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Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice
Top Online Degree Programs 2020

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Best Online Masters Criminal Justice

You may wonder how people end up in leadership roles in the field of criminal justice. Achieving a masters degree in this pathway offers a myriad of options as far as administrative and supervisory careers in criminal justice are concerned. People who graduate with masters degrees in criminal justice can easily qualify for jobs as supervisors in correctional institutions and other operations of the police force. There are a number of other careers that are achievable with a masters in criminal justice including forensic examiner, forensic psychologist, criminal investigator, and investigator for an attorney general. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a positive outlook for this degree path. In fact, it shows this career avenue will expand at a rate faster than many other positions. In fact, it is projected that the jobs in this field will grow by 1,000-5,000 positions between 2016 and 2026. 

Maybe you already have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and you want to take your career to the next level? If you are considering getting a masters degree in criminal justice, you have come to the right place. We have done some of the research for you by finding the best online masters in criminal justice. We have ranked best online criminal justice masters degrees using the following metric:

  • Cost
  • Reputation
  • Rate of Students Success

Take a look at the different programs and notice that many options have specializations that might support your academic and career goals. Many online programs offer flexible and convenient learning options that enable students to continue working in the field while they study. 

1

Texas A&M International University

Texas A&M International University offers a masters of science degree program in criminal justice that is considered one of the best online criminal justice masters programs. This course of study emphasizes policy and offers students the tools that are necessary for shaping the way professionals reframe the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems. One of the perks about this particular program is that there are no thesis requirements. It can be taken on an accelerated basis, and completed within 12 months time. The entire course of study is made up of 36 credit hours. This is known for being an affordable program. You can pay by the course rather than the entire program, and all of the fees are embedded. Some of the core courses that make up the curriculum include: foundations of the criminal justice system, law and criminal justice, and the culmination of a capstone project in criminal justice. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

2

University of California-Irvine
Irvine, CA

The University of California Irvine offers a masters of applied science degree program in criminology, law, and society. This best online masters in criminal justice program was designed to develop leaders in criminal justice in such fields as law enforcement, probation/ parole, social services, along with many administrative roles. The entire course of study is made up of 52 credit hours, which students can complete within a sequence over the course of 6 quarters. Instead of a culminating thesis assignment, students are required to take a class called social problems, law and society. The course of study is made up of 13 distinct classes. The program opens with a five day accelerated introductory class called Introduction to Criminology, Law, and Society, which sets students up for a successful programmatic trajectory. Some of the other classes included in the program include: police courts and corrections, statistics, and crime and social deviance. 

Degree Type: MAS in Criminology, Law, and Society

3

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix
Phoenix, AZ

Arizona State University offers a masters of arts degree program in criminal justice that is considered one of the best online masters in criminal justice programs. The entire course of study is delivered online and utilizes a flexible learning platform. All of the coursework makes up 33 credit hours that can be completed by participating in 11 total classes. Each class takes 7.5 weeks to complete. The faculty in the program have all been recognized nationally as scholars in the field of criminal justice and have specific expertise in topics such as fraud, policing, gangs, courts, and corrections. Full time students can complete this degree path in an accelerated fashion within 18 months time. Students do have the option of completing this program on a part time basis, and time frames vary according to the student and their self designed pace. 

Degree Type: MA in Criminal Justice

4

University of Colorado Denver
Denver, CO

The University of Colorado Denver offers a master of criminal justice program that is delivered entirely online. They began offering this particular degree program in 1972, so they have had many years to perfect it. Much of their mission includes finding ways to make the world better and safer within the criminal justice system. The entire course of study is made up of 36 credit hours. The application deadline is August 1. Make note of the fact that even though this is an online program, there is still a different rate for in state and out of state students. The program offers an interdisciplinary approach to criminal justice. Graduates of this course of study often go on to work within law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. Another aspect of the coursework is that students will gain an understanding of crime causation theory. 

