Law enforcement officers in the United States dealt with more than a million crimes in 2016.
These crimes ranged from loitering to first-degree murder. But no matter the crime, these cases each required an investigation to understand the motives and particulars of the crime. Experts in criminology help with these important tasks.
What is criminology?
Criminology is the study of crimes, including the motivations behind those crimes and means of preventing them. Criminology focuses on the social impact of crime and the ways crime and community relate to each other. Research performed in our best online master’s in criminology programs focuses on criminal behaviors, victimology, and crisis management.
Top 5 Master’s in Criminology Degrees
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Explore our featured online programs and find the right match for you today.
How much money can I earn working in criminology?
Criminology salaries can vary greatly, due to the variance in career trajectories for criminology graduates. Some go on to work in teaching, training, or community service positions, addressing the causes of crime at their roots. Training and development managers made more than $110,000 per year in 2018. Others move on to law enforcement careers, such as police work. Police officers made an average of $63,380 per year in 2018.
These fields are growing reasonably quickly, though not aggressively. Police officer positions are projected to grow at 7% over the next decade, while training and development positions should grow about 10%.
Why choose a master’s in criminology?
A criminology master’s program student should be interested in the reasons behind crimes, rather than simple crime and punishment. Those with analytical, systematic approaches to problems will succeed in their programs as well as many follow-up careers. As many of these professions involve working with victims and vulnerable individuals, compassion can also go a long way.
What are the best master’s in criminology degree programs?
If a criminology degree is in your future, consider using these rankings to narrow down your school choices. These rankings use a mix of institutional merit, student fulfillment, and return on investment. A school will rank highly if it has a solid student-to-faculty ratio, a large endowment, or excellent outcomes for graduating students. Reports of satisfaction from current and former students also improve a school’s overall rank.
The schools in these rankings came out as above-average on most if not all of these factors, and stand out from their peers on both career outcomes and overall value. If you want to pursue criminology without emptying your bank account, give these programs a look.
See our rankings methodology page.
The University at Albany, also known as SUNY Albany, is a public university located in Albany, NY. Founded in 1844, this school offers more than 120 different master’s programs, including many highly ranked offerings in the School of Education. The Early Childhood Education Master of Science at the University of Albany is offered by the Department of Literacy Teaching and Learning in the School of Education.
Available on campus as well as online, this program helps learners build their expertise in teaching young children and preschoolers from birth through second grade. Designed for individuals who hold initial New York State teacher certification, this program prepares students for professional certification to teach infants through two-year-olds. The curriculum is regularly updated to reflect the best practices of working professionals, with required courses including:
- Classroom Literacy Instruction
- Language Acquisition, B-2
- Strategic Intervention to Prevent Literacy Difficulties
- Literacy in Society
- Teaching Social Studies, B-6
This program is ranked as the eighth-best online graduate education program in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. It is one of several different master’s degrees in education, among other options such as Special Education and Literacy, Literacy, Reading, and Childhood Education. Many of these programs are available online as well. Additional certificates are available for motivated students who wish to gain further credentials in topics like Teacher Leadership and Literacy. Both the online and on-campus programs are incredibly convenient, offering learners access to comprehensive support services like online tutoring, personal advising, and a 24/7 help desk.
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
The University of Minnesota has multiple campuses, including those in Duluth and Minneapolis. This public university was founded in 1851 and offers learners a variety of on-campus and online degree programs. Want to earn a license to teach in early childhood classrooms in Minnesota? The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development prepares learners for birth through third-grade licensure.
