including 18 credits in loss prevention courses and 12 hours that students select in two minor areas of their choice. The loss prevention curriculum includes 12 hours of core courses, covering topics in executive management, private security law, physical security, and an introduction to the field of loss prevention. Students complete their concentration credits with six hours of elective courses, which can include anything from interview and interrogation techniques to white collar crime and intelligence analysis. MC is a Christian college that incorporates elements of faith in all courses.

A career in loss prevention means you'll be protecting life and property or enforcing the law. Graduates can work as private consultants or in the public or private sectors. Careers include consultant, criminal investigator, detective, loss prevention manager, and security manager.

Distance learners receive access to the library, this includes the Ask a Librarian Service, access to databases, and a journal finder.


Program Overview
Department: Department of History & Political Science
Program Name: Master's of Science in Homeland Security
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $567/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Length
Program start dates: Spring, summer, fall

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.5
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Department phone: (601) 925-3266
Department email: hporter@mc.edu (Harry Porter, Director)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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12 University of San Diego 60.98 4/5 2% San Diego, CA

The University of San Diego offers an online master of science in law enforcement and public safety leadership. The program is intended for two types of students: individuals already working in law enforcement seeking career advancement or current law enforcement leaders looking for a second career as a professor or consultant. The coursework, which can be completed in five semesters, teaches the theories and practices to help graduates become effective leaders. Students gain specialized knowledge in criminal justice topics such as public safety law and community assessment. This includes broad perspectives on leadership and general management, from organizational frameworks and communications strategies to budgeting and resource allocation.

The 31-credit curriculum consists of 11 courses, including a capstone course. The program can be completed in 20 months. Students gain an understanding of practical, professional, and administrative issues and the intersecting role they place in law enforcement institutions. Students also gain a broad perspective on trends and practices in law enforcement technologies, learning to assess the effectiveness of different tools and their relevance to different law enforcement agencies. The program ends with a capstone course that has students gather their best work into a portfolio and reflect on their overall learning.

All of the coursework was developed in collaboration with professionals who are active members of police forces, sheriff associations, and other law enforcement agencies. USD's online criminal justice master's also receives program endorsement from the San Diego Police Officers Association. Active military and veterans receive a generous grant toward their education.


Program Overview
Department: Division of Professional and Continuing Education
Program Name: Master's of Science in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership
Accrediting body: WASC Senior College and University Commission
Tuition: $699/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 31

Program Length
Program length: 20 months
Program start dates: Spring, summer, fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: Minimum 2.75
Standardized tests: GRE, GMAT, or LSAT is recommended for those with a GPA of 2.5-2.75

Contact
Department phone: (619) 260-4585
Department email: continuinged@sandiego.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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13 University of Memphis 60.69 3/5 31% Memphis, TN

As a public research institution, UofM has provided quality education since 1912, and today the school serves more than 20,000 students from its campus in Memphis, Tennessee, and its distance education program. The school's online master of arts in criminal justice emphasizes conducting and evaluating research, preparing students for positions in advanced administration and management, teaching, and criminal justice research. The program offers classroom and community perspectives on topics of criminology, victimology, and the organization of the criminal justice system, giving students a theoretical and practical understanding.

The department prides itself on hiring faculty who have prior experience in the field and are active researchers in the development of criminal justice. The program emphasizes helping students develop partnerships with others working in the field, including policy makers, community groups, and program developers. These partnerships also allow faculty to conduct applied research and develop the program in accordance with the latest developments in criminology and justice practices.

The online master's in criminal justice has two options: A 33-semester hour thesis option or a 30-hour non-thesis option. Both tracks include core and elective courses, all of which are taught in an asynchronous format. Students take 15 hours of core courses, including nine credits in criminal justice foundations and six credits in research methods and statistics. Up to six credit hours may be taken in courses outside of the department with faculty approval. Students can also allocate up to six credits toward non-classroom experiences, such as internships or directed independent study. Students in the thesis track complete an original research project in a relevant criminal justice topic that's worth up to six credits. The project is presented and defended before a panel of faculty members and other criminal justice professionals.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Program Name: Master's of Arts in Criminal Justice
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $609/credit (in-state), $1,097/credit (out-of-state)

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 33
Field education requirements: Supervised criminal justice internship in a law enforcement, judicial, or correctional agency

Program Length
Program options: Full-time
Program length: 3 semesters
Program start dates: Spring, fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Spring - November 1 ; Fall - July 1
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Department phone: (901) 678-2737
Department email: bbrrston@memphis.edu (Bert Burraston, Assistant Professor and Graduate Coordinator)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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14 Sam Houston State University 60.35 3/5 40% Huntsville, TX

Sam Houston State University, located in Huntsville, Texas, offers an online master of science in criminal justice that's designed for working professionals. The program is applicable to students with or without previous criminal justice experience. The curriculum covers professional knowledge that prepares graduates for organizational management, administration, social policy, and field positions in the industry. SHSU recognizes the needs of working students, and the online master's in criminal justice is designed work with full-time employment, allowing most students to complete the degree with two years of part-time study. The program also offers two convenient start dates in the fall and spring.

