The 25 Best Master’s In Criminal Justice Online for 2019

By BCR Staff
August 2018
BCR_19_CriminalJustice_Masters_badge

The world seems to be getting a little bit darker every day but earning an online master’s in criminal justice could give you the opportunity to add one more glimmer of light in that darkness. Many people have questions about the nature of the criminal justice system and the career options it offers. This short examination of the subject is designed to help resolve your doubts and decide if a career in criminal just is for you! Put simply, criminal justice can be defined as the system through which crimes and criminals are identified, apprehended, judged, and punished. The criminal justice system is comprised of three parts:

  1.  Law Enforcement: Law enforcement can be seen as the front lines of the criminal justice system.
  2.  The Courts: The courts can be thought of as the part of the criminal justice system where guilt or innocence of a suspect is assessed at trial.
  3.  Corrections: Corrections can be referred to as the administrative part of the criminal justice system due to its application of sentences and enforcement of punishments.

 

Featured Online Degree Programs

In this ranking, our editors examine our picks of the top 25 Online Master’s for Criminal Justice programs. For more generalized information regarding distance learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges.

Rating and Ranking Methodology
Tuition Points:

  • Under $45,000—1 point
  • Under $40,000—2 points
  • Under $35,000—3 points
  • Under $30,000—4 points
  • Under $25,000—5 points
  • Under $20,000—6 points
  • Under $15,000—7 points
  • Under $10,000—8 points
  • Under $5,000—9 points

US News and World Report Recognition as a Top Online School for Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs

  • Top 5— 5 points
  • Top 10— 4 points
  • Top 25 —3 points
  • Top 50 —2 points
  • Top 75 —1 point

Customization Options

  • Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid/Online, Full-time/Part-Time, Accelerated, Degree Completion, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option
  • Content Customizations (e.g. Minors, Concentrations, Specializations, etc.)—1 Point Per Customization Option (5-point cap)

Wow Factor

  • 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us

 

Our editor started with a list of 35 colleges and then used our customized ranking methodology to shortlist the TOP 25. We were able to narrow these initial findings by applying a few factors such as affordability (average net price is capped at $35,000), program customization, return-on-investment, and career prospects. Finally, we used information from U.S. News & World Report as well as from each school’s website to apply the rating and ranking methodology above. In the event of a tie in points, the school with the lower tuition receives the higher ranking.

Check them out below!

 

#25 – Bowling Green State University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 6

Website

Eleven courses make up the online Masters of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) degree program through the College of Health and Human Services of the BGSU e-Campus. With rolling admission, six start dates a year, and two classes offered each eight-week term, students can complete the thirty-three credit hour high-caliber degree program in less than two years. Classes are mostly delivered asynchronously, but there may be some requirements to log in at the same time as the professor and classmates for live discussion. These are the curriculum requirements:

Foundation Courses (9 hours required)

  •  Criminal Justice Processes & Institutions
  • The Nature of Crime
  • Criminal Justice Policy Analysis

Research in Practice Courses (6 hours required)

  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice
  • Data and Statistical Analysis in Criminal Justice

Students also need to take Substantive Issues Courses (18 hours required) with classes like The Organization & Management of Justice, Issues in Justice Administration and Crime Analysis.

Tuition Fee: $475 per credit hour

 

#24 – Xavier University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 6

Website

The online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program at Xavier University focuses mostly on criminal justice administration. The 30-semester hour program consists of these courses: Perspectives in Law Enforcement, Sociology of Crime & Delinquency, Forensics & White Collar Crime, Government & Non-profit Accounting and Law & Justice. Students must also conduct an independent thesis project and pass a comprehensive exam before they can earn their degrees.

Offering six start dates a year, students can finish the program in one to two years. Students can even begin the program before they are formally admitted–once they have submitted an application, they can be a “non-degree seeking graduate student” and take up to six credits. The classes are flexible and are not required to be taken in a specific order.

