The 25 Best Master’s In Criminal Justice Online Degree Programs for 2018

BCR_19_CriminalJustice_Masters_badgeNow more than ever, the world of crime is increasingly expanding, hidden, unpredictable, nuanced, and intelligent. There’s also a strong call emerging for a renewed public policy and ethics overhaul with regards to much of the criminal justice system. None of these problems are going away, and many will deteriorate further without the necessary expertise and leadership to address the issues.

Featured Online Degree Programs

Those with a Criminal Justice graduate degree will be at the forefront of this call and with the option for online degree programs expanding, it is now easier than ever to gain the knowledge needed to pursue a career in the field of Criminal Justice. Perfect for pre-professionals and current professionals in the Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Criminal Justice Administration areas, a Master’s in Criminal Justice will help prepare students to analyze and solve some of the most important, pressing issues of our time, both at home and abroad. Here are our top 25 online Masters in Criminal Justice degree programs. For information on online learning in general, see our ranking of online schools

1 (tied). Arizona State University

Online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

Arizona State MA Criminal Justice OnlineArizona State University’s online program is a 33 credit-hour track, including a required capstone course, Theory and Practice in Criminal Justice, in which students write a comprehensive report on policy or practice. Full-time students can complete the degree in as little as 18 months, while part-time students may take up to 6 years, allowing students maximum schedule flexibility. In particular, the program is designed to enhance students’ understanding of crime in broad context—why it exists, its societal impact, and how to apply justice. For interested students, ASU also offers a graduate certificate in criminal sentencing and sentencing advocacy, which is especially targeting at working professionals in the field.

1 (tied). Bowling Green State University

MA Criminal Justice Online

Bowline Green State Online Master of Arts Criminal JusticeBowling Green State University’s online program is a 33 credit-hour track, with one class delivered every seven weeks, broken up by intermittent one-week breaks. Students typically complete the degree in two years. The curriculum is built as follows: nine hours of foundational courses covering the nature of crime, policy, and processes; six hours of research methods and data analysis; and 18 hours of substantive issues courses. These courses include work in contemporary policing and justice, organization and management, and topics in criminal justice, among others. For students’ convenience, BGSU Admissions are on a rolling basis.

3. Walden University

Online MS Criminal Justice, MS Criminal Justice Leadership and Executive Management

Walden-University Master of Science Criminal Justice, Master of Science Criminal Justice Leadership and Executive Management OnlineWalden University offers both an MS in Criminal Justice and an MS in Criminal Justice Leadership and Executive Management, targeted towards more seasoned professionals looking to advance their careers. The MS in Criminal Justice consists of a minimum of 46 credits; for students opting to specialize in one of Walden’s nine additional specializations, a total of 61 credit hours are required. Specializations include MS in Criminal Justice Leadership and Executive Management, Law and Public Policy, Terrorism, Mediation, and Peace, and Emergency Management, among others. In particular, this program stresses a nuanced approach that combines criminal behavior theory with technology, homeland security, and management skills to tackle the ever-evolving crime landscape of our modern world. Walden also offers a generous transfer policy which may allow up to half of the degree’s credits to be transferred in.

4. Capella University

Master of Science in Public Safety with Criminal Justice Specialization Online

Capella University offers an MS in Public Safety with a Criminal Justice Specialization, a 48 credit-hour track, with up to 12 hours transferable. Moreover, for students with sufficient professional experience, additional credits may be transferrable, further accelerating the degree. Classes are taught in 10-week blocks with 3-week breaks between each quarter. The curriculum breaks down as follows: 12 core credits devoted to public safety, 24 devoted to the criminal justice specialization, and 12 elective credits. From those electives, students who tailor their curriculum may earn one of eight concentrations—among them, Homeland Security, Forensics, Health Policy and Management, Public Safety Leadership, and others.

5. UMass Online

Online MA in Criminal Justice

UMASS Master of Arts Criminal Justice OnlineUMass Online offers a 33 credit-hour track for their MA in Criminal Justice. The degree is aimed at both current criminal justice professionals looking to advance their careers, and prospective professionals seeking to gain an appropriate educational background. Doctoral work is also possible after degree completion. Students have the opportunity to take classes from multiple schools under the UMass umbrella, which may be used to accelerate the program.

6 (tied). New Mexico State University

Master of Science in Criminal Justice Online

New Mexico State University MS Criminal Justice OnlineNew Mexico State University’s online program is a 36 credit-hour track, focusing on analysis, theory, and specialized elective research and study. All students must take a comprehensive exam to graduate on a Pass/Fail basis that tests students on the core topics of analysis and theory. For interested students, NMSU also offers the opportunity to earn a minor in the degree. Students who take less than six credit hours (two courses) per semester pay in-state tuition, while students option to take more per semester to accelerate their degree will pay a premium out-of-state tuition.

