In this article, we list the top ranked and most affordable online master’s in criminology degree programs.
From forensics to law enforcement, a master’s in criminal justice or criminology can open the door to a variety of careers. According to the United States Department of Labor–Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for criminal justice occupations are expected to increase by up to 17% over the next decade. Police and law enforcement employment growth is expected to rise 10%, and criminology employment growth could increase by as much as 28%. The expected demand means that more colleges and universities will offer flexible education designed to equip job candidates.
Accredited Online College Programs
Top 10 Affordable Online Master’s in Criminology Programs
We examined a total of 86 accredited colleges and universities that offered an online master’s in criminology, criminal justice, or closely related degree programs. Our initial pool of schools came from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES College Navigator). We narrowed this list to only those schools that had received rankings from major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, or U.S. News and World Report. We then selected the most affordable of these institutions based on in-state graduate tuition/fees listed by NCES College Navigator. We listed the 25 top schools in order of affordability.
Below are the resulting selections for the top 25 affordable online master’s degree programs in criminology or criminal justice.
Missouri Southern State University offers an affordable online master's in criminal justice degree program with three available completion options–thesis, internship, or capstone. All classes are delivered online and include 18 hours of core courses like civil law and liability, criminal justice theory, ethics in criminal justice, overview of the criminal justice system, research methodology in criminal justice, and statistical analysis in criminal justice. Twelve credits of electives must also be taken and include courses like crime and criminal justice policy, death penalty in America, and law enforcement. Missouri Southern is a regionally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report.
Thesis and non thesis options, as well as optional summer courses, allow students at Missouri State University to complete their online master of science in criminology and criminal justice in one and a half years of full-time study. The thesis and non thesis program options require 30 and 36 credits of coursework to complete, respectively. Missouri State requires applicants hold a bachelor's degree in sociology, criminology, or criminal justice and a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students without a background in sociology, criminology, or criminal justice may have to take prerequisite courses before embarking on the master's in criminology online curriculum.
One of the most affordable online criminology degrees on our list is offered by Wichita State University. This fully online program has part-time and full-time options and allows students to enter the program in the fall, spring, or summer. All classes are delivered online and taught by the same university professors who teach on campus. Courses include criminal behavior, research methods in criminal justice, and statistical analysis in criminal justice. Wichita State University is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as a best national university and top-recommended institution by high school counselors.
Earning an online master of science in criminal justice from East Carolina University indicates an education that prepares students fully for careers in criminal justice, advancement to doctoral work, or becoming credentialed in teaching criminal justice. Three graduate certificates in criminal justice education, security studies, and public management and leadership are available for independent completion or can be satisfied as part of the elective requirements for ECU's online criminology master's degree. ECU requires GRE scores for admission, three letters of reference, and a statement of purpose.
The motto "Blue believes in you" at Indiana State University extends to their online criminology master's degree. A master of science in criminology and criminal justice at ISU includes a concentration in either law enforcement or corrections in its 36 credit curriculum. Curriculum includes seminars in police problems and practices, law and criminal justice administration, and corrections. As the master of science is considered a terminal degree, for students pursuing doctoral work, Indiana State also offers an online master of arts in criminology and criminal justice.
Sam Houston State University's terminal master of science in criminal justice online fits the lifestyle of many working professionals eager to advance their career in criminal justice. The 36 credit curriculum includes critical analysis of justice administration, communication theory and administration of justice, and emergent issues in criminal justice leadership. GRE scores are not required for admission, but may be requested for students with an undergraduate GPA under 3.0. Students concerned about the cost of pursuing graduate education benefit from over 20 scholarships offered specifically to SHSU criminal justice students. also offers a master of science in criminal justice leadership and management
One of the most affordable master's in criminology schools online is Southeast Missouri State University. The university offers an accredited online master's in criminal justice degree program that is designed to accommodate working individuals who desire to advance their career trajectories in the criminal justice field. All classes are taught online and include civil law and liability, criminal justice theory, ethics in criminal justice, overview of the criminal justice system, research methodology in criminal justice, and statistical analysis in criminal justice. Southeast Missouri State is a top public school and regionally ranked university. In fact, U.S. News and World Report also ranks the school's online graduate criminal justice program #24 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
Accredited master's in criminology online degree programs are designed to equip individuals for careers in corrections, local and state law enforcement, and other criminal justice fields. Liberty University offers an online master's in criminal justice that is accredited and affordable. All classes are delivered online and taught by the same professors who teach at the Lynchburg campus. These courses include administration of justice organizations, criminal justice integration, criminal justice program evaluation, leadership and ethics, and topics and trends in criminal justice. A thesis proposal, research, and defense are also required. Liberty is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school's online graduate criminal justice programs #35 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
Youngstown State University offers a type of master's in criminology online degree program designed for those individuals seeking an evidence-based approach to criminal justice management and for those interested in pursuing doctoral level study. The program is offered entirely online in a flexible format that requires two courses per semester. Courses are delivered online and taught by the same professors who teach on campus. Courses include advanced criminology, applied police and corrections management, law and criminal justice, program planning and evaluation, research methods in health and human services, and statistical techniques in health and human services. Youngstown is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best regional university in the Midwest.