The required 36 credit hours are comprised of 21 core courses and 15 elective hours. The program core is seven courses and includes organization and administration, research methods, computer and technology applications, and community theory. All electives must be taken within the department of criminal justice. Elective courses include topics in intelligence analysis, the court system, international terrorism, forensic analysis, and juvenile justice.

While students pursuing their criminal justice master's degree online are not required to complete a thesis, the curriculum does include a final capstone course focusing on emergent issues in criminal justice leadership. The course combines major program topics, exploring the intersection between organizational theory, public administration, community relations, and criminal justice management. Students must earn a grade of at least "B" in the capstone course to graduate.

SHSU offers more than 50 scholarships to criminal justice students, all of which can be applied for through the college's website. Using the SHSU Scholarships4Kats application process, students can apply for all criminal justice scholarships with a single application.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $5,862/semester

Delivery
Format: Online

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 36
Field education requirements: 3 month internship in a criminal justice institution

Program Length
Program options: Full-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Spring, fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Fall - May 1 ; Spring - November 1
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE may be requested for students with a low GPA
Work experience: A personal essay describing career background

Contact
Department phone: (936) 294-4735
Department email: mae026@shsu.edu (Melissa Hicks, Assistant to Criminal Justice and Criminology Chair)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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15 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus 59.96 4/5 37% Cincinnati, OH

Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, UC is the oldest institution of higher education in the city, and its student body of over 44,000 makes it the second-largest in the state. The school offers an innovative master of science in criminal justice that doesn't require students to submit GRE scores. The program can be completed in one to two years. The degree has been offered fully online for more than 14 years, making it one of the oldest in this format, and UC boasts more than 2,000 online criminal justice alumni.

UC's online criminal justice master's degree adopts an interdisciplinary format that combines knowledge in law, public administration, social sciences, and criminology. Students gain a deep understanding of crime prevention and the different aspects of the justice system with a research-based approach that applies criminal justice theories to practical policy. The 33-credit curriculum includes 15 credits of core courses, nine credits in concentration courses, and an additional nine credits electives. Students also complete a three-credit demonstration project, which has them perform research on a relevant criminal justice topic and present their findings to faculty and classmates.

Online learners can specialize in one of three areas: analysis of criminal behavior, law enforcement and crime prevention, or corrections and offender rehabilitation. Students in the corrections concentration study correctional theory and rehabilitation techniques, preparing them for administrative and leadership positions in prisons and other correctional facilities. The law enforcement track focuses on strategies of social control and crime prevention, applicable to policing organization and management. The criminal behavior concentration takes a socio-psychological approach to criminal justice, focusing on factors affecting unique groups, such as juvenile offenders, sex offenders, and white collar criminals.


Program Overview
Department: College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Analysis of criminal behavior, law enforcement and crime prevention, correction and offender rehabilitation
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $724/credit (in-state), $1,311/credit (out-of-state)

Delivery
Format: Online and hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 33

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Program start dates: Fall, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE for applicants with a GPA below 2.75

Contact
Department phone: (513) 556-5827
Department email: luahna.winninghamcarter@uc.edu (Luahna Lynn Winingham Carter, Academic Director)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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16 Liberty University 59.57 4/5 90% Lynchburg, VA

Liberty University is the largest private college in America and the largest Christian higher education institution in the world. An impressive 15,000 students are campus-based, and nearly 95,000 students complete their degrees online. The school's master of science in criminal justice provides students with a Christian perspective toward law enforcement. It prepares them to serve as leaders and decision makers who maintain the trust, integrity, and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. Along with policy and theory, the degree emphasizes topics in ethics and leadership education, training students to serve with a biblical worldview.

The online criminal justice master's degree consists of 36 credit hours and offers a path for individuals interested in public administration. Students take 18 credits of core courses focused on criminal justice integration, HR management, justice administration, program evaluation, and ethical policing. Students in the general concentration take an additional 12 credits in criminal justice or related electives. Learners in the public administration track take 12 credits focused on communication and conflict, public policy analysis, and community economic development.

