The 10 Best Online Master’s in Criminology Programs

by TBS Staff
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Online criminology master’s programs train students to become sociologists who specialize in criminal behavior and the causes and effects of crime.

Criminologists must have a comprehensive understanding of the basic elements of psychology, the criminal justice system, and current law enforcement practices. This combination of skills is unique to this area of sociology, increasingly in demand due to the influx of terrorism and cybercrime in all corners of the globe. A salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers lists criminologists as the top earners in the broad category of social sciences, earning up to $50,000 a year.

The Best Online Criminology Master's Programs

Florida International University true View School Profile $ Miami, FL 58% 34% 65% Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A public university founded in 1965, FIU offers an online master of science in criminal justice. Students complete 36 credits without needing to visit the campus.

Required courses include research methods in criminal justice, transnational crime and national security, criminal justice policy analysis, and data analysis in criminal justice. Students also complete approved electives to satisfy degree requirements.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.2 in upper-division coursework to qualify for admission. The department also requires students to complete an undergraduate research prerequisite course with a grade of "B" or better.

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The University of West Florida true View School Profile $ Pensacola, FL 44% 64% 63% University of West Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A public university founded in 1963, UWF offers an online master of science in criminal justice. Students can complete 33 credits in as little as one year.

Students take required courses such as criminology theory, criminal justice theory, research methodology, and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Learners then choose either a criminal justice internship or a final paper to complete the program.

Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree and a competitive GPA to qualify for admission.

University of California-Irvine true View School Profile $$$ Irvine, CA 83% 35% 14% University of California-Irvine is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

Founded in 1965, UCI offers an online master of advanced study in criminology, law, and society. Students complete 52 credits in two years on average.

Required courses include crime and social deviance; legal institutions and society; immigration to the U.S.; and public policy, crime, and criminal justice. Instead of a thesis, students take a capstone course on social problems, law, and policy, which allows students to demonstrate skills mastery.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree and two writing samples to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit GRE or GMAT scores.

Colorado State University-Fort Collins true View School Profile $$$ Fort Collins, CO 69% 42% 24% Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public university founded in 1870, CSU Global offers an online master of science in criminal justice. Students complete 36 credits and can choose from a number of specialties, including fraud management or project management.

Required courses include criminal justice policy development and analysis, administration and management of a criminal justice organization, and applied research for criminal justice professionals. A capstone experience finishes degree requirements instead of thesis work.

Courses begin every month. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a preferred GPA of 3.0 for unconditional admission.

Missouri State University-Springfield true View School Profile $$$ Springfield, MO 54% 47% 37% Missouri State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public university founded in 1905, Missouri State offers an online master of science in criminology and criminal justice. Students complete 30 credits for the thesis track or 36 credits for the non-thesis track.

Required courses include criminal justice policy, applied research in criminal justice, leadership and management in criminal justice, and crime theory and policy. Thesis track students complete a thesis, while non-thesis students complete six more credits in electives.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 either cumulatively or in the last 60 credits of coursework for unconditional admission.

West Liberty University View School Profile $$ West Liberty, WV 47% 61% 29% West Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A public university founded in 1837, WLU offers an online master of science in criminology. Students complete 30 credits without needing to visit campus.

Required courses include grant writing in criminology, advanced theoretical criminology, advanced research methods in criminology, and criminal law and liability. Students then choose from one of two concentrations: law enforcement or courts and corrections.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit GMAT or GRE scores.

Regis University View School Profile Denver, CO 69% 47% 63% Regis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A private Jesuit university founded in 1877, Regis offers an online master of science in criminology. Students complete 36 credits in a convenient eight-week format.

Students complete required courses such as criminal psychopathology, transnational crime, and cyber criminology. Students can choose from two areas of emphasis: cybercrime and terrorism or human behavior. A capstone course and an internship or field experience satisfy degree requirements.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores.

Indiana State University View School Profile $$ Terre Haute, IN 41% 57% 43% Indiana State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A private university founded in 1930, ISU offers an online master of science in criminology and criminal justice. Students complete 36 credits without any residency requirements.

Students take courses such as ethics in criminal justice, criminal justice organization and management, advanced criminal justice, and correctional counseling. Learners complete a comprehensive exam to satisfy degree requirements.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with either a 2.75 cumulative GPA or a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of coursework to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania View School Profile $$$ Indiana, PA 56% 72% 28% Indiana University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

A public university founded in 1875, IUP offers an online master of arts in criminology and criminal justice. Students complete 30 credits and can choose between a thesis track or a final project.

Required courses include legal issues in criminology, organizational dynamics within the criminal justice system, ethical and philosophical issues in criminology, and quantitative strategies for analysis in criminology. From there, students complete a thesis or take part in a final applied project.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores. The school accepts applications on a rolling basis.

Loyola University New Orleans View School Profile New Orleans, LA 56% 62% 33% Loyola University New Orleans is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A private Jesuit university founded in 1870, Loyno offers an online master of criminology and criminal justice. Students complete 30 credits and may apply for a dual master's degree in pastoral studies or counseling.

Learners complete courses such as theories of criminal behavior, selected problems in criminal justice, theories of criminal behavior, and directed readings in criminology and criminal justice. A master's research course and a practicum complete degree requirements.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree and must complete a writing sample based on a given prompt to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores.

Best Online Master's

Online Master’s in Criminology Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

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While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

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The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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Featured Online Master’s in Criminology Programs

Choosing a Program

Choosing a program in criminology to suit your individual career aspirations may seem challenging. While a criminology and criminal justice degree may seem to be the same, criminology is rooted in sociology and psychology. Top online criminology master’s programs explore the socioeconomic, political, and environmental factors affecting crime. Students learn social and psychological profiles, behaviors of high–risk personalities, and ethics and policy–making surrounding crime in the U.S.

Many criminology master’s programs are customizable to your area of interest and professional goals. Studying general criminology can prepare you for your choice of criminal justice, social service, or law enforcement jobs. Some online criminology master's programs offer concentrations in areas such as cybercrime, human behavior, and leadership.

Online Master's in Criminology Careers

true Sociologist $79,750 0%

Sociologists conduct research into the psychology and social behavior of certain cultural groups, controlled demographics, and organized institutions. Sociologists are required to have at least a master's degree to enter the field, and should be well-versed in statistics and various research methods.

true Private Detective or Investigator $48,190 10%

Private detectives and investigators perform intensive research into the personal, financial, and/or legal issues of a individual or organization. They are adept at conducting research conclusively and confidentially, often for private and/or high-profile clients. Advancement in the field requires licensure in most states in the U.S.

true Claims Adjuster, Appraiser, Examiner, or Investigator $63,670 -1%

Claims Adjusters, appraisers, examiners, or investigators evaluate insurance claims and determine if and when insurance companies should pay those claims. While not always required for entry-level jobs, many employers prefer professionals who have at least a bachelor's degree and work experience. Criminology education and experience is also preferred by some insurance companies that require advanced interrogation and interview skills.

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