30 Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice 2020

| Staff

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Informed criminal justice professionals can help make the world a safer and fairer place. The following 30 Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice equip graduates with a well-rounded criminological understanding.

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The criminal justice system works to maintain order and safety in society. But in order to be both effective and fair, criminal justice professionals must take into account the nature and context of crime. Criminology examines the reasons why people commit crimes, incorporating the psychological and sociological factors involved.

Grad School Hub‘s 30 Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice equip students with a criminological understanding that will enhance their competencies in criminal justice practice. The programs listed help graduates to understand the complexities of criminal activity in specific communities and the wider world. The following 30 programs are completed either fully or partially online, which makes them ideal options for working professionals.

Criminal justice degrees prepare graduates for careers in investigation, law enforcement, policing, postsecondary teaching, and beyond. Police officers are responsible for protecting lives and property, while detectives gather information to understand and solve possible crimes. Criminal justice careers can be dangerous and demanding. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, police officers and detectives made a median salary of $63,380 in 2018. The demand for and employment of people in these professions is projected to grow at a rate of seven percent, which is as fast as average. We can expect to need continued measures toward public safety for generations to come.

Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

Rank School Location
1 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
2 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
3 University of Wisconsin - Platteville Platteville, WI
4 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
5 California State University, San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA
6 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH
7 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
8 University of Colorado Denver Denver, CO
9 University of Massachusetts Lowell Lowell, MA
10 Boston University Boston, MA

Methodology

The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 30 Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:

  • Alumni Feedback: 20% 
  • Continued Enrollment: 20% 
  • Degree Selectivity: 10%
  • Graduate Expenses: 25%
  • Projected Annual Salary: 25%

A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page. 

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Accredited Online College Programs

Here are the 30 Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice for 2020 – 2021!

  1. Florida State University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Florida State University offers Grad School Hub's top-ranked online graduate program in criminal justice. The university's Master's of Criminal Justice can be completed entirely online. It prepares students to advance to leadership positions in their criminal justice workplace, to teach criminal justice courses at Florida community colleges, and for post-law enforcement careers. It requires 36 graduate credit hours of study. The core curriculum includes courses in Applied Statistics in Criminology, Computer Applications in Criminal Justice, and Research Methods in Criminology. Elective offerings include Police & Society; Race, Ethnicity, Crime & Social Justice; and Victimology. Students who take two courses per semester can expect to complete the program in two years.

    FSU is a public state sea-grant and space-grant research university. It was established in 1851 by the Florida state legislature. Located in Tallahassee, it is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. The Carnegie Foundation classifies FSU as a research university with a very high level of research activity. Faculty members within the university's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice lead the nation in academic and juvenile delinquency research funding. They also conduct significant research on fear and crime, self-control and crime, and gun control. U.S. News & World Reportranks FSU No. 6 nationally in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

  2. Michigan State University
    Location

    East Lansing, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Michigan State University offers an online program leading to a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The degree program is designed to advance the skills of professionals already working in the criminal justice field. Students may choose to specialize in Security Management or to follow an international focus. The degree requires 30 credits of coursework. Core courses include Crime Causation, Prevention, and Control, and Design and Analysis in Criminal Justice Research. Elective offerings include Globalization of Crime, Environmental Risk Perception and Decision-Making, and Terrorism. Students may choose to complete a criminal justice practicum experience. Many students complete the degree within one to two years, while others complete the program in three years while balancing school and work.

    MSU was one of the first institutions in the United States to teach scientific agriculture. Today, MSU is one of the nation's largest universities in terms of student enrollment. It is a member of the Association of American Universities research organization. Established in 1935, the MSU School of Criminal Justice is one of the world's oldest criminal justice programs. Its online MS in Criminal Justice was the first online degree program offered by the university. U.S. News & World Reportranks the program No. 10 in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

  3. University of Wisconsin - Platteville
    Location

    Platteville, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Wisconsin - Platteville offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The online degree program features a curriculum rooted in criminal justice law, operations, and systems. Students can select an area of emphasis in Criminal Justice Management, Criminal Justice Theory, or Victim and Offender Services. The degree requires 30 graduate credits of study. Core courses include Criminological Theory, Evaluation and Program Analysis in Criminal Justice, and Law as Social Control. All students must complete a seminar research paper and a master's thesis. Elective offerings include At-Risk Youth, Cyber Crime, Perspectives on Child Maltreatment and Child Advocacy, and Theories of Personality in the Criminal Justice System.

