25 Cheapest Online Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice

A degree in criminal justice prepares you for a career in government, law, or at a nonprofit. The 25 Cheapest Online Master's in Criminal Justice brings together programs that can open some of these doors to the next step in your career! 

Do you enjoy mysteries? Real crime television shows? If you enjoy unraveling a puzzle or wish you could be like someone on Criminal Minds, a career in criminal justice might be right for you. A degree in criminal justice can open doors to many jobs with titles such as a forensic psychologist, criminal profiler, emergency management director, or a detective. In fact, the job market for police and detectives is expected to grow by seven percent by 2026, while the average reported salary in 2018 was $63,380, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Master's Degree in Criminal Justice adds even more expertise while ensuring one has the experience and education necessary to advance into management and administrative roles. However, an online program offers the flexibility to do this while still working full-time. In fact, many of these programs are designed specifically for those who are already in the field but want to grow.

When looking at graduate degree options, it is important to consider the time to completion, as some programs can take as short as one year to as long as two for students going full-time. Another important factor to consider is concentrations available. Concentrations are a way for a student to specialize their degree, and options can include Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Victim and Offender Services, and Criminal Justice Theory.

Selection Criteria

Best Value Schools publishes college degree rankings with the belief of how one's higher education should be, both, affordable and an investment of continued value for the students who pursue them. The staff of BVS collects data from reputable sources in order to calculate Net Price and the short and long-term value of every ranked degree. Collected data is simplified into weighted categories before scoring and then scaled through a BVS Score up to 100. The weighted categories are:

  • Degree Investment Return (25%
  • Student & Alumni Evaluation (25%)
  • Cost Value (25%)
  • Matriculation (10%)
  • Academic Success (15%)

No matter what degree you decide on, we hope our research and support has made the selection process easier. There are numerous resources BVS utilizes to collect information on degrees, and we encourage you to check them out for yourself!

Here are the 25 Cheapest Online Master's in Criminal Justice for 2020!

25. Florida International University - Miami, FL

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Website

Starting off our list is Florida International University's Master of Science in Criminal Justice. This program is geared toward preparing students for doctoral study. It requires 36 credit hours of classwork, broken up between core requirements, four criminal justice electives, and three general electives. The core courses are Criminological Theory, Research Methods in Criminal Justice, and Criminal Justice Policy Analysis. There are also options to ready students to teach and to allow them to intern.

Prospective students are not required to submit GRE or GMAT scores for admission, but FIU is typically looking for a 3.2 GPA or higher. FIU also ensures that students still have access to student services just like on-campus students, starting off with an online orientation that walks them through life as an online student at the university. It also pays special attention to making sure that students have global awareness, even from the comfort of their home as they complete their degree.

Tuition: $8,912 In-State / $21,393 Out-of-State
Score: 92.2

24. Youngstown State University - Youngstown, OH

Master of Science in Criminal Justice Management & Program Planning

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Students of Youngstown State University can earn their Master of Science through the 30-credit Criminal Justice Management and Program Planning degree. Courses in this program give students experience working in a variety of nonprofit and/or government organization. Students are able to take classes like Research Methods in Health and Human Services, Applied Police and Corrections Management, and Grant Writing. They also finish a thesis during the course of the program, which can be used to help students to prepare for doctoral work. YSU also gives students the opportunity to receive a scholarship. There are also graduate assistantships available.

Tuition: $8,906 In-State /$13,406 Out-of-State
Score: 77.2

23. Concordia University - Saint Paul, MN

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Leadership

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Concordia University offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Leadership. This degree necessitates 36 credit hours of coursework. The program is completely online, and each course is 7 weeks in length. Approximately 95% of graduates from Concordia University, St. Paul have a job offer within one year of graduation. Additionally, alumni from Concordia earn 44% more than the national average, according to the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard. With the flexibility of this program, students are able to come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including law enforcement, military, social services, and corrections.

Concordia's online programs have students from all over the United States and the world in them. The most popular home states tend to be Minnesota, Texas, California, and Wisconsin, and students have also come from Trinidad and Tobago. This program has also been ranked in the top 100 on U.S. News & World Report's Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice programs.

Tuition: $8,550
Score: 70.2

22. St. Leo University - St. Leo, FL

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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Saint Leo University has a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. There are also specializations available in Behavioral Studies, Corrections, Criminal Investigations, Critical Incident Management, Forensic Science, and Legal Studies. In total, 30 credit hours are required for completion of this program, and they are geared toward criminal justice administrators, first responders, and government officials.