Degree Type: Master of Criminal Justice

5

Boston University
Boston, MA

Boston University offers a masters of science in criminal justice program that is delivered entirely online. This is considered one of the best online masters in criminal justice programs, as it engages with the way the discipline is evolving. This includes technological advancement and global current events. They want students to have the options of customizing their degree path as much as possible, and therefore they offer the following concentrations: cyber crime investigation and cybersecurity, strategic management, and crime analysis. If you are a member of the American Jail Association, you will be eligible for a graduate application fee waiver. The faculty in the program are all known for their expert contributions to the field of criminal justice. The entire program is made up of 32 credit hours, which translates to eight unique courses. Some of the required classes include: criminology and crime policy, applied analytical methods, cybercrime, among others. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

6

Florida International University
Miami, FL

Through the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University, you will find a masters of science program in criminal justice that is delivered entirely online. This degree pathway is research heavy, and exclusively for students who are interested in academic, pursuing a doctorate or applied research. Prospective students must have a minimum GPA of 3.2 or above to qualify for the program. The core coursework includes criminology theory, data analysis in criminal justice, research methods in criminal justice, transnational crime and criminal justice, and criminal justice policy analysis. Each student will select three electives to support their programmatic interests. The online format is designed to be both demanding and flexible at the same time. Students can log into their coursework from anywhere in the world. FIU also offers a related masters of arts program in global affairs. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

7

Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX

The College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University offers a masters of science degree program in criminal justice that is completed entirely online. This is considered one of the best online criminal justice masters degree programs. This particular program was designed expressly for professionals who are working full time, or otherwise. Some students are already working within the criminal justice industry, while others are interested in entering the field for the first time. Students can complete the degree in as little as two years. One of the perks of the program is the fact that it is well connected in the national sphere of criminal justice, and therefore students have access to beneficial networking opportunities that make employment easier. Many graduates of the program pursue careers in law enforcement, social services, securities, and corrections. The entire course of study is made up of 36 credit hours. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

8

Concordia University-Saint Paul
Saint Paul, MN

Concordia University St Paul offers a masters of arts program in criminal justice leadership that is considered one of the best online masters in criminal justice. They pride themselves on the fact that graduates from this program earn more than alumni from similar programs throughout the state of Minnesota. The entire course of study is made up of 36 credit hours. Ninety-five percent of graduates in the program are given job opportunities in the first year after graduation. Some of the careers people that have graduated from the program have achieved include: criminal profiler, emergency management director, police and detective supervisor, district attorney, district investigator, among many others. The concept of criminal sociology is heavily addressed in this program. This a career path that focuses on the behavior of criminals. The majority, if not all of the coursework in this program is delivered in an asynchronous format that enables students to work at their own pace, when their schedule allows. 

Degree Type: MA in Criminal Justice Leadership

9

California State University-San Bernardino
San Bernardino, CA

The Department of Criminal Justice at California State University in San Bernardino offers a masters of arts program in criminal justice program that is delivered entirely online. It is nationally recognized as one of the best online masters in criminal justice. The course of study has a variety of core courses that students must complete prior to engaging in either a thesis culminating experience or comprehensive examinations. Students who choose the comprehensive exam path are generally interested in managerial or administrative positions. Many people entered the field with bachelor’s degrees from a variety of other disciplines such as social sciences, anthropology, psychology, administration, among others. All of the classes are designed to be flexible, though they are generally delivered in a synchronous online format. The faculty in the program are leading experts and researchers in the field of criminal justice. 

Degree Type: MA in Criminal Justice

10

University of Louisville
Louisville, KY

Through the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Louisville you will find  a masters of criminal justice program that is delivered entirely online. This course of study was created expressly for the purpose of educating professionals who already work within the criminal justice field. The entire course of study is made up of 36 credit hours. Each class is designed to work within an eight week term. Students will study foundations in crime theory, delinquency, criminal justice and legal issues, research methods and advanced statistics. The GRE is not a requirement for admission into this program. Students can accelerate their degree and complete this program within 3 semesters. The coursework dives into topics such as ethics, leadership, justice, cybercrime, history, personnel management, among many other topics. The program is designed to be completed year round. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

11

New Mexico State University-Main Campus
Las Cruces, NM

New Mexico State University offers a master of criminal justice degree program that can be completed within many formations including a fully online option. The entire course of study is made up of 33 to 36 credit hours and can be completed within 2 years time. Many people who choose this program are interested in working at an administrative capacity including within the realm of policy. Many students are focused on achieving a career in academia. Prospective students can submit applications throughout the year and matriculate in the fall or spring terms. This program is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Students have access to a variety of support resources including advising. One of the benefits of this degree option is the fact that it is known for its affordability and access to financial aid. Students only need to have a fully functioning computer and internet connection to participate. 