Students are required to complete a thesis in their final year of study. The thesis component includes two three-credit courses: thesis proposal and research and thesis defense. In thesis research students select a criminal justice topic and perform original research for a written report. For thesis defense, students present and defend their topic to a body of faculty members. Learners developing their thesis are allowed to take the proposal and research course multiple times, but it can only be counted once toward graduation credit requirements.


Program Overview
Department: Helms School of Government
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: General, public administration, homeland security, forensic psychology
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $565/credit (full-time), $615/credit (part-time)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 36

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Summer - May 21, July 3 ; Fall - August 28, September 25, October 30 ; Spring - January 22, February 19, March 26

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Summer - April 25, June 7 ; Spring - December 20, January 24, February 28 ; Fall - August 2, August 30, October 4
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Department phone: (434) 592-3691
Department email: government@liberty.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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17 Lewis University 59.18 3/5 28% Romeoville, IL

Lewis University, located in Romeoville, Illinois, has an innovative online master of science in criminal/social justice. The degree, designed for students who already have experience in public defense, instills the skills needed to make a difference in law enforcement and fight against injustice. The school has been designated as a Gold Academic Alliance Member by the FBI National Academy Associates. The criminal justice alumni community provides students the opportunity to network and learn from those who have experience in the field. As an added incentive, the university is offering tuition reduction for students who choose to complete their criminal justice degree online.

The program emphasizes professional ethics and critical thinking toward social and criminal issues. The criminal justice master's online program trains students to lead and manage criminal and social justice services. The 36-credit curriculum includes 24 hours of core courses, covering topics such as fiscal management, fair practices in labor relations, criminal procedure, and criminal law. Students focus their degree through 12 credits in elective courses, learning about the various aspects of criminal justice, including family violence, homeland security, correctional counseling, and rehabilitation. Students must also pass a comprehensive week-long exam that's administered through the Department of Justice, Law, and Public Safety Studies.

Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree in either social or behavioral science or be employed in the criminal justice field. Students who do not meet either other these requirements must take two introductory criminal justice courses before being admitted into the program.


Program Overview
Department: Justice, Law, and Public Safety Studies Department
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal/Social Justice
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $575/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree in social or behavioral science, prior work experience in a criminal justice position, or pass two criminal justice classes chosen by the program director
Credit requirements: 36

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Every 8 weeks

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Department phone: (815) 836-5342
Department email: megami@lewisu.edu (Michelle Mega, Director of Recruitment and External Relations)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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18 Concordia University-Saint Paul 58.88 3/5 56% Saint Paul, MN

CU, a Christian liberal arts college based in St. Paul, Minnesota, offers a master of arts in criminal justice leadership. The degree is structured to appeal to individuals considering a terminal degree in the field. Offered as a study in leadership, most applicants have already worked in criminal justice or public defense and are now looking to move into managerial or senior roles. This is a self-directed program that encourages students to devise creative responses to criminal justice issues, emphasizing reflective learning and research-based evaluation methods.

CU's online master's degree in criminal justice consists of 36 credit hours, with courses broken down into seven-week terms for flexibility. The curriculum consists of nine four-credit courses, with major topics including criminal justice resource assessment, legal and legislative issues, correctional design, and applied ethics. Learners take a capstone project which has them combine their learned knowledge and reflect on their professional growth throughout the duration of the program. The project ends with a presentation of a digital portfolio to faculty and classmates.

CU excels in job placement, with 92% of graduates from the 2013-2014 class receiving job offers after graduation. Faculty and program administrators work closely with online students to help them gain experience and network. CU operates its criminal justice graduate program in a cohort model, which builds a deeper sense of community by having students move through their course sequence in a cohesive group. Students remain in the same cohort group throughout their degree, creating connections with classmates and giving them the unique knowledge and perspective of others.


Program Overview
Department: College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Program Name: Master's of Arts in Criminal Justice Leadership
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $475/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 36

Program Length
Program start dates: Spring, summer, fall

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Department phone: (888) 859-0641
Department email: onlineinfo@csp.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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19 University of North Texas 58.68 3/5 32% Denton, TX

Based in Denton, Texas, UNT serves around 38,000 students through on-campus and online programs. The school offers a master of science in criminal justice with a concentration in justice policy in administration, giving students a theoretical, empirical, and practical understanding of crime prevention and criminal justice administration. Ranked as one of the top criminal justice master's online programs in Texas, UNT's degree was created for criminal justice professionals looking to move into leadership-focused roles within the field. Courses are designed and developed by the same full-time faculty leading discussions in traditional classrooms. Online students have access to career services, technical help, counseling, financial aid, an online learning center, and a digital library.