6 (tied). Boston University

Online Master of Criminal Justice

Boston Master of Criminal Justice OnlineBoston University’s online program is a 30 credit-hour track, consisting of six required core courses and four electives, including Cybercrime, Terrorism, Youth Crime Problems, and Forensic Behavior Analysis, among others. Courses are taught in accelerated 7-week formats. Also, interested students may choose to pursue the concentration in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity, which will provide students with the background to analyze and apply contemporary practices to a burgeoning crime issue. The general program is designed for both working professionals and interested prospects and provides the thorough knowledge and skill-set necessary in today’s criminal justice system.

8 (tied). University of the Cumberlands

Master of Science in Criminal Justice Online”

University of the Cumberlands Online MS Criminal JusticeThe University of the Cumberlands’s online program is a 30 credit-hour track, with 18 core hours and 12 electives. Within those elective hours, several specialization options are available for interested students: Corrections, Investigator, Addiction Studies, Family Services, Juvenile Justice, Homeland Security, and Law Enforcement. Cumberland is designed for both pre-professionals and current professionals, and the program can be tailored to fit schedules on an individual basis.

8 (tied). University of Cincinnati

Online MSc in Criminal Justice

17. Cincinnati Master of Science Criminal Justice OnlineThe University of Cincinnati’s online program is a 33-credit track, with 15 core credits and 18 electives. Classes are taught over six, 15-week semesters, and students have the option to complete the degree in the standard two-year format or in an accelerated one-year format. This program also offers three possible concentrations for interested students: Analysis of Criminal Behavior, Law Enforcement & Crime Prevention, and Corrections & Offender Rehabilitation. In particular, Cincinnati’s comprehensive curriculum covers criminology, social control, corrections, law enforcement, and juvenile justice, in addition to cutting edge research methods, analysis, and application.

10 (tied). Colorado Technical University

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

colorado-technical-university MSc Criminal Justice OnlineColorado Technical University’s online program is a 48 credit-hour track with core courses in Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making, Criminology and Public Policy, Terrorism and Homeland Security Management, and Issues of Diversity in Criminal Justice, among other areas of study. CTU offers a wide general concentration for students looking to prepare for administrative work and a Homeland Security concentration for those looking to pursue a career in that particular field. CTU also boasts a robust and loyal alumni network, with over 91% of CTU alumni reporting they would hire a CTU graduate over another prospect.

10 (tied). Michigan State University

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Michigan State MSc Criminal Justice OnlineMichigan State University’s online program consists of a minimum 30 credit hours of coursework. MSU also offers a wide variety of concentration and specialization opportunities in Security Management, Judicial Administration, and an International Focus. Students have the opportunity to complete their degrees in as little as 1.5 years or may take up to 3 according to their schedules. For further acceleration, eligible students may transfer up to 9 credits. The School of Criminal Justice also offers additional graduate certificates for students wanting to advance their education and resumes. Certificates are available in Conservation Criminology, Homeland Security, Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis, and Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection, among others.

12. Saint Leo University

Master of Science in Criminal Justice Online

Saint Leo Online Master of Science Criminal JusticeSaint Leo University’s online program is a 36 credit-hour track – 18 core and 18 elective. There are also five specialization options for students to tailor the curriculum to their particular interests and needs. Among the many topics studied, Saint Leo teaches ethical and legal issues in criminal justice, public policy, forensic science, hostage negations, and terrorism. Saint Leo’s faculty consists of respected and experienced professionals, and the Program Director has 30 years of investigative experience.

12 (tied). Kaplan University

Online MSc in Criminal Justice

Kaplan University Master of Science Criminal Justice OnlineKaplan University offers an MS in Criminal Justice with two tracks, Exam and Applied Research, each of which total 55 credits. (The Exam Track culminates in a comprehensive test upon coursework completion, while Applied Research includes a final thesis.) Kaplan also offers four specializations for students looking to tailor their degrees: Corrections, Global Issues in Criminal Justice, Law, and Leadership and Executive Management. In particular, Kaplan’s core emphasizes criminal behavior, organizational behavior, research methods, and contemporary cases and issues. This program may be completed in as little as a year.

14 (tied). Loyola University New Orleans

Online Masters Degree in Criminal Justice

loyola-new-orleans Masters in Criminal Justice OnlineLoyola University New Orleans’s online program consists of 30 credit-hours. For students’ convenience, classes are taught year-round with courses available at night in 8-week blocks. Degrees culminate in a comprehensive exam. There is also a dual master’s available in Criminal Justice and Pastoral Studies, for interested students. Among areas of study include Theories of Criminal Behavior, Research, and Statistical Methods, and two seminars in Criminal Justice.

14 (tied). American Public University

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Online

American Public University Online MA Criminal JusticeAmerican Public University’s online program is a 36 credit-hour track with a final capstone seminar. Three additional concentrations are also available: Business Administration, Emergency Management and Disaster Management, and Rehabilitation and Reintegration. Among the program objectives and emphases are criminology, emergent criminal threats, law, historical and contemporary cases, and real-world application. APU’s interdisciplinary approach aims to provide students with a broad and comprehensive body of knowledge from which to draw from and practice.