Available courses include Criminal Sexual Behaviors, Public Policy Making in Criminal Justice, and Causes and Controls of Juvenile Delinquency. The program draws from the expertise of its instructors, including in particular its director, Dr. Robert Diemer, who has worked with a variety of local, state, and federal agencies. Dr. Diemer has also been the Chief Investigator for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and as a Deputy Sheriff.

Tuition: $8,498
Score: 73.2

21. Bowling Green State University - Bowling Green, OH

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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Bowling Green State University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice program. There are 11 courses in this program, totaling 33 credit hours. The degree can be completed in under two years on a part-time basis. Students can start their coursework at six different times throughout the year, and the courses are seven weeks in length. Some examples of classes include Data Analysis and Interpretation in Criminal Justice, Crime Analysis, and the Nature of Crime. Students are able to transfer up to nine credit hours into the program. They also have access to BGSU's Learning Commons, which offers online writing consultations and a variety of other services for distance learners.

Bowling Green State University has been ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's  Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs. Additionally, for admission, students are not required to submit GRE scores, through BGSU is typically looking for a GPA of 2.75 or higher. Two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume are also required.

Tuition: $8,017In-State / $14,009 Out-of-State
Score: 85.2

20. Liberty University - Lynchburg, VA

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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Liberty University's Master's in Criminal Justice typically takes students a little over a year to complete. It requires 36 credit hours of coursework. Courses are offered on an 8-week rotation with several start dates throughout the year. Students who have completed prior relevant graduate courses can transfer in up to half of their master's into Liberty. There are also specializations available in Forensic Psychology, Homeland Security, and Public Administration. Lastly, students have the option to complete a thesis during their time in the program.

Something that is also important to note is that tuition at Liberty has not increased in four years, current and former military service members can also receive a discount. Liberty is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This program was ranked No. 46 by U.S. News & World Report on its list of Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

Tuition: $7,904
Score: 73.5

19. Columbia College - Columbia, MO

Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration

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Columbia College's Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration zeroes in on four foundational areas. The four areas include Criminal Justice, Policy Development and Analysis, Research Design, and Ethics In Criminal Justice. Students can also choose from two management tracks, which are Law Enforcement Administration and Corrections Administration. Regardless, students are prepared to continue on to doctoral or law studies. Some of the courses in this program are Development of Standard Operating Procedure, Comparative Criminal Justice Systems, Emergent Issues in Criminal Justice Leadership, and Community Corrections. The program is also geared toward those working in a criminal justice-oriented setting.

U.S. News & World Report ranked this program at No. 43 on its list of Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice programs. Additionally, students still have access to career services and an academic advisor in this program. However, coursework can be completed on their schedule, making it a flexible course of study. The average completion time for an online master's degree at Columbia is twelve months.

Tuition: $7,874
Score: 80.1

18. University of Wisconsin - Platteville, WI

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

 

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The University of Wisconsin-Platteville draws from its network of experts in the criminal justice field to help students succeed in the Master of Science in Criminal Justice program. There are also three concentrations available to students, which are Criminal Justice Theory, Criminal Justice Management, and Victim and Offender Services.

Students are also able to personalize their coursework, and alumni have focused their studies on criminal law, criminology research, statistical methods, organizational management, and child advocacy. The MS requires 30 credit hours of coursework. There is also an option to complete a Child Advocacy Certificate, which is nine credit hours. Students can also receive credit for an internship in criminal justice.

Tuition: $7,640 In-State /$16,771 Out-of-State
Score: 94.5

17. University of Houston - Houston, TX

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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The University of Houston's Master of Science in Criminal Justice is designed toward offering flexible graduate work for those who need a nontraditional path to their degree. However, it is designed to help students prepare for leadership in their field in places like the police department, the courts, corrections, among others. Thirty-six semester hours are required for graduation, including a project-based course. Other classes include Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation, Administration in Criminal Justice, and Advanced Criminology.

Students can start the program in either the fall or the spring, and it can take a year and a half for students to complete the program. The University of Houston also ensures that students have flexible scheduling and still maintains engaged learning through its online courses. Additionally, students also still have access to the same on-campus and online student services as any other student. Finally, U.S. News & World Report has ranked this program as No. 23 on its list of Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice programs.