Developing a strong foundation in child development research, theory, and developmentally appropriate methodology, this program is designed for learners who are pursuing their first state teaching license. The curriculum is based on development theory, preparing teachers who can work with each child exactly where he or she is in his or her own unique educational journey. A capstone project is required in addition to two student teaching experiences. Other required classes include:
- Foundations of Early Childhood Education
- Social and Emotional Learning
- Cognitive and Language Learning
- Creative and Motor Learning
While enrolled in this program, all individuals are given the opportunity to teach at the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School, an on-campus preschool that is operated by the Institute of Child Development. This center serves as a living laboratory for early childhood curriculum development. This experience not only prepares individuals with the hands-on work they need for state teacher licensure, but it also grants them the pathways necessary to pursue additional career opportunities like moving into school or district administration.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Alabama Birmingham is a public university that was founded in 1969. This school has a total undergraduate enrollment of 13,836 students and is located in the heart of Alabama’s largest city, Birmingham. All programs allow students to engage in a plethora of opportunities in internships, research, and resume-building work experience. Consisting of 11 schools and a large graduate school, the University of Alabama is home to multiple nationally-ranked programs. The School of Education at the University of Alabama Birmingham offers an exceptional Master of Arts in Education in Early Childhood Education.
This program is for students who already have bachelor’s degrees in education and possess current Class B certification in the state of Alabama. Requiring 31-34 semester hours to complete, the curriculum includes core coursework in critical pedagogy, language development, and reading. A final practicum is also required. This program is an excellent pathway to a professional career as well as to a Ph.D. in education. Sample classes might include:
- Current Issues in Education
- Teaching Language Arts P-12
- Primary Mathematics: A Constructive Approach
- Pre- and Early-Reading Instruction
- Literature for Grades P-12
This department is comprised of a wide range of skilled professionals. Because the University of Alabama Birmingham’s School of Education offers a number of fully-online degree programs, there are plenty of ways for students to find the programs that best suit their needs. In addition to the Early Childhood Education program, the school also offers programs in community health and human services, educational leadership, counseling, kinesiology, and instructional design and development. A variety of certificates are available, too, including those in health education, reading education, and more.
Located in Macon, GA, Mercer University is a private university that was founded in 1833. This school has a small population of fewer than 5,000 undergraduate learners, offering programs in 12 different colleges and schools. Although business is the most popular major at Mercer, the university also offers a variety of education programs that are nationally-recognized. The Tift College of Education at Mercer University offers a superb Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education.
Designed specifically for learners who already possess a bachelor’s degree and are seeking initial certification at the master’s level, this program offers a comprehensive study of the knowledge and specialized skills that are needed to instruct and support young children from birth through age five. Courses are designed to build each student’s theoretical and pedagogical body of knowledge, while at the same time incorporating assessment, research, and technology integration. Several diverse field experiences are also scattered throughout the program’s curriculum. Other classes include:
- Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education
- Teaching Exceptional Learners
- Child and Adolescent Development and Learning
- Foundations of Education
Each student is required to complete a sequential series of field experiences in diverse settings. These are coordinated through the Office of Field Placement and can often be arranged depending on a student’s location. The program admits students five times each year, offering students maximum flexibility in earning their degrees. Classes are presented one evening per week on a sixteen-week semester schedule. These courses can be pursued either part- or full-time to accommodate teachers who are already working at schools or are engaging in their required field experiences.
Biola University is located in La Mirada, CA, and was founded in 1908. This school has a total undergraduate enrollment of 4,010 and, despite being a small private university, has some of the most impressive course and degree offerings in the country. Offered by Biola University’s well-respected School of Education, the Master of Arts in Teaching is a flexible and practical graduate degree that helps all individuals thrive as classroom teachers.
The perfect program for both current and aspiring educators, this degree equips learners with the advanced knowledge and skills they need to become effective, impactful teachers. It comes with eight different concentration options, allowing learners to choose pathways that are perfectly tailored for their backgrounds and career interests. It can be completed either entirely online or on-campus, or as a blend of both. Students will be required to take core courses such as:
- Philosophy and Values in School and Society
- Research in Culture and Intercultural Instruction
- Writing Literature Reviews
- Introduction to Spiritual Formation for the Educator
This degree requires all students to conduct action research studies within actual classrooms. Not only does this experience that involves choosing methodology, exploring literature, and reporting research-based findings allow individuals to become better teachers, but it also allows each learner to explore an area of interest. Available concentration areas include Early Childhood, Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education, and more. The degree is rooted in the Christian tradition and is designed with busy teachers in mind. Strong relationships with school districts, educational partners, and faculty are at the very core of this program, making it possible for every learner to succeed.