The field of criminal justice is changing fast. In the past, many criminal justice careers required little or no academic training.
But advancements in technology, combined with current national (and international) events, have created a need for experts in criminal justice. A master’s program can provide you with foundational knowledge in all aspects—sociological, legal, theoretical, and practical—of law enforcement.
No matter what sector you plan a career in, a Master’s in Criminal Justice improves your ability to take informed and thoughtful actions——as an administrator, scholar, investigator, police officer, probation officer or caseworker in the criminal justice system.
What kind of Criminal Justice Degree should you get?
Before you start looking for programs, you’ll need to determine what your career goals are. If you’re considering future doctoral studies, you don’t want to end up in a primarily practice-oriented program.
You’ll also need to decide whether to take your classes on campus or online. Most of us imagine the college experience taking place in brick and mortar buildings. But if that is not a feasible option for you, be sure to check out our list of the Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice.
Getting a degree online is no longer the shady proposition it may have seemed a decade or two ago. There are now many high-quality, accredited programs that are designed for nontraditional students. You’ll get the same credentials without having to uproot your entire life to attend school.
How much money do people make with a Criminal Justice Degree?
Graduates of a Master’s in Criminal Justice program earn a highly marketable degree. Legal, law enforcement, criminal investigation, forensics and corrections jobs—to name a few—are in high demand. That being said, careers in criminal justice are not likely to make you rich.
Specific salaries vary widely for people in the Criminal Justice profession since there is such a wide range of career possibilities. Here are a few median salaries, though, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers: $67,040
- Police and Detectives: $61,600
- Private Detectives: $48,190
- Probation Officer: $50,160
What can you do with a Criminal Justice Degree?
Oh, so many things. This is a broad-based degree that can prepare you for many kinds of jobs in criminal justice. Here are a few (okay, more than a few) options:
- CIA Agent
- Police Officer
- Secret Service Agent
- FBI Agent
- Private Investigator
The one major decision you should make before committing to a program is whether you are more interested in an academic career (probably involving future doctoral studies) or a professional career in the Criminal Justice field. This will help you eliminate programs that don’t serve your interest area (though many hold a dual focus on research and practice).
What are the requirements for a Criminal Justice Degree?
Entrance requirements vary depending on the school, but common admissions criteria include:
- A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- GRE scores
- Letters of recommendation from individuals able to speak to your academic and/or professional abilities and potential to succeed in the program
As you peruse this ranking, you’ll notice that program requirements vary widely as well. Some programs require a thesis, while others assign a capstone project or internship. Some programs give you the option. Most programs have a core of required courses with a number of electives for students to tailor their degree to their own interests.
What are the best Criminal Justice Degrees?
You need a degree that will give you a competitive edge—whether your career plans involve working as a law enforcement professional, or pursuing a doctorate. And we at College Choice have crunched the numbers to help you find a program that fits your needs.
We collect data from a wide range of sources, scouring the internet for essential criteria like reputation scores, tuition costs, early career earnings, and peer assessments. The composite score we end up with (our College Choice score) reflects academic excellence and the return on your tuition dollar.
Missouri State University
CC Score: 100
Net Price: $14,862
Located in the heart of Springfield, MO, Missouri State University is the second largest public university (by enrollment) in the state. With four physical campuses—including one in Dallan, China—Missouri State ranks among the top 35 public schools in the region (U.S. News and World Report). The school offers over 40 master’s degrees across many fields, including Criminology and Criminal Justice.
The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Missouri State offers a cross-disciplinary Master of Professional Studies in Criminal Justice with a curriculum that focuses on the importance of the scholarly study of crime and criminal justice for administration. Students will be ready for administrative careers or advanced positions in law enforcement, institutional and community-based corrections, and juvenile justice agencies. Core courses include:
- Justice Administration
- Foundations of Homeland Security
- Law Enforcement and Community
Missouri State’s Master of Professional Studies program is a 33-credit degree, with 21 hours of core coursework and 12 hours in the Criminal Justice option. All students complete a research project, an internship, or a capstone experience as part of the degree requirements as well as a comprehensive exam. And for added flexibility for working students, all of the courses in this program are available online.
Michigan State University
CC Score: 99.89
Net Price: $14,970
With a goal to “advance the common good with uncommon will,” Michigan State University is a large public research university that ranks among the top 100 national universities in the country. MSU’s graduate programs frequently rank among the best in the nation, and their School of Criminal Justice combines a legacy of leadership in criminal justice with cutting-edge research and education programs.
