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An online master's degree in criminal justice gives learners advanced knowledge and skills in criminal justice topics such as organizational behavior, issues in policing, and criminal profiling.

Graduates can work as police officers, probation officers, correctional treatment specialists, and correctional supervisors.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earn a median salary of $53,020 per year, while first-line supervisors of correctional officers earn a median of $62,500 per year.

Top 10 Online Master's in Criminal Justice 2020

#1 Boston University Boston, MA
#2 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
#3 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Cincinnati, OH
#4 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
#5 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Norman, OK
#6 Wayne State University Detroit, MI
#7 Miami University-Oxford Oxford, OH
#8 Kent State University at Kent Kent, OH
#9 University of North Texas Denton, TX
#10 University of Louisville Louisville, KY

The Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice Programs

1
Boston University
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4

Florida State University 

Tallahassee, FL

About this school

A public sea- and space-grant research university, FSU offers a variety of programs, including online opportunities like an online master's degree in criminal justice.

The program's 36-credit curriculum includes 15 credits of core coursework and 21 credits of electives. Core courses include research methods in criminology, applied statistics in criminology, and computer applications in criminal justice. During elective coursework, learners explore concepts such as prevention and treatment of crime and delinquency, criminal justice administration, and comparative criminology and criminal justice.

Transfer students can bring up to six credits with them when they enroll. The program offers a tuition discount to Florida-based distance learners.

Graduation Rate
83%
5

University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus 

Norman, OK

About this school

A public research university, UO was founded in 1890. Today, the university offers its programs through both on-campus and distance learning, including an online master's degree in criminal justice.

The program's curriculum consists of 33 credits. Courses include theoretical foundations of criminal justice, criminal justice policy development, and ethical decision-making in criminal justice. All students must also complete a 75-hour internship in the field. Learners enroll in at least two courses during each 16-week semester. Students who follow this recommended structure can complete their degrees within 24 months.

The program delivers all online coursework asynchronously.

Graduation Rate
67%
6

Wayne State University 

Detroit, MI

About this school

Along with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, WSU is a member of the University Research Corridor of Michigan, and it offers about 350 total programs across degree levels. Students interested in distance learning can complete an online master's in criminal justice at WSU.

This program uses a comprehensive, flexible, asynchronous format. Learners who enroll in two courses each semester and take courses year-round can complete the program within two years. The curriculum covers evidence-based approaches and practices for crime control, innovative methods for change, and data interpretation.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Prospective students must also submit GRE scores. Online students pay in-state tuition regardless of their residency.

Graduation Rate
47%
7

Miami University-Oxford 

Oxford, OH

About this school

A public research university, MU operates regional campuses in Middletown, Hamilton, and West Chester and offers several distance learning programs, including an online master's degree in criminal justice.

During the program, learners can choose between concentrations in crime analysis or crime administration. The curriculum covers law, ethics, contemporary problems, and professionalization of criminal justice disciplines. All students complete a project addressing real issues in the criminal justice field. The program does not have any in-person requirements.

Applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75. Prospective students must provide two letters of recommendation, a statement of interest, and official undergraduate transcripts. MU does not require GRE scores for admission. Applicants to online programs must also complete a technology skills test.

Graduation Rate
80%
8

Kent State University at Kent 

Kent, OH

About this school

Operating seven regional campuses across Northeast Ohio, KSU recognizes that students need programs administered in a variety of flexible formats to fit their lifestyles. As such, the university also offers several distance learning programs, including an online master's degree in criminal justice.

KSU's master of arts in criminology and criminal justice eliminates all in-person requirements. Students in the program can earn their degrees within two years. During the program, each course lasts for seven weeks. The 33-credit curriculum includes concentrations in policing, global security, and victimology.

Prospective students must provide three letters of recommendation, official undergraduate transcripts, a goal statement, and a current resume and cover letter. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores.

Graduation Rate
60%
9

University of North Texas 

Denton, TX

About this school

A public research university, the University of North Texas consists of two schools, 11 colleges, and an early admissions math and science academy for high school students. UNT operates campuses in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Frisco. UNT also offers several programs through distance learning, including an online master's degree in criminal justice.