All faculty members within the online Criminal Justice Master’s degree program at Xavier University have either doctoral degrees, extensive experience in the criminal justice field, or both. A number of faculty members serve as consultants for a variety of criminal justice agencies.

Tuition Fee: $610 per credit hour

 

#23 – University of Wisconsin

Master’s in Criminal Justice Online

POINTS – 6

Website

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) online degree program at UW-Platteville gives students three different emphasis areas to customize their degree. The specializations from which students can choose are Criminal Justice Theory, Criminal Justice Management, and Victim and Offender Services, and the program and emphases are designed to benefit professionals who want to move to higher-level positions in the criminal justice field or who want to go onto to teach.

Successful completion of this degree requires 30 credits, and some of the classes offered include Perspectives on Child Maltreatment and Child Advocacy, Law as Social Control, Juvenile Delinquency & Justice: Race, Class, Gender, and Youth, and Policing in a Democratic Society. There is an additional nine-credit-hour certificate in Child Advocacy Studies available for practitioners who want to be able to better serve and protect some of the youngest victims.

Tuition Fee: $665 per credit hour

 

#22 – California University of Pennsylvania

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 7

Website

Offered fully online, the MS in Legal Studies with a Criminal Justice Concentration degree program at Cal U focuses on both an examination of the “functions and processes of the American justice system” and the goal of preparing “students for career advancement in the justice system, whether in policing, law, corrections, investigations or human service positions.”

Twelve credit hours of required courses are coupled with fifteen hours covering the criminal justice concentration, and then the remaining nine to ten hours are made up of student-chosen electives and a thesis. Classes in the concentration core include Financial Investigations and Law and Police Process, and the electives range from topics like Polygraph and Lie Detection to Intelligence Practice in Homeland Security.

Tuition Fee: $510 per credit hour

 

#21 – Western Kentucky University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 7

Website

This Criminal Justice online masters program explores major correlates of crime, delinquency, and deviance, and examines societal responses to crime and delinquency. Students gain insight into correction systems, penology, criminal law, rehabilitation, and recidivism while developing strong research skills to gather and analyze criminological data.

Students are exposed to the empirical study and evaluation of crime patterns in society using a social scientific perspective. The program challenges degree candidates to think about how prior and current research in the field of Criminology can be used to inform social and public policies.

WKU Online offers a thirty-credit hour Master of Arts in Criminology degree program that is fully online and does not require a thesis. The program requires fifteen hours of core courses covering topics like Advanced Social Statistics and Survey of Criminal Justice Studies. The remaining fifteen credit hours are chosen from electives, and students must select at least two classes from within WKU’s Department of Sociology (possible topics include Neighborhoods and Crime and Family Violence). The other electives can be selected, with advisor approval, from a list of electives at other department or even through Eastern Kentucky University’s Department of Correctional and Juvenile Justice Studies and the Department of Criminal Justice.

Tuition Fee: $707 per credit hour

 

#20 – University of Louisville

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 7

Website

U of L’s fully online Master of Science in Criminal Justice (Justice Administration) (MSCJ) degree program claims a unique program with an innovative curriculum and award-winning faculty ideal for those who want to advance in their careers. Offered with six start dates a year in an accelerated six-week format, students participate in a 36-credit hour curriculum made up of core courses, electives, and a master’s thesis paper.

Core coursework focuses on legal theory, statistics, and research methods, and students can choose from elective classes such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, Serial Murder, and Personnel Management in Criminal Justice System. Students can complete the program in under two years and are provided support through professional student advisers.

Tuition Fee: $714 per credit hour

 

#19 – Colorado State University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 7

Website

The online Master of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration degree through CSU-Global is a practical, foundational 36-credit hour program (39 credit hours for students whose undergraduate GPA was less than 3.00.

