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.

WHAT JOBS CAN YOU GET WITH A CRIMINAL JUSTICE MASTER'S DEGREE?

Graduates of master’s in criminal justice programs are prepared for careers as police officers, detectives, postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers, and paralegals. Read more here.

CAN YOU GET A DEGREE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE ONLINE?

Yes. Many schools offer their on-campus criminal justice program in a completely-online format. Read more here.

HOW TO GET A CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEGREE ONLINE

Admitted students must complete all curriculum requirements, which may include elective courses and a capstone project, and maintain an acceptable GPA. Requirements will vary between schools, so students should contact prospective schools for more accurate information. Read more here.

WHAT TYPE OF DEGREE IS A CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEGREE?

A criminal justice degree explores law and its enforcement in different countries, states, and other jurisdictions. Students will explore how laws were created and how they are interpreted within the current political climate. Read more here.

IS A CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEGREE WORTH IT?

Yes. The BLS projects legal occupations to increase by 5% between 2014 and 2024. Professionals who hold a master’s in criminal justice also earn a higher median salary than those who hold a bachelor’s. Read more here.

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.

See Methodology
Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 University of Central Florida RANKING SCORE 75.86 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 40% LOCATION 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.


Program Overview
Program name: MS in Criminal Justice
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: [email protected] (Dr. Eugene Paoline, Professor and Graduate Program Director)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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2 Boston University RANKING SCORE 75.17 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 19% LOCATION Boston, MA

With a long history of educational programming, blending the liberal arts and sciences, Boston University continues to drive innovation in the field. A hub of Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Fulbright Scholars, the school hosts many groundbreaking researchers. Today, BU Online and Metropolitan College bring degree programs to learners near and far. Individuals interested in starting or furthering careers in the field of criminal justice can pursue the school’s 40-credit master’s in criminal justice degree -- BU's first virtual program established in 2002.

This degree covers criminal behavior, law enforcement and corrections, the judicial system, and theories of social control. Required courses include criminology, victimology, white collar crime, analytical methods, research methods, and criminal justice administration. Learners also select four elective classes, such as cyber crime and terrorism. The online criminal justice master's has two concentrations: cybercrime investigation and cybersecurity and strategic management.

The cybercrime/cybersecurity concentration delves into information related to cyber-criminology and legalities, investigative knowledge, policies involved in cybersecurity risk assessment, and the leadership theories and competencies needed to manage criminal justice organizations. Concentration-related required courses include applied digital forensic investigation and security policies and procedures. Alternatively, the strategic management concentration best suits mid-career professionals in criminal justice seeking career advancement into policy-making or executive-level positions. Required courses in this track include public emergency management, quantitative and qualitative decision making, and criminal justice administration. Distance learners typically earn these degrees in 20-24 months by completing asynchronous coursework.

Students enrolled in this online criminal justice master's program can join the college's on-campus and online chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, which is a national criminal justice honor society.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Cybercrime investigation and cybersecurity; strategic management
Tuition: $25,490 per semester
Credit requirements: 40 credits
Program length: 20-24 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: GRE or GMAT strengthen the application, but not required
Work experience: Mid-career experience for the strategic management concentration

Contact
Phone: (617) 358-1960
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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3 Florida State University RANKING SCORE 74.22 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 23% LOCATION 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: [email protected] (Meghan Martinez, Academic Program Specialist)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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4 Colorado State University RANKING SCORE 72.94 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 100% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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5 Florida International University RANKING SCORE 72.90 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 37% LOCATION Miami, FL

Based in Miami, Florida International University offers learners a comprehensive suite of top-ranked academic programs. Designated as a top-tier research institution, the school attracts students from around the country and internationally. Many individuals attend classes through the college's virtual arm -- FIU Online -- which offers accelerated programs and asynchronous learning opportunities. The school's department of criminal justice administers a 36-credit MS in criminal justice that can be completed online.

Of the 12 courses in this online master's in criminal justice program, five core requirements examine criminological theory, data analysis in criminal justice, research methods in criminal justice, transnational crime and national security, and criminal justice policy analysis. Electives cover topics such as immigration and crime, human trafficking, correctional administration, and geospatial crime analysis.

Students acquire hands-on experience in the criminal justice field by completing an internship experience where they work at an agency, such as a participating police department, correctional institution, or at the ATF, for up to 240 hours and earn six credits. Individuals develop an e-portfolio and term paper as part of this internship course. To apply for an internship, students must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Additionally, the school offers accelerated, combined bachelor’s/master’s degree options; this 4+1 program allows criminal justice undergraduates to take 12 credits of approved graduate courses to earn an undergraduate criminal justice degree and an MS in criminal justice in just five years. MS students interested in pursuing careers as instructors can complete the graduate teaching certificate offered by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and participate in a teaching practicum. Criminal justice students at FIU can also engage in extracurricular activities, such as membership in two national organizations: Alpha Phi Sigma and Lambda Alpha Epsilon. The MS program starts once a year in the fall.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Tuition: $16,281/annually in-state; $35,939/annually out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.2 or higher in upper division coursework in bachelor's degree
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (305) 348-5890
Email: [email protected]; [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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6 Michigan State University RANKING SCORE 71.59 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 24% LOCATION East Lansing, MI
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.2 or higher in upper division coursework in bachelor's degree
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (305) 348-5890
Email: [email protected]; [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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7 Northeastern University Global Network RANKING SCORE 71.55 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 83% LOCATION Boston, MA

Located in Boston, Northeastern University's Global Network offers online professional programs in a variety of fields to students in the U.S. and around the world. The network’s 45-credit MS in criminal justice program prepares future leaders to find employment in law enforcement, the courts system, corrections organizations, or private security. Working professionals benefit from asynchronous programming comprised of foundational and operations-related courses, and graduates discover how technology can be utilized to prevent and respond to criminal activity. Students choose from six concentrations: community and family justice, corrections, global criminal justice, leadership, policing, and security.

Each track features 18 credits of concentration-specific coursework, and learners choose one concentration or a combination of electives from the six options. Students also take five foundational courses covering contemporary issues in criminal justice policy, administration of justice, criminological theory for leaders in the field, legal decision making, and a final capstone project that typically completes the program. The curriculum also includes 12 credits of operational courses, which examine research methods; program evaluations; GIS, evidence-based learning; and crisis communication.