    UW - Platteville is a public state university in rural Platteville, WI. It was founded in 1866 as the first teacher preparation school in Wisconsin. It is also the oldest public institution in the state. The Platteville campus is considered one of the safest in the nation. Its tuition ranks among the lowest in the 13-member University of Wisconsin System. U.S. News & World Reportranks UW-Platteville No. 35 nationally in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs and No. 32 among public institutions in the Midwest.

  4. Sam Houston State University
    Location

    Huntsville, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Sam Houston State University offers an online program leading to a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The flexible degree program is designed for working professionals seeking advancement in criminal justice careers. The program particularly prepares students for careers as judges, police administrators, social services agents, victim advocates, and beyond. It requires 36 credit hours of study. Required courses include Community Theory and the Administration of Justice and Emergent Issues in Criminal Justice Leadership. While the program does not require a thesis, all students must successfully complete a capstone course. Students can complete their degree in two years.

    SHSU is a public university and a member of the Texas State University System. Founded in 1879 as a teacher-training school, it is the third-oldest public institution of higher learning in Texas. The university is named for Sam Houston, a former Huntsville resident, politician, and Texas Revolution leader. Huntsville is also the co-headquarters of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The university's College of Criminal Justice is the nation's largest criminal justice college and among its oldest. The college houses a working courtroom where students can observe real trials. The Carnegie Foundation classifies SHSU as a community-engaged, doctoral research university. U.S. News & World Reportranks the university No. 3 nationally in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

  5. California State University, San Bernardino
    Location

    San Bernardino, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    California State University, San Bernardino offers an online Master of Art in Criminal Justice. Required courses include Applying Criminological Theory to Criminal Justice and Statistical Analysis in Criminal Justice. Elective offerings include Advanced Social Network Analysis and Crime in Public Spaces. Students can culminate their program through a research thesis or comprehensive exam. The thesis option is designed for those interested in pursuing doctoral study or a specific area of research within criminal justice. The comprehensive exam is designed for those who seek administrative or managerial positions in the field. The degree requires 45 total units of study.

    CSUSB is a public state university and one of the 23 campuses of the California State University system. It was established in 1960 by the California state legislature. In addition to its main campus in San Bernardino's University District, the university operates a branch campus in the Palm Desert. CSUSB is a space-grant research institution. U.S. News & World Reportranks the university No. 30 nationally in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

  6. University of Cincinnati
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Cincinnati offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The degree program can be completed entirely online. Applicants can have a bachelor's degree in any field, as the program does not require a background in criminal justice. The interdisciplinary curriculum incorporates aspects of criminology, law, psychology, and sociology in its approach to criminal justice. It consists of 11 courses for a total of 33 semester hours. Core requirements include courses in Applied Statistics and Basic Research Methods and seminars in Criminal Justice and Criminology. The degree also requires students to complete a demonstrative project in criminal justice. Students can graduate in as little as one year of full-time study or two years of part-time study.

    The University of Cincinnati is a public research university and a part of the University System of Ohio. Founded in 1819 as a liberal arts college, it is the oldest institution of higher education in Cincinnati. Today, it is the second-largest university in Ohio, measured by student enrollment. The university is home to the multidisciplinary Institute for Policy Research, which performs public opinion surveys in the tri-state area. The university's College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services houses research facilities including the Corrections Institute and the Urban Center for Social Justice, Peace Education & Research. U.S. News & World Reportranks UC No. 8 nationally in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

  7. Nova Southeastern University
    Location

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Nova Southeastern University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The interdisciplinary degree program is designed to be completed entirely online. It consists of 10 courses for a total of 30 credits. Core courses include Investigative Processes, Legal Issues in Criminal Justice, and Social Administration of Criminal Justice. Students can choose from 12 concentration options, including Behavioral Science, Conflict & Crisis Management, and Substance Abuse. Students can culminate their program of study through an elective course, field practicum placement, or master's thesis research project. Students typically take two courses at a time and complete the program in two years, but they may choose to take on a larger course load and complete the degree at a quicker pace.