Two specialization options await the CSU-Global Criminal Justice student – Criminal Justice Leadership and Fraud Management. The Criminal Justice Leadership specialization requires twelve credits of classes like Criminological Theory and Ethics, Justice, and Social Control and other classes covering policy analysis and administration. CSU-Global gives prospective students a chance to experience online classes prior to enrolling to make sure online learning is a good fit–since the focus of the school is online learning.

Tuition Fee: $500 per credit hour

 

#18 – Indiana University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 8

Website

Taking only a year full-time or two years part-time, the MA in Criminology online through IUP’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is highly sought after by students who want to obtain research or administrative positions in the field of criminal justice or who plan to pursue doctoral studies. With the same experienced on-campus faculty members teaching the online courses and many of the campus resources available, this online degree program offers plenty of benefits with incredible convenience.

Through this 30-credit hour curriculum, this Criminal Justice online masters focuses on course topics such as Criminological Theory, Ethical and Philosophical Issues in Criminology,  and Crime and Delinquency Prevention Strategies, students get both a practical and stimulating education. A final synthesis project culminates the degree.

Tuition Fee: $575 per credit hour

 

#17 – UMass Lowell

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 8

Website

With UMass Lowell’s Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice, professionals in law enforcement, security and corrections are finding it more convenient than ever to pursue their master’s degree while continuing to work. The University of Massachusetts Lowell, well-known for its high-quality Criminal Justice programs, offers a broad range of classes in leadership, administrative and management skills in crisis and emergency management, public policy, crime analysis, forensic psychology, and terrorism.

Students enrolled in the Criminal Justice program complete a total of 11 courses (33 credits). The core curriculum consists of five required courses dealing with theory, research, scholarship, quantitative analysis and criminal justice administration. Students choose another six courses from a list of electives, allowing them to focus their studies on areas that are best suited to their own particular career goals and objectives.

By promoting an integrated, academically rigorous, and empirically oriented curriculum, the program helps working criminal justice professionals, and those planning on entering the field, develop the repertoire of professional skills necessary to better manage their current positions, assume leadership roles and/or continue doctoral training in criminal justice.

Tuition Fee: $575 per credit hour

 

#16 – Rowan University

MA in Criminal Justice Online

POINTS – 8

Website

The online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Criminal Justice prepares students for leadership positions in criminal justice agencies; for research positions in federal, state, county, city non-profit and private research institutions; and for further study in doctoral programs. This program aims to help students develop their skills to use research to evaluate the effectiveness of programs aimed at preventing and controlling crime.

This is a part-time program offered in an accelerated online format, and it requires the completion of 30 graduate credit hours. There must 18 credit hours worth of required coursework, and 12 credit hours worth of electives. The ten required courses cover research and policy and analysis with classes like Management Of Criminal Justice Organizations, Contemporary Developments In Theory, and Law And Society.

Tuition Fee: $745 per credit hour

 

#15 – University of Central Florida

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 9

Website

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice online program offers students an in-depth exploration of the complex and changing world of criminal justice. The historical, political, economic and philosophical forces shaping crime and punishment in the U.S. are examined. Students also learn valuable qualitative and quantitative research and computer skills. The importance of advanced education in criminal justice beyond the bachelor’s degree is increasingly recognized by employers in Central Florida and throughout the U.S.

Students must take 36 credit hours to graduate, out of which 21 hours are dedicated to required core courses like The Nature of Crime and Criminal Justice Organizations. 6 credits of restricted electives are supplemented by 9 hours of general electives, and students either participate in a Capstone or a Thesis.

Tuition Fee: In-state: $327.32 per credit hour  |  Out-of-state: $694.82 per credit hour

 

#14 – University of Oklahoma

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 9

Website

This Master of Science in Criminal Justice is an online, accredited, flexible, and affordable degree program designed to help you develop the critical skills necessary in today’s advanced field of criminal justice. By working with criminal justice experts nationwide, you’ll learn how to communicate effectively with diverse audiences, analyze complex problems, and develop positive public engagement. Most importantly, the criminal justice degree can be customized to fit your needs. The degree offers tracks in corrections management, restorative justice, and administration and leadership, allowing you to study the criminal justice area that interests you most.