Elective topics are far-reaching and include the study of criminal behavior and the family, substance abuse and addictions, human trafficking and exploitation, and national security. The capstone project gives students the opportunity to synthesize and apply the principles learned during the program and demonstrate their leadership abilities. This online criminal justice master's degree has multiple start dates throughout the year. About 15% of participants receive financial aid. Application requirements include a bachelor's degree and school transcripts, although students do not need to submit their GRE scores.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Community and family justice; corrections; global criminal justice; leadership; policing; security
Tuition: $646/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 45 credits
Program length: 2 years full-time; 3 years part-time

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: No GRE or GMAT required

Contact
Phone: (617) 373-2000; (877) 668-7727
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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8 California State University - Long Beach RANKING SCORE 69.42 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 17% LOCATION Long Beach, CA

Nontraditional learners at California State University Long Beach benefit from a diverse suite of degree and certificate programs offered through the school’s college of continuing and professional education. The college administers several programs exclusively online, including a 36-credit MS in criminology and criminal justice. The curriculum of this program balances theory and practice, preparing learners for leadership roles in the criminal justice field. The online degree suits professionals in specialties that include law enforcement, corrections, probation/parole, and military personnel.

The required core covers topics such as police organization and management, public policy and crime, law and social control, theories of crime causation, legal issues in criminal justice, and research methodology and statistical analysis. Learners pursuing this online criminal justice master's degree develop competencies in criminal justice policy and planning, information and research data gathering, interagency communications, and forensic psychology. The program introduces students to the development and implementation of criminal justice policies in organizations and communities, and learners also hone their writing and critical thinking skills.

Distance learners take online courses in sequence with their cohort. Full-time students can complete the accelerated program in as few as 24 months. To graduate, learners either take a comprehensive exam or write a thesis during their final semester. Individuals pursuing a criminal justice master's online gain access to comprehensive student support services, including advising and IT help. Admission requires an undergraduate major or minor in criminology or criminal justice. Applicants with non-related baccalaureate degrees may also apply, but they may need to complete six prerequisites in areas including criminological theory, research methods, and statistics. The MS program starts once a year in the fall.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Tuition: $575/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0 on courses in undergraduate major
Standardized tests: GRE or LSAT
Work experience: Some experience in criminal justice field desired

Contact
Phone: (800) 963-2250
Email: [email protected]; [email protected] (program advisor)
Social media accounts: Facebook

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9 Adler University RANKING SCORE 68.42 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 36% LOCATION Chicago, IL

Established in 1952, and boasting campuses in Chicago, Vancouver BC, and online, Adler prides itself on producing graduates devoted to the pursuit of social justice. Today, Adler administers 20 graduate programs in psychology, management, and criminal justice to more than 1,200 students. Instructors deliver the school’s 36-credit MA in criminology and criminal justice program exclusively online. Students typically earn this degree in fewer than 24 months. The program prepares criminologists conversant in examining criminal justice challenges with emphasis on race, class, gender, and inequities in the system. The curriculum reflects the intersecting disciplines, such as criminology, psychology, and economics, that impact the work of criminologists.

Coursework in this online master's in criminal justice degree program includes criminological theory, research methods, public policy, juvenile justice, criminal justice processes and institutions, and comparative criminal justice systems. Students also undertake a two-class, six-credit capstone experience. This capstone uses a combined theoretical and practical framework, in which learners demonstrate mastery of a subject within criminal justice; faculty expect that this work could be used as the foundation for further study. In keeping with the college's mission, the project culminates in a proposal that improves the justice system by incorporating social justice practices. Upon completion of the program, graduates demonstrate mastery of qualitative and quantitative research methods and the ability to develop sustainable solutions to address criminal justice challenges.

Mentorship opportunities and comprehensive support services supplement online instruction. Learners participate in community engagement through the school's centers, including the Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice. Up to 12 graduate-level credits may be transferred into this program from another accredited institution. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students can enroll on one of several start dates throughout the year.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Tuition: $855/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years or less

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Phone: (312) 662-4000
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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10 Nova Southeastern University RANKING SCORE 67.88 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 51% LOCATION 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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11 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus RANKING SCORE 67.40 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 25% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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12 The University of West Florida RANKING SCORE 67.27 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 82% LOCATION Pensacola, FL

The University of West Florida drives economic development throughout northwest Florida and the surrounding areas. Home to five colleges and 13,000 students, the school also offers distance learning opportunities through its UWF Online branch. One such offering is the school’s 33-credit MS in criminal justice, delivered by UWF’s college of education and professional studies. This degree provides students with the administrative, analytical, and research skills required to start careers in criminal justice, policy analysis, and research. Graduates can also opt to continue on and pursue a doctoral education.

The online curriculum's 15-credit core includes courses that investigate criminal justice theory, research methodology, and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. A notable course in penology delves into classical and contemporary approaches to corrections, critically assesses contemporary challenges, and introduces learners to data-driven policies. Learners enrolled in this online criminal justice master's degree program choose from one of two graduation tracks where they either complete a paper under faculty supervision or engage in an internship experience. The internship represents a partnership between UWF and private or public agencies in the community; students apply their knowledge in a practical work environment under the supervision of an agency professional.

By completing an additional nine credits, students can earn concentration certificates in social work, public administration, homeland security, or education. These certificates give learners the option to further tailor their degree to match their career goals. The program's accelerated format allows students to graduate in as few as 18 months. Gifted undergrads may enroll in a bachelor's to master's criminal justice program, in which they earn two degrees in an accelerated time frame. Admission into the MS in criminal justice program requires a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field and acceptable GRE or MAT scores. UWF has an out-of-state tuition waiver that can be used to reduce the cost of tuition for nonresidents of Florida.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Concentration certificate in social work; public administration; homeland security; education
Tuition: $384/credit in-state; $1,044.24/credit out-of-state
Credit requirements: 33 credits
Program length: 1.5 years full-time

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0 GPA on last 60 hours of coursework in the bachelor's degree
Standardized tests: GRE or MAT

Contact
Phone: (850) 857-6371
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; LinkedIn

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13 Liberty University RANKING SCORE 66.52 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 96% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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14 Johnson & Wales University RANKING SCORE 66.52 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 100% LOCATION Providence, RI

Learning by doing underpins academic programming at Johnson and Wales University. Students develop professional competencies through experiential learning that interweaves academics and industry-focused coursework. Through JWU Online, eLearners can access the school's career-focused curriculum in a range of fields, including criminal justice. Faculty deliver the school’s 45-credit MS in criminal justice in an accelerated online format, focusing on criminology, organizational theory, policy, and practice.

Required core classes investigate criminal justice research methods, advanced administration of criminal justice, contemporary criminology and crime prevention, and criminal justice ethics and diversity in a global environment. Elective coursework includes the study of human trafficking, drug trafficking, and cybercrime. Students can also learn about new technologies, such as using geographic information systems in policing, corrections, and the court system.