MSU’s School of Criminal Justice offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice which provides students with a thorough understanding of correctional, law enforcement, and security policies and their implementation. This is a great program for students who want to advance in their career in Criminal Justice as well as for those who wish to pursue an academic career. MSU’s program has a combined emphasis on research, critical issues, and interdisciplinary theory. Courses include:
- Crime Causation, Prevention, and Control
- Design and Analysis in Criminal Justice Research
- Quantitative Methods in Criminal Justice Research
MSU’s M.S. in Criminal Justice is a 30-credit program comprised of 15 credits of core coursework, electives, and a choice of either a Master’s thesis or a course in Policy Analysis Under Conditions of Change. The program also offers the possibility of a Security Management specialization. And all Criminal Justice students are encouraged to take part in an internship as a way of integrating classroom learning with real-world situations.
University of California, Irvine
CC Score: 98.77
Net Price: $13,780
Located in the Orange County city of Irvine, the University of California, Irvine is a highly ranked public research university. The school is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (the youngest campus to be accepted) and offers consistently excellent programs and great value for students. UC-Irvine’s online graduate Criminal Justice programs are some of the very best in the nation (#3 according to U.S. News and World Report).
UC-Irvine’s School of Social Ecology offers a Master of Advanced Studies in Criminology, Law, and Society primarily designed for working professionals in law and criminal justice. This distinctive, interdisciplinary program integrates two complementary areas of scholarship — criminology and law and society (sometimes called socio-legal studies). Students learn from distinguished faculty who are leaders in the field. Courses include:
- Crime and Social Deviance
- Legal Institutions and Society
- Police, Courts, and Corrections
UC-Irvine’s MAS in Criminology, Law, and Society is a 52-credit program that students complete in two years. Courses are offered primarily online, with a campus-based immersion course at the beginning of the program. UC-Irvine’s Criminology programs are some of the best—with graduates working in both the public and private sectors and at colleges and universities around the country.
University of Nebraska
CC Score: 98.09
Net Price: $25,138
Located in Omaha, NE, the University of Nebraska-Omaha is a nationally ranked public research university. The school combines the resources of a nationally recognized Carnegie Doctoral Research University with a close-knit community. UNO is also home to one of the top two online Graduate Criminal Justice programs (U.S. News and World Report).
UNO’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a Master of Science and a Master of Arts degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The MS program is a non-thesis, terminal degree (meaning it won’t lead to a PhD program) designed to meet the needs of the professional community. The MA program, on the other hand, is a non-terminal degree that emphasizes research and independent inquiry (with a required thesis). Core courses (for both degrees) include:
- Seminar in Administration of Justice
- Criminal Justice Research, Theory, and Methodology
- Statistical Applications in Criminal Justice
Students in UNO’s graduate Criminology and Criminal Justice programs have opportunities to participate in collaborative research projects with faculty and intern with criminal justice agencies (such as the U.S. Secret Service and the Omaha Police Department), MS students also have the option of taking a Public Administration option or Counseling option. And if you’re looking for a program with added flexibility, courses are available online or on campus.
CC Score: 97.98
Net Price: $31,539
Founded in 1839, Boston University is one of the largest private research universities in the country. The school consistently ranks among the best national universities (#37 according to U.S. News and World Report) and also ranks as a Best Value school. The school offers exceptional graduate programs, including a top-ranked Criminal Justice Program.
Boston University’s Metropolitan College offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice program designed for those wishing to advance in the field of criminal justice—or just gain a deeper understanding of the field. Students gain a competitive edge in a wide range of possible careers, as well as gaining preparation for doctoral studies. Students have the option of choosing between two concentrations:
- Cybercrime Investigation and Cybersecurity
- Strategic Management
BU’s Master of Criminal Justice program is comprised of 40 credits that students can complete in 20-24 months completely online. The curriculum consists of ten courses—six required courses and four electives. Students learn from leading criminal justice faculty with extensive field experience and scholarship in policing, the judicial system, and corrections. And you’ll also have the chance to network with a global community of criminal justice professionals.
Arizona State University
CC Score: 97.79
Net Price: $13,007
Located in Tempe, Arizona (in the East Valley section of metropolitan Phoenix), Arizona State University is a nationally ranked, public research university. The school has invested heavily in their online programs, resulting in some of the best online undergraduate and graduate programs in the country—and their graduate Criminal Justice programs is no exception.
ASU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The program is primarily designed to provide students with a high level of theoretical and empirical knowledge about crime and criminal justice. Students gain advanced research skills and learn about the criminal justice system from world-class faculty. Courses include:
- Seminar in Criminal Justice
- Seminar in Criminology
- Research Methods in Criminal Justice
ASU’s MA in Criminal Justice is a 30-credit program which is comprised of five core courses, five electives, and a required thesis. ASU’s program can be completed either full-time or part-time and prepares students for future doctoral study. If you’re looking for a flexible, practice-oriented program for working students, ASU also offers an online MA in Criminal Justice.
The University of Oklahoma
CC Score: 97.19
Net Price: $17,966
Located just south of Oklahoma City in the city of Norman, OK, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university that ranks among the top 100 national universities (U.S. News and World Report). OU is home to several nationally ranked graduate programs in the Social Sciences, including a stellar graduate Criminal Justice program.
