Most Affordable Online Master’s in Criminology Degrees

The ultimate goal of the field of criminology is to reduce the crime rate and improve negative effects associated with crime.

MostAffordable online Masters in Criminology

Criminology is the study of crime as a social phenomenon, often integrating different disciplines such as psychology and sociology to understand why crime happens in one’s particular society. Students will also study methods of prevention and strategies for crime reduction, understanding how the nation’s criminal justice system intersects with theories of social behavior.  

Within criminology, there are three schools of thought that students will be exposed to: the Classical School, the Positivist School, and the Chicago School. Each school of thought takes a different approach to understanding the driving forces behind people’s behaviors. Students will also learn practical skills in addition to behavior theory in developing new strategies of shaping positive human behavior.

What kind of Criminology degree should you get?

At the Master’s level, students can choose to enroll in a traditional on-campus program or an online one. Because the majority of Master’s in Criminology programs are for professionals who already possess some experience in the field and who wish to advance in their career, an online degree is better for those who are already working. Online programs typically only meet a few times a week at scheduled times or are set up where students can access their coursework on their own time during a certain period.

In addition, they are often more affordable than traditional programs. Check out College Choice’s ranking of the Most Affordable Online Grad Schools.

Another similar degree, Criminal Justice, is also a program people may consider instead of or in conjunction with Criminology. Criminal Justice is the study of the system of law enforcement within the country. Students focus on learning about governmental institutions and how to directly address crime. While Criminology may focus more on psychology and crime as a social phenomenon, Criminal Justice focuses on law enforcement practices. Luckily, for many students, many programs offer a joint degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

How much money do people make with a degree in Criminology?

In 2012, the average starting salary was $55,000 for criminologists who possess a master’s, with this being $23,000 more than those with only a bachelor’s. As one progresses into the later part of his/her career, a criminologist can make about $65,000 with four years of experience, and $83,000 after 20 years. The highest paid criminologists report getting paid in the six figures range.

According to Payscale, some popular cities to work for in the field of criminology include Washington D.C., San Francisco, Boston, Indianapolis, and Hartford.

What can you do with a degree in Criminology?

Although careers in Criminology tend to be more academic-focused compared with Criminal Justice, some people may find themselves directly working in law enforcement. Some common careers include police officer, probation officer, or a forensic science technician. The most common position upon graduation is a criminologist, as this career requires a Master’s. These people are typically employed in places like the government or think-tanks.

For those that also have experience and education in psychology, a job in forensic psychology is another option. Other positions related to Criminology include social worker, counselor, or private investigator. In general, professionals in this field can expect to work in jobs that have the purpose of analyzing social problems and creating solutions to solving crime.

What are the requirements for a degree in Criminology?

In order to apply for a Master’s in Criminology, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university is required. Although a Bachelor’s in Criminology is not absolutely necessary, it may be helpful as many courses build on from prior knowledge. Furthermore, a GPA of 3.0 and above is highly recommended. Applicants should also send in their GRE scores, transcripts, and any other supplemental essays.

Common core classes in Criminology include psychology, criminal law, statistics, and research methods. Many programs also offer internships where students are placed in local institutions that deal with crime prevention and intervention. Sometimes these internships may replace a master’s thesis if the degree requires it.

What are the most affordable online Master’s in Criminology?

Below is College Choice’s most affordable Master’s in Criminology degree programs. While average net tuition was the primary metric, all of these universities are regionally accredited, so you’re guaranteed a real, valuable degree regardless of the program you choose.

Statistics and data were compiled from individual college websites, the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database, Payscale, and the US News & World Report.

2018 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.


Texas A&M University-Commerce

Average Net Price: $9,032

School Website


Texas A&M University-Commerce is the second largest university in the Texas A&M University System. Its mission is to provide personal, accessible, and affordable education to a diverse community of students. In keeping with this goal, A&M-Commerce offers a wide range of online degrees to fit student’s needs. All online courses are taught by the same faculty as traditional on-campus ones. Students will have access to weekly lectures and materials using the myLeo system.

Program Features

A&M-Commerce’s online MS in Applied Criminology Program is ideal for those who wish to further their career in the criminal justice field, particularly in the managerial track.

  • Estimated 18 months completion time
  • 12 courses; 5 weeks per course
  • Concentrations: General Criminology, Criminal Justice Administration & Management, or Homeland Security


International students are allowed to participate in this program visa-free.


California State University

Average Net Price: $9,867

School Website


California State University Long Beach is a teaching-intensive, research-driven public university that began as a small college with only 160 students. In 1950, the college moved to Long Beach and has been growing since then. Today, about 35,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduates are enrolled at CSULB. Its School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, & Emergency Management is one of the largest in the state. This school sims to prepare students for justice professions in various fields.

Program Features

CSULB’s online, accelerated MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree prepares future criminal justice practitioners.

  • 36 credits-hours
  • $575 per credit-hour, or $20,700 in total
  • Sample Courses: Advanced Criminological Theory, Substantive Criminal Law, Victimology


This program is fully self-supported, meaning all student fees go toward running the program.


University of Texas at Dallas

Average Net Price: $10,254

School Website


The University of Texas at Dallas is an innovative university that is located in North Texas. It was established by the founders of Texas Instruments, and became part of The University of Texas System in 1969. In addition to its research-focused programs through its eight colleges, UT Dallas is also dedicated to providing its students with as many scholarship opportunities as possible. According to Times Higher Education, the university is also ranked the #1 in the nation among the list of colleges under age 50.

Program Features

UT Dallas’s online MS in Criminology is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on research within criminology and criminal justice.

  • 36 credit-hours
  • Thesis (doctoral) and non-thesis track
  • Sample Courses: Policing, Courts, Drugs and Crime


This program is ranked #1 for Criminology/Criminal Justice in authorships per article according to the Journal of Criminal Justice Education as of 2016.


Indiana State University

Average Net Price: $10,681

School Website


Indiana State University is a four-year public institution that is dedicated to upholding diversity and high scholarship. In total, Indiana State offers more than 100 majors and 60 online programs. Although the university has over 13,500 students enrolled, the school emphasizes quality teaching, which is seen it is student-to-faculty ratio of 21:1.

Program Features

Indiana State’s online MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree is for professionals who wish to advance in their career, as well as those who are hoping to make a career change.

  • Concentrations: Law Enforcement, Corrections
  • Alternative payment plans and veteran benefits available
  • Sample Courses: Advanced Criminal Procedure, Organizational Behavior in Public Agencies, Ethics in Criminal Justice


Despite being online classes, students will have the opportunity to interact with peers and faculty at a time that works for them. About $16 million is awarded annually in scholarships and awards at Indiana State.


University of Nebraska Omaha

Average Net Price: $11,223

School Website


The University of Nebraska Omaha is a diverse campus that is located in a bustling city. Since its founding in 1908, UNO has strongly emphasized community engagement and partnerships with the local economy. As the city’s first and only municipal university, the school is very much intertwined with the daily lives of Omaha’s residents. UNO is also a school that is aware of student’s financial needs, giving over $700,000 worth of graduate assistantships yearly.

Program Features

UNO’s online MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree is taught in a flexible format for both full and part-time students.

  • Estimated completion time of 18 months for full-time students
  • No GRE required
  • Sample Courses: Police and Society, Criminal Court System, Terrorism


The U.S. News & World Report ranks this degree as one of the Best Online Programs in Criminal Justice for 2018.