In keeping with the school's experiential model, students complete hands-on assignments to hone the skills needed to assume advanced positions in criminal justice organizations. This online criminal justice master's degree culminates with a capstone experience, in which students use their newfound knowledge to address a particular challenge in criminal justice. Program completion gives graduates several competencies, including the use of management theory to improve the operations of criminal justice agencies; the ability to analyze, interpret, and synthesize research data; and the ability to use technology to effectively communicate information to complex audiences. Courses in this program last 11 weeks, and the accelerated format allows individuals to earn their degrees in 15 months. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.85 GPA; students with a lower GPA must submit their GMAT scores. Distance learners can begin the program in September, December, March, or June.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Tuition: $2,168/per 4.5 credit course in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 45 credits
Program length: 15 months accelerated

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.85
Standardized tests: GMAT necessary if applicant has less than a 2.85 GPA

Contact
Phone: (855) 236-8492
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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15 San Diego State University RANKING SCORE 65.72 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 6% LOCATION San Diego, CA

Learners at San Diego State University can choose from several top-ranked programs, including the school’s master of public administration, which is one of the most popular degrees in the California State University system. Virtual learners interested in careers in criminal justice can pursue SDSU’s 36-credit MPA with a concentration in criminal justice through the school's eLearning platform. This fully online program holds accreditation from the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration and engages students in both foundational MPA coursework and specialized study in criminal justice.

This online criminal justice master's degree program enrolls experienced managers from the government, community agencies, and nonprofits. Faculty teach courses in six, two-month modules using a peer cohort model. Coursework in the MPA core includes studying the scope of public administration, methods of analysis, administrative theory, public financial management, and public policy development. The criminal justice concentration requires 15 credits in comparative criminal justice, community and restorative justice, criminal justice and urban administration, and juvenile justice and youth violence. A required 480-hour internship component gives students exposure to the inner workings of a bureaucratic environment and an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in a practical context; however, this component may be waived if students already work full-time in public administration in the public or private sector. Distance learners need to attend two on-campus experiences; one at the beginning of the program and another at the end. Students typically earn this degree in 16 months.

Admission into the program requires a bachelor's degree in any major with a minimum 3.0 GPA as well as submission of GRE scores and two letters of recommendation. Students with a GPA of at least 2.85 may also be accepted on a case-by-case basis.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Public Administration
Available concentrations: Criminal justice
Tuition: $550/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 16 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE
Work experience: Experienced professionals in government and nonprofit agencies

Contact
Phone: (619) 594-5821
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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16 Florida Atlantic University RANKING SCORE 64.95 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 47% LOCATION Boca Raton, FL

Florida Atlantic University boasts more than 170 programs, and its school of criminology and criminal justice enrolls the second largest number of students at FAU. The school’s 33-credit MS in criminology and criminal justice prepares graduates to enter criminal justice careers or advance within the field. The hybrid curriculum focuses on causes of criminal behavior and the response systems in place. A nine-credit core explores criminal justice research and policy, criminal behavior, and research methods and data analysis. Students take 18 elective credits where they can examine topics such as crime analysis in policing; violence research and policy; class, race, and gender; and social disorganization and crime prevention.

Learners pursuing this online criminal justice master's degree take three courses in one of three concentrations: policing, crime and behavior, or corrections. Additionally, the program’s six-credit exit requirement offers two options. Learners can apply their knowledge and skills in a non-thesis project; this option paves the way for graduates who do not plan to continue their education or seek research-related positions. Alternatively, a thesis option engages students in original research and analysis; this represents the better choice for individuals who plan to pursue doctoral studies or research-intensive positions in criminal justice.

Distance learners may qualify for online teaching assistantships to help them pay for tuition. During the fall or spring terms, these individuals assist a professor or instructor in teaching an undergraduate online course for 10 hours a week.

Upon earning a criminal justice master's degree online, a graduate’s competencies include analytical and evaluative skills in public policy, knowledge of best practices in crime prevention, aptitude to lead police and correctional agencies, and the use of research to improve the criminal justice system. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program admits students once a year in the fall.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Policing; crime and behavior; corrections
Tuition: $303.71/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 33 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 GPA or higher in the last 60 credits of undergraduate degree
Standardized tests: GRE scores required for lower GPA scores

Contact
Phone: (561) 297-3240
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook

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17 Saint Joseph's University RANKING SCORE 64.10 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 74% LOCATION Philadelphia, PA

Saint Joseph's University's Jesuit education blends a comprehensive liberal arts foundation with relevant career-centric knowledge. One of the school’s offerings is its 30-credit MS in criminal justice. This online program features 10 courses that train scholars and practitioners about the latest developments in the criminal justice field as well as how to put research and strategies into action. Four core courses study research methods and analysis, criminological theory, ethics and criminal justice, and professional writing for law enforcement.

The program offers five concentration areas: behavior analysis, behavioral management, federal law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence and crime analysis. Individuals can also pursue a general track where they select electives from any of the five concentrations. Students in the behavior analysis concentration learn how to treat chemical dependency, behavioral disorders, and autism-spectrum disorders with interventions such as functional behavior assessments and behavioral intervention plans. The behavior management concentration trains professionals to use psychological treatments and therapeutic techniques to modify the behavior of adjudicated youth, special needs individuals, and parolees. Learners pursuing the federal law enforcement concentration focus on the methodologies, communication skills, and strategic planning used in crime-solving at federal law enforcement agencies. The intelligence and crime analysis track focuses on policing; students learn to track criminal activity, locate hotspots, and use research and other methods to develop law enforcement response and prevention strategies. Finally, the homeland security option concentrates on preparedness and response to terrorist activities against the U.S. and its citizens; students investigate the causes of terrorism, the sociological impacts of terroristic trauma, and risk assessment and response.

Distance learners can earn an online criminal justice master's degree in 18 months. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and submission of school transcripts. Students pursuing the behavior analysis concentration must also have one year of relevant experience. Active duty U.S. service members and their spouses receive a tuition discount at SJU.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Behavior analysis; behavior management; federal law enforcement; intelligence and crime analysis; homeland security
Tuition: $870/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30 credits
Program length: 1.5 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Work experience: Students pursuing the behavior analysis concentration must have one year of relevant experience.

Contact
Phone: (866) 758-7670
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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18 Webster University RANKING SCORE 64.04 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 45% LOCATION Saint Louis, MO

Established as a Catholic women's college in 1922, Webster University offers a curriculum that embraces global citizenship and promotes academic excellence. Today, both men and women learn on the school's main campus in St. Louis, satellite locations around the world, and through virtual learning. The school’s 30-credit MS in criminal justice features a multidisciplinary curriculum that emphasizes the development of technical, critical thinking, and analytic skills to predict and prevent crime.