Requiring thirty-three credit hours to graduate, each course is delivered in asynchronous sixteen-week sessions. Three tracks are available online – Corrections Management, Restorative Justice, and Administration and Leadership–and students can opt to take six additional credit hours to focus on whichever area they choose. Eighteen hours of core courses cover the basics of research methods and theory, and nine hours of elective course topics can be chosen from classes that include Restorative Justice Programs for Drug Offenders, Penology, and Global Drug Trafficking. The accredited online master’s in criminal justice program is completed with either a six credit hour thesis, or one of the track areas with a comprehensive exam.

Tuition Fee: $824 per credit hour

 

#13 – University of Cumberlands

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 9

Website

University_of_the_Cumberlands

The criminal justice degree online programs build upon UC’s long tradition of community service and commitment to ethical leadership. While the Bachelor’s degree program prepares graduates for entry-level careers in the field of corrections and criminal justice, the Master’s in criminal justice degree online program is designed to help students advance in their careers.

The online Master’s in Justice Administration program allows rural and local criminal justice agency personnel to interact with other professionals throughout the nation to see how larger agencies operate, including state and federal authorities. Curriculum for the criminal justice graduate programs is planned with an awareness of the common prerequisites and academic preparation needed to enable students to become leaders in the profession.

The program requires a one-credit hour Capstone Course in Justice Administration, eighteen core courses, and twelve electives to graduate.

Tuition Fee: $365 per credit hour

 

#12 – Sam Houston State University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 10

Website

This online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program is meant to be Education Everywhere, for Everyone. The online program is geared toward working professionals pursuing careers in the criminal justice field seeking career advancement, allowing students to complete their degree in two years.

With dedicated program advisers providing assistance, students who have already worked in the criminal justice field move through the 36 required credit hours with the support they need. Twenty-one core courses cover quantitative analysis, research methods, and policy with such required classes as Emergent Issues In Criminal Justice Leadership, Seminar In Organization & Administration, and Communication Theory & Administration Of Justice. Students can then select fifteen hours of electives to round out the degree to best serve their academic and career goals.

Tuition Fee: $560 per credit hour

 

#11 – East Carolina University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 10

Website

The master’s program in criminal justice prepares students to become highly skilled and competent professionals who are equipped to seek advancements in the criminal justice profession, teach on the community college level, or pursue a terminal degree in criminal justice or a closely related field. Students must complete 18 s.h. of core courses, 18 s.h. of electives, and can choose to obtain certification in security studies, public management, and leadership, or criminal justice education. To obtain certification in criminal justice education students must complete 18 s.h. of required core and elective courses. A professional paper is required for completion of the master’s degree in criminal justice.

Offered through the Department of Criminal Justice, the core courses and eighteen hours of elective classes such as Criminal Justice and Terrorism, Diversity Issues in Criminal Justice,  and Civil Liability in Criminal Justice await the student interested in furthering his or her career in the criminal justice field, go on to legal or doctoral studies, or teach.

Tuition Fee: $893 per credit hour

 

#10 – University of Colorado – Denver

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 10

Website

The University of Colorado Denver’s online Criminal Justice master’s degree will help develop your leadership skills in the field of criminal justice/criminology and hone your problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The Criminal Justice online program focuses on:

  • Law enforcement
  • Criminology
  • Judiciary
  • Correctional systems
  • Juvenile justice
  • Formulation of laws and codes

Requiring 36-credit hours, the program consists of five core courses (focusing on policy, research, and theory), electives, and either a three to six-hour thesis or three credit capstone project. For students who don’t have an educational or professional background in criminal justice, an internship with a local, state, federal or juvenile justice program is also required.