OU’s College of Professional and Continuing Studies offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice mainly designed for working adults looking to advance their careers. The curriculum provides law enforcement professionals with the necessary ethics, decision-making, and front-line leadership skills to thrive in the criminal justice field. Core courses include:
- Interdisciplinary Foundations
- Research Methods for Criminal Justice
- Criminal Justice Policy Development
OU’s MS in Criminal Justice is a fast-paced, 33-credit program comprised of core courses (18 credits), electives (nine credits) and either a thesis or comprehensive exam. The program is available either online or on campus, and all courses are delivered in accelerated 16-week terms. This is a flexible degree program, with room for students to choose a concentration (tailored to their own interest) and to set the pace of their studies.
East Carolina University
CC Score: 96.98
Net Price: $12,817
Located in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University is a nationally ranked, public research university that was founded in 1907. Ranking at #113 among national public schools, ECU continues its commitment to providing personalized educational experiences for its large student body. Their online programs—like the top-ranking graduate Criminal Justice program have also earned national acclaim.
ECU’s College of Arts and Sciences offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice which is available online or on campus. The program is designed to be equally applicable for students wanting to be highly skilled professionals in the criminal justice system as well as for those seeking future doctoral studies or a teaching career. Core courses include:
- Criminal Justice Principles
- Seminar in Criminal Behavior
- Seminar in Research Methods and Statistical Interpretation
ECU’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 36-credit program which students can take either online or in a traditional campus setting. The program is divided into 18 credits of core courses (which includes a professional paper) and 18 credits of electives. And if students want to concentrate their studies further they can choose to use their electives to earn certification in Security Studies, Public Management and Leadership, or Criminal Justice Education.
Sam Houston State University
CC Score: 95.56
Net Price: $12,365
Located in the town of Huntsville, Texas, near the city of Houston, Sam Houston State University is a public university and a member of the Texas State University System. The school offers more than 20 online bachelor’s and graduate degrees, and in their 2018 ranking, U.S. News and World Report ranked SHSU’s online Criminal Justice program as the best in the country.
Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology. The program develops knowledge in the areas of criminological theory and criminal justice issues while training students to conduct original research. As such, the program can prepare students for success in a variety of Criminal Justice careers or to move on to a PhD program in Criminal Justice. Core courses include:
- Critical Analysis of Justice Administration
- Perspectives in Criminology
- Legal Aspects of the Criminal Justice System
SHSU’s MA in Criminal Justice and Criminology is a 36-credit program comprised of 15 credits of required courses, 15 credits of electives, and a thesis. The program is available both online or on campus, though the curriculums vary (the online program is intended to be a terminal degree, rather than one that leads to a PhD). Though no concentration is required for this program, students can work with a Program Advisor to develop a program that will support their particular career interests.
Bowling Green State University
CC Score: 94.30
Net Price: $17,313
Situated in the northern Ohio city of Bowling Green, Bowling Green State University is a nationally ranked public research university. The school is committed to combining real-world experiences (like coops, practicums, and internships) with classroom learning to ensure students are job-ready on graduation. And their graduate programs—like their Criminal Justice program—have also earned national acclaim.
Bowling Green State University’s College of Health and Human Services offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The program provides essential skills for leadership roles in criminal justice agencies while giving students a solid academic base for doctoral studies. Students learn theory, practice, and research in small classes from highly experienced faculty. Topics covered include:
- Law Enforcement
- Juvenile Justice
- Criminal Law
BGSU’s Master of Science in Criminal Justice is a 33-credit program which offers flexibility for full-time or part-time study. For students who choose the full-time option, the entire program can be completed in one calendar year, or two years on a part-time basis. And the school makes this program accessible to working students by offering evening courses from 6-9pm.
Florida State University
CC Score: 94.05
Net Price: $16,506
A senior member of the State University System of Florida, Florida State University is a large, public research university and the Tallahassee campus is the oldest in the state. The school ranks among the top 100 national universities in the US and their College of Criminology and Criminal Justice is world-renowned.
FSU’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers both a Master of Science and a Master of Arts in Criminology. Both programs emphasize the importance of scientifically rigorous research informing public policy. Students use cutting-edge research to examine criminal behavior and public policy responses to crime under the direction of renowned faculty. Core courses include:
- Theory in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- Survey of Criminal Justice Studies
- Survey of Criminological Theories
FSU’s MA and MS in Criminology are 33-credit programs (the MA program includes 6 credits of humanities courses as part of their electives). FSU’s degree program is fairly flexible and can be either a professionally-oriented terminal degree (with no thesis) or non-terminal degree (with a thesis and an emphasis on research). FSU also offers a top-ranking online Master’s degree in Criminal Justice Studies.
