Master's Degrees in Criminal Justice in California

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Updated January 19, 2023

Looking for a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice in California? You should consider these top-tier graduate programs and jobs in the Criminal Justice field.

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Master's Degrees in Criminal Justice in California

Earning a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice in California

The best degree in California for criminal justice can lead to many career opportunities. Master's degrees can open doors for employment in a variety of fields. Master's degree-holders possess the skills required to move forward in their field.

Master's degree-holders earn approximately $1,574 per week, which translates to about $6,296 a month and approximately $81,848 annually. Those with a master’s degree are more likely to be employed than those with a high school degree.

Criminal Justice Master's Programs for You

Working and Living in California in the Criminal Justice Profession

A profession that is growing in popularity, criminal justice allows students to pursue a degree that blends both the art and science of law enforcement. This degree can lead to careers in both law enforcement and private security, as well as many other areas such as parole and probation, intelligence analysis, or simply helping those who have been victimized by crime.

It is estimated that the median annual salary for all occupations in California is $47,920, or $23.04 an hour. This fact applies to all 16,529,810 employees in California. The state's lowest 10% of earners make about $29,780, while the highest 10% bring in about $130,430, according to the BLS. The following illustrates the earnings for detectives and criminal investigators in California.

Key

Detectives and Criminal Investigators in California
Detectives and Criminal Investigators Nationally
All Occupations in California
All Occupations Nationally

Salaries for Detectives and Criminal Investigators in California and Nationwide

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The chart has 1 Y axis displaying annual salaries in USD.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
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MERIC ranks California as number 15 out of 51 states (including Washington, D.C.) on its cost of living index. In this index, the average cost of living in the United States is compared to specific places within the country. In the U.S. the average is calculated as 100, and all locations are either above (more expensive) or below (cheaper). The cost of living index for California is 139.8, which is 39.8% higher than the national average. Students interested in relocating to California can use the cost of living comparison to find the right fit for them.

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Source: Missouri Research and Information Center
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Over the next 10 years, jobs for detectives and criminal investigators are projected to grow by 2.5%. It is projected that total employment will change from 112,500 in 2020 to 115,300 in 2030. Having a master's degree is sufficient to qualify for these positions. There are many common job titles that include:

  • Detectives and criminal investigators
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Deputy United States Marshal
  • FBI Investigator
  • Homicide Detective
  • Narcotics Detective
  • Narcotics Investigator
  • Police Detective

Master's Degrees in Criminal Justice in California

#1 Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice in California

California State University-Long Beach

  • Long Beach, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California State University-Long Beach enrolls master's students in its top-ranked online criminal justice program. The program uses a rigorous curriculum to prepare graduates for advanced roles in the field. After completing a master's degree, candidates pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The master's curriculum explores advanced methodologies and research in criminal justice. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. The program encourages applicants to gain experience in criminal justice before applying to the program.

Online enrollees gain real-world experience through internships offered in their local area. Students who attend class on campus can access the library and gym, as well as other amenities and facilities available at most institutions. Graduate students also participate in networking events to expand their professional connections.

California State University-Long Beach at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 42%

Total Online Master's Programs: 1

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,176

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,680

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
42%
Students Enrolled
40,069
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice in California

California State University-Sacramento

  • Sacramento, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California State University-Sacramento offers a flexible online master of criminal justice. The program draws on a rigorous curriculum that prepares graduates for leadership responsibilities. A master's degree can also lead candidates to new career paths.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in criminal justice. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. The admission requirements include a background in criminal justice or a related field.

Online enrollees coordinate with the program to complete internships at approved sites in their local area. The common facilities and services offered at most universities, such as the library and gym, are accessible to students who live on campus. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

California State University-Sacramento at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 83%

Total Online Master's Programs: 1

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,176

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,680

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
32,293
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
98% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#3 Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice in California

Loma Linda University

  • Loma Linda, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's degree in criminal justice at Loma Linda University offers high academic quality. The program uses a rigorous curriculum to prepare graduates for advanced roles in the criminal justice field. A master's degree can also lead candidates to new career paths.

The master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners often choose a specialized concentration, which can help them stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants without a criminal justice background may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees complete internship programs in their local area to gain hands-on experience. Students who attend class on campus can access the library and gym, as well as other amenities and facilities available at most institutions. The program hosts networking events and other professional development activities to help graduate students expand their professional connections.

Loma Linda University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, nonprofit, four-year

Total Online Master's Programs: 1

Graduate Tuition In State: $27,040

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $27,040

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,400
Out-of-state
$32,400
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,468
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#4 Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice in California

Northcentral University

  • La Jolla, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

Based in La Jolla, California, Northcentral University hosts a top-rated online master's in criminal justice. The MBA in criminal justice program emphasizes specialized skills, preparing graduates for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. After completing a master's degree, candidates advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum emphasizes both practical and theoretical approaches to criminal justice. Learners choose electives or a specialization to stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with prior experience in criminal justice or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees add to their resume by pursuing internship opportunities at approved locations in their area. The common facilities and services offered at most universities, such as the library and gym, are accessible to students who live on campus. Graduate students also build professional connections by attending networking events.