Degree Type: Master of Criminal Justice

12

University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Platteville, WI

The University of Wisconsin Platteville offers a master of science program in criminal justice. This course of study is delivered entirely online, making it easy for students to have a flexible learning experience and still maintain their other life commitments. Some of the skills emphasized in the program include criminal justice operations, foundational knowledge, operations and law, among many others. They offer three concentrations including criminal justice management, victim and offender services, and criminal justice theory. The core coursework includes: criminal justice, law and social control, criminal theory, research and statistical methods, among others, plus a culminating thesis project. Students have a wide variety of elective courses to choose from including topics like: abnormal psychology in a dangerous world and crisis intervention theory. There are many financial aid possibilities for students in the program including two scholarship opportunities. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

13

University of Toledo
Toledo, OH

The University of Toledo offers a masters of arts program in criminal justice. This course of study is considered one of the best online criminal justice masters programs. Students in this course of study will gain an in depth foundation of the inner workings of the United States criminal justice industry. Some of the topics that are heavily covered include: social control and the complexities of crime, assessment as it relates to the challenges of the criminal justice system. In order to complete the program, students must undergo a minimum of 30 credit hours. This consists of both core coursework and elective classes. Students must complete a thesis project or comprehensive exam following all of the coursework. Each prospective student is encouraged to meet with an academic advisor to come up with an individualized learning plan. 

Degree Type: MA in Criminal Justice

14

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Cincinnati, OH

The University of Cincinnati offers a masters of science degree program in criminal justice that is delivered entirely online. The entire course of study is made up of 33 credit hours. The program utilizes an interdisciplinary model as it engages with the degree pathway. The curriculum pulls from disciplines such as psychology and law, sociology, and criminology. They utilize hands-on learning models to ensure students have all of the tools that they need to be experienced leaders in the field. The curriculum is made up of eleven classes. Each student will pick one of three concentrations including: corrections and offender rehabilitation, analysis and criminal behavior, law enforcement and crime prevention. This degree pathway is fully accredited by the prestigious higher learning commission. Some of the required courses include applied statistics in criminal justice, applied crime prevention, advanced crime analysis, among many others. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice 

15

Southeast Missouri State University
Cape Girardeau, MO

Southeast Missouri State University offers a masters of science program in criminal justice that is delivered entirely online. This program is offered through the College of Humanities and Social Science. The flexibility of this program is unmatched and there are zero on campus requirements. Even though the coursework is delivered online, students will have access to many collaboration opportunities. Another perk about this program is the promised social support between advisors, faculty members, and additional mentorship. Prospective students are not required to have any previous experience with criminal justice. In fact, there are not many prerequisites to apply for the program. Students will choose between three concentrations including: restorative justice, social inequality, and comparative criminal justice studies. Graduates will be prepared to work in a variety of related fields at the federal, state and local levels. The program is fully accredited by the council on social work education. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

16

Lamar University
Beaumont, TX

Lamar University offers a masters of science program in criminal justice that is delivered entirely online. Law enforcement and the disciplines that surround it are heavily emphasized in this course of study. Graduates of the program will be prepared to begin lucrative careers in leadership roles such as management, administration, and treatment and planning in criminal justice. The entire course of study is made up of 30 credit hours. This is a degree path that gives students the tools to gain a broad understanding of the United States criminal justice system. In addition, students will learn the theoretical underpinnings of crime control along with planning and evaluation. Ethics and leadership within the realm of criminal justice is also highly emphasized in the program. This is one of the most affordable programs. The total cost, including the distance learning fee, is $9,000. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

17

Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Nova Southeastern University offers a masters of science program in criminal justice that is delivered entirely online. The program is given through their Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice. They offer several concentration tracks for students to choose from including: behavioral science, legal perspective in criminal justice, substance abuse, public administration, conflict and crisis management, child protection and juvenile justice, information security, emergency preparedness leadership, investigative forensic technology, among others. They encourage professionals in the field, who are looking for career advancement to apply. This includes police officers, state troopers, canine officers, county sheriffs, among others. The core courses are extensive in reach and include topics such as survey issues in criminal justice, legal issues in criminal justice, social administration and criminal justice, among many others. Prospective students must have a bachelors degree in any field and a minimum of a 2.5 GPA in their previous coursework. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

