Learn how to lead an organization to success in crime prevention, mitigation, and law enforcement with the Best Online Masters in Criminal Justice.
If you already have an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, you’re already familiar with the laws, policies, and theoretical knowledge behind the discipline. Continuing your education with a Master’s degree can provide you with endless job prospects and advanced leadership opportunities.
In most cases, a masters level education is considered a terminal degree for criminal justice professionals. According to PayScale, students who earn a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice have the capacity to earn upwards of $53,000 per year.
If you’re considering a Master’s degree in criminal justice, you may have found yourself at odds with the extensive hours required to commute, attend on-campus classes, and complete assignments at a physical location. An online degree can alleviate stress and expenses when it comes to your college education because you’ll be studying at the times and locations most convenient to you.
We have created a list of the Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice. In doing so, we focused on private and public schools with consistent and current retention and graduation rates.
After reviewing the many available online Master’s in Criminal Justice, we honed in on the characteristics that matter to you – the student – the most. Our ranking takes into consideration the following qualities of a school:
For more information, take a look at our methodology page for a better look at how we determine each school’s score.
The Master's of Science in Criminal Justice at Xavier University places an emphasis on criminal justice administration by training students to be qualified professionals for, both, public and private sector organizations.
Students will gain skills in areas like public relations, finance, human resources, and writing to help them become better middle, and upper level managers. All courses are offered entirely online and are tailored toward busy working professionals.
Full-time students can complete the degree in one year or less, and with six potential start dates per year. Even better, Xavier offers quick admission for non-degree students to allow them to get started in the program more easily.
Saint Leo University offers aspiring law enforcement professionals two opportunities in completing their Master's of Science in Criminal Justice. The first option is through a traditional program, which takes two years and includes a maximum of two classes per semester. SLU's second option provides an accelerated program, which allows candidates to complete their studies in less than two years.
Either way, all MSCJ students will complete courses such as: Ethical Standards, Human Resource Management, and Computerized Databases. SLU is also unique in offering several specialized topics, like Terrorism in Israel or Criminal Advocacy.
In addition, SLU has been ranked as one of the most military-friendly colleges by organizations like G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education.
The Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University prepares students by providing them with the tools necessary to achieve their goals. The program is comprehensive, involving the two critical dimensions of criminal justice. Students learn how to understand and address crime, while at the same time approaching it from, both, theoretical and real world perspectives.
The program has a special emphasis on policing, correctional systems, and juvenile justice in particular. Florida Atlantic is unique because it offers many online teaching assistantships to graduate students, providing them with tuition stipends and hands-on work experience to advance their studies.
If you're interested in a program delivering, both, skill and knowledge, then the MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Kent State is perfect for you. KSU's MACCJ degree offers students four different concentrations, which include: Global Security, Policing, Victimology, and Corrections.
Each class is taught by full-time KSU faculty who are dedicated to student success. Online courses are offered in a flexible format and designed to fit the lives of busy working professionals. Most students can complete the degree in as little as two years, with no GRE required for admission.
The University of West Florida's MS in Criminal Justice is designed for candidates seeking a broad education in the administrative, analytic, and theoretical aspects of Criminal Justice. Many UWF students have gone on to pursue their Ph.D. after completing the 33 CJ credit needs for their MS.
UWF's MSCJ program is designed to fit the demands of students' diverse schedules with classes offered in, both, online and blended formats. Most candidates earn their MSCJ in just four semesters by completing curriculum involving: Criminal Justice Administration, Penology; and Policing and Society.
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice at Northeastern University is flexible, allowing students to complete their degrees in as little as two years of full-time study. NU's MS is highly innovative and prepares students for careers in law enforcement, private security, and corrections.
Each course emphasizes leadership and communication - along with ethics - allowing for a well-rounded degree program, and nearly applicable to any area of criminal justice. NU offers multiple elective options for integrative experiential learning, as well as six potential program concentrations to allow students to specialize their degrees toward their career goals.
Through experiential learning opportunities at NU, students can work virtually or residentially through paid internships related to their major while completing their degrees.
The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice at Rowan University prepares students for a variety of careers, including positions in upper management, within research capacities, and graduates pursuing their doctoral studies. RU's MACJ program trains students to use research to evaluate the validity and impact of programs designed to prevent, and mitigate crime.
30 total semester hours are required to graduate, which can be completed in as little as five full-time semesters. With tuition starting at just $756 per credit hour, RU offers students an affordable, comprehensive degree with an overview of the nuances, and demands of the criminal justice system.
The University of New Haven offers a top rated MS in Criminal Justice and can acquired entirely online. UNH's MS is highly regarded by multiple ranking affiliates for its program's tailored designation toward current professionals interested in law enforcement, victim advocacy, national security, or corrections.