Northcentral University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, nonprofit, four-year

Total Online Master's Programs: 29

Graduate Tuition In State: $16,983

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,983

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,064
Out-of-state
$11,064
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
12,471
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice in California

San Jose State University

  • San Jose, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master's in criminal justice degree at San Jose State University uses a flexible distance learning format. The program emphasizes specialized skills, preparing graduates for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. A master's degree allows candidates to move up the career ladder or pursue a new career path.

The master's curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives to the criminal justice field. Learners choose electives and concentrations to prepare for focused career paths. Applicants without a background in criminal justice may need to complete prerequisite courses to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees can often complete professional internships at approved locations in their own community. The common facilities and services offered at most universities, such as the library and gym, are accessible to students who live on campus. Graduate students also build professional connections through virtual networking events and other activities.

San Jose State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 67%

Total Online Master's Programs: 5

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,176

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $16,680

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
36,208
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
99% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Financing a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice

You may be able to receive financial aid to help pay for college. The financial aid you can obtain can help you pay for your degree. You can also explore your eligibility to receive federal and private student loans. It is a good idea to do your research ahead of time and find out what kind of financial aid your desired colleges offer.

Checklist for Maximizing Your Financial Aid:

Average Cost of Attending College in California

There is a wide variation in the cost of attending college in California. Both private and public institutions share some similarities. For more information on attending a public institution, review the following information.

Public 4-Year School Tuition Rates: California vs. National Average

Key

California
National Average

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The chart has 1 X axis displaying salary types.
The chart has 1 Y axis displaying annual salaries in USD.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
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Would attending a private college or university be an option for you? As a general rule, private schools charge more. A graph that provides information about attending private colleges in California is shown below:

Private 4-Year School Tuition Rates: California vs. National Average

Key

California
National Average

Chart

Bar chart with 5 bars.
The chart has 1 X axis displaying salary types.
The chart has 1 Y axis displaying annual salaries in USD.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
End of interactive chart.

Federal Student Loan Information

Are you considering borrowing student loans to fund your education? Prior to obtaining a loan, you should take a few things into consideration.

You can determine what students typically borrow by reviewing the data below:

Undergraduate Federal Loans
Demographic Percent who borrowed Amount borrowed
Total 66.6% $27,400
Female 69.6% $28,100
Male 62.5% $26,500
White, not Hispanic or Latino 66.1% $26,700
Black, not Hispanic or Latino 85.7% $34,800
Hispanic or Latino/a, of any race 67.7% $25,700
Asian, not Hispanic or Latino 43% $22,700
Other or Two or more races, not Hispanic or Latino 70.4% $28,300
Source: NCES

Online vs. On-Campus

Pros and Cons: Online Degrees

Pros

  • Cheaper tuition
  • Flexible, asynchronous classwork
  • No on-campus fees for parking, tech, etc.

Cons

  • Less structure
  • Minimal peer-to-peer interaction
  • Less facetime with professor
  • No access to on-campus amenities

Pros and Cons: On-Campus Degrees

Pros

  • Gym, library, etc. access
  • Smaller class options
  • Face time with peers and professors

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Transportation or housing costs
  • Rigid scheduling
The cost and size of the class are two of the main differences between online and on-campus programs. Online programs are flexible, affordable, and convenient. As a result of student fees, on-campus degrees can cost more. Attending classes has, however, certain advantages.

Top Criminal Justice Degree Options Available by State
State Degree Level
California Associate, Bachelors, Doctorate
Florida Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Georgia Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Illinois Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
New York Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
North Carolina Associate, Bachelors, Masters
Pennsylvania Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Texas Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Virginia Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Washington Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate

Private vs. Public

Public and private colleges differ in several ways, including cost. There are often grants and scholarships that help with the cost of tuition and fees at public universities. There are often merit scholarships that help with the cost of attending a private college.

The size of private colleges is typically smaller, allowing students to connect with professors directly. Here are some pros and cons of attending a private vs. a public institution.

Pros and Cons

Private

  • Unique program offerings
  • Cultural or religious options
  • Local prestige
  • Higher costs
  • Less regulatory oversight

Public

  • Government-issued tuition costs
  • Government funding, benefits, and regulation
  • Oftentimes large classrooms

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the salaries of detectives and criminal investigators in California?

In California, detectives and criminal investigators make a mean annual salary of $107,650.

Are criminal justice degrees in high demand?

The total number of detectives and criminal investigators is projected to change by 2.5% from 2020 to 2030.

Can I earn a master's in criminal justice online?

It is possible to earn an online master's degree in criminal justice. In today's environment, most schools offer at least some online courses as part of their program.

For a full-time student, how long does it take to complete a master's degree?

Full-time learners typically complete their master's degree within two years. The completion time will vary from student to student, but part-time students will take longer to complete.

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