The program's curriculum explores victimization, capital punishment, homeland security, and police operations and tactics. All students complete a concentration in justice policy and administration. Distance learners at UNT can take advantage of exclusive tools and resources, including writing and research centers. The program delivers online coursework asynchronously.

Applicants must complete an application, provide a personal statement, submit official undergraduate transcripts demonstrating a 3.0 minimum GPA, and provide two letters of recommendation.

Graduation Rate
53%
10

University of Louisville 

Louisville, KY

About this school

The first city-owned public university in the United States, UofL was also one of the first universities chartered west of the Allegheny Mountains. Today, UofL serves students from all 50 states and 116 countries. UofL also offers multiple distance learning programs, including an online master's degree in criminal justice.

The program's 36-credit curriculum delivers courses over eight-week terms, allowing learners to graduate in three semesters. Graduates are prepared for careers as crime prevention specialists, emergency management directors, correctional treatment specialists, and criminal records managers. The program does not include any in-person requirements.

The program offers discounted tuition to military members and their families. Students can transfer up to six credits of graduate coursework from another regionally accredited college or university. Applicants do not need to submit GRE scores.

Graduation Rate
57%
11

Bowling Green State University 

Bowling Green, OH

About this school

BGSU offers several online programs, including an online master's degree in criminal justice. The program's 33-credit curriculum takes two years to complete. Noteworthy courses include crime analysis, contemporary policing, and contemporary juvenile justice. Each course lasts for seven weeks, and BGSU delivers all online coursework asynchronously. In addition to required coursework, students must complete a professional portfolio showcasing their best work.

The program accepts applications on a rolling basis. All applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 and submit two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. The program does not require GRE scores.

Graduation Rate
56%
12

Saint Joseph's University 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

Founded in 1851 by the Society of Jesus, SJU maintains a Jesuit affiliation. SJU also offers several distance learning programs, including an online master's degree in criminal justice. The program allows students to choose between five concentrations: behavior analysis, behavior management, federal law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence and crime analysis.

Each concentration requires 30 credits, except for behavior analysis, which requires 36. Throughout the career-oriented program, students learn about the importance of ethical practices in criminal justice, gain writing and communication skills, and develop leadership abilities. Graduates can find work as criminal investigators, federal law enforcement officers, private investigators, and customs and border protection officers.

Applicants to the program must complete a graduate admissions application and pay the accompanying fee. They must also provide official undergraduate transcripts demonstrating a 3.0 minimum GPA, submit a statement of purpose and two letters of recommendation, and provide a current resume.

Graduation Rate
80%
13

Florida International University 

Miami, FL

About this school

A member of the State University System of Florida, FIU offers nearly 200 programs across disciplines, incuding several distance learning degrees, like the online master's in criminal justice.

FIU's online master of science in criminal justice focuses on research, preparing learners to pursue doctoral degrees or career opportunities in applied research or academia. The 36-credit curriculum includes 15 credits of core courses, 12 credits of electives, and nine credits of general electives. Notable courses include data analysis in criminal justice, criminological theory, and transnational crime and national security. Learners must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to successfully complete the program.

Program applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.2 in upper-division coursework. Along with their applications, prospective students must provide official undergraduate transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a research paper that demonstrates sufficient writing skills.

Graduation Rate
58%
14

East Carolina University 

Greenville, NC

About this school

As a public research university, ECU recognizes the growing need for flexible program formats and offers a variety of online programs, including an online master's in criminal justice.

This program gives students individualized mentoring from instructors with extensive field experience. Students can also pursue graduate assistantship opportunities and leadership and learning opportunities with the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. The program's curriculum focuses on practical research assignments and field experience. ECU delivers all online coursework asynchronously.

Applicants must provide their official undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a current resume.

Graduation Rate
65%
15

Mercer University 

Macon, GA

About this school

The oldest private university in Georgia, Mercer enrolls nearly 9,000 students and operates 12 schools. Learners can explore a variety of online programs at Mercer, such as an online master's in criminal justice.

The online master of science in criminal justice and public safety leadership uses an entirely online format. Courses last eight weeks each, allowing students to complete their degrees within 16 months. The curriculum consists of 30 credits and includes courses in leadership, research analysis, terrorism, and ethics in public safety.