Tuition Fee:  In-state: $521 per credit hour  |  Out-of-state: $625 per credit hour

 

#9 – University of Cincinnati

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 11

Website

The University of Cincinnati Master of Science in Criminal Justice online is the preeminent master’s degree in the field. With a sterling reputation, a nationally recognized brand, and a rich University history dating back to 1819, the CJ program has graduated more than 2,000 students in its fourteen-year history online.

UC professors teach a comprehensive 11-course curriculum. Over six, 15-week semesters (two years), you will be exposed to every part of the criminal justice industry: criminology, social control, corrections, law enforcement, and juvenile justice. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You will also learn about policies, professional writing, research methods, analyzing criminal behavior, and application of principles.

UC’s criminal justice program not only exposes you to the conceptual and theoretical frameworks that drive the study of crime and criminal justice but also allows you to specialize in an area that is most relevant to you. You can choose from the following:

  • Analysis of Criminal Behavior
  • Law Enforcement & Crime Prevention
  • Corrections & Offender Rehabilitation

Tuition Fee: $739 per credit hour

 

#8 – Regis University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 11

Website

This online MS in Criminology is designed for those who are passionate about reducing criminal behavior and want to grow their careers and help change how crime is perceived within both the public and private sectors.

The program requires 36 credit hours to graduate, and you can choose a subject you are passionate about and work with your professor to create personalized coursework on topics such as human trafficking, public safety or victim advocacy within the context of each course. In addition to your chosen subject of interest, the Master of Science in Criminology at Regis offers three distinct areas of focus to target a specific career track: leadership, human behavior, or cybercrime and terrorism. Students who opt for one of the focus areas can replace (with program director approval) nine credits of the general course with focus-specific classes. The general curriculum covers varied topics like Ethical Conduct and Positions of Power, Rapid Decision Making, Crime Prediction and Prevention, and Animal Exploitation.

Tuition Fee: $575 per credit hour

 

#7 – Nova Southeastern University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 11

Website

The M.S. in Criminal Justice trains individuals through an interdisciplinary focus in an online environment. The program prepares students through the core curriculum and allows for specialty training through various concentrations.

This facilitates choice for students and fosters the development of specialized expertise. Students will complete the thirty-hour program that includes fifteen hours of required core coursework, twelve credit hours of a concentration and have a choice between a practicum internship or a master’s thesis. Twelve concentration options are available to customize the degree.

The master’s program is offered entirely online. The online format allows for students to participate in courses from anywhere in the world where internet access is available. In addition, it allows for the flexibility of completing your master’s degree without interrupting your career.

Tuition Fee: $450 per credit hour

 

#6 – University of Nebraska

MS in Criminal Justice Online

POINTS – 12

Website

The Master of Science degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice online is a 36-hour program designed to meet the needs of working professionals and traditional students by providing educational access and flexibility in an online format.

Students take twelve credit hours of required courses, nine credits of criminal justice electives, a three-credit Diversity course (either a Capstone or dissertation), and twelve credits of open electives from other departments. The academics of the program are rigorous and well-respected with courses such as Survey of Corrections, Sociology of Deviant Behavior, and Seminar in Theoretical Criminology.

Tuition Fee: $583 per credit hour

 

#5 – Boston University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 12

Website

The Master of Criminal Justice online program is designed for those who want to advance in the field of criminal justice, enter it, or simply gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating discipline. Students in the online Master of Criminal Justice program have the option of choosing a concentration in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity or a concentration in Strategic Management. This degree requires 40 credit hours and can be completed in 2 years.

An MCJ degree from Boston University’s Metropolitan College will give you a competitive edge whether you plan to enhance your career, teach, apply to law school, or pursue a doctorate. Degree candidates will take courses where they will analyze criminal behavior, apply principles of leadership in organizational settings, learn theories of social control, and gain an informed perspective of law enforcement, the judicial system, and corrections. Ever evolving and often misunderstood, crime and justice are central to the moral fabric and social cohesion of society.