CC Score: 92.78
Net Price: $29,998
A private research university located in Boston, MA, Northeastern University first opened its doors in 1898. The school ranks among the top 100 National universities and among the top ten most innovative schools in the country. The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice combine classroom learning with real-world experience, ensuring that students graduate with a competitive edge.
Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The program is broad in concept and scope, offering a multidisciplinary, systems approach to criminal justice. The curriculum stresses policy development and analysis, as well as the impact these policies have on the individuals and organizations that must deliver justice. Courses include:
- Criminal Justice Process
- Research Methods in the Social Sciences
Northeastern University’s MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice is a 30-credit program that students can complete in one calendar year—though the school offers both full-time and part-time options. If you are planning to continue to work while pursuing your studies, Northeastern offers weekend and evening classes. And Northeastern also offers an extended program for those students who would like to complete an experiential learning component like a coop or research lab.
Indiana State University
CC Score: 92.61
Net Price: $10,681
Located in Terre Haute, Indiana, Indiana State University is a nationally ranked public research university that consistently ranks among the best schools in the Midwest. The school blends research and teaching, providing space for personal and intellectual growth. And programs like Criminology and Criminal Justice offer rigorous research opportunities and hands-on learning experiences.
Indiana State University offers a Master of Science and a Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice. The MA degree program represents the more traditional approach to the study of criminology and requires the completion and defense of a formal thesis. The MS program, on the other hand, has a more applied emphasis, designed for students seeking a terminal master’s degree. Core courses include:
- Ethics in Criminal Justice
- Criminological Theories
- Research in Criminology
Indiana State University’s Criminal Justice MS program is a 36-credit program with concentrations in Law Enforcement or Corrections. The MA program is a 33-credit program with a thesis requirement. For students who wish further hands-on experience, the school offers opportunities for internships and research projects (through the Department of Correction, a Federal Penitentiary, and various state, county, and local police agencies).
CC Score: 92.01
Net Price: $18,067
Located in the New Jersey borough of Glassboro, Rowan University is a public research university that ranks among the top 100 national public universities (according to U.S. News and World Report). The school has invested heavily in recent years in broadening their program offerings and upgrading their facilities, making the school increasing competitive for undergraduate and graduate students.
Rowan University’s Law and Justice Studies Department offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. The program prepares students for both professional careers in criminal justice agencies (or research careers in a variety of public and private research institutions) as well as for doctoral studies. The curriculum focuses on the causes of crime, the impact of law on society, and contemporary issues in policing, courts, and corrections. Courses include:
- Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice
- Contemporary Developments in Theory
- Law and Society
Rowan University’s MA in Criminal Justice is a 30-credit program comprised of 18 credits of required coursework and 6-12 credits of electives (depending on whether the student chooses to write a thesis or opt for a coursework only option). For added flexibility, Rowan offers two start dates in spring and fall, part-time and full-time options, as well as a highly ranked online MA in Criminal Justice.
University of Cincinnati
CC Score: 91.99
Net Price: $19,978
Founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati is a large, nationally-ranked public research university and a part of the University System of Ohio. The school has an international reputation for high-quality education and innovative research. With its rigorous research emphasis and high-ranking programs, the School of Criminal Justice prepares students for successful careers in the field.
UC’s School of Criminal Justice offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice program which approaches the study of crime and criminal justice from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students receive a broad understanding of crime as well as different aspects of the criminal justice system. As a student, you’ll learn to apply research-based knowledge to real-world situations, preparing you for a variety of careers in the criminal justice field. Courses include:
- Seminar in Criminal Justice
- Seminar in Criminology
- Applied Statistics in Criminal Justice
Students complete UC’s 33-credit Criminal Justice MS in one to two years of full-time or part-time study. If you’re looking for added flexibility, UC’s Criminal Justice program is available on-campus, online, or in a hybrid format. And UC’s School of Criminal Justice holds three nationally-renowned centers for research supporting the Criminal Justice field whose research excellence has had a national impact on Criminal Justice policy.
CC Score: 91.93
Net Price: $20,232
Located in the village of Romeoville, Illinois (a Chicago suburb), Lews University is a small, private, Catholic university. The school ranks highly among regional universities in the Midwest and is passionate about preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally aware, and socially responsible graduates. The emphasis on social justice is especially apparent in Lewis’s career-focused Criminal Justice programs.
The Department of Justice, Law, and Public Safety Studies at Lewis University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice designed specifically for working adults. Lewis’s real-world curriculum provides theoretical grounding and practical applications for the complexities of a career in Criminal Justice. Students develop key skills for a rewarding career in administration, law enforcement, homeland security, and more. Courses include:
- Criminal Justice Administration and Management
- Fiscal Management – Criminal Justice Agencies
- Criminal Procedure
Lewis University’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 36-credit program with 24 credits of required courses, 12 electives, and a comprehensive exam. Many Lewis graduates now work in high-level private and public sector positions, including with the FBI, Secret Service, and Homeland Security. And Lewis University is currently a member of the Academic Alliance of the FBI National Academy Associates, Inc. (FBI NAA).