Tuition: $7,245 In-State / $13,815 Out-of-State
Score: 79.9

16. California State University - San Bernardino, CA

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

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California State University at San Bernardino works to give students already working in the criminal justice system access to a flexible graduate degree through its Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. Students can choose between a thesis option or a comprehensive examination as a culminating experience. The thesis is particularly helpful for those wishing to pursue additional graduate studies while the comprehensive exam is perfect for those with hopes for advancement in management and administration.

In this program, students must complete 45 units of graduate courses. Options for these classes include Crime in Public Spaces, Advanced Social Network Analysis, Minorities in the Criminal Justice System, and Terrorism. This program has been ranked as No. 30 on U.S. News & World Report's Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs list.

Tuition: $7,176 In-State / $16,680 Out-of-State
Score: 95.1

15. University of Central Missouri - Warrensburg, MO

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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The University of Central Missouri has a Master of Science in Criminal Justice that works to build students' research, management, and leadership skills. This degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework for completion and includes both a thesis and non-thesis option. Courses include Legal Aspects of the Criminal Justice System, Causes of Crime, Criminal Justice Philosophy and Police, and Methods of Criminal Justice Research.

Students in this program have presented at conferences sponsored by the American Society of Criminology or the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Additionally, students benefit from the expertise of their professors by working on a thesis project. UCM also provides scholarships for qualified graduate students in the criminal justice program.

Tuition: $7,164 In-State / $14,328 Out-of-State
Score: 85.9

14. University of Central Florida - Orlando, FL

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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Students can complete their online Master of Science in Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida. UCF's program was ranked as No. 26 on U.S. News & World Report's Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice programs list. It was also ranked as No. 10 on the Most Innovative Schools list, and the reason why is evident in the flexibility offered to students. Classes can be accessed at any time and anywhere.

The MSCJ at UCF requires 36 credit hours of coursework, including classes like The Nature of Crime, The Administration of Justice, Policy Analysis in Criminal Justice, and Law and Social Control. Students also have the option to write a thesis during their time in the program if they so choose. Students are not required to submit test scores for consideration, and the course of study can be finished in as little as two years. UCF has three start dates for enrollment, and students can do so at either full- or part-time status. 

Tuition: $6, 916 In-State / $25,759 Out-of-State
Score: 89.5

13. University of Colorado - Denver, CO

Master of Criminal Justice

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The University of Colorado at Denver's Master of Criminal Justice degree is 47 years old, and it offers an interdisciplinary take on criminology and the criminal justice system. It is pertinent for both those who already have a bachelor's in the field and those who not. Many students go on to work in law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations that deal with domestic violence, youth justice, and hate crimes. Concentrations are available in the following areas: Crime Analyst, Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Gender-Based Violence, and Nonprofit Organizations. This program was ranked as No. 19 on the Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs list by U.S. News & World Report. CU Denver's programs have proven a success, and the faculty teaching the online courses are the same faculty who teach the on-campus alternatives. The university is committed to student success and works to connect students with academic and career services.

Tuition: $6,786 In-State / $22,590 Out-of-State
Score: 92.2

12. Fairmont State University - Fairmont, WV

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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At Fairmont State University, students can earn their Master of Science in Criminal Justice. This program ensures that students have theoretical, legal, and research-based training that can apply across the field to careers in administration and education. Many students go on to work at organizations like the National White Collar Crime Center and the Fusion Center. While in the program, they have the option to choose between the thesis track and the capstone track. Both require a total of 30 credit hours for students to finish their degree. Examples of classes include Comparative Analysis of Criminal Justice Systems, Advanced Penology, and Victimology. To apply, students can fill out the application online. They also need to send a copy of all undergraduate and graduate coursework, if applicable. The MS in Criminal Justice also requires a writing sample and a personal statement detailing their interests in the program as well as three letters of recommendation.

Tuition: $6,556 In-State/ $15,036 Out-of-State
Score: 58.9

11. American Public University - Charles Town, WV

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

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The Master of Arts program at American Public University includes in its curriculum national and local security issues as well as graduate study in the U.S. criminal justice system. Students are able to draw from the experience of their faculty members, many of whom work in government agencies or criminal justice organizations. The degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework, and students choose from a general concentration or concentrations in Business Administration or Emergency Management and Disaster Management. Some of the courses included in this program include Human Intelligence, Transnational Crime and Narcotics, and Crisis Action Planning. To finish the program, students choose between a project, a comprehensive examination, and a capstone seminar. Many students accelerate the time to complete their degree by bringing in transfer credits. APU also allows students to receive credit for military service or prior learning experiences.