Required courses examine topics that include criminal actions, theories of crime and justice, and ethics and decision making in criminal justice. Students also take 18 credits in electives or follow a sequence of courses to earn certificates in administration of justice, fraud investigation, cybersecurity - threat detection, or security studies. Elective coursework includes the study of administration of justice, white collar crime, cyber forensics, cybersecurity law and policy, international security, and war and diplomacy. A notable course on computer and crime fraud examines how criminals use technology to perpetrate computer, electronic, and virtual crimes, as well as the social and legal ramifications of these actions. During a capstone course, learners either conduct a research project involving the criminal justice system or evaluate some aspect of the field, such as a public policy.

Graduates of this online master's in criminal justice program learn quantitative and qualitative methodologies in crime data analysis and how diversity impacts operations at criminal justice organizations. Resources available to online learners include an online writing center. Admission to the MS in criminal justice program requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a GPA of at least 2.5. Applicants do not need to submit their standardized test scores.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Certificates available in administration of justice; fraud investigation; cybersecurity - threat detection; security studies
Tuition: $780/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.5

Contact
Phone: (800) 981-9801
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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19 Lincoln Memorial University RANKING SCORE 63.65 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 1% LOCATION Harrogate, TN

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, Lincoln Memorial University provides a close-knit learning community devoted to the liberal arts. LMU's diverse programming, both on campus and online, includes a 36-credit MS in criminal justice. This program prepares professionals for managerial and administrative posts in criminal justice organizations. During the first year of the program, students take 15 credits of core classes that cover the theories of crime and criminal justice, ethics in criminal justice, crime and public policy analysis, criminal justice research methods, and justice administration and leadership.

The remaining credits immerse students in the study of topical issues in today's criminal justice environment. These include victimology; juvenile justice; homeland security; race, gender, class, and crime; and community corrections and offender reentry. LMU also offers a course in rural criminal justice, which is fairly unique among online master's in criminal justice programs. This course delves into the challenges rural law enforcement agencies face, including personnel issues, a lack of resources, and the crime trends in rural areas. Given the school's location, the course pays special attention to Appalachia.

Another notable course examines the crimes committed by the powerful, including white collar crime and governmental deviance, with a focus on theoretical explanations of how elite members of society become offenders. A six-credit thesis culminates the program. For this course, students choose a research topic, conduct scholarly research, and analyze existing literature related to their topic. Students must then defend their thesis to a committee. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA and coursework in criminology, criminal justice, or corrections.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Tuition: $485/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.75

Contact
Phone: (865) 545-5334
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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20 East Carolina University RANKING SCORE 63.37 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 66% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook

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21 Excelsior College RANKING SCORE 63.33 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 100% LOCATION Albany, NY

Established as a distance learning institution for nontraditional students, Excelsior College uses eLearning to deliver programming around the world. Because the majority of the school's student body works full-time, Excelsior provides flexible scheduling, a generous transfer credit policy, and personalized guidance. Learners seeking to join the growing field of criminal justice can acquire training through the school’s 30-credit MS in criminal justice with concentrations in homeland security and emergency management as well as justice administration. Learners who work in criminal justice or have a military background may find this program especially appealing. Coursework includes an 18-credit core that studies criminology, constitutional law, criminal justice theory and policy, and legal and ethical issues in criminal justice.

The nine-credit concentration in homeland security and emergency management examines international and domestic terrorism, disaster response and mitigation, risk assessment in homeland security, and how the criminal justice system responds to homeland security. Alternatively, the nine-credit justice administration concentration teaches students how to apply academic theory to managerial positions in criminal justice. Areas of study include arbitration, grant writing, change management, justice administration, and public budgeting and financial management.

Distance learners also complete a three-credit capstone as a culminating experience. Upon graduation, students demonstrate a number of competencies, including the ability to effectively incorporate criminological theories when developing criminal justice policies, gather and analyze qualitative and quantitative research data, and interpret court rulings regarding constitutional law. Excelsior allows more transfer credits than most other online criminal justice master's degree programs; students can bring in up to 15 qualifying credits. Admission requires a bachelor's degree; applicants must also submit an essay outlining how they will benefit from this program.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Homeland security and emergency management; justice administration
Tuition: $645/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30 credits
Program length: 2+ years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Work experience: Criminal justice or military background preferred

Contact
Phone: (888) 647-2388
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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22 Dallas Baptist University RANKING SCORE 62.27 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 43% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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23 University of Oklahoma - Norman Campus RANKING SCORE 62.23 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 36% LOCATION 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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24 University of Louisville RANKING SCORE 62.10 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 16% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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25 Texas Christian University RANKING SCORE 61.95 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 20% LOCATION Fort Worth, TX

Texas Christian University offers dozens of master's programs preparing students for high-demand occupations. Faculty within the school’s department of criminal justice teach learners about criminal behavior and how to develop a safer society. Experienced professionals in the criminal justice field, as well as individuals interested in starting new careers, acquire advanced skills while completing the school’s 30-credit MS in criminal justice and criminology. The two-year curriculum can be completed online and emphasizes research and the use of analytic thinking to examine topical issues in the criminal justice system. Students learn from analyzing published research and empirical data. Graduates of this online criminal justice master's degree program can go on to work as police officers, federal agents, and parole officers.

Areas of study include policing, criminal thought, criminal justice systems, advanced criminological theory, and white collar crime. A notable course on corrections and re-entry examines the correctional system and crime policies and their impacts. Students look at conditions in today's prisons, assessing how people leave the correctional system and reenter communities through parole and other services. As a final requirement, students opt to either develop a six-credit research thesis or a six-credit applied research project.

This online program utilizes a cohort model and requires a two-day orientation at TCU that involves classroom instruction and research at the school's library. In addition to competitive tuition, the department offers scholarships that can defray up to 30% of the program's cost. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in any discipline with a minimum 3.0 GPA; GRE scores and related work experience in the field are not required but may be used to strengthen an application.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
Tuition: $890/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE is optional and can be used to supplement lower GPA
Work experience: Not required but taken into account

Contact
Phone: (817) 257-5846
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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26 University of Cincinnati RANKING SCORE 61.73 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 44% LOCATION 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: [email protected] (Luahna Lynn Winingham Carter, Academic Director)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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27 Tarleton State University RANKING SCORE 61.44 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 29% LOCATION Stephenville, TX

Tarleton State University, a member of the Texas A&M University System, brings education to working adults through its global campus. Home to several criminal justice programs, the university’s school of criminology, criminal justice, and strategic studies also houses multiple research institutes with focus areas that include criminal justice leadership and homeland security. The school's accelerated 30- or 36-credit master’s degree in criminal justice may be completed online in 12 or 18 months, depending on whether distance learners select a thesis or non-thesis track. The curriculum includes the study of victimology; criminological theory; gender, crime, and justice; global cybersecurity; criminal justice administration; and managing criminal justice personnel.