Saint Leo University offers an accredited and affordable online masters in criminal justice program designed for busy professionals. The online degree program explores various topics in corrections, law, leadership, and major criminal justice trends. All classes are delivered online and include forensic science and medicolegal death investigation, hostage negotiations, leadership and supervision in criminal justice, personnel law, and public policy. Electives explore specialty topics like courtroom psychology and the impact of terrorism on homeland security. Saint Leo University is a regionally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 62nd best regional university in the South and the 26th best value school in the country.
Bowling Green State University offers one of the top master's in criminology online degree programs designed for those interested in criminal justice. The program is for working students or busy individuals who do not have the time to attend traditional classes. The program offers six start dates throughout the year with classes taught by faculty who regularly teach on campus. Online courses include criminal justice policy analysis, criminal justice processes and institutions, data and statistical analysis in criminal justice, research methods in criminal justice, and the nature of crime. Bowling Green is a nationally ranked institution and top public school. U.S. News and World Report ranks the online graduate criminal justice program #10 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
Indiana Wesleyan University is one of our top picks for master's in criminology schools online. The school offers an online MPA with specialization option in criminal justice. The program is designed for working professionals who do not have the time required for attending traditional classes. Online courses include criminal justice administration, criminal justice leadership, criminal justice policy, economic analysis of crime, and ethical leadership in the public sector. A total of 36 credit hours are required for program completion, with 12 credit hours of specializations courses. Indiana Wesleyan is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges ranks the school #27 for best regional universities in the Midwest.
With six start dates throughout the calendar year and a choice from five or eight week long terms, Regis University holds no equal in terms of flexibility for its online master's in criminology degree. The master of science in criminology requires 36 credit hours and either an internship in criminology and a capstone project or a capstone project and an additional upper-division criminology course. Students can choose from leadership, human behavior, or cybercrime and terrorism to specialize their degree for future career prospects. All students complete one of two focus areas: behavior or cybercrime. Regis does not require GRE scores for admission to their online criminology master's degree.
Students of Western Kentucky University's online master of arts in criminology study and evaluate patterns of crime within society using a social scientific perspective, working to understand the major causes of crime and deviance. The curriculum also questions how society responds to crime and deviance through courses on penology, neighborhoods and crime, and crime and popular culture. WKU offers DELO Testing Centers, which provide proctored testing services to distance students. DELO also assists distance students outside of the state of Kentucky with arranging suitable testing facilities. This master's in criminology online is unique in that it only offers a non-thesis option for graduation, though students must pass an oral examination at the conclusion of the program.
Kent State University prides itself on challenging experienced and aspiring professionals in the criminal justice field. Their fully online master of arts in criminology and criminal justice benefits from small class sizes and four concentrations: corrections, global security, policing, and victimology. Students complete three core courses as well as one course from each concentration before continuing on to take three additional courses from their chosen concentration and concluding with a capstone project. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation from professional or academic contacts, an official transcript proving completion of a bachelor's degree, a resume, and a goal statement of two pages or less in length. GRE scores are not required for admission to this online criminology master's degree.
Xavier University offers one of the most affordable online master's in criminal justice degree programs on our list. Courses are offered fully online, and part-time and full-time tracks are available. Six start dates per year make it one of the most flexible programs of its kind. Classes are taught by university professors and include criminal justice administration, forensics and white-collar crime, government and non-profit accounting, law and justice, perspectives in law enforcement, and sociology of crime and delinquency. Xavier is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 4th best regional university in the Midwest. Also, several online graduate programs have earned recognition.
A completely part time and online criminology master's degree, Indiana University of Pennsylvania's master of arts in criminology limits the number of electives students need to take and focuses on theoretical and practical knowledge of the criminal justice field. Courses include organizational dynamics within the criminal justice system, quantitative strategies for analysis in criminology, and cybercrime. Tuition starts at $516 per credit during the academic year and drops to $500 per credit during the summer months. Students often complete the 30 credit program within two years of full-time study, including a synthesis project.