The program admits students five times each year, in August, January, March, October, and May.

Graduation Rate
66%
16

Wichita State University 

Wichita, KS

About this school

A public research university, WSU offers more than 60 undergraduate degrees and over 40 master's programs. WSU also offers several online programs, including an online master's in criminal justice.

WSU's criminal justice program takes a broad, interdisciplinary approach, focusing on the scientific study of criminals, crime, law, and the criminal justice system. The 36-credit curriculum prepares graduates for careers in research, teaching, policy-making, and management. Graduates can also pursue doctoral programs or law school. Full-time students can complete the degree within 18 months.

Students who enroll in the program full time can complete the requirements in as little as 18 months. To earn admission, applicants must have a 3.0 GPA during their final 60 undergraduate credits.

Graduation Rate
73%
17

University of Memphis 

Memphis, TN

About this school

Serving more than 22,000 students, UofM is a public research university that opened its doors in 1912. Today, the university offers several distance learning programs, including an online criminal justice master's degree.

Throughout the program, students gain foundational knowledge in criminology and criminal justice, learning to develop partnerships with policy-makers, community groups, and program developers. The 33-credit curriculum covers criminological theories, principles, and concepts and emphasizes the importance of social justice when making public policy decisions. The program does not have any in-person requirements.

UofM does not list any admission requirements beyond an application and a bachelor's degree.

Graduation Rate
48%
18

University of South Dakota 

Vermillion, SD

About this school

USD is South Dakota's flagship school and oldest public university. Though USD itself is remote, distance learners can complete the university's online criminal justice master's program without ever setting foot on campus.

This program prepares graduates for administrative and leadership roles in the criminal justice field. Coursework explores the practical application of administrative theories while simultaneously developing intellectual frameworks to analyze and address common problems faced in administrative roles. The curriculum includes 12 credits of specialization courses on topics like national security policy, criminal procedure, criminal law, and courts and judicial politics.

Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts along with a completed application. Additionally, they must provide three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose.

Graduation Rate
58%
19

Norwich University 

Northfield, VT

About this school

The oldest private military college in the United States, Norwich was founded in 1819 as the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy. Today, the university is recognized by the United States Department of Defense as the birthplace of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). Norwich also offers several online programs, including an online master's degree in criminal justice.

This program features a 30-credit curriculum designed with military professionals in mind. The program covers global criminal behavior while also reviewing leadership strategies. Students learn from expert instructors with extensive field experience. Courses cover the methods, practice, and theory of transnational criminal justice, emphasizing the comprehensive study of international law and reviewing the challenges that national and international organizations face.

The program's virtual platform allows learners to complete coursework asynchronously while serving as active-duty military members. On average, students complete the program within 15 months. The program includes a single week-long, on-campus residency.

Graduation Rate
62%
20

California State University, Long Beach 

Long Beach, CA

About this school

CSULB is a public university with a competitive admission process. The university offers 82 bachelor's degrees, 65 master's programs, and four doctoral degrees. CSULB offers several of these degrees online, including an online master's in criminal justice.

The program uses an entirely online, accelerated format. The program's 36-credit curriculum explores law and social control, advanced criminal justice statistics, comparative criminal justice and transnational crime, and criminal justice response to domestic violence.

As a self-supported program, CSULB's criminal justice degree requires a certain number of applications and accepted students in order to run. If the program does not meet those quotas, it may be suspended.

Graduation Rate
69%
21

Texas Christian University 

Fort Worth, TX

About this school

Affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, TCU is a doctoral university with high research activity. It features eight constituent colleges and schools, following a classical, liberal-arts-based curriculum across disciplines. TCU offers several online programs, including an online master's degree in criminal justice.

TCU's criminal justice program features a unique curriculum, catering to both working professionals and students interested in pursuing doctoral studies after graduation. Full-time students earn their degrees in two years. During their coursework, students apply analytical skills to examine current issues in criminal justice, focusing on research and informing policy. The program delivers coursework entirely online except for a two-day orientation that includes library research and classroom instruction.

TCU offers tuition-based scholarships that can cover up to 30% of students' tuition costs. Applicants must complete an application and provide official undergraduate transcripts.