Individuals planning to further their education and pursue a doctoral degree should enroll in the 36-credit thesis track, in which they engage in original research as a capstone project. Alternatively, students interested in pursuing immediate employment after graduation typically opt for the 30-credit, non-thesis track. These learners take a comprehensive examination at the end of the program. Students pursuing either of these online criminal justice master's degrees take classes from professors with experience as police chiefs, district attorneys, and county judges. Learners can also take advantage of internship opportunities, gaining hands-on experience at local police departments and district attorney offices. Learners can enhance their resumes by joining the college's chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, which is a national honor society for grads and undergrads studying criminal justice. Tarleton also hosts a Criminal Justice Association that offers networking and learning opportunities to its members.

Upon completion of the degree, graduates demonstrate competencies that include understanding the theories and principles in criminal justice administration, the ability to conduct meaningful research, and effective decision making skills in areas related to criminal justice administration. Admission to this online criminal justice master's program requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students do not need to submit their standardized test scores.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Criminal Justice
Tuition: $611.91/3 credits in-state; $1,835.91/3 credits out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits (thesis); 30 credits (non-thesis)
Program length: 12-18 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.5

Contact
Phone: (254) 968-9024
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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28 Concordia University - Saint Paul RANKING SCORE 61.26 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 98% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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29 California State University - San Bernardino RANKING SCORE 61.22 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 34% LOCATION San Bernardino, CA

Situated in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, California State University, San Bernardino serves about 4,000 graduate students each year. The school’s department of criminal justice offers a 45-credit MA in criminal justice, which can be completed fully online or through a hybrid program. The program is open to students from diverse educational and professional backgrounds with curriculum that includes classes in policing, corrections, terrorism, juvenile justice, crime in public spaces, and applied research in criminal justice. A course on criminality across the lifespan delves into the many factors that influence criminality throughout an individual’s life. Another notable course on advanced social networks looks at the structure of criminal networks, such as illicit markets and corporate interlock.

To graduate from this online criminal justice master's program, distance learners opt to either complete a thesis or take a comprehensive exam. Those choosing the thesis option typically plan to pursue further studies or research-intensive careers. Alternatively, learners who plan on assuming administrative or managerial careers in criminal justice tend to choose the comprehensive exam option. The department actively works with a number of regional and national criminal justice agencies, and students may have the opportunity to publish their findings in leading research journals. The department's two research centers, including the Criminal Justice Research Center and the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, provide ample resources to criminal justice students.

Upon completion of the program, graduates should be comfortable with the research methods used in criminal justice agencies and the advanced statistical methodologies used in criminological research. Full-time students complete the program in two years, while part-timers may take up to five years to graduate. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from disciplines such as criminal justice, psychology, the social sciences, administration, or sociology; applicants should have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their major.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
Tuition: $1388/0-6 credits
Credit requirements: 45 credits
Program length: 2 years full-time; 2-5 years part-time

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0 in the major

Contact
Phone: (909) 537-5506
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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30 University of North Texas RANKING SCORE 61.04 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 40% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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31 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania RANKING SCORE 60.99 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 73% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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32 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice RANKING SCORE 60.89 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 38% LOCATION New York, NY

The curriculum at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice features a blend of liberal arts and professional studies. The school's student body of approximately 15,000 students engages in rigorous coursework, research projects, and community service experiences and internships that bolster their career preparation. John Jay’s many graduate degree offerings include a 36-credit MA in criminal justice. This accelerated program can be earned in just one year. The core curriculum covers criminology, corrections, policing, judicial studies, policy analysis, and quantitative research methods. Students can opt to pursue specializations in policing, criminology and deviance, criminal law and procedure, and/or terrorism studies.

This program boasts a number of notable courses, including one that explores the theories and techniques used in crime mapping and how this knowledge is vital in the development of programs that prevent crime. A course on crime scene investigation gives learners an in-depth understanding of the science and procedures used when handling physical evidence; students learn about many different types of evidence, such as fingerprints and DNA. The program also takes a deep look at apocalyptic and world-ending chaos in a course that explores apocalyptic movements such as the Crusades, religious fundamentalists, and cultic groups from the middles ages to contemporary times.

Professors deliver courses in accelerated, eight-week sessions, and classes contain no more than 20 students. Individuals pursuing this online criminal justice master's degree learn from noted scholars, including Pulitzer Prize-winners. Admission requires a bachelor's degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA, but applicants do not need to submit their standardized test scores.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Policing; criminology and deviance; criminal law and procedure; terrorism studies
Tuition: $5,225/12 credits in-state; $805/credit out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 1 year

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Phone: (212) 393-6342
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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33 Lewis University RANKING SCORE 60.58 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 48% LOCATION 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: [email protected] (Michelle Mega, Director of Recruitment and External Relations)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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34 University of Massachusetts - Lowell RANKING SCORE 60.54 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 46% LOCATION 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: [email protected] (Eika Hunt, Administrative Assistant)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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35 Sam Houston State University RANKING SCORE 60.49 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 63% LOCATION 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: [email protected] (Melissa Hicks, Assistant to Criminal Justice and Criminology Chair)
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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36 Missouri State University - Springfield RANKING SCORE 60.35 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 44% LOCATION Springfield, MO

Missouri State University emphasizes learning that fosters ethical leadership and community engagement. The school also embraces distance learning, offering 16 graduate programs that can be earned entirely online. The school’s department of criminology and criminal justice administers a 30- or 36-credit MS in criminology and criminal justice, which teaches students advanced skills in policy analysis and decision making in criminal justice. The core curriculum comprises 21 credits and covers topics that include crime theory and policy, applied research, and leadership and management in criminal justice. To finish the program, students can either complete a research-based thesis that must be defended before a committee or a capstone project that involves an in-depth policy analysis paper. By taking 12 additional credits, students can also earn a certificate in community corrections. To do this, individuals study evidence-based practices, correctional theory and practice, contemporary issues in community corrections, and offender thinking and decision making. Learners can also pursue a 12-credit certificate in homeland security and defense by taking classes that cover strategic planning and organization and multidisciplinary approaches to homeland security.

Upon completion of this online criminal justice master's program, learners master competencies that include the ability to effectively analyze criminal justice policies, develop strategies to improve the system, and apply leadership and managerial strategies to bolster agency practices. Students typically complete the program in two years, but individuals who enroll in summer classes can graduate in as few as 18 months. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, criminology, or a related field earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA over the last 60 credits. Some students may be required to submit their GRE scores.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Tuition: $285/credit in-state or out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30-36 credits
Program length: 18 months to 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 GPA on the last 60 credits of the bachelor's major
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (417) 836-6929
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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37 Columbus State University RANKING SCORE 60.14 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 59% LOCATION Columbus, GA

Columbus State University, based in western Georgia, attracts students from across the Southeast and beyond. The school’s virtual branch -- CSU Online -- hosts an array of fully online and hybrid degrees, including the department of political science's 36-credit master of public administration (MPA) with a criminal justice track. Whether students already hold public service positions, or plan to pursue them after graduation, the program prepares graduates for career success. The curriculum begins with a 21-credit core that covers MPA topics including a survey of public administration, policy analysis, public personnel administration, and public budgeting/financial administration.