The curriculum requires 36 credits to graduate, with 12 credits of core courses covering subjects in justice administration, policy, criminological theory, and research methodologies. Students also take 21 hours of elective courses, allowing them to gain specialized knowledge in topics such as juvenile justice, campus public safety, world criminal justice, and cybercrime. Students may take up to nine credit hours of relevant courses from outside the criminal justice department with faculty approval. Students complete a capstone course that focuses on special problems in criminal justice. The course has students work with an adviser to choose a relevant criminal justice topic, combining the program's learning goals with their own original research. UNT offers flexible scheduling, with the option to take up to three courses each semester. Students taking two courses each semester typically complete the degree within two years.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Criminal Justice
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Justice policy and administration
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $358/credit (in-state), $505/credit (out-of-state)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 36

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Spring, fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Fall - August 1 ; Spring - December 1
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Work experience: Students must document work experience from a criminal justice position in their personal statement

Contact
Department phone: (940) 565-2562
Department email: MSCJ-Advising@unt.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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20 Dallas Baptist University 58.37 4/5 42% Dallas, TX

DBU operates a main campus near downtown Dallas, satellite locations in Plano and Hurst, and a selection of online courses. Since all classes are taught from a Christian perspective, students with religious convictions are often drawn to the school's offerings. DBU offers an online master of arts in professional development with the option to complete an individualized track in criminal justice. Students can also choose an interdisciplinary concentration, pairing criminal justice with studies in a related field, such as communication, counseling, leadership, and management.

The curriculum requires 36 credit hours, with nine hours dedicated to core courses in leadership studies, worldviews, human beliefs and actions, and career development and life transitions. Students choose an additional 27 credits worth of courses, with 18 credits dedicated to the criminal justice concentration and nine credits dedicated to relevant electives. Students pursuing a dual concentration take 15 credits in a primary discipline and 12 credits in a secondary discipline. Learners choose from a range of criminal justice courses, including ethical issues in law enforcement, crime and drug problems, correctional theory and application, white collar crime in America, and crisis intervention.

Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree with either a major or minor in criminal justice or held previous employment in a law enforcement office. Students lacking these prerequisites can take an introductory criminal justice course before beginning the graduate program. Online students can expect a range of individualized services and resources, including a writing center, career development counseling, technical assistance, academic advising, and a range of online student groups and organizations.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master's of Arts in Professional Development
Available concentrations: Criminal justice, business, higher education, counseling, leadership, English as a second language, missions, professional life coaching, training and development, interdisciplinary
Accrediting body: SACSCOC
Tuition: $906/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Undergraduate major or minor in criminal justice, or evidence of work experience in law enforcement
Credit requirements: 36

Program Length
Program start dates: Fall, winter, spring, summer

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Department phone: (214) 333-5242
Department email: graduate@dbu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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21 University of Wisconsin-Platteville 57.29 3/5 16% Platteville, WI

Students at UW-Platteville enjoy the benefits of attending an institution that has provided distance education for more than 35 years and consistently ranks as one of the best institutions for nontraditional studies. With no GRE or GMAT scores required for admission, the school's online master of science in criminal justice provides easy transition for students looking to begin their graduate studies. Students can complete an emphasis track in criminal justice theory, criminal justice management, or victim and offender services. Students can also pursue a child advocacy certificate.

Students complete 30 credits of coursework, including 15 credits of core courses in criminal justice systems, criminological theory, law as social control, and research and statistics. The degree also includes 15 credits of electives, either in general criminal justice studies or concentration courses. The criminal justice theory track prepares students for government research positions or doctoral work, while the justice management track is applicable to students seeking to move into leadership or administrative positions. The victim and offender services concentration trains students to work with crime victims and criminal offenders, from juveniles to probation and parole clients. The certificate in child advocacy studies requires nine credits, with courses in child maltreatment, victimology, and either an internship or independent study in child advocacy.