    NSU is a private university with a focus on professional studies in areas such as business, medicine, and the social sciences. It was founded in 1946 as a technological university on a former World War II naval field. It has a main campus in Davie, FL, several branch campuses throughout the state, and one in Puerto Rico. Almost half of the university's students are enrolled in an online capacity. The Carnegie Foundation classifies NSU as a community-engaged university with a high level of research activity. U.S. News & World Reportranks the university No. 52 nationally in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

  8. University of Colorado Denver
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Colorado Denver awards a Master's of Criminal Justice through CU Online. The fully online program is suitable for those seeking entry into or advancement in careers in criminal justice agencies or nonprofits. The interdisciplinary curriculum focuses primarily on correctional systems, juvenile justice, law and code formulation, and law enforcement. Students may choose from four concentrations: Crime Analyst, Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Gender-Based Violence, and Nonprofit Organizations. Students with no previous criminal justice experience must complete a criminal justice internship. Students can culminate their studies through a research thesis or applied project. The degree requires a minimum of 36 semester hours of study. The average time to degree completion is two and a half years.

    The University of Colorado Denver is a public research university and a part of the University of Colorado system. Established in 1912, the school began as the Extension Center of the University of Colorado's Department of Correspondence and Extension. Today, it is the largest research institution in Colorado. In addition to its main campus in downtown Denver, the university operates the Anschutz Medical Campus in nearby Aurora. The Carnegie Foundation classifies UC Denver as having very high research activity. U.S. News & World Reportranks the university No. 19 nationally in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

  9. University of Massachusetts Lowell
    Location

    Lowell, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers a Master of Art in Criminal Justice. The degree program can be completed entirely online at a flexible pace. The curriculum consists of 11 courses for a total of 33 credits of study. It covers topics such as criminal profiling, emergency management, forensic psychology, sex crimes, terrorism, and victimology. Required courses include Criminological Theory, Descriptive & Inferential Statistics, and Managing Justice Organizations. Elective offerings include Criminal Mind and Behavior, Intimate Partner Violence, and Substance Abuse and Crime. Students can earn their degree in as few as 18 months.

    UMass Lowell is a public research university and a part of the University of Massachusetts System. It began in 1894 as a teacher-training school for women. Today, it is the second-largest public university in Massachusetts. The university's School of Criminology and Justice Studies includes faculty experts in areas ranging from mental health & the justice system to weapons of mass destruction. UMass Lowell is home to research centers such as the Kerouac Center for Public Humanities, named after writer and Lowell native Jack Kerouac. U.S. News & World Reportranks the university No. 5 nationally in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

  10. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Boston University awards an online program leading to a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The program is suitable for students who want to enter or advance in the criminal justice realm. Students can choose to concentrate in Crime Analysis, Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity, or Strategic Management. They may also choose to pursue graduate certificates in areas including but not limited to Data Analytics, Information Security, and Medical Information Security & Privacy. The degree requires 32 credits of study. The curriculum covers areas such as criminal behavior analysis, corrections, the judicial system, law enforcement, leadership principles, and social control theories. The degree can typically be completed in 16 to 18 months.

    BU is a private research university with the main campus along the Charles River in Boston. It also operates a medical campus in Boston's South End neighborhood. The university was established in 1839 by a group of Methodist ministers and laymen. Although established as a Methodist theological school called the Newbury Biblical Institute, BU is now a nonsectarian university with no religious affiliation. The university is a member of the Association of American Universities, an organization of the foremost research universities in North America. U.S. News & World Reportranks BU fourth nationally in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

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