The criminal justice track focuses on subjects such as distributive justice, race and class in criminal justice, courts and judicial administration, correctional practices and challenges, and administration and management in justice systems. An internship affords students the opportunity to develop relevant experience in an administrative environment. Distance learners also take a public administration capstone in their final semester; this culminating experience gives students the opportunity to synthesize and apply the knowledge learned during the program while also preparing them for a comprehensive exit exam.

Graduates of this master's in criminal justice online program learn the intricacies of public governance; build their analysis, problem solving, and decision making skills; and can effectively communicate with a diverse workforce and community. Up to nine graduate credits may be transferred into this program from another accredited institution. Career options for graduates include working as social workers, corrections officers, FBI agents, or U.S. Marshals. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must also submit their GRE or MAT scores. Students can begin taking classes in the fall or spring terms.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Public Administration - Criminal Justice Track
Tuition: $301/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE or MAT

Contact
Phone: (706) 507-8800
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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38 Xavier University RANKING SCORE 59.14 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 25% LOCATION Cincinnati, OH

A Jesuit college in Cincinnati, Ohio, Xavier University emphasizes academic excellence, community service, and sustainability as foundational tenets of its programming. The school offers a number of online graduate degree programs, including its 30-credit MS in criminal justice. This program explores the theories and practices utilized by professionals in criminal justice administration. Learners develop middle- to upper-level managerial skills in areas such as accounting, finance, public relations, policy formulation, and crisis strategies.

The curriculum covers topics that include law and justice, criminal justice administration, correctional counselling, sociology of crime and delinquency, and white collar crime. To prepare learners for careers as administrators, a course in administration and leadership explores various management styles and objectives, as well as other topical issues like juvenile justice, prisons, probation, and parole. Another requisite focuses on planning and research in criminal justice, where students learn best research practices when examining topics such as sampling, data collection/analysis, measurement, and causation. Students learn to think critically and hone their academic writing skills. A master's thesis and comprehensive examination culminate the program. Notably, 98% of the school's graduates find employment or go on to pursue higher education after they graduate; many students who earn this online criminal justice master's degree opt to enter law school or doctoral study.

Students can enroll in the program at any one of six start days offered throughout the year. Full-time students typically complete the program in one year, while part-timers can graduate in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA; applicants who meet this GPA requirement do not need to submit their GRE, MAT, or LSAT scores.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Tuition: $610/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30 credits
Program length: 1-2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE, MAT, or LSAT required for those not meeting the GPA requirement

Contact
Phone: (855) 815-3054
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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39 Mercer University RANKING SCORE 58.74 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 17% LOCATION Macon, GA

One of the nation's oldest institutions of higher education, Mercer University offers comprehensive programming in an intimate, student-centered environment. Academic programs embrace the liberal arts, professional training, and community service, while flexible scheduling accommodates the needs of nontraditional learners. The school’s accelerated, 30-credit MS in criminal justice and public safety leadership program focuses on developing advanced competencies in areas that include leadership, cooperation, critical thinking, and ethics.

The curriculum's 21-credit core covers terrorism, theories and models of leadership, leadership and ethics in public safety, the application of statistical design, and organizational conflict resolution and negotiations. Distance learners also take nine elective credits by studying topics such as forensic psychology, deviant behavior, the history of corrections and jails, and the nature of crime and justice in the 21st century. A notable course on disaster response teaches students how to prepare, execute, and coordinate a response to incidents such as man-made, natural, and other disasters (e.g., plane crashes). Additionally, a three-credit internship places students in a work environment where they engage in hands-on learning.

To exit the program, learners complete a research project and take a comprehensive examination. Individuals in this online criminal justice master's degree program can earn their degrees in as few as 16 months. Graduates go on to work in areas such as law enforcement, corrections, disaster relief and emergency response, and as first responders and federal agents. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA; applicants who do not meet this minimum GPA requirement must submit their GRE or MAT scores. Additionally, all applicants must attend an interview on campus in Macon, Georgia.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Public Safety Leadership
Tuition: $585/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30 credits
Program length: 16 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0
Standardized tests: GRE or MAT for those who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements

Contact
Phone: (678) 547-6417
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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40 Jacksonville State University RANKING SCORE 58.68 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 63% LOCATION Jacksonville, AL

Students at Jacksonville State University learn in an atmosphere that cultivates their professional and leadership skills while celebrating diversity. The schools virtual branch -- [email protected] -- serves as the hub of distance learning at the institution. The suite of online graduate degrees includes a 30-credit MS in criminal justice. This program’s curriculum consists of 15 credits of core coursework and 15 credits of electives. Core areas of study include criminological theory, criminal justice administration, contemporary criminal justice issues, and applied data analysis for criminal justice.

The program's elective offerings consist of a wide range of topics relevant to criminal justice. One such class focuses on forensic investigations and examines the intricacies of gathering and documenting proof, working with expert witnesses, and preparing scientific exhibits for courtroom proceedings. Another course examines the behavioral and psychological typologies that underlie criminal behavior in delinquents and criminals. A course in correctional counselling explores what interventions prove effective in treating adult and youth offenders. Individuals can also learn how to apply theories in ethics to dilemmas commonly encountered in criminal justice professions.

Students have the choice of completing a thesis, which must be successfully defended before a committee, or taking an examination in their final year. Delivered entirely online, this two-year program ensures student success by offering comprehensive support services, including tutoring and 24/7 technical support. Students pursuing this criminal justice master's degree online may transfer up to six credits into the program. Approximately 83% of JSU's students receive some form of financial aid. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and applicants must submit their GRE, MAT, or GMAT scores. Applicants with a non-criminal justice bachelor's degree may be required to take some prerequisite courses.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Tuition: $382/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
Standardized tests: GMAT, GRE, or MAT

Contact
Phone: (256) 782-5339
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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41 New Mexico State University RANKING SCORE 58.47 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 42% LOCATION Las Cruces, NM

With a main campus in the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico State University enrolls more than 15,000 students each year. The school's distance learning options include a 36-credit master’s in criminal justice, which is administered by one of the nation's oldest criminal justice programs. This two-year degree prepares learners to enter the criminal justice field, advance in their careers, or teach and conduct research in a related area.