Tuition: $6,300
Score: 81.6

10. Lamar University - Beaumont, TX

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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Lamar University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice that helps students to advance in their careers. It requires 30 credit hours of coursework but not a thesis. However, there is a capstone course that serves as the culminating experience for students. Lamar also has several start dates throughout the year, meaning that students are able to finish the program in as little as one year. Students are not required to take the GRE for admission, but students must have taken at least one social science course and one statistics course.

Finally, courses in this program include Serial Murder, Constitutional Law, and Homeland Security. Lamar's MS was ranked No. 39 by U.S. News & World Report on its list of Best Online Criminal Justice Graduate Programs. For its online education, Lamar has its students complete an online orientation and then gives them access to a variety of student support services so that they still feel like they are a part of the campus community.

Tuition: $6,234 In-State / $13,704 Out-of-State
Score: 91.1

9. University of Oklahoma - Norman, OK

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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The University of Oklahoma at Norman's Master of Science in Criminal Justice addresses the need for criminal justice professionals to be able to serve as leaders who can make tough, ethical decisions. Students can choose to complete tracks in Corrections Management, Restorative Justice, and Administration and Leadership. Courses are 16 weeks in length, and typically, students are enrolled at two classes at a time during the fall and spring terms and one in the summer.

In total, the degree requires 33 credit hours of study and is mindful of students' work schedules while still providing a top-level education. The University of Oklahoma extended campus, which houses all of the university's entirely online programs, has graduated thousands of students. It is committed to providing an education to adult students and military service members who are looking to finish their degree. It also grants certain benefits to military service members and veterans, including transfer credits and tuition waivers.

Tuition: $5,683 In-State/ $20,342 Out-of-State
Score: 88.4

8. University of the Cumberlands - Williamsburg, KY

Master's in Justice Administration

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The University of Cumberland's Master's in Justice Administration is designed to serve nontraditional students and works to offer a unique experience in its online curriculum where students can still engage with faculty members and their studies in the same way as in an in-person curriculum. Students can also choose from the following specializations: Law Enforcement, Corrections, Homeland Security, Juvenile Justice, Family Services, Investigations, and Addiction Studies.

The course of study in its entirety requires 31 credit hours of coursework, which culminates in a capstone project. The University of the Cumberland is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. For admission, students must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. They should fill out the online application and send copies of their transcripts. An interview and two letters of reference are also required for the program.

Tuition: $5,670
Score: 82.4

7. Sam Houston State University - Huntsville, TX

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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Sam Houston State University has prepared students for careers in local, state, and national criminal justice roles as judges, probation officers, police administrators, victim advocates, and law enforcement agents through the Master of Science in Criminal Justice program. This degree, which requires 36 credit hours of coursework, typically takes two years to complete. It is designed for working professionals in particular who are looking to advance in their career and need to complete graduate work to do so. Students can start in the fall or spring semesters. Additionally, faculty members in this program have been recognized as the No. 1 most productive researchers nationally by the Journal of Criminal Justice Education. U.S. News & World Report has also ranked it as No. 3 on their list of Best Online Criminal Justice Graduate Programs.

Tuition: $5,540 In-State / $13,010 Out-of-State
Score: 96.2

6. University of North Texas - Denton, TX

Master of Science in Criminal Justice with Justice Policy and Administration

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The University of North Texas awards a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Justice Policy and Administration. The degree can typically be finished in two years and requires 36 credit hours of coursework. A comprehensive examination serves as a culminating experience for those in the program. Courses in this program include Organized Crime, Advanced Criminological Theory, and Evaluation and World Criminal Justice Systems. For those who have already completed some relevant coursework, up to nine credit hours may be transferred into the program. Students can also take up to six credit hours of a Directed Studies course with a faculty member.

To apply, students should fill out the online application and submit copies of their official transcripts from any universities attended. Additionally, two letters of recommendation and a personal statement are required. UNT considers all applications holistically. International students should also submit TOEFL scores. Once everything is submitted, applications will be reviewed by the department and the admissions office.