Graduation Rate
83%
22

University of Central Florida 

Orlando, FL

About this school

A public research university, UCF enrolls more on-campus students than any other university in the United States. UCF uses its considerable resources to offer several distance learning programs, including an online master's degree in criminal justice.

UCF's online master of science focuses on preparing graduates for criminal justice careers at the local and federal levels. The 36-credit curriculum emphasizes leadership in real-world circumstances, providing students with a stronger understanding of criminal justice theory and the nature of crime. Program graduates can find work as correctional officers, police detectives, and criminal profilers.

Master's applicants connect with a success coach, who remains with them until graduation. All prospective students submit GRE or GMAT scores and official undergraduate transcripts. Along with their completed applications, prospective students must pay an application fee.

Graduation Rate
73%
23

St John's University-New York 

Queens, NY

About this school

A private, Roman Catholic-affiliated university, St. John's was founded by the Congregation of the Mission in 1870. Named after Saint John the Baptist, the university has five undergraduate schools and six graduate schools, offering more than 100 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. St. John's also offers several distance learning degrees, including an online master's in criminal justice.

St. John's University's master of professional studies in homeland security and criminal justice leadership teaches learners innovative approaches to preventing crime and terrorism. The curriculum focuses on the latest in criminal justice leadership and homeland security policy, covering topics such as the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, the creation of partnerships between private and public organizations, and the need for innovative tactics and strategies to deal with traditional and emerging criminal enterprises.

The 36-credit curriculum prepares students to meet challenges in the homeland security and criminal justice administration field. Learners can also choose to complete an internship.

Online students can enroll part time or full time. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously. Students who work in homeland security and criminal justice agencies can earn a 33% public service scholarship.

Graduation Rate
61%
24

Xavier University 

Cincinnati, OH

About this school

A Catholic and Jesuit-affiliated school, Xavier was established in 1831. Today, Xavier offers several distance learning programs, including an online master's degree in criminal justice.

The online program focuses on criminal justice administration, equipping learners with the training they need to provide efficient and effective oversight in the field. The program caters to professionals interested in pursuing careers in middle and upper management or pursuing a doctoral degree.

The 30-credit curriculum includes ten core courses, covering forensics and white collar crime, perspectives in law enforcement management, and sociology of crime and delinquency. Full-time students can earn their master's degrees in one year. Along with the master's degree, students can pursue a fully online, nine-credit certificate in criminal justice, which they can complete within one year. The program offers six start dates throughout the year.

Graduation Rate
73%
25

Rowan University 

Glassboro, NJ

About this school

Rowan has 12 schools and colleges, offering 74 bachelor's degrees, 51 master's programs, and four doctoral programs. Students can pursue a variety of online degrees at Rowan, including an online master's in criminal justice.

Rowan University's master of arts in criminal justice offers an entirely online format, allowing working professionals to schedule their studies around full-time jobs. The curriculum prepares students to pursue leadership roles in criminal justice agencies and research positions at the state, county, and federal levels.

In this program, students develop an understanding of the causes of crime and the impact law has on society. They also study contemporary issues in courts, corrections, and policing. The program's 30-credit curriculum takes five semesters to complete, running on a part-time, accelerated schedule. The curriculum includes 18 credits of required courses and 12 semester hours of electives. The program concludes in either a thesis or a comprehensive examination.

The program requires a 2.5 undergraduate GPA for admission. Submitting GRE scores is highly recommended, but not required.

Graduation Rate
72%
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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology

Online Master's Degree in Criminal Justice Programs Ranking Guidelines

Best Online Programs - Master's Degree in Criminal Justice

We selected these programs based on their quality, the types of courses they offer, and their faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation. We took into account the school's reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

What is a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice?

Master's in criminal justice degree programs provide an extensive understanding of the criminal justice system's organizational components and processes. These programs typically cover crime and criminal justice from an interdisciplinary perspective, providing insights from areas such as public administration, sociology, law, and criminal justice. Students also learn to evaluate research-based information and apply it in the real world.