Core classes cover topics such as criminological theory; law and social control; race, crime, and justice; criminal justice statistics; and advanced criminal justice administrative systems. Students also complete elective coursework from a range of topics, including research methods in criminal justice, criminal justice policy analysis and planning, and social problems and welfare policy. Graduates develop critical thinking skills as they acquire the theoretical and methodological knowledge needed to assume positions at local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies. A semester-long internship gives learners the opportunity to work in a professional environment where they apply the program's theories and principles in a practical context. Participants spend 10-40 hours per week at a participating agency and write a paper at the end of the internship experience. Internship eligibility requires a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA with a criminal justice GPA of 3.0 or higher in the junior year.

To exit the program, learners complete either a thesis or focused coursework option that requires students to pass a comprehensive exam; those planning to pursue a doctoral degree should choose the thesis option. Individuals pursuing this criminal justice master's degree online join a cohort and access coursework through the Canvas learning management system. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA, but applicants do not need to submit their standardized test scores.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Criminal Justice
Tuition: $243.90/credit in-state; $850.50/credit out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0 GPA

Contact
Phone: (575) 646-5159
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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42 Georgia College and State University RANKING SCORE 58.41 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 76% LOCATION Milledgeville, GA

Founded as an educational center for women in 1889, Georgia College and State University now offers coeducational undergraduate and graduate programming. The school’s office of graduate studies administers 21 fully online and hybrid programs that accomodate the needs of nontraditional learners. GCSU’s 36-credit MS in criminal justice program serves students seeking to work in judiciary, law enforcement, and social services areas. Learners study criminal laws, law breaking, and the social ramifications of criminal and deviant behavior. The required 24-credit core examines topics that include police in society, criminological theory, legal issues in criminal justice, and criminal justice research design.

A seminar in corrections explores the issues and challenges related to the management and administration of correctional facilities and programs. Another course investigates radical terrorists and examines the social transformations that have taken place over the past 40 years; this class focuses on various criminological theories such as Marxist criminology, anarchist criminology, and ideas such as prophetic criticism, chaos theory, and queer theory. An optional, zero-credit internship allows learners pursuing an online criminal justice master's degree to acquire hands-on experience in the public or private sector. Students can also demonstrate their scholarly research competencies by completing an optional three-credit capstone project.

A comprehensive exam culminates the program in the final semester. Classes are small and online learners have access to comprehensive services such as consultants at the school’s writing center. Full-time students typically complete this fully online program in two years. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA; students who do not meet this GPA requirement must also submit their GRE, GMAT, or MAT scores.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Tuition: $288/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum cumulative 2.75
Standardized tests: GRE, GMAT, or MAT for GPA score lower than 3.0
Work experience: Some relevant work experience

Contact
Phone: (478) 445-4562
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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43 Chaminade University of Honolulu RANKING SCORE 58.34 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 52% LOCATION Honolulu, HI

The only Catholic university in Hawaii, Chaminade embraces its Marianist heritage through scholarship and the pursuit of higher ideals. The school's degree offerings include six graduate programs. Online learning offered by the school’s office of professional and continuing education includes a 42-credit MS in criminal justice administration. The program primes working and professional learners for managerial careers with a curriculum grounded in judicial theory and practice. Core courses cover a range of topics such as criminology, law enforcement, correctional administration, terrorism and justice, constitutional law, and hostage negotiations.

A generalist track offers no specialization but develops knowledge and expertise about the entire criminal justice system, including corrections and law enforcement. Students can also choose from 18-credit specializations in a correctional track or law enforcement. Notably, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety recognizes the correctional track as an equivalent of a master’s in social welfare. This track covers topics such as inmate rights, correctional management and administration, and inmate reentry and reintegration. The law enforcement specialization features curriculum related to leadership and management, benefiting individuals who already work in law enforcement. Courses include managing investigations, criminal evidence, and courtroom evidence. During a capstone experience, learners engage in projects that integrate their knowledge of policies and procedures in criminal justice; they also complete exit assessments that test their mastery of coursework in their chosen track.

The accelerated program, which uses 10-week courses, allows learners to earn their degrees in as few as 18 months. A low student-to-faculty ratio provides individuals with personalized attention from their professors. Distance learners also gain access to tutoring through Smarthinking. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Students can begin taking classes in January, April, July, or October.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration
Available concentrations: Correctional; law enforcement; generalist
Tuition: $860/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 42 credits
Program length: 18-24 months

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA

Contact
Phone: (808) 735-4751
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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44 St John's University - New York RANKING SCORE 57.84 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 20% LOCATION Queens, NY

St. John's University boasts locations in New York City, Europe, and online, providing academic programming in the Catholic and Vincentian tradition. The school’s college of professional studies administers a 36-credit master of professional studies in homeland security and criminal justice leadership. This program melds theoretical and practical study while emphasizing ethical leadership. Its 18-credit core includes the study of correctional administration, leadership in homeland security, criminal justice policy formation and analysis, and U.S. Constitution and homeland protection.

Electives cover a wide range of topics, such as criminological theory, stress management, global terrorism, and court administration and leadership. Students devote six credits to research courses, including an applied research capstone in their final semester. Learners also acquire hands-on experiences by completing internships. Agencies participating in the school’s internship program include the NYPD, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and Department of Homeland Security.

Learners may pursue their studies fully online or select a hybrid format that provides mentoring opportunities, access to the school's library collections, and other academic resources. Students can enroll in this criminal justice master's program either part-time or full-time. Additionally, individuals can participate in networking and career enrichment activities by joining the school's Criminal Justice Association. Distance learners receive one-on-one academic advisement and career-related assistance from the university’s career center. Individuals who already hold positions in the criminal justice or homeland security fields may be eligible for a 33% tuition grant. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, but applicants do not need to submit their standardized test scores.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Professional Studies Program in Homeland Security and Criminal
Justice Leadership
Tuition: $1,200 in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online or hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0 GPA

Contact
Phone: (718) 990-6111
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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45 University of Central Missouri RANKING SCORE 57.75 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 30% LOCATION Warrensburg, MO

The University of Central Missouri features future-focused programming, and the school’s virtual branch -- UCM Online -- enrolls students from around the country, offering several degrees completely online. UCM also houses a respected criminal justice department, which administers a 36-credit MS in criminal justice. This fully online program teaches students the knowledge and skills required for entry into or advancement within the field of criminal justice. Some graduates also go on to pursue doctoral degrees.

The two-year curriculum's core delves into topics including legal aspects, administration in criminal justice, comparative criminal justice systems, and methods of criminal justice research. In their final year, learners complete either a thesis or research project as a capstone experience. Graduates of this criminal justice master's online program understand theories and policy implications, master research techniques and apply them to address challenges in the criminal justice system, and model effective communication skills in various settings.