UNH is also home to one of the most well respected Criminal Justice degrees in the country, with known alumni working for agencies such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, local law enforcement agencies, and many other highly regarded organizations. Students of UNH also enjoy how their degree offers several areas of concentration, including: Crime Analysis, Leadership and Management, and Police Behavioral Studies.
Earning your MSCJ at UNH can begin at any term during the academic year, and prospective students can apply without submitting a GRE, or GMAT.
The online Master's of Criminal Justice at New Mexico State University Main Campus is one of many graduate programs offered through NMSU to help make education more attainable for busy students. All courses at NMSU are delivered through the user friendly Canvas platform, where each student can complete 36 credit hours entirely online.
Graduates of NMSU's MSCJ leave prepared for their next successful endeavor. Whether it's earning their Ph.D. Criminal Justice, or working professionally within judicial administrations, or policy making positions in law enforcement related agencies.
Two colleges from California State University Long Beach have joined forces to offer one of the most highly ranked, online MSCCJ programs in the country. CSU's endorsement by U.S. News and World Report is a small testament to the university's exceptional opportunities for student engagement, technology services, and faculty training.
Through the combined schools of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Emergency Management - and the College of Continuing and Professional Education - required courses such as Law and Social Control, or Theories of Crime Causation, are taught by respected full-time faculty.
Online students will not miss out on their extensive access to networking opportunities through their professor's experience and reputations.
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice at Columbia College is designed for individuals who intend to pursue doctoral or law studies, as well as those planning on entering into leadership roles in criminal justice. Students acquire useful action skills while learning how to lead a team by engaging in challenging coursework.
CC's MSCJ emphasizes four areas: Policy Development and Analysis, Research Design, Ethics in Criminal Justice, and Trends in Criminal Justice. Each student may choose from an additional track, each with an underlying management theme in Corrections Administration, or Law Enforcement Administration. With online tuition starting at just $490 per credit hour, this degree is an affordable option for busy working professionals.
The well-established MS in Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Central Missouri provides students with the knowledge and skill sets necessary to excel in their careers of choice. UCM not only develops students into leaders within criminal justice agencies, but also matures professions for roles in research and teaching.
UCM is ranked by multiple organizations - including SR Education Group, CollegeChoice, and BestColleges.com - as having one of the highest quality, and most affordable criminal justice programs in the country.
The academically rich MS in Criminal Justice at Liberty University is designed for aspiring post-secondary instructors and current civil servants. The program offers multiple tracks, including one with a thesis component. Students learn how to integrate ethics and principles of criminal justice through the lens of the Christian faith.
The program is considered one of the Best Online Programs, according toBestColleges.com, and offers three specialized degree tracks. Students may customize their degrees in topics like Forensic Psychology, Homeland Security, or Public Administration.
Liberty allows students to transfer in up to fifty percent of their required coursework from another accredited college, enhancing candidates' abilities to complete their degrees and to study in a program with an excellent track record of success.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers online students a high-quality Masters in Criminal Justice with a range of courses such as Crisis and Emergency Management, Public Policy, Forensic Psychology, and Terrorism. Students can complete their degree with eleven courses and with over half consisting of electives, so that students can specialize in an area of interest.
UM'S online MSCJ is ranked as one of the best online programs by U.S. News and World Report, as well as by ranking organizations such as Best Colleges, and Get Educated. UM has a solid reputation for having courses taught by expert faculty. In addition, students have access to 24-hour technical support and student services while completing UM's online studies.
The Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Missouri State University Springfield trains students to critically analyze and assess criminal justice policy with specialized leadership strategies. MSU's MSCJ is a research focused program that allows students to work one-on-one with a faculty advisor to complete their degree path.
MSU alumni work all over the U.S. in settings such as child victim advocacy, homeland security, and counterterrorism. With tuition starting at just $214 per credit hour for Missouri state residents, this degree is an affordable option for busy working professionals.
33 total credit hours are required for the MS in Criminal Justice at the University of Oklahoma Norman Campus. Nationally ranked as one of the Best Online Programs by U.S. News and World Report, this degree is an excellent choice for criminal justice professionals seeking to learn solutions to 21st century law enforcement challenges.
UO's MSCJ offers three tracks for students to focus their studies, whether it's in Corrections Management, Administration and Leadership, or Restorative Justice. UO's online degree is fast paced and allows students to graduate more quickly. Each semester is sixteen weeks long and requires students to enroll in at least two courses at a time.
Colorado State University's Global Campus online offers students an MS in Criminal Justice. Students are trained on how to manage issues regularly faced by law enforcement administrators. Graduates will leave CSU with the skills necessary to build legal programs, policies; and pursue jobs as forensic investigators, judges, and loss prevention agents.