University of Central Florida
CC Score: 91.42
Net Price: $15,533
A relatively young and innovative institution, the University of Central Florida is a large public research university located in Orlando, Florida. The school offers a plethora of highly regarded, and often highly-ranked, programs. Among these, the Department of Criminal Justice provides excellence in teaching, research, and service.
The University of Central Florida offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice which provides an in-depth exploration of the complex and changing world of criminal justice. Dedicated faculty help students examine the historical, political, economic, and philosophical forces shaping crime and punishment in the U.S. Students also learn to assess and apply research. Courses include:
- The Nature of Crime
- The Administration of Justice
- Research Methods in Criminal Justice
UCF’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 36-credit program with 21 credits of required courses, 15 credits of electives, and a comprehensive exam. This is a professionally-oriented program (rather than a research-intensive program that leads to doctoral study) and there is no thesis requirement. No GRE scores are required for admission to the program.
CC Score: 91.39
Net Price: $10,283
Located in Troy, Alabama, the eponymously named Troy University is a comprehensive public university that ranks highly among regional universities in the South. The Department of Criminal Justice at Troy is one of the largest programs in the university, providing excellence in teaching and research in many exciting areas.
The Department of Criminal Justice at Troy University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice that prepares students to be leaders in the field of Criminal Justice. The curriculum provides the necessary understanding of the system as a whole, equipping students for rewarding professions, as well as preparing them for further studies in criminal justice, criminology or related fields. Courses include:
- Principles of Administration
- Current Trends in Criminal Law
- Seminar in Administration of Justice
Troy University’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 30-credit program comprised of 18 credits of required courses and 12 credits of electives. This program offers the flexibility of acting as a terminal or non-terminal degree. For students who are planning on entering or continuing a career in criminal justice, there is no thesis requirement, while for students planning on pursuing doctoral studies, the program offers an additional six-credit thesis option.
University of Central Missouri
CC Score: 91.26
Net Price: $13,567
Founded in 1871, the University of Central Missouri is a public state university located in Warrensburg, Missouri. According to U.S. News and World Report the school ranks among the top 25 public regional universities in the Midwest and offers highly ranked programs at the undergraduate and graduate level—both on campus and online—in a number of areas, including Criminal Justice.
The University of Central Missouri offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice which covers major issues facing the criminal justice system in the U.S. as well as globally. Students will gain a multidisciplinary understanding of criminal justice theories and their application in policy. As a student, you’ll also learn to access, assess, and apply research as well as conduct your own original research and communicate your findings. Courses include:
- Criminal Justice Philosophy and Policy
- Causes of Crime
- Comparative and International Criminal Justice Systems
UCM’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 36-credit program with 21 credits of required courses and 15 credits of electives. Students can choose between a thesis option or a non-thesis option depending on their career goals. And for added flexibility, the entire program is available online. MSU Criminal Justice graduates are prepared for a wide variety of careers (like law enforcement, corrections, and juvenile justice) as well as for doctoral studies.
CC Score: 91.16
Net Price: $16,583
Located in Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia College is a private, liberal arts, women’s college with ties to the United Methodist Church, The school ranks at #57 among regional universities in the South and is committed to a holistic approach to education. Columbia’s Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services Department fulfills the schools’ goal of providing leadership training for women along with career readiness.
The Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services Department at Columbia College offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration. The program is designed primarily for practitioners in the field of Criminal Justice but also fulfills the analytical and theoretical needs of students who wish to continue to doctoral studies. As a student, you’ll gain a solid foundation for dealing with the complex issues in contemporary criminal justice administration. Courses include:
- Current Issues and Future Directions in Criminal Justice
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice
- Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice Management
Columbia College’s MS in Criminal Justice Administration is a 36-credit program comprised of 27 credits of foundational and core coursework and nine credits of electives. Students who want a greater focus on management can choose a management track in Law Enforcement Administration (LEA) or a management track in Corrections Administration (CA) as part of their degree completion plan. The management tracks are comprised of nine credits of coursework which replace electives.
California State University, San Bernardino
CC Score: 90.05
Net Price: $6,444
Situated in the University District of San Bernardino, CA, California State University, San Bernardino is a public university and one of the 23 campuses in the Cal State system. The school ranks highly among public regional universities in the West, and the Department of Criminal Justice provides solid programs that prepare students for successful careers in the field.
