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30 Best Online Masters in Criminal Justice

Are you considering a career in law enforcement? Or maybe you are passionate about increasing public safety.

Whatever the case may be, an online master’s degree in criminal justice is the perfect way to get the education and training needed for a successful and rewarding career.

With so many excellent programs now available online, it can be difficult to navigate the options. It’s even harder to find the best online program that suits your needs.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of thirty top accredited schools. These are all programs offering outstanding masters programs in criminal justice and related fields.

On-campus learning experiences. Virtual semester long simulations. These universities provide unique opportunities for both traditional students as well as those with busy schedules. They’re great for graduate students who want to opt for more flexible study options!

Read on to learn more about each school’s features. Then, find out what it takes to apply today and earn your degree sooner than ever before!

Let’s take a closer look at what a degree in criminal justice has to offer you. 

What Can You Do With a Master’s in Criminal Justice?

A Master’s degree in Criminal Justice can open the door to a wide variety of criminal justice careers. This makes it an ideal program for individuals looking to pursue a career in law enforcement or criminal investigation. Career and professional development opportunities abound. Graduate students take advantage of all kinds of new leadership roles after completing criminal justice programs, from probation officers to emergency management directors. 

These masters programs typically offer either specialization options or research projects dealing with more obscure issues. This gives graduates the opportunity to expand their knowledge beyond the basics and build specialized skills that could help them stand out from their peers.

Some common law enforcement careers enjoyed by graduates include basic and leadership positions such as:

  • Roles in federal law enforcement and other government agencies
  • Work in the juvenile justice system
  • Criminal profilers
  • Probation officers
  • Criminal law 
  • Emergency management directors (if emergency management is your goal, look for a specialization in this unique area of the criminal justice field)
  • Public administration
  • Work with homeland security and other national security organizations 
  • Police officers
  • Intelligence analysts
  • Private detectives
  • Forensic science technicians

What Are Criminal Justice Salaries?

Salaries for those pursuing a career in criminal justice can range from modest to quite impressive. It all depends on the type of position and educational level achieved.

Earning potential is often highest for those individuals with advanced degrees, such as master’s degree holders. That’s even more true if it is in the major criminal justice field.

Earning an online master’s in criminal justice can provide individuals with additional earning potential. But it also allows them to maintain their current job and lifestyle.

Master’s degree holders are often eligible for higher wages and promotions that are not available to less qualified candidates.

This makes an online master’s an attractive option for many interested in expanding their salary potential.

Admissions Requirements for a Master’s in Criminal Justice

Pursuing a master’s degree in Criminal Justice can be an exciting and life-changing experience. It is one that provides knowledge, training and hands-on experience for a successful career in law enforcement.

Admissions requirements vary.To gain admissions to a Master’s program in Criminal Justice, applicants must provide official transcripts. You must provide transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended for the past 4 years. Often, you will need a bachelor’s degree in a related field for most criminal justice programs.

However, aspiring criminal justice professionals without this background may still be eligible to apply. You will need a bachelor’s degree in some other field and will likely have to take a few extra prerequisite courses online before you can dive into the other required coursework. 

Applicants will also need to submit a personal statement outlining their motivations for applying and how they plan to use their degree. If your bachelor’s degree is in another field, you may want to take advantage of this opportunity to showcase how your professional development thus far makes you a good candidate for earning a master’s in criminal justice.

Some graduate programs, including online programs, require test scores. Other programs require letters of recommendation. Pay close attention to application due dates and admissions requirements for all schools you wish to attend. Take advantage of campus visits to learn more about the criminal justice field and the opportunities at the college you’re interested in. 

Meeting these admissions requirements is the essential first step toward gaining entry into a rewarding graduate degree program in criminal justice.

What Will You Learn in a Master’s in Criminal Justice?

Completing a Master’s in Criminal Justice can provide graduate students with the technical and conceptual foundations to pursue a career within criminal justice settings.

Graduate students will gain in-depth knowledge of contemporary issues, theories, and research. They will study topics related to crime, victimization, and justice administration.

These advanced programs help to shape a student’s understanding of the legal system. They delve into the complexities of:

  • various court decisions
  • alternative dispute resolution processes
  • security management
  • ethical considerations prevalent in the administration of justice

Apart from that, graduate students also gain practical skills through empirical problem solving, communication and data analysis. These are skills that are essential for most criminal justice positions.