Arizona State University's master's in criminology online degree program offers tuition starting at $679 per credit. The 33 credit program includes research methods and statistics, program planning and management, policy analysis, and program evaluation. Electives allow for diversification of a student's program, with courses in forensics, crime mapping, sex crimes, white collar crime, and etiology of martyrdom. Theory and Practice in Criminal Justice, the culminating capstone course, requires students write a compelling and comprehensive research paper about a criminal justice policy or practice. Applicants should include GRE scores and have a undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The College of Criminology & Criminal Justice at Florida State University includes an exceptional master's in criminology online. In addition to five core courses, FSU allows students to choose 21 of the 36 required credits for the master's in criminal justice studies from electives, including penology, victimology, and race, ethnicity, crime, and social justice. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and submit GRE scores, a 300-500 word personal statement, and a current resume. Students with five or more years of professional experience related to criminal justice need not submit GRE scores. Florida State offers a competitively priced online criminology master's degree, with tuition costing around $550 per credit hour.
Designed with a strong foundation of research, theoretical knowledge, and practical skills that can be applied to the criminology field, California University of Pennsylvania's master of arts in criminal justice studies provides a world-class education developed by criminal profilers from the FBI Academy. The program can be completed in just over one year of full-time study. Availability affects the choices from which students can choose for a final capstone project, including: a traditional thesis, an internship, completing courses through the Pennsylvania Center for Investigative and Forensic Sciences, or studying abroad at Scotland Yard, Parliament, or the Royal Court of Justice. Cal U presents advanced criminological theories and carefully examines the behavioral manifestations of violent offenders.
Tiffin University offer four different concentrations for an online criminology master's degree, including crime analysis, criminal behavior, homeland security administration, and justice administration. Most full-time students complete the 30 credit program in just one year, while part-time students take around two years to finish. Tiffin requires no application fees and accepts transfer credits from regionally accredited universities. All of the faculty members at Tiffin also worked in the criminal justice field, offering valuable insights into the working criminal justice world. Online courses combine theoretical overviews with practical education. With start dates in January, March, May, July, August, and October, and seven week semesters, Tiffin provides flexible education for working professionals.
The University of Cincinnati offers an interdisciplinary online master's in criminology and criminal justice programs, drawing from the disciplines of psychology, law, and sociology. UC offers a general track as well as three concentrations: analysis of criminal behavior, corrections and offender rehabilitation, and law enforcement and crime prevention. Courses in all three concentrations and the general track cover applied statistics in criminal justice, basic research methods in criminal justice, and theory and practice of law enforcement. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in any subject from a regionally accredited university and provide at least one professional letter of recommendation.
One of the best online master's in criminology and criminal justice programs on our list is found at Wayne State University. This completely online program is designed to provide graduate students with the ability to advance in their current careers without disrupting work schedules and life responsibilities. The online program mirrors the on-campus program and offers courses taught by the same professors who regularly teach on campus. The program is designed for student's to earn their degree within two years by taking two courses per semester, year-round. Wayne State is ranked nationally by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In recent years, the online graduate criminal justice program has been recognized by Best Colleges.
Beginning in 1998, the online master's in criminal justice degree was the first online program offered by Michigan State University. Individuals interested in online criminology degrees may enroll in this highly specialized program that now offers two concentrations–judicial administration and security management. All classes are delivered online and taught by the same university professors who teach on campus. Courses may include assessment of police policies and operations, counterterrorism and intelligence, foundations of police studies, national and global trends in court planning, and security management. Michigan State is a top-ranked institution by major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school #82 among the best national universities. Also, the online graduate criminal justice program ranks #16 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
The accredited online master's in criminal justice degree program from Nova Southeastern University is designed to train students through a core curriculum and highly specialized concentrations. The program is designed for individuals who want to become correctional officers, police officers, rangers, or state troopers. The program is offered entirely online and gives students flexibility while attending school. Many students opt to continue working while earning their online degree. There are twelve concentrations students may choose from to help tailor their degree towards personal interests and career goals. Specialties include conflict and crisis management, legal perspectives in criminal justice, public administration, strategic community planning, and substance abuse. Nova Southeastern University is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges ranks the school as the 214th best national university. The online graduate criminal justice program ranks #24 out of more than 1,200 surveyed programs.
This concludes our listing of the top ranked and most affordable online master’s in criminology degree programs.