UW-Platteville places a premium on professional experience, and students with relevant professional certifications can earn credit toward their graduate degree. Students who have completed the Wisconsin certified public manager program at UW-Madison, the forensic psychophysiology program at the National Center for Credibility Assessment, or the homeland security program at the American Military University can all gain academic credit for their certifications.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Criminal Justice
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Criminal justice theory, criminal justice management, victim and offender services
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $665/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Students should be current or former social services or criminal justice professionals
Credit requirements: 30
Field education requirements: Internship in a government or private agency

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 years
Program start dates: Spring, summer, fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Spring - December 1 ; Summer - April 15 ; Fall - July 15
GPA: Minimum 2.75 cumulative, or 2.9 in last 60 credits
Work experience: Students should have professional experience in social services or criminal justice

Contact
Department phone: (608) 342-1622
Department email: cj-fidept@uwplatt.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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22 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus 56.18 3/5 26% Norman, OK

Offered through the school's College of Liberal Studies, the master of science in criminal justice focuses on core topics in theoretical foundations of criminal justice, policy development, ethical decision-making, and drug abuse policy. Students gain an understanding of current law enforcement issues and the criminal justice system while building leadership and critical analysis skills necessary for professional advancement.

The 33-credit program offers two concentration options: drug abuse and policy management and administration and leadership. Students can pursue certifications in corrections management or restorative justice. The certification pathways require a specific sequence of courses, while concentrations have suggested courses for students to choose from. All students take 18 credits in core courses, with topics including interdisciplinary foundations, criminal justice research methods, policy development, and ethical decision making for criminal justice leaders. Students also take nine elective credits, which include penology, community justice, special populations, and cyber-forensics. Graduation requires six credits of completion courses, which take the form of a research project and a thesis. Students can take an additional six credits of electives and a comprehensive written examination.

UO's online master's degree in criminal justice is intended for working adults, and the school offers three start dates throughout the year to accommodate varying schedules. Students receive a personal academic advisor who works with them to create an individualized program, identifying the courses and focuses that align with the student's professional interests. The degree is offered entirely online, but students can choose to enroll in a hybrid format. Campus course availability may vary depending on student enrollment levels, while online elective selections may also change each semester.


Program Overview
Department: College of Liberal Studies
Program Name: Master's of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Corrections management, administration and leadership, restorative justice, drug abuse policy and management
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $330/credit (in-state), $917/credit (out-of-state)

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 33

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program start dates: Spring, summer, fall

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Spring - December 1 ; Summer - May 1 ; Fall - July 1
GPA: Minimum GPA 2.49 to 3.0, although applicants with 3.0 are given priority

Contact
Department phone: (405) 325-3266
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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23 Arizona State University-Skysong 56.05 3/5 92% Scottsdale, AZ

As one of the larger providers of online programs, ASU is equipped to serve a varied student population. The school's online master of arts in criminal justice covers topics such as research methods, statistical analysis, program planning, management and evaluation, and policy analysis. Although the criminal justice program is offered through ASU's Skysong campus, online students benefit from resources from all campuses, including online tutoring, student clubs, digital library offerings, and student disability services.

The program requires 33 credit hours to graduate, this includes 12 credits in core courses, 18 credits in electives, and a three-credit culminating experience. Through a combination of required and elective courses, students can concentrate in areas including corrections, policing, and criminal justice management. Core courses cover topics in criminology, planning and program evaluation, and applied data analysis. Students choose from a wide range of electives from inside and outside the department. The culminating experiences takes the form of a capstone course, theory and practice in criminal justice, which has students perform original research and write a comprehensive paper on a relevant criminal justice topic of their choice.

The degree is available full time and part time. Full-time students can complete the program in 18 months, while part-time students have up to six years to complete the program. ASU does not require GRE scores for entry, but students must hold at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA for unconditional admission. ASU offers the same affordable tuition rate to students regardless of state residency status.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master's of Arts in Criminal Justice
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $502/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 33

Program Length
Program options: Full-time or part-time
Program length: 2 to 6 years
Program start dates: Spring - January 9, March 13 ; Summer - May 16, June 29 ; Fall - August 17, October 11

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Rolling
GPA: Minimum 3.0 cumulative, or 3.0 in last 60 credits of undergraduate study

Contact
Department phone: (855) 278-5080
Department email: asuonline@asu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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24 Colorado State University-Global Campus 55.96 3/5 100% Greenwood Village, CO

The Global Campus, founded in 2007, is CSU's online institution, catering to working adults and other nontraditional learners. The school serves more than 12,000 students, and its tuition ranks among the most affordable in the country. CSU also boasts no out-of-state fees. The global campus provides many services, including one-to-one tutoring, a center dedicated to helping students improve their research and writing skills, a 24/7 technical assistance program, and many different student organizations to help online learners feel engaged.

The school's online master's in criminal justice and law enforcement administration is tailored to learners who currently or have previously worked in a position related to criminal justice and have some foundational knowledge. Students can choose from 15 different specializations, including international management, organizational leadership, strategic innovation, and change management. The curriculum emphasizes theories and best practices for management in a range of criminal justice areas, from law enforcement to fraud protection. Students also gain general knowledge in organizational decision making, professional ethics, and the impact of crime on society, learning to combine theories and research in accordance to criminal justice policy analysis and recommendations.