16. Columbia College

Online MSc in Criminal Justice Administration

Columbia College MSc Criminal Justice AdministrationColumbia College offers a baseline 36-credit MS in Criminal Justice Administration, which emphasizes four main areas of study: trends in criminal justice, policy development and analysis, research design and ethics in criminal justice. For interested students, Columbia offers additional 9-credit emphases in Law Enforcement Administration and Corrections Administration. Courses are designed to encourage a hands-on approach, collaborative environment, and prepare students for real-world problems.

17. University of Louisville

Master of Science in Criminal Justice Online

Louisville MSc Criminal Justice OnlineThe University of Louisville’s online program is a 36 credit-hour track – 15 core, 18 elective, and three for the completion of a professional paper. Courses are delivered in accelerated 6-week formats, and students may complete the degree in as little as three semesters. To further accelerate the program, eligible students can transfer up to six credits into the program. In particular, Louisville’s core focuses on the criminal justice system, justice administration, theories of crime and delinquency, legal issues, and advanced statistics and research methods.

18. Regis University

Online MSc in Criminology

regis-university online Master of Science CriminologyRegis University offers an MS in Criminology that consists of 36 total credit hours, including a final capstone project. Students taking the traditional one course per eight-week block complete their degrees in 24 months. Students can expect to study the nature of crime, criminal behavior, analysis techniques, crime prediction, crime prevention, and policy. For interested students, Regis also offers an introductory graduate certificate in Criminology for just 18 hours.

19. Indiana State University

MSc or MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice Online

indiana-state-univ Online MSc or MA Criminology and Criminal JusticeIndiana State University offers both an MA and MS option in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The MA track is a 33 credit-hour program designed specifically for students wishing to continue their graduate studies toward a doctoral degree in criminology, criminal justice, or other related fields. MA students will focus principally on research and are required to submit a thesis. The MS track is designed as a terminal degree for students looking to pursue or further their careers in criminal justice, or for interested law students. The MS requires either a Law Enforcement or Corrections concentration and concludes in a research project or comprehensive exam.

20. Liberty University

Master of Science in Criminal Justice Online

15. Liberty UniversityLiberty University’s online program is a 36 credit-hour track, with 18 core hours, 12 public administration cognate hours, and six elective hours. Most students complete the degree in just four semesters. In particular, with the school’s Christian background, Liberty stresses bring an ethical approach to criminal justice study and eventual application. For interested students, a nine-credit-hour introductory graduate certificate is also available.

21. Eastern Kentucky University

Online MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Eastern Kentucky Master of Science Criminology Criminal Justice OnlineEastern Kentucky University offers a Master’s in Adult, Juvenile and Community Corrections Leadership. This program boasts a low student-to-faculty ratio, highly accomplished full-time faculty, and collaborative learning environment. Also, EKU offers numerous electives to specialize students’ coursework and a 12-credit graduate certificate for students wanting an introduction to the field but not ready for a full degree. EKU’s degree culminates in a capstone project and does not require a thesis or comprehensive exam.

22 (tied). Washington State University

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Online

Washington State Online MA Criminal JusticeWashington State University’s online program is a 31 credit track that breaks down as follows: 15 core, 6 institutional, 6 elective, and 4 directed study. The directed study credits entail students developing a detailed writing portfolio that they must develop and defend before earning their degree. In particular, WSU emphasizes criminology, police administration, courts, and corrections. Moreover, students will learn real-world application and practices to prepare for postgraduate employment.

22 (tied). Florida State University Online

Online Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Florida State MSc Criminology and Criminal JusticeFlorida State University Online offers a Master’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice consisting of 36 credit-hours. 15 credits are core, and 21 are elective, of which nine may be studied under various schools under the FSU umbrella, allowing for highly specialized and interdisciplinary coursework. FSU also allows for students to transfer up to 6 credits into the program. For schedule flexibility, there are three entry points available throughout the year.

22 (tied). University of Central Missouri

Master of Science in Criminal Justice Online

Central Missouri Online MSc Criminal JusticeThe University of Central Missouri’s online program consists of 36 credit hours, with the option of a thesis or non-thesis track. (Non-thesis track students must pass a comprehensive exam.) The core classes toward the degree include Criminal Justice Philosophy and Policy, Causes of Crime, Statistics for Criminal Justice, and Comparative and International Criminal Justice Systems, among others. Accelerated options are available, and there are admission entry points throughout the year.

25. Saint Joseph’s University

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Saint Josephs Online MSc Criminal JusticeSaint Joseph’s University’s online program is a 30 credit-hour degree with core courses covering research methods, criminology theory, ethics, and professional writing for law enforcement. Also, SJU offers specialization features through four possible concentrations: Behavior Analysis, Federal Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, and Intelligence and Crime Analysis. Saint Joseph’s also offers a graduate certificate in behavioral analysis that will prepare and qualify students to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Exam.


  • Affordability (1/3): the estimated out-of-state tuition per credit hour
  • Flexibility (1/3): if the program offers additional specializations and/or an accelerated track
  • Academic Reputation (1/3): the rank of the school’s parent institution according to other prominant rankings such as US News