MCJ degree programs cover the ethical, systemic, and reintegration aspects of the criminal justice system. They cover the theory and application of criminal justice. Students learn to design research and perform quantitative and qualitative analyses.

An online criminal justice master's degree might cover the following subjects:

  • Analyzing Criminal Behavior
  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Criminal Justice Ethics
  • Criminal Justice Statistics
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Research Methods
  • Theories of Social Control
  • Applying Principles of Leadership in Organizational Environments
  • Correctional Systems
  • Judicial System
  • Law Enforcement
  • Policy Analysis
  • Terrorism

Students pursuing a master's in criminal justice online may need to complete a thesis, a research project, or an internship.

MCJ students can focus their degrees on specific aspects of criminal justice. Criminal justice master's programs online typically offer concentrations in judicial management, federal law enforcement, security management, terrorism, behavior analysis, strategic management, homeland security, and forensics.

Online Master's in Criminal Justice Programs

What can I do with a criminal justice or law degree?
What can I do with a criminal justice or law degree?

A criminal justice degree can be your point of entry into a law degree program, or enable you to work in politics, academia, advocacy, corrections, homeland security, or law enforcement—to name just a few criminal justice jobs.

Students completing a master's in criminal justice online enjoy the flexibility to balance academic progress with personal and work responsibilities. Rather than driving to a physical classroom multiple times each week, distance learning programs allow students to watch lectures, turn in assignments, take exams, and interact with teachers and colleagues from any location.

When looking at master's in criminal justice programs online, prospective degree-seekers who desire flexibility should consider asynchronous degrees that allow students to complete assignments and watch lectures on their own time. Synchronous coursework, conversely, requires learners to log on at specific times and take part in live lectures and discussions.

Some students puruing online criminal justice master's degrees already work in the field and want to advance their knowledge while continuing to work. Others may hold bachelor's degrees and work in unrelated fields but desire a career change. Learners pursuing higher education at this level should know that they want to work in the criminal justice field after graduating.

Related Master's Degree Programs

As learners may recognize when researching prospective programs, the large criminal justice industry relates to several connected disciplines. Over the course of their research, some students may decide that criminal justice does not suit their needs. In those cases, the following related master's degree programs may prove a better fit.

The Advantages of a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice

Bachelor's degrees in criminal justice allow graduates to pursue a variety of professional paths, including positions as probation officers, forensic science technicians, correctional treatment specialists, and emergency management directors. Some individuals may feel a bachelor's degree provides all they need to enjoy a satisfying career. Others, however, may prefer an advanced degree to help them take the next professional step.

Individuals with master's degrees qualify for managerial and senior-level roles, which allow for more responsibilities and higher earning potential.

Individuals with master's degrees qualify for managerial and senior-level roles, which allow for more responsibilities and higher earning potential. Many government agencies and private and public security organizations look for candidates with advanced degrees to fill their high-level positions.

Some degree-seekers may consider completing a doctoral degree. The best candidates for these terminal programs typically possess distinct, nuanced ideas about the type of work they want to do. These degrees prepare learners for postsecondary teaching positions and advanced research roles. Review the following section to learn more about careers and salary options for criminal justice majors.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice?

Individuals pursuing a master's in criminal justice online can choose from several career paths, depending on their interests and skill sets. Some may want to work as agents or detectives, while others may prefer counseling or rehabilitative roles. Still others aspire to educate the next generation of criminal justice professionals. In all cases, graduates typically possess a penchant for research, fact-finding, and working with a variety of personalities.

Salary based on experience

FBI Agent

These professionals investigate federal crimes by collecting evidence, conducting interviews, analyzing data, and conferring with other justice colleagues. They often write reports about their findings and present these findings to supervisors.

Entry Level

$52,000

Mid-Career

$65,000

Experienced

$86,000

Late Career

$99,000

Professor of Criminal Justice

Professors work in colleges and universities to teach students about the discipline. They present lectures, create assignments, grade papers, counsel learners about career options, and conduct research in the field.

Entry Level

$60,000

Mid-Career

$70,000

Experienced

$87,000

Late Career

$100,000

Correctional Counselor

Working in correctional facilities, counselors help inmates work through rehabilitation programs, design job and/or educational training, write reports about the progress of prisoners, and liaise between inmates and prisons to ensure proper services exist.

