Best Online Master’s in Criminology

by TBS Staff

Updated October 6, 2022

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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

#1 Best Online Master’s in Criminology

University of California, Irvine

  • Irvine, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of advanced study in criminology, law and society at University of California, Irvine uses a flexible distance learning format. The rigorous curriculum prepares learners for advanced roles in the field. A master's degree can also lead candidates to new careers.

The curriculum emphasizes both practical and theoretical approaches to criminology. Degree candidates can specialize their course of study to prepare for the job market. The program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in criminology.

Online enrollees work with the program to identify internship opportunities at approved sites in their local communities. Internships and other practicum activities build both hands-on experience and professional connections.

University of California, Irvine at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 27%

Total Online Master's Programs: 1

Program Name: Master of advanced study in criminology, law and society

Graduate Tuition In State: $11,442

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $26,544

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
27%
Students Enrolled
36,908
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Best Online Master’s in Criminology

Missouri State University-Springfield

  • Springfield, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The master of science in criminology and criminal justice at Missouri State University-Springfield uses a flexible distance learning format. The program helps graduates increase their salary potential and take on more professional responsibilities. A master's degree helps candidates advance in their current field or pursue a new career.

The curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the field. Learners prepare for the job market by choosing a specialty through electives. The program recommends that applicants bring a background in criminology or a related field.

Online enrollees gain real-world experience through internships offered in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional connections by attending virtual networking events.

Missouri State University-Springfield at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 88%

Total Online Master's Programs: 28

Program Name: Master of science in criminology and criminal justice

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,202

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $10,476

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,540
Out-of-state
$14,850
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
23,453
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Online Master’s in Criminology

West Liberty University

  • West Liberty, WV
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Graduate students seeking an online criminology degree can enroll in the master of science in criminology at West Liberty University, located in West Liberty, West Virginia. The program emphasizes specialized skills, preparing graduates for increased responsibilities and a higher earning potential. Master's degree-holders can advance their current career or more into new careers.

The curriculum incorporates theoretical and applied approaches. Learners often choose a specialized concentration, which can help them stand out in a competitive job market. Applicants with a background in criminology typically meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

West Liberty University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 71%

Total Online Master's Programs: 2

Program Name: Master of science in criminology

Graduate Tuition In State: $6,300

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $8,112

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,990
Out-of-state
$15,930
Retention Rate
71%
Admission Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
2,496
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Online Master’s in Criminology

Regis University

  • Denver, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Regis University, located in Denver, Colorado, enrolls students in its online master's in criminology program. The program strengthens specialized skills, preparing graduates for leadership roles with a higher earning potential. Master's degree-holders can pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The curriculum incorporates theoretical and applied approaches. Learners specialize their course of study to prepare for the job market. Applicants without a background in criminology may need to complete prerequisite courses.

Online enrollees can often complete professional internships at approved locations in their own community. The program encourages graduate students to participate in hands-on experiences and networking events to grow their professional connections.

Regis University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 71%

Total Online Master's Programs: 26

Program Name: Master's in criminology

Graduate Tuition In State: $14,441

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $14,441

Average Tuition
In-state
$37,830
Out-of-state
$37,830
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
6,908
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Best Online Master’s in Criminology

Indiana State University

  • Terre Haute, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master of science in criminology and criminal justice at Indiana State University ranks as a top program. The rigorous curriculum prepares graduates for leadership responsibilities. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new careers or advance in their current field.

The curriculum covers methodological and research perspectives. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. The program recommends that applicants bring a background in criminology or a related field.

Online enrollees coordinate with the program to complete internships at approved sites in their local area. Graduate students also build professional connections through virtual networking events and other activities.

Indiana State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 90%

Total Online Master's Programs: 18

Program Name: Master of science in criminology and criminal justice

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,542

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $14,814

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,036
Out-of-state
$19,960
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
12,144
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
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.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

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

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

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%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

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

Sociologist

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.

Median Salary: $79,750 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 0%

Private Detective or Investigator

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.

Median Salary: $48,190 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): 10%

Claims Adjuster, Appraiser, Examiner, or Investigator

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.

Median Salary: $63,670 Projected Job Growth (2019-2029): -1%

Header Image Credit: adamkaz | Getty Images

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