The degree requires 36 credits of courses, with a capstone experience and an optional criminal justice internship. The capstone course integrates research with overall program learning, which students apply toward social intervention or criminal justice policy. The internship experience is optional for students who currently work in a criminal justice setting. Students perform supervised work and keep a journal of their experiences, observing professional practices and their own growth in a professional environment.


Program Overview
Program Name: Master’s in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
Available concentrations: Organizational leadership and change management, accounting, applied business management, finance, business intelligence, fraud management, healthcare administration, human resource management, human resource performance, information technology, international management, organizational learning and performance, project management, strategic innovation and change management
Accrediting body: HLC
Tuition: $500/credit

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Program Requirements
Prerequisites: Foundational knowledge of criminal justice, through past or current experience in the field
Credit requirements: 36, 39 for students admitted with a GPA below 3.0
Field education requirements: Criminal justice internship

Program Length
Program start dates: Fall - July 17, August 14, September 11 ; Winter - November 13, December 11, January 15 ; March 19, April 16, May 14

Admission Requirements
Application deadline: Fall - July 7, August 4, September 1 ; Winter - November 2, December 1, January 5 ; Spring - March 9, April 6, May 4
GPA: 3.0 preferred
Standardized tests: SmartMeasure assessment
Work experience: Experience working in a criminal justice position

Contact
Department phone: (800) 920-6723
Department email: admissions@CSUGlobal.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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25 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania 55.79 3/5 19% Slippery Rock, PA

SRU is a public master's-level college that serves a student body of more than 8,800. Students considering a PhD after completing their master's may be drawn to Slippery Rock's program, which is offered as a master of arts in criminal justice. SRU's 30-credit program can typically be completed in 15 to 18 months. This program allows students to complete a thesis, internship, general track, or security studies track as part of graduation requirements.

The 30-credit curriculum gives students a range of options and pathways to earn their degree. The thesis option includes 24 credit hours of general coursework along with six credits dedicated to a thesis, which has students perform original research and defend their findings in front of a faculty panel. The internship track has students earn work experience at a criminal justice organization and requires them to pass a comprehensive final exam. The general track has students complete general courses along with two extra electives, it also requires passing a final exam. The security studies track includes 21 core credits, three elective courses in security studies, and the completion of the final exam.

Applicants to SRU's online master's in criminal justice must submit two references, a professional resume, and a personal essay that explains their interest in either criminal justice or security studies. Students must also possess at least a 3.0 GPA to be considered for unconditional admission; applicants with a GPA under 3.0 must submit GRE or GMAT scores.


Program Overview
Department: Department of Criminology and Security Studies
Program Name: Master's of Arts in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Thesis track, internship track, general track, security studies track
Accrediting body: MSCHE
Tuition: $483/credit (in-state), $493/credit (out-of-state)

Delivery
Format: Online

Program Requirements
Credit requirements: 30
Field education requirements: Students pursuing the internship track are required to complete an internship with a criminal justice institution

Program Length
Program options: Part-time
Program length: 12 to 18 months
Program start dates: Spring, summer, fall, winter

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE or MAT for students with a GPA below 3.0

Contact
Department phone: (724) 738-4462
Department email: david.champion@sru.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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While each program is unique, most online criminal justice master’s programs generally have similar curricula and prepare students for diverse careers across a number of fields, including homeland security, cybersecurity, forensics, and law and policy. Criminal justice master’s programs online teach students the skills and ethics necessary to be successful.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Concentration Description Careers this concentration prepares for
Homeland Security Students who pursue a concentration in homeland security will be trained in criminal justice, safety, and covert operations. This criminal justice speciality prepares students for many governmental positions and equips them with the skills required of a competent leader. Border patrol agent, customs agent, detective, narcotics officer, cyber security analyst, and careers in private sector technology companies
Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity Cybercrime investigation and cybersecurity concentrations prepare students for careers in cyber criminology with practical knowledge in digital investigations, cybersecurity policies, and risk assessment. Students who successfully complete such concentrations are usually eligible to sit for the forensic examiner certification exams. Forensic examiner, detective, private investigator, intelligence analyst, information security analyst, security analyst, and security manager
Forensic Technology A concentration in forensic technology requires students to analyze evidence and apply specialized knowledge to issues and questions involving the law. Forensic professionals often act as expert witnesses in legal proceedings. Computer forensic investigator, crime scene photographer, firearm and toolmark examiner, forensic accountant, forensic anthropologist, forensic artist, forensic biologist, forensic psychologist, latent print examiner, and forensic toxicologist