A number of specialization areas are available, including those in Human Resource Management, Fraud Management, and Project Management. Tuition is low and rates are guaranteed not to rise after enrollment. But in reality, CSU's Global Campus has not increased their tuition rates over seven years, making CSU a consistently affordable option for budget-conscious students.
Lamar University's MS in Criminal Justice gives students the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary to pursue upper level positions in criminal justice. Most students are able to complete the 30 credit hours of studies in as little as 12 months.
Tuition starts at just $275 per credit hour, making LU's MSCJ one of the most affordable criminal justice programs of its kind. In addition, multiple financial aid opportunities are available, including grants, loans, and payment plans. Courses include broad explorations of the criminal justice system, as well as theoretical and policy-based approaches to crime and delinquency.
The MS in Criminal Justice at Bowling Green State University is ranked as one of the best in the nation by ranking organizations such as U.S. News and World Report and Best College Reviews. BGSU's fast paced online program prepares candidates for leadership roles in criminal justice agencies, as well as with foundational preparation for students interested in pursuing doctoral degrees.
With six potential start dates throughout the year and short eight-week classes, it's easy for students to progress quickly through their studies. Each course is taught by world class faculty who consistently publish in leading journals, and consult with organizations like the Department of Justice and the FBI. Class sizes are small and intimate, allowing students to foster close-knit relationships with their professors.
Nova Southeastern University's comprehensive MS in Criminal Justice prepares students through a rigorous core curriculum, and allows students to choose among multiple concentrations to specialize in. 30 credit hours are required and divided between specialty concentrations, electives, and core coursework.
NSU offers a unique scholarship worth up to 20 percent of tuition. The Valor Award is given to veterans, active military members, first responders, and law enforcement professionals.
There are 12 specialty concentrations available, including those in Information Security, Child Protection and Juvenile Justice, Substance Abuse, and Behavioral Science. Online students have access to library services, information technology services, discussion boards, and advising, making NSU an incredibly student-friendly online degree.
The MS in Criminal Justice at the University of Louisville provides students with the knowledge and training they need to be successful in their careers. Students will examine topics like legal issues concerning criminal justice, research methods, and theories of crime and delinquency. Students can choose from several elective courses to gain specialized knowledge within certain areas, like Homeland Security and Computer Applications in Criminal Justice.
LU's online program is offered in an accelerated format with six-week terms. Students may transfer up to six credit hours of graduate courses to LU's MS as well. Many students are able to complete their studies in just three semesters.
The University of the Cumberlands offers an online Masters of Justice Administration program is taught by faculty who have extensive awareness of the challenges faced by law enforcement professionals. UC's MJA is designed for non-traditional students by allowing them to work and interact with faculty amidst their busy schedules.
The MJA curriculum has a tradition of community service and a commitment to ethical leadership. Students are given the opportunity - regardless of whether they live in rural, or more localized districts - to interact with other professionals employed in law administration. Multiple specialization tracks are available, including: Law Enforcement, Addiction Studies, Family Service, Homeland Security, and Corrections.
Offered through Florida International University's School of International and Public Affairs, the Master of Science in Criminal Justice requires 36 credit hours of study. The department's criminal justice programs are some of the best ranked in the country, and have received accolades for its affordability and quality.
Classes are available both online and residentially and with multiple internship opportunities available. Placement opportunities are available for graduate students in local, state, and federal agencies. The department has been awarded over 60 million dollars in grant funding through its relationship with the Center for the Administration of Justice, making it easy for the university to offer a number of scholarships, career development opportunities, and a diverse range of classes.
The University of Central Florida introduces students to valuable research and computer skills to succeed in the field of criminal justice. Students can complete UCF's dual Masters' degree program, which would allow them to earn, both, a Master of Public Administration, and Master of Science in Criminal Justice at the same time.
UCF is highly ranked amongst the "Most Innovative Universities in the Nation," by U.S. News and World Report because of its reputation in providing high-quality online degrees for working professionals.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha offers an exceptional MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice designed to meet the individual needs of every online student. MS students are required to complete 36 credit hours and are capable of completing their studies in as little as 18 months. Every one of UNO's online Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees offered through the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice has been top ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
Faculty experts from UNO partnered with national criminal justice agencies and community organizations to help students create solutions to contemporary issues in the country. UNO's research projects are supported through federal funding agencies such as the National Institute of Justice. Through research support and funding, federal organizations such the U.S. Secret Service, have been able to provide students with the experience needed to further their careers.
The University of Wisconsin Platteville degree is designed for individuals who are either beginning their criminal justice career, or seeking to further their positions in the field. UW offers key concentrations within courses such as: Criminal Justice Theory, Criminal Justice Management, and Victim and Offender Services.