Entry Level

$34,000

Mid-Career

$40,000

Experienced

$50,000

Late Career

$51,000

Forensic Computer Analyst

These professionals work to secure computer networks, root out malware and other corrupting files, and teach other employees about network safety. They may conduct reviews, offer training sessions, and report to supervisors on ongoing security issues.

Entry Level

$59,000

Mid-Career

$86,000

Experienced

$100,000

Late Career

$99,000

Employment Settings — Criminal Justice Degree Careers

  • Alternative Schools
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Child Support Services
  • City Government Agencies
  • Correctional Facilities
  • County Government Agencies
  • County Jails
  • County Sheriff Office
  • Courts
  • Department of Human Services
  • Domestic Violence Agencies
  • Education
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Government Agencies
  • Halfway Houses and Pre-Release Programs
  • Highway Patrol
  • Immigration and Naturalization Services
  • Juvenile Detention Centers
  • Juvenile Group Homes
  • Narcotics Bureau
  • National Security Agency
  • Office of the Attorney General
  • Office of the Public Defender
  • Police Academies
  • Police Departments
  • Precinct Station Houses
  • Private Security Companies
  • Reintegration Programs
  • Social Services Department
  • State Police
  • State Prisons
  • SUSance Abuse Clinics
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • US Customs and Border Protection
  • US Department of Defense
  • US Department of Homeland Security
  • US Department of Justice
  • US Department of the Treasury
  • US Drug Enforcement Administration
  • US Marshals Service
  • US Postal Service
  • US Secret Service
  • Women's and Family Shelters
  • Youth Correction Facilities
What can I do with a criminal justice or law degree?
What can I do with a criminal justice or law degree?
A criminal justice degree can be your point of entry into a law degree program, or enable you to work in politics, academia, advocacy, corrections, homeland security, or law enforcement—to name just a few criminal justice jobs.
View Ranking

Choosing an Online Criminal Justice Graduate Degree Program

With so many online master's in criminal justice programs available, prospective students should take their time finding the perfect degree. State public university programs tend to offer the most affordable options, allowing students to save money without sacrificing quality. Prospective degree-seekers must take several factors into account when deciding where to apply and attend, measuring how the realities of each program measure up to their expectations. If a program does not meet your needs, keep researching until you find one that does.

Program Cost

Unless students secure significant scholarships, grants, or fellowship funding, college expenses can add up quickly. Find a program with low tuition or ample aid offerings. Individuals looking for state-specific information can review the Best Schools' guide.

Transfer Policies

Students sometimes choose schools that do not fit their needs, even after conducting extensive research. For this reason, applicants should seek out programs with transfer-friendly policies so that they can transfer credits to a new school.

School Size and Type

Even online students should consider school size and type, as these factors can affect class size. Private schools tend to offer smaller student-to-teacher ratios when compared to public schools, but many in-state options also cap class sizes to maintain intimate learning environments.

Program Length

Program length may vary based on whether a student enrolls in an accelerated, part-time, or full-time degree. Students in accelerated programs may complete their degrees in one year, as opposed to two years for regular degrees. Part-time students may take 3-4 years to complete their degrees.

On-Campus Requirements

Most online programs do not mandate on-campus requirements, but prospective students should double-check these requirements before enrolling. Distance learners who live within driving distance of their school may visit campus to take advantage of certain resources.

Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements

Many programs require students to complete some type of culminating project, such as a researched thesis, a professional paper, or a project demonstrating their learning throughout the program.

Accreditation for Online Criminal Justice Master's Degrees

Attending an accredited online criminal justice master's degree is an important step in the education process, as many employers seek out this distinction when hiring. While no large-scale accrediting agency exists in the criminal justice field, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences certifies certain programs that meet their requirements.

Outside of programmatic accreditation, degree-seekers should look for institutional accreditation, which falls into two categories: regional and national. Regional accreditation tends to require a more rigorous review of universities and how they serve their students. Four-year institutions tend to obtain regional accreditation, while trade schools usually seek national accreditation.

Four-year institutions tend to obtain regional accreditation, while trade schools usually seek national accreditation.