18

Fairmont State University
Fairmont, WV

Fairmont State University offers a masters of science program in criminal justice through their college of liberal arts. The entire course of study is made up of a minimum of 30 credit hours. The classes are delivered with working professionals in mind, ensuring that it is flexible enough for their success. Some of the topics addressed in the program include criminal law and policy, public attitudes regarding criminal justice issues, administration of justice and the judiciary system, and police and correctional systems organization. Students will each choose from two tracks, one being a thesis track and the other a capstone track. The faculty in the program are renowned experts in the field, many of which have published material and play leadership roles in criminal justice. Many alumni engage in careers following graduation in such disciplines as forensics, global intelligence, corrections and legal research. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

19

Youngstown State University
Youngstown, OH

Youngstown State University offers a masters of science in criminal justice program that is designed to be both flexible and convenient. This course of study is delivered entirely online. The coursework is made up of 30-35 credit hours in total. They offer an intimate learning environment with only a total of 41 students enrolled in the program at a time. Not only does this offering take on building awareness of the criminal justice system, but it also managerial and business skills. Students have the option of taking either a thesis track or a capstone track. Many prospective students have experience already with the police academy or other criminal justice related experience. Those that do not have options within the department of criminal justice and forensic sciences might have to take some prerequisite courses. Some of the required classes include: corrections, law, and liability and practice and ethics in forensic science. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

20

Delta State University
Cleveland, MS

Delta State University’s  master of science degree in  social justice and criminology is offered nationally entirely and online, making it one of the most affordable online criminal justice programs. DSU does not charge  for out of state tuition. This 36 credit hour program is aimed to perfect students analytical, writing and presentation skills in the competitive areas of criminology and criminal justice. By using research and statistical methods the faculty focuses on topics like terrorism, and the juvenile justice system. The courses are presented with the working professional in mind. This program can aid in helping criminal justice students to advanced positions throughout law enforcement systems. Not only can students advance their own careers but they will be prepared to pursue a doctorate in criminal justice and take on academic roles in the criminal justice field.   

Degree Type: MS in Social Justice and Criminology

21

Liberty University
Lynchburg, VA

This Criminal Justice- Public Administration degree offered by Liberty University is a steward of online learning and can be completed entirely online. By obtaining this advanced criminal justice degree students can move ahead in their field or advance their education. Liberty university, listed in the top 1%  of online schools in quality, offers a generous opportunity for transferring criminal justice students to transfer in up to 50% of their course load. Some of the coursework focuses primarily on critical leadership techniques to be prepared to manage the confrontations of the criminal justice system. Other featured coursework includes communication and conflict and public policy analysis. The program focuses on developing professionals that want to impact the law enforcement organization with fairness. Students have a myriad of options of completion of the degree, political office, homeland security, police administration, and urban and social policy. In order to complete this program students must undergo a minimum of 36 credit hours.

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice- Public Administration

22

University of the Cumberlands
Williamsburg, KY

The Master of Justice Administration degree offered by the University of the Cumberlands is a fully online degree meticulously built by law enforcement professionals. With this in mind they have structured this degree with several focuses ranging from cyber securities to addictive studies. The entire course of study can be completed with 31 credits of common core coursework, two specializations, and a Capstone Project. There is also an opportunity to receive advanced standing if students have completed career development training in appropriately credentialed professional agencies or organizations in Kentucky or states outside of Kentucky. With the employment growth for law enforcement professionals increasing, students can find a career as a police officer waiting upon completion of the degree. This master’s of Justice Administration degree focuses on the philosophical and theoretical principal of the court, corrections and juvenile justice. Through this course of study students will have the opportunity to resourcefully use critical thinking and communication skills, with the practice of analyzing statistics, gathered by social science research methods.

Degree Type: Master of Justice Administration

23

University of New Haven
West Haven, CT

The Criminal Justice Master of Science program at the University of New Haven has catapulted thousands of students over the years into leadership roles in law enforcement. This best online masters degree in criminal justice has been around for more than 50 years, the criminal justice program does not require a GRE or GMAT, and you can apply without a fee. Much of this program focuses on teamwork and hands on training. By crafting in-depth research topics and curated discussions, experienced faculty bring the online process to life while you earn this advanced degree. Structured for the working professional, the entire program is online. With this degree, police officers looking to advance their career stand to gain the most with the completion of this program. Following a traditional course schedule you can complete this 36 credit course of study in two years. New Haven offers a Masters in Criminal Justice in multiple areas of focus including: Police Behavioral Studies, Crime Analysis, and Leadership and Management. 