Regardless of the concentration chosen, students also have the opportunity to choose electives to keep up on other interests within the field. Customized focus areas are available in topics like Criminal Law, Statistical Methods, and Child Advocacy. UW's MSCJ is one of the Best and the Most Military Friendly online degrees, according to organizations like U.S. News and World Report and Get Educated.
The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice at California State University San Bernardino is designed to serve a growing demand for talented criminal justice professionals. CSU's MA includes two tracks with one culminating in a thesis, and another involving a comprehensive exam. The thesis option is designed for students who intend to pursue further graduate studies, while the comprehensive exam is designed for candidates with management goals.
CSU's online MA has limited prerequisite requirements, allowing students from varied backgrounds to pursue studies. It is nationally recognized, with top rankings by organizations like College Choice, U.S. News and World Report, and Master's Program Guide.
The Master of Criminal Justice at Boston University takes most students just twenty months to complete, requiring 40 credit hours of study. It addresses the rapidly changing field of criminal justice, teaching students how to deal with current advancements and anticipate future challenges in topic like technology, contemporary world events, and other influencers of law enforcement and criminal justice management.
Students in the program can choose between two concentrations: Cybercrime Investigation and Cyber Security, or Strategic Management. The program is ranked second among the country's Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs, according to U.S. News and World Report. This ranking recognizes the program's long history of success as the university's first ever online program, which was launched in 2002.
East Carolina University's Master of Science in Criminal Justice offers exceptional learning and leadership opportunities, featuring unique assets for an online program. Students earning their MS at ECU have access to a national criminal justice honor society, in-depth field experiences, international study abroad opportunities; independent study, or research experiences with faculty mentors.
Online students can also apply for graduate assistantships specifically tailored for criminal justice students. All courses are taught by faculty with diverse experience in areas such as homeland security, criminology, correction, and terrorism. Alumni go on to work as high ranking officials for national criminal justice organizations.
The University of Cincinnati Main Campus is one of the oldest Criminal Justice Departments in the United States. Since its inception in 1819, UC has graduated over 2,000 Criminal Justice majors. UC's Criminal Justice program is also top ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
UC's Masters' program doesn't require a GRE for admission and offers degree completion in as little as one year. UC's CJ department also boasts the highest number of published faculty by the Journal of Criminal Justice. Several optional concentrations are available, allowing students to specialize in topics like Analysis of Criminal Behavior, Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention, or Corrections and Offender Rehabilitation.
University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus
The Masters of Criminal Justice program at the University of Colorado Denver is ideal for graduates who wish to go on to work for local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies, as well as for candidates seeking employment in the nonprofit world. Students of UC Denver are able to take courses such as Correctional Systems, Judiciary Systems, Juvenile Justice, Law Enforcement, and The Creation of Laws and Codes.
Several concentrations are available, including those in Crime Analysis, Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Gender-Based Violence, and Nonprofit Organization. Tuition is affordable, with financial aid and scholarships available for qualified students.
Michigan State University's MS in Criminal Justice allows students to receive access to a number of outstanding support services, and can choose to specialize in areas such as International Criminal Justice, or Security Management. All courses are offered entirely online, and are taught by the same distinguished faculty members who teach on campus.
Most students can complete the degree in less than two years, but they may also choose to extend their studies to accommodate work and personal commitments. The School of Criminal Justice also provides additional opportunities for students to explore internships, which involves earning college credit hours while working in a criminal justice agency.
Florida State University's MS in Criminal Justice Studies offers students the unique opportunity to learn from nationally regarded professors who are well respected as leaders in their field. Students can advance to high-paying positions upon graduation, or prepare for post-law enforcement opportunities.
The program is regionally accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is offered entirely online. Students who take two classes per semester can complete the degree in as little as two years before going on to work within juvenile justice, law enforcement, corrections, or judicial administration.
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University is ranked as one of the best in the country by U.S. News and World Report. In addition, SHSU's graduate faculty are recognized as the best, and most productive researchers in the country by the Journal of Criminal Justice Education.
Earning a MS in Criminal Justice from SHSU will help prepare students for administrative roles within police departments, victim advocacy units, and judicial administration. Credits acquired at SHSU are equivalent regardless of whether they came from residential, or online classes. Every one of SHSU's online programs are fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The online MA of Criminal Justice at Arizona State University Tempe allows students to study the larger context of crime, including its roots and how it impacts society. With eleven classes lasting about eight weeks, ASU's MA can be completed quickly by busy working professionals.
Students learn from professors who are nationally recognized scholars in their fields, and will receive valuable training in research methods, program planning, and policy analysis. All students will complete a comprehensive research paper focusing on a criminal justice policy before graduating.
ASU's MACJ is offered through its School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, which is a nationally recognized leader. In fact, ASU's School of CCJ has ranked within the top five college departments in the nation for three years straight by U.S. News and World Report.
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