Having a Master’s in Criminal Justice gives graduates an array of opportunities to pursue satisfying careers as law enforcement officers and much more. 

Course options include:

  • Organizational theory
  • Transnational crime
  • Forensic science
  • State and federal crimes
  • Criminal investigations
  • Crime control strategies
  • Violent crime and dealing with violent offenders
  • Legal perspectives
  • Fraud management
  • Corporate crime
  • Social and behavioral science
  • Public safety and disaster management (including manmade and natural disasters)
  • Organizational theory
  • Forensic psychology 
  • Collecting evidence for crime analysis
  • Emergency management
  • Criminological theories
  • Criminal profiling
  • Technical applications of criminal justice information technology 

Not only that, but you will build transferrable skills that will be useful as you pursue career options of all kinds. For example, you will gain an advanced understanding and build an advanced knowledge of:

  • Critical thinking and how to make informed decisions
  • Management skills for leadership positions
  • Analytical methods for conducting interviews
  • Strategic management
  • Behavior analysis and social work 
  • Data analysis
  • Risk assessment
  • Conflict resolution 
  • Mental health counseling
  • How to conduct research at a level required for most doctoral programs

Quick Links to Our Top 10 Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice

  1. Michigan State University
  2. Florida State University
  3. Sam Houston State University
  4. Arizona State University
  5. Boston University
  6. University of Nebraska Omaha
  7. Nova Southeastern University
  8. Regis University
  9. University of Cincinnati
  10. University of Colorado Denver

Our Methodology:

Are you curious about how we decided on the top master’s degree options in criminal justice?

To determine the best online Master in Criminal Justice degree programs for our ranking, we looked only at schools with regional accreditation from organizations such as:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Then, we gathered information to examine from public sources such as:

  • the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)
  • the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • U.S. News and World Report
  • the school websites

From there, four points served as our guidelines for determining the best programs. In random order, the four guiding points were:

  • Affordability
  • School reputation
  • Availability of focus areas, concentrations or specializations
  • Program flexibility and accommodation

Other factors that influenced our decisions were the average tuition and retention rate. Both of these metrics can give you a good idea of a school’s return on investment. 

Ready to learn more about the best online masters degree programs criminal justice students should consider? Without further ado, here are the 30 best criminal justice graduate programs online!

30 Best Online Masters in Criminal Justice Degrees

#30. Troy University

MS Criminal Justice Program


You will find one of the best online criminal justice programs at Troy University.

The MS in Criminal Justice provides both a thesis and a non-thesis option. The non-thesis online criminal justice degree requires thirty credit hours. The thesis option requires thirty-six. For students who do not have undergraduate degrees with related majors, there may be additional course requirements.

The curriculum for both options require between eighteen and twenty-one credit hours of core coursework. You can also pursue elective choices. Classes you will take for your online master’s in criminal justice include:

  • Emergency and Crisis Management
  • Cyber and Information Threat Management
  • Terrorism and Political Violence

TROY Online provides each prospective student with the “PREPARE Assessment” tool. This is to make sure online learning is a good fit. 

#29. University of North Texas

MS Criminal Justice Program

University of North Texas

For students who take three courses a session, the online MS in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) degree program offered through UNT’s Department of Criminal Justice (Department of CJUS) takes just 24 months to complete. It has thirty-six credit hours. The curriculum that students take includes:

  • twelve hours of foundational courses
  • twenty-one hours of elective courses
  • a three-hour capstone course

Additional foundational courses may be required for students who don’t have a background in a related field.

Faculty members in the Department of CJUS are dedicated instructors who are:

  • committed to inquiry and shared discovery
  • best professional practices
  • active participation in professional and scholarly organizations
  • the effective use of technology
  • the value of intellectual and human diversity

#28. University of New Haven

Masters in Criminal Justice Program

University of New Haven

This master’s degree has six potential start dates. Students do not have to wait before pursuing their Masters in Criminal Justice degree in the 100% online program at University of New Haven.

This master’s degree is housed at the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences. It has 36 credit hours. The program has been designed for people who are currently working in criminal justice or other similar fields. Terms are six to seven-and-a-