Tuition Fee: $860 per credit hour

 

#4 – Arizona State University

MA in Criminal Justice Online

POINTS – 13

Website

The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice (MACJ) provides you with the knowledge and skills to advance your criminal justice career. You will study the larger context of crime, why it exists and its impact on society, as well as gain a detailed understanding of the concept of justice and how it’s applied.

Eleven classes make up the thirty-three credit hour program, and each class is presented in seven-and-a-half week sessions. For the student who wants to understand what motivates people to commit crimes and how it affects the larger community, students take twelve credit hours of core courses such as Criminal Justice Planning and Program Evaluation and Applied Data Analysis in Criminal Justice. Eighteen hours of electives plus a three-hour Capstone course culminate the degree.

Tuition Fee: $686 per credit hour

 

#3 – Florida State University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 13

Website

Florida-State-University

This online masters program in Criminal Justice requires a total of 36 hours of graduate credit. Of these, 15 hours will be required of all students as core courses, which we list below. The remaining 21 credits will come from electives. Of these, 12 credit hours should come from courses within the College Of Criminology and Criminal Justice, but up to 9 hours of electives may come from approved courses from other disciplines. A grade of “C” or higher must be maintained throughout all coursework.

Sample courses include Applied Statistics in Criminology, Computer Applications in Criminal Justice, Prevention & Treatment Of Crime & Delinquency and Race, Ethnicity, Crime & Social Justice.

Tuition Fee: $553.70 per credit hour

 

#2 – University of California, Irvine

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 14

Website

The Department of Criminology, Law, and Society offers two primarily online master’s programs, designed for professionals or recent graduates who wish to further their education and gain skills that will help them obtain careers in related fields:

  • Master of Advanced Study in Criminology, Law, and Society
    • The Master of Advanced Study (MAS) in Criminology, Law, and Society is a thirteen-course degree program that can be completed in two years. Course topics that have been offered in the past include Hate Crimes, Crime Hotspots and Preventing Errors of Justice. The classes are all delivered online, but there is one introductory accelerated five-day on-campus residency course required. UCI’s graduates have careers in a variety of areas including the FBI, homeland security, district attorney’s office, police departments, crime units, probation agencies, parole agencies, clerks of courts, appellate law, criminal defense law, psychology, education, and social work.
  • Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology
    • The Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology (MLFP) degree program (offered in conjunction with the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior) is for students who desire to examine the intersection of psychology and legal issues, with an emphasis on the use of psychological principles, theories, and research to better understand legal processes and systems. Degree recipients will enjoy a wide range of career opportunities in academic settings, research and policy institutes, government agencies, and a variety of public and private sector organizations and agencies

Tuition Fee: $13,974 for the academic year

 

#1 – Michigan State University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

POINTS – 14

Website

The program is designed to add new dimensions to the skills of career people in various areas of criminal justice and security. A number of online support services are available to assist students as they progress through the program.

Students enrolled in the program may choose to follow the general requirements for the Masters in Criminal Justice, specializing in Security Management or follow an international focus. Please see Program Requirements for more information. Courses are offered entirely online and are taught by the same faculty members who are involved in the on-campus program.

Students generally complete the required thirty credit hours in eighteen months to three years and can opt for a general track or one of two specializations – Security Management or Judicial Administration. Some of the required courses cut across the different tracks, such as Crime Causation, Prevention, and Control, Policy Analysis under Conditions of Change, and Proseminar in Criminal Justice. Depending on the track, students take one to three elective classes, and those topics are wide and varied–for example, Osteology and Forensic Anthropology, Essential Components of Courts, or Special Studies in Food Safety are just a few of the options.

Tuition Fee: $716 per credit hour

 

 

This concludes our ranking of the Top 25 Online Master’s in Criminal Justice. Thanks for reading!

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