The Department of Criminal Justice at Cal State, San Bernardino offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice for students from a variety of backgrounds. The program is intentionally flexible, providing the necessary skills and knowledge for those working in a professional capacity to advance in their careers. The program also, however, offers the theoretical foundations for those wanting to continue to doctoral studies. Courses include:
- Statistical Analysis in Criminal Justice
- Applying Criminological Theory to Criminal Justice
- Proseminar in Criminal Justice
Cal State, San Bernardino’s MA in Criminal Justice is comprised of 45 quarter credits (6 core courses and between 4-6 electives). Students can choose between the traditional thesis track or a professional track, which replaces the thesis component with electives. All required courses are offered online to accommodate various student schedules, with electives being campus based.
University of Massachusetts Lowell
CC Score: 89.59
Net Price: $18,348
Located in Lowell, Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) is a nationally recognized public research university with a reputation for offering a high return on investment (Payscale.com). The school ranks among the best public schools nationally and the school’s Criminal Justice program produces highly prepared graduates who are in high demand by federal, state, and local agencies.
UMass Lowell offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology that is designed to be manageable for working students. The program is equally applicable for a variety of students, including those already working in the criminal justice system who want to deepen their knowledge and skills—as well as for those wanting a Master’s degree that will lead to future doctoral work. Core courses include:
- Criminological Theory: Foundations
- Administration of Justice System
- Law and Public Policy
UMass Lowell’s MA in Criminal Justice is a 33-credit program with fifteen credits of required coursework and 18 credits of electives. There is also a 6-credit thesis option for students who want to undertake it (replacing six credits of electives). UMass Lowell’s flexible program can be completed on either a full-time or part-time basis and classes are available both on-campus and online.
University of Colorado Denver
CC Score: 89.44
Net Price: $13,751
Founded in 1912, the University of Colorado – Denver (CU Denver) is a public urban university and the largest research institution in the state. Located in downtown Denver, the university is a diverse teaching and learning community that is also home to top-ranked graduate programs. The school’s Criminal Justice program is no exception, offering highly regarded programs that prepare students for successful careers.
CU Denver offers a Master of Criminal Justice program that will help develop leadership skills in the field of criminal justice while honing problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The program prepares students to serve in a variety of occupations—from law enforcement agencies to the nonprofit arena. Besides the foundational criminal justice curriculum, students learn about pressing current issues through special interest seminars. Concentrations include:
- Crime Analyst
- Gender-Based Violence
- Emergency Management and Homeland Security
CU Denver’s Master of Criminal Justice degree is a 36-credit program comprised of 15 credits of required courses and 18 hours of electives. And, depending on your career and future study goals, you can choose between either a 3-credit Capstone Project or a Master’s thesis. Students in CU Denver’s MCJ program are also encouraged (though not required) to take part in an internship.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
CC Score: 89.03
Net Price: $17,264
Located in Indiana County in western Pennsylvania, Indiana University of Pennsylvania is a nationally ranked public research university that was founded in 1875. The school’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers students seeking careers in Criminology a broad liberal arts education that encourages them to think critically about crime and justice issues.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Arts in Criminology that prepares students for administrative and research careers in the criminal justice system. The program provides a solid foundation for doctoral studies as well as advanced positions in federal, state, and local law enforcement and corrections, juvenile justice, and more. Courses include:
- Criminological Theory
- Criminological Research Methods
- Legal Issues in Criminology
IUP’s MA in Criminology is a 30-credit program comprised of 21 credits (7 courses) of required courses and either one or two electives depending on whether a student chooses to complete a thesis or not. Students in the non-thesis option complete a synthesis project. The program can be completed either on a part-time or full-time basis and all courses are available on campus and online.
University of Louisville
CC Score: 88.48
Net Price: $16,249
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the University of Louisville (UofL) is a nationally ranked public university and a member of the state university system. The school has a history that dates back to 1798 (definitely a record on this ranking) but is also a premier metropolitan research university with a fantastic Criminal Justice department and award-winning faculty.
The Department of Criminal Justice at U of L offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice that prepares students for careers in the criminal justice system as well as for future doctoral studies. The curriculum provides students with advanced social and behavioral science skills as well as a detailed and thorough understanding of crime, criminal justice systems, and related processes. Core courses include:
- The Criminal Justice System
- Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice Management
- Theories of Crime and Delinquency
U of L’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 36-credit program comprised of 15 credits of required coursework and either 15 or 18 credits of electives, depending on whether a student chooses to write a thesis. Students may also apply six hours of experiential credit—like an internship, service learning, co-op, or practicum toward their degree. If you can work intensively, you can complete the entire program in three semesters—classes are offered year round, online and on campus.
Saint Leo University
CC Score: 88.08
Net Price: $21,296
Located just north of Tampa in the small town of St. Leo, St. Leo University describes itself as a Catholic, liberal arts school serving learners of all faiths. A private institution with several regional Education centers across the South, in addition to its main St. Leo campus, St. Leo University is ranked among the best regional schools in the South (US News and World Report).