CURRICULUM FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE MASTER’S PROGRAMS ONLINE

Courses differ by program and school, however, a sample curriculum of common courses in online criminal justice master’s degrees is offered below:

  • Criminal Justice Research Theory and Methodology: Coursework includes preparing research designs and conceptual models, procedures in sampling, and developing research papers. Students will also examine methods for answering policy and research questions through properly designed research studies and discuss pitfalls in scientific research.
  • Juvenile Justice System: This course provides a broad overview of the juvenile justice system while focusing on the agencies, procedures, law, institutions, programs, and philosophies that guide juvenile justice administration.
  • Sentencing and Corrections: This course examines conflicts in the U.S. correctional system, including the purposes of sentencing convicted law violators and the effects that different sanctions have on the cost of the justice system, public safety, and offender rehabilitation.
  • Seminar on Race, Ethnicity, and Criminal Justice: An introductory course on empirical research and theory relating to the criminal justice system and racial minorities as victims of crime, criminal offenders, and as criminal justice professionals. Students study the effect social policy has on racial and ethnic inequality and theories of racial and ethnic justice.
  • Drugs and Crime: Coursework addresses the nature of drug use and addiction, the theoretical and empirical relationship between drugs and crime, drug treatment and prevention programs and their effectiveness, and drug control policies in the United States and in other countries.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE CRIMINAL JUSTICE MASTER’S DEGREE?

Generally, online criminal justice master’s degrees curricula average 33 to 40 credit-hours. Students who enroll on a full-time basis can complete the online criminal justice master’s degree in 18-24 months, or in three years with part-time study. Cohort-based programs require students to take courses sequentially, moving through the entire program with a group of their peers. Such programs have a more rigid timeframe for completion, while individually paced programs can be finished at different speeds. Whether the student is pursuing a dual degree and whether the online criminal justice master’s degree requires the completion of a thesis in order to graduate also affects program length.

CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER’S IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE PREPARES FOR

Completing certification in specialty areas gives criminal justice graduates knowledge in a specialized field. Some of the more in-demand and popular certificates for students in online master’s degree in criminal justice programs include:

  • Crime Scene Technician Certification: Prepares students for crime scene work, including procedures for the proper collection, processing, and storage of various kinds of evidence, from DNA samples to large items such as vehicles. Depending on jurisdiction, programs can take a few months to two years to complete.
  • Certified Criminal Justice Professional Certification: This certification, which is also known as the Certified Criminal Justice Addiction Professional Certification, includes 270 hours of coursework working with drug offenders. This certification is popular with students pursuing careers as correctional officers or probation officers. Requirements vary by state, but students must acquire approximately 6,000 hours of experience working with drug offenders to complete the program.
  • Private Investigator Certification: Has students develop best practices in interview and surveillance techniques. Students also develop specialized knowledge of legal guidelines involved in this line of work. Most PI certification programs can be completed within several months.
  • Professional Peace Officer Certification: This certification, also known as Peace Officer Skills Training, is ideal for students pursuing positions in law enforcement organizations on either a local or state level. Students will be required to complete criminal justice and police academy coursework and pass written, verbal, and physical exams.

Criminal justice master’s degrees do not hold specialized accreditation through professional organizations, however, programs can obtain accreditation through regional and national accrediting organizations. Accreditation ensures acceptable levels of quality of higher education institutions. Accreditation can affect financial aid eligibility and the ability to transfer credits to or from other institutions. In the U.S., there are 19 recognized institutional accrediting organizations. The U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, an association of 3,000 degree-granting institutions, have reviewed these accrediting organizations for quality. A list of all accredited schools can be obtained through the ED or CHEA websites.

Job Placement: Master’s vs Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

Due to the “recession-proof”’ nature of criminal justice, the field a carries a relatively low unemployment rate. A recent article from CBS News listed criminal justice and fire protection among the 25 college majors with the lowest unemployment rates at 4.7%. According to a 2014 survey by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), the job placement rate is even more favorable for candidates who complete advanced education. The survey found that graduate degree-holders in the field of criminal justice and fire protection face an unemployment rate of 4.1%; by comparison, bachelor’s graduates with work experience face an unemployment rate of 4.6%, while recent bachelor’s graduates (without work experience) are unemployed 8.9% of the time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that legal occupations are projected to rise 5% between 2014 and 2024, resulting in more than 64,000 new jobs. Using BLS data, the table below features growth projections for four common career pathways in criminal justice.