The US Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) both work to support and delineate accredited institutions. CHEA maintains an extensive roster of accredited institutions, while the ED provides the Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's Degree in Education?

Students can complete an online Criminal Justice Master's degree program in about two years.

Criminal Justice Concentrations

Criminal justice is a diverse field, and many schools offer concentration options for learners who want to focus their knowledge in a particular subfield. The concentrations highlighted below provide an idea of what to expect, but students should consult individual schools to learn about their offerings.

Corrections

This concentration prepares graduates to work directly with inmates by teaching them about the corrections, probation, and parole systems. Students learn how prison facilities work, and how to accomplish goals within these systems.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Warden, Probation Officer, Corrections Counselor

Investigations

Students who pursue this concentration learn about organized crime, evidence gathering, interrogation and interview methods, investigative techniques and handling career criminals. They may also gain forensic skills for reviewing crime data.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Detectives, FBI/CIA agents, Investigators, Forensic Scientists

Juvenile Justice

This concentration prepares graduates to work in the juvenile justice system, addressing family violence, the effects of domestic abuse, laws surrounding minors, and juvenile rehabilitation.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Violence Prevention Specialists, Juvenile Offender Advocate, Program Director, Rehabilitation Specialist

Criminology

For the more science-minded, this concentration introduces learners to topics including data analysis, criminological theory, understanding existing criminal records, and getting inside the minds of those who commit unlawful acts.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Criminologist, Forensic Psychologist

Security Management

Individuals who want to work in private, public, and governmental security firms may pursue this concentration, which focuses on homeland security, threats of terrorism, information and network security, retail security, and security administration.

Careers this concentration prepares for:

Head of Security, Emergency Management Director, Forensic Computer Analyst

Courses in an Online Master's in Criminal Justice Program

Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice

This course takes an in-depth look at common legal issues in the field, including how ordinances, statutes, and constitutional provisions govern how to carry out justice at the state and federal levels. Students also come to understand how judges and other justice employers are selected, promoted, and terminated.

International Terrorism

Students in this course receive an overview of both the history of international terrorism and its current state. Specific topics include the rise and fall of individual terrorist organizations, funding sources, handling threats, use of technology, counterterrorism, and how to prevent future groups from rising.

Research Methods

This required course equips learners with the tools they need to engage in qualitative and quantitative criminal justice research. Degree seekers cover topics such as establishing validity, determining a hypothesis, measuring and sampling data, allowances for errors, and the use of statistics in establishing probable causes.

White Collar Crimes

With a focus on nonviolent crimes, this class teaches students about white collar crimes and how investigators catch criminals. Students explore the types of crime less common to today's world, such as bank robberies, before looking into more modern forms, such as credit fraud.

Homeland Security

A required course for those who want to work in national security, this class explores the history of and need for the Department of Homeland Security before moving into a study of common issues and threats. Students cover both domestic and international terrorism, and how they inform security measures.

Criminal Justice Membership Associations

Joining a criminal justice professional organization offers several benefits to both recent graduates and seasoned professionals. Many offer continuing education and training programs, which keep practitioners aware of industry shifts and provide opportunities to network with colleagues at conferences, through webinars, and in online communities.

National Criminal Justice Association

The NCJA represents individuals working in local, state, and tribal government agencies by providing an annual conference, virtual events, webinars, training programs, and news on issues and policy in the discipline.

American Society of Criminology

The ASC serves members by providing regional divisions and meetings, a member directory, several trade publications, an active jobs board, member awards, and opportunities to take on leadership roles within the society.

American Correctional Association

For nearly 150 years, the ACA has supported members through professional development opportunities, healthcare options, annual conferences, in-house publications, resources, governmental advocacy, and a marketplace for eLearning, books, certifications, subscriptions, and videos.

American Probation and Parole Association

APPA offers two training institutes each year to ensure that members stay current on events in the field. The association also provides a thriving online community, regular virtual and in-person events, and professional development opportunities.

International Association of Women Police

Offering a voice for women working in law enforcement, the IAWP provides an annual conference, an adopted officer program, annual awards, mentoring, scholarship, networking, peer support, and ongoing training opportunities. Members also receive WomenPolice, a quarterly publication.

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