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice 

24

Tiffin University
Tiffin, OH

Tiffin University’s program offerings include a  Master of Science in Criminal Justice. This proud institution of learning has several tracks available for students with a bachelor’s degree, looking to advance in the criminal Justice field. Tiffin’s online master’s program can be completed in 12 months. They offer both online and on campus tracks for Criminal Justice. The main priority for faculty of the criminal justice department is for individuals to be prepared to enter the law enforcement organization, so the classroom experience online is modeled by faculty that have worked in the field. Select from five different tracks Crime Science, Crime Analysis, Homeland Security, Justice Administration, and Criminal Behavior. Courses are held on a two terms per semester schedule, starting in August and October. Transfer credits up to 9 are accepted from comparable schools for a faster matriculation. Students become qualified to hold positions in law enforcement institutions on the state and federal level when they complete the program.  

Degree Type: MS in Criminal Justice

25

Faulkner University
Montgomery, AL

Faulkner University offers an online Masters in Justice Administration, for individual’s set on advancing in the criminal justice field. It is a nationally ranked program. This advanced degree will allow students to move into positions within the Law Enforcement, Corrections, and management positions held in Criminal Justice organizations on the state and federal level. Faulkner has shaped this program for students to move through each unit as a group, for a total of ten 5 week courses. Each course takes close to 12- 15 hours per week to complete, this best criminal justice online degree can be complete in just 14 months. Complete it faster when you transfer up to 6 credits from a comparable program. Students may begin their degree without taking prerequisite courses, once accepted students can take classes as they appear in the 14 month cycle. Courses that examine topics like policing in America, Justice writing and Comparative Criminal Justice.

Degree Type: Master of Justice Administration

Why Should I Get My Criminal Justice Master’s Online? 

A masters in criminal justice online opens many doors for students who are interested in embarking on leadership opportunities in the field of criminal justice. Those who have accomplished associates and bachelors degrees in criminal justice can easily enter the police academy following graduation, and in many cases prior to. They will then be eligible for entry level positions in law enforcement as well as other criminal justice related fields. A criminal justice masters program online, however, can offer a great deal of career advancement. Graduates of advanced degrees in criminal justice have access to many career pathways including within the academic sector. Many criminal justice professionals choose to get advanced degrees in order to conduct research, work in the policy end of criminal justice, or have more specialized managerial and administrative positions. Many people achieve advanced degrees in corrections and also juvenile facilities and even on the forensic end of the field. You will notice that many programs offer specializations that will allow students to engage in criminal justice discipline that fits their academic and career goals. This could be anything from sociology to forensics. 

How Do I Choose a  Criminal Justice Master’s Program?

When choosing a best online criminal justice school that meets your needs it is good to know exactly what you personally are looking for in a program. First thing’s first, however, you should ensure any criminal justice degree online accredited. Top criminal justice graduate schools have different program focal points. You will see that most programs offer different specializations. Make sure the field you are interested in pursuing is represented in a specialization, or if nothing else, the coursework. Most programs give you an overview of the curriculum on their website. Another thing to consider is flexibility. If you are a working professional that requires a flexible learning schedule, make sure the program you choose has asynchronous classes, or a predictable schedule that works with yours. Asynchronous classes enable you to accomplish your school work at your convenience with no set login times. Lastly, it is very important to make sure you know whether or not there are on campus requirements. Many programs are 100 percent online, but some do expect students to attend a number of sessions on campus. This is obviously not a good fit if the school is far away and you do not want to travel to get there. 

How Much Can I Make with a Master’s in Criminal Justice? 

Just like many professions masters in criminal justice jobs have a large pay range. According to payscale the average salary for a masters of criminal justice job is $55,805. At the top of this range you will find a security manager position whose average salary is $89,000 and a police chief who makes $86,000 on average. At the lower end of the payscale you will find a legal assistant and a paralegal who both make around $42,000. You will also find a probation officer who makes $44,000 on average. Once again, a criminal justice masters salary varies considerably. You will notice that some schools claim that their alumni make more than other schools. Some of the salary range is based on the position, and others are based on experience, among other variables. 

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