Profession Projected Growth Rate (2014-24) Projected Increase in Number of Jobs (2014-24)
Paralegals 11% 142,400
Accountants and Auditors 11% 142,400
Police and Detectives 4% 33,100
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 4% 3,300

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Earning a Living

In addition to lower unemployment rates, recipients of a master’s in criminal justice also enjoy higher earning potential than their counterparts with lesser degrees. The table below uses data from PayScale to illustrate master’s in criminal justice salary expectations compared to the earnings for associate and bachelor’s degree-holders at the early and mid-career stages.

Degree Level Median Early Career Salary (0-5 years) Median Mid-Career Salary (10+ years)
Associate in Criminal Justice $30,600 $46,000
Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice $36,400 $58,500
Master’s in Criminal Justice $43,100 $62,900

Source: 2015-16 PayScale College Salary Report

As the table shows, criminal justice master’s graduates at the early career mark enjoy an 18% wage premium over bachelor’s degree-holders and a 41% premium over associate degree-holders. The wage premium is reduced at the mid-career stage, but master’s-holders still outearn peers with bachelor’s and associate degrees by 8% and 37%, respectively.

However, it should be noted that the salary of criminal justice professionals will gradually increase over the course of their careers. The next table examines salary expectations for five popular criminal justice occupations at four different career benchmarks.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Police Officers $43,146 $51,046 $55,662 $61,218
Police Detectives $50,000 $52,000 $63,000 $69,000
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary $43,000 $45,000 $55,000 $59,000
Paralegals $38,734 $46,626 $51,154 $53,194

Source: PayScale

Based on the five careers listed above, probation officers enjoyed the highest career salary premium with a 67% increase between the entry-level and late-career marks. The salary increase for the remaining careers ranges between 37% and 42%.

Career Opportunities

Graduates who earn a criminal justice master’s online will be eligible for dozens of entry-level and managerial positions, although individual eligibility will depend on degree specialization and additional work experience. Four of the most popular career pathways for criminal justice master’s degree-holders are detailed below.

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary: These educators work at colleges and universities, instructing courses in subjects like criminology, law enforcement, and corrections. In addition to teaching duties, postsecondary educators often conduct independent research and publish their findings in academic journals.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists: These professionals assist convicted criminals as they adjust to the real world after their release from prison. They work to ensure their clients honor the stipulations of their probation and abstain from committing more crimes.

Paralegals: Paralegals often assist lawyers or attorneys in legal offices. Day-to-day duties typically include writing legal documents, maintaining client files, and helping lawyers prepare for court appearances.

Police and Detectives: Police officers are responsible for protecting people and property from criminal threats. Detectives are high-level officers who have been promoted after a few years of work experience; they investigate various crimes in order to determine a culprit and motive.

Profession Median Annual Salary
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary $64,460
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $49,360
Accountants and Auditors $67,190
Police and Detectives $60,270

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to criminal justice is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for criminal justice professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • National Association of Police Organizations: NAPO was founded in 1978, and today represents roughly 241,000 officers and detectives in more than 1,000 law enforcement units. Members receive invitations to three annual conferences, as well as continuing education opportunities.
  • National Association of Legal Assistants: NALA is a nonprofit organization representing more than 18,000 paralegals, both individual members and employees of member affiliates. The association offers two certifications for paralegals, as well as online webinars, job leads, and complimentary issues of the Facts & Findings academic journal.
  • American Probation and Parole Association: APPA represents probation and parole personnel working with criminals and juvenile offenders. The organization’s website features an extensive online resource library, as well as links to online and onsite training programs.

Despite the relative affordability of online criminal justice master’s programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE COLLEGE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
2 Northeastern University Global Network Boston, MA
3 Arizona State University - Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
4 Sam Houston University Huntsville, TX
5 Cocordia University - Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
6 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
7 Sul Ross State University Alpine, TX
8 Tiffin University Tiffin, OH
9 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
10 Troy University Troy, AL
11 Bethell University McKenzie, TN
12 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
13 University of Massachusetts - Lowell Lowell, MA
14 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY
15 Albany State University Albany, GA
16 Michigan State University East Landsing, MI
17 University of Cincinnati Cincinatti, OH
18 Tarleton State University Stephenville, TX
19 National University La Jolla, CA
20 Texas A & M University - Central Texas Central Texas
21 University of Colorado - Denver Denver, CO
22 University of New Haven West Haven, CT
23 University of Central Missouri Warrensburg, MO
24 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
25 Fayetteville State University Fayetteville, NC