Tuition: $5,450 In-State / $12,920 Out-of-State
Score: 81.9

5. University of Nebraska - Omaha

Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice

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The University of Nebraska's Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice has been ranked as the No. 1 Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program according to U.S. News & World Report. It is also the No. 1 Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program for Veterans, per the same publication. The degree itself requires 36 credit hours of coursework, completed through 12 courses. Students can finish the program on either a full- or part-time basis. Full-time students are able to graduate within 18 months.

The MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice does not require the GRE for admission. The online programs at the University of Nebraska are still backed up by student support services to ensure that students feel that they have the support that they need to succeed in finishing their degree. Coursework can be completed anytime, and the MS is designed for working professionals who which to advance in their studies.

Tuition: $5,053 In-State / $14,125 Out-of-State
Score: 93.0

4. Southeast Missouri State University - Cape Girardeau, MO

Master's in Criminal Justice

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The 30-credit Master's in Criminal Justice at Missouri State University is a cooperative program, and it centers in on the practical application of administering criminal justice programs and policies. It is particularly pertinent for those who wish to pursue a career in law enforcement. Students can choose from three capstone experiences, which are a thesis, an internship, and a leadership capstone. Additionally, courses in this program include Civil Law and Liability, the Death Penalty in America, and Crime, Media, and Pop Culture.

Students from SMSU have interned or worked as police officers, FBI agents, and highway patrol officers. Courses at SMSU are offered in either eight or 16-week courses, but students do not have to be online at any specific times in order to complete coursework. Everything can be done asynchronously. However, students still work with their academic advisor to set their course schedule and have access to student services on campus if they were to ever need them.

Tuition: $4,981 In-State/ $9,292 Out-of-State
Score: 86.0

3. New Mexico State University - Las Cruces, NM

Master of Criminal Justice

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At New Mexico State University, students can earn their Master of Criminal Justice degree. This program requires 36 credit hours of coursework. Some sample classes include Feminist Research Methods, Race, Crime and Justice, and Law and Social Control. A thesis is not required for this program. Students can receive credit for an internship. Interestingly, NMSU is home to one of the oldest criminal justice programs in the United States, and its graduates work across the U.S. and around the world. It is ranked as No. 49 on U.S. News & World Report's Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

Graduates of this program have praised the faculty members' abilities to still create an interactive learning environment despite it being an online program. Students are still very much able to use their professors as resources throughout the program, and the faculty members are the same as they are for the on-campus program.

Tuition: $4,549 In-State/ $15,860 Out-of-State
Score: 89.7

2. University of North Georgia - Dahlonega, GA

Master of Science with Criminal Justice

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Students can earn their Master of Science with a major in Criminal Justice at the University of North Georgia. The program requires 36 semester hours of coursework, and students can start the program in either the fall, summer, or spring semesters. UNG focuses in particular on international crime and justice. Some of the courses that students can choose from in this program include Forensic Behavioral Analysis, Legal Liabilities of Criminal Justice, and Family Violence.

For those who have taken graduate courses before, up to six credit hours can be transferred into the program. The degree culminates in a comprehensive seminar that prepares students to graduate. For admission, students should have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher and have completed at least one statistics course and at least one methodology course. Additionally, three recommendation, a resume, an application, and a letter of intent are required. Students should also have copies of their undergraduate transcripts sent to UNG.

Tuition: $4,050 In-State / $16,164 Out-of-State
Score: 78.6

1. Fayetteville State University - Fayetteville, NC

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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At the top of this list is Fayetteville State University's Master of Science in Criminal Justice. This program is perfect for those who are already working in the field or those who have prior educational experience in criminal justice. It is also ideal for military personnel. Students can start in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. The 33-credit course of study offers three options to students for how they proceed through the program, which is the thesis option, the comprehensive exam option, and the enhanced coursework option. Sample courses from this program include Females, Crime, and Justice, Program Evaluation in Criminal Justice, and Corporate and Government Crime.

For admission, students are required to submit their GRE scores. The GRE submitted must have been taken within the last five years to be valid. Additionally, students must have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher, and for the application, a personal statement and two letters of recommendation are required. The Criminal Justice Graduate Admissions Committee considers all aspects of the application, and they are looking at a student's ability to succeed, as demonstrated by the letters of recommendation and the personal statement.

Tuition: $3,438 In-State/ $14,503 Out-of-State
Score: 86.6