Students in this program learn from faculty with experience at corrections, judiciary, and police and corrections agencies. Professors deliver coursework in online classrooms with a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Distance learners gain access to free tutoring from the student success center and assistance from the school’s writing center. Students can also participate in networking and career enrichment opportunities by joining groups such as Alpha Phi Sigma, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, and the Association of Juvenile and Corrections. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75; candidates with GPAs lower than 3.0 should also submit their GRE scores. Applicants without a criminal justice background may be admitted after completion of certain prerequisite courses.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Tuition: $340.25/credit
Credit requirements: 36 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 2.75
Standardized tests: GRE for GPAs lower than 3.0

Contact
Phone: (877) 729-8266
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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46 University of Wisconsin-Platteville RANKING SCORE 57.35 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 88% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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47 DeSales University RANKING SCORE 57.04 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 38% LOCATION Center Valley, PA

DeSales University provides learning steeped in the school's Catholic tradition. Online programming gives nontraditional learners access to DeSales' popular criminal justice programs.The two-year, 30-credit MA in criminal justice immerses learners in criminal justice theories and their applications while emphasizing ethical standards. The six-course core investigates topics such as criminal law, advanced criminology, ethics in criminal justice, research methods, and law enforcement administration and management.

Learners choose from a number of electives covering forensic psychology; the politics of crime; juvenile justice; and violence, crime, and justice. A notable course on data collection and analysis develops learners' skills in research design, data measurement, statistics, and validity. Students can pursue concentrations in either digital forensics or investigative forensics where they complete specialized courses and research projects, engaging in one-on-one online interactions with experts. The digital forensics specialization comprises 12 credits that examine topics such as digital investigation and evidence collection, forensic acquisition and analysis, and network and cloud forensics. Learners who choose the investigative forensics specialization study forensic psychology, behavioral criminology, medicolegal death investigation, and advanced crime scene investigation.

In both concentrations, learners take a capstone course where they complete a thesis, a 300-hour externship at an agency and a paper, or an in-depth research policy paper that addresses an agency-related need. The program's 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio allows individuals to receive ample attention from their professors. High-achieving students can become members of Lambda Eta, which is DeSales’ chapter of the national honors society Alpha Phi Sigma. Up to six credits may be transferred into this online master's in criminal justice program. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA, but applicants do not need to submit their standardized exam scores. Criminal justice professionals may qualify for a 20% tuition discount.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Digital forensics; investigative forensics
Tuition: $745/credit in-state and out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Phone: (610) 282-1100 ext. 1466
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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48 Rowan University RANKING SCORE 56.77 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 34% LOCATION 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: [email protected]
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

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49 University of Michigan-Dearborn RANKING SCORE 56.54 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 46% LOCATION Dearborn, MI

Founded on the original Henry Ford Estate, the University of Michigan-Dearborn is a hub of innovation, scholarship, and research. The college's graduate programs meld liberal arts and professional studies, teaching learners advanced skills in a variety of fields. One such program is the school’s 30- to 32-credit MS in criminology and criminal justice. This degree track prepares learners for careers in management, policy, or research. The program maximizes flexibility by offering full-time and part-time enrollment options, as well online learning. Core courses investigate topics such as deviant behavior, sociology of law, criminal justice theory, and criminal justice research methods.

Electives in this online master's in criminal justice program examine juvenile delinquency, civil rights and liberties, leadership and administration, and restorative justice. A notable course called "crimmigration" explores the intersections between law enforcement and immigration, emphasizing the policing of immigrant communities, the criminalization of immigrants, and immigrant offenders and their victims. Additionally, an intelligence and homeland security course focuses on intelligence-gathering, analysis, and sharing; it also explores the roles that local and state law enforcement play in protecting the country.

As a capstone project, learners can opt to complete a thesis, which requires substantive research on a topic, or a non-thesis essay, which substantively addresses issues or practices in criminal justice. Graduates demonstrate proficiency in program planning and evaluation, organization and administration, and research skills. A 4+1 accelerated option affords undergrads the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree and an MS in criminology and criminal justice in just five years. The school's community service personnel scholarship awards a 20% tuition discount to public safety professionals pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees. Admission to the MS program requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and prerequisite courses in criminal justice.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Tuition: $683/credit in-state; $1,176/credit out-of-state
Credit requirements: 30-32 credits
Program length: 2 years

Delivery
Format: Online
Instruction style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0

Contact
Phone: (313) 593-5000
Email: [email protected]
Social media accounts: Facebook; Twitter

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50 Washington State University RANKING SCORE 56.49 COST % ENROLLED ONLINE 20% LOCATION Pullman, WA

A top research institution, the academic programming at Washington State University spans 200 fields, including criminal justice. Faculty deliver the 32- or 35-credit MA in criminal justice mostly through video conferencing from WSU's Spokane-based campus. The program offers a 32-credit conventional track and a 35-credit certificate in global justice and security track. Both options share the same core coursework in criminological theory, research methods, and quantitative methods in criminal justice.

The conventional track examines policing, the court system, corrections, and processes and institutions in criminal justice. Alternatively, the global justice and security track focuses on topics such as prosecution and adjudication, the role of police in society, homeland security, and the administration of criminal justice and transnational crime. Both tracks require students to engage in independent study and/or pass an exam to complete the program. Although it is not required, graduate students have the opportunity to assist in teaching and/or research, deepening their scholarship and gaining valuable professional experience.

Graduates of this program understand the factors driving changes in security and justice at the domestic and global levels, master the methodological and analytical competencies needed to interpret information, and demonstrate knowledge about the policies and programs that the U.S. and other countries adopt to address changing security challenges. This online master's in criminal justice also improves a learner's research and communication skills. About 70% of graduates find work in applied settings, while others go on to pursue careers in teaching and research. In some cases, learners may transfer a limited number of graduate credits earned with a “B” or higher into the program. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and acceptable GRE scores; however, a GPA of at least 3.5 is preferrable.


Program Overview
Program name: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
Available concentrations: Global justice and security certificate
Tuition: $589/credit in-state; $1,261/credit out-of-state
Credit requirements: 32-35 credits
Program length: 2+ years

Delivery
Format: Hybrid
Instruction style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum 3.0; 3.5 or higher preferred
Standardized tests: GRE

Contact
Phone: (509) 335-8611
Email: [email protected]
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.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice Programs of 2017
Rank School Location
1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
2 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
3 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
4 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
5 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ
6 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO
7 Troy University Troy, AL
8 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA
9 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
10 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
11 Mississippi College Clinton, MS
12 University of San Diego San Diego, CA
13 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
14 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
15 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Cincinnati, OH
16 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
17 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
18 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
19 University of North Texas Denton, TX
20 Dallas Baptist University Dallas, TX
21 University of Wisconsin-Platteville Platteville, WI
22 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Norman, OK
23 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
24 Colorado State University-Global Campus Greenwood Village, CO
25 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA

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