St. Leo’s School of Education and Social Services offers a professional Master of Science in Criminal Justice that prepares students for a variety of administrative positions in law enforcement, corrections, the courts, private security and security-related positions. This is a practice-oriented degree, which covers both foundational theory and practice in criminology, as well as more specialized topics. Courses include:
- Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice Administration
- Legal Issues in Criminal Justice Administration
- Public Policy Making in Criminal Justice
St. Leo’s MS in Criminal Justice is a highly flexible, 36-credit program comprised of 18 credits of required coursework (which includes an applied project) and 18 credits of electives. The program is taught through St. Leo’s regional centers in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia and is available through a combination of campus-based classes (which take place on the weekend) and online or VTT courses.
University of Memphis
CC Score: 86.60
Net Price: $13,291
Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the University of Memphis is a large public research university and the flagship of the Tennessee Board of Regents system. The U of M is home to several highly regarded Schools and Colleges, including the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice which emphasizes research, scholarship, service and community outreach.
The University of Memphis offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice that prepares students for professional careers in criminal justice administration. The curriculum provides a solid foundation of knowledge about criminology and criminal justice as well as the skills necessary for conducting and evaluating research. And faculty provide outstanding instruction on the causes of crime, intervention strategies, program evaluation and issues of social justice. Courses include:
- Research Methods in Criminal Justice
- Advanced Statistics in Criminal Justice
- Intervention Strategies
Students in the University of Memphis’s MA in Criminal Justice program can choose between a thesis track and a non-thesis track. All students complete 15 credits of required courses, with 15-18 credits of electives (or thesis). Students can also complete up to six credits of non-classroom courses (like an internship) towards the degree. The non-thesis program is available both on campus at the U of M and online (or in a blended format) through U of M’s Global Campus.
Florida International University
CC Score: 85.89
Net Price: $12,966
Located in Miami, Florida, Florida International University (FIU) is the state’s only top-tier public research university. Founded in 1972, the school currently has a student population of almost 50,000 students at all levels of education. FIU is also home to a robust Department of Criminal Justice, a prominent center of research, scholarship and teaching on core issues related to crime and justice.
FIU’s Department of Criminal Justice offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The program is designed primarily for senior-level managers and administrators who wish to gain an interdisciplinary perspective on criminology and criminal justice. FIU’s program promises to deliver the theoretical and practical skills you need to succeed in the current challenging criminal justice environment. Courses include:
- Criminological Theory
- Research Methods in Criminal Justice
- Transnational Crime and National Security
FIU’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 36-credit program comprised of 15 credits of required coursework and 21 credits of electives. There is no thesis requirement (or option) for this practice-oriented program, but internship opportunities are plentiful for graduate students in numerous local, state and federal agencies. The MSCJ program is available at University Park campus and fully online.
University of New Haven
CC Score: 81.45
Net Price: $31,263
Founded on the Yale campus in 1920, the University of New Haven is a private university that ranks highly among regional schools in the North, while maintaining a reputation as a good value in higher education. The school is home to a Department of Criminal Justice which is a national leader in the field and has one of the largest CJ faculties in the country.
The University of New Haven offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a professional focus. Students in the program study alongside leading professionals in law enforcement, investigation, politics, forensic science, and law. And as a student, you’ll have the opportunity to tailor the program to your own career aspirations by choosing from one of four concentration areas:
- Criminal Justice Management
- Forensic Computer Investigation
- Forensic Psychology
The University of New Haven’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 36-credit program comprised of 5 required courses and 8 electives (which can include a thesis option). UNH’s Criminal Justice faculty are leaders and innovators in their fields, bringing both deep professional experience and academic rigor to the classroom. And the university has one of the largest alumni networks in the Northeast.
Saint Joseph's University
CC Score: 81.16
Net Price: $36,058
Founded in 1850 by the Jesuit order, Saint Joseph’s University is a nationally recognized private Catholic university that ranks very highly among regional colleges in the North. The school’s Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice boasts a high-quality curriculum, expert faculty, and a talented student body.
Saint Joseph’s University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice which will develop foundational knowledge of criminal justice. The program offers students the choice to concentrate on the theoretical and methodological knowledge needed to pursue further graduate studies or to focus on the management skills necessary to succeed in public or private sector upper-level administration. Students choose from six concentrations which include:
- Administration / Police Executive
- Behavior Counseling
Saint Joseph’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 30-credit program comprised of 12 credits of required courses—with the remaining number of credits depending on the chosen concentration. Graduates of the criminal justice program are prepared for a variety of careers such as chiefs of police, intelligence officers at Regional Fusion Centers, restorative justice coordinators, and higher education faculty among many other positions in the public and private sectors.
Washington State University
CC Score: 79.33
Net Price: $17,815
Founded in 1890, Washington State University (WSU) is a public research university located in Pullman, WA. With a high commitment to research and public service, students are given a strong educational foundation in an engaged learning environment. The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology offers students the opportunity to learn, explore and develop in a substantive and expanding field.
Washington State University offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice on both the Pullman and Spokane campuses. This is a flexible program that provides a basis for either entry into graduate work at the doctoral level or applied work in criminal justice agencies. Students gain foundational knowledge of criminal justice while developing analytical and assessment skills. Core courses include:
- Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology
- Criminal Justice: Process and Institutions
- Seminar in Criminological Theory
WSU’s MA in Criminal Justice is a 32-credit program comprised of 28 credits of coursework and four credits of independent study. There is no thesis option for this program but there are opportunities to assist with teaching and research. And if you’re interested in something a little different, WSU also offers a MA with a Certificate in Global Justice and Security—a cross-disciplinary degree combining Criminal Justice and Political Science courses.
University of North Texas
CC Score: 77.13
Net Price: $10,424
Located near Dallas in the city of Denton, TX, the University of North Texas is a large public research university that frequently appears on college rankings. The flagship university of the University of North Texas system, UNT houses ten colleges and two schools. The school boasts many innovative and fast-growing programs, like those offered by the highly regarded Department of Criminal Justice.
UNT’s Department of Criminal Justice offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Theory and Research. Focusing on interdisciplinary solutions to the complex problems of crime and disorder, the program educates students in the theoretical, practical, and empirical aspects of criminal justice. Students will be prepared for professional service in both governmental and private entities as well as advanced graduate studies. Some topics of current faculty research include:
- Capital Punishment
- Homeland Security
- Juvenile Delinquency
UNT’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 36-credit program comprised of 15 credits of required coursework and 15-21 credits of electives, depending on whether a student chooses the thesis option.The program offers opportunities to participate in research under a faculty member’s direction, as well as prospects for earning academic credit through an internship or study abroad program.
Colorado Technical University
CC Score: 76.60
Net Price: $19,856
Headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO, Colorado Technical University is one of the few regionally accredited, for-profit universities whose high-quality programs have been garnering recognition in the educational world. With an initial focus on training former military personnel, Colorado Technical University has recently earned acclaim for their Criminal Justice programs.
Colorado Technical University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a professional focus. From policy development to decision-making to research methods, program is designed to help professionals develop their knowledge in the areas of law enforcement, corrections and the court system. This is a versatile program, providing a strong, broad-based foundation. Courses include:
- Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making
- Advanced Review of Criminal Justice
- Criminology and Public Policy
Colorado Technical University’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 48 quarter-credit program, comprised of 12 required courses. The program is designed with an in-depth focus on policy and students from a non-criminal justice background may be required to complete a prerequisite course. The program is available at both the Colorado Springs and Aurora (Denver area) locations and online.
CC Score: 76.41
Net Price: $20,972
Located in Tiffin, Ohio, Tiffin University is a private university with a history of providing a “personal and practical” education since its founding in 1888. The school ranks among the top 100 regional universities in the North and offers undergraduate and graduate programs in several disciplines from its main campus in Tiffin, as well as other locations throughout the state and through online programs.
Tiffin University’s School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Crime Analysis. The program provides students with a theoretical overview of crime analysis—students study computer applications in crime analysis and investigation, the criminal intelligence process, the use of geographic information systems, statistical applications, and research design. Courses include:
- Contemporary Criminal Justice: Issues and Trends
- Research Design and Analysis
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice
Tiffin University’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 30-credit program comprised of 13 required courses and pro-seminars. There is no thesis option for this program, though students do complete a Crime Analysis Project. Courses are offered in two 7-week terms per semester with six possible start dates per year. And if you’re open to an online program, Tiffin offers the MSCJ with four additional concentrations through their online platform.
Jacksonville State University
CC Score: 75.24
Net Price: $12,474
Located in Jacksonville, Alabama, Jacksonville State University is a public university that ranks among the top 40 public regional schools in the South. With a commitment to providing distinctive educational, cultural, and social experiences for a diverse student population, JSU is home to a criminal Justice Department that merges the liberal arts and professional studies into a well-balanced curriculum.
Jacksonville State University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. The flexible program provides a solid foundation for law school or graduate study in addition to being a superb preparation for employment in the rapidly-growing field of Criminal Justice. Students will gain an understanding of the nature of crime and society’s reaction to crime, as well as the various components within the U.S. Criminal Justice System. Courses include:
- Contemporary Justice Issues
- Law Enforcement
- Comparative Criminal Justice
Jackson State’s MS in Criminal Justice is a 30-credit program comprised of fifteen credits of required courses, and between 9-15 credits of electives, depending on whether you choose the thesis or non-thesis option. Also, if you’re looking for a program with more of an emphasis on administration, JSU offers a concentration in Criminal Justice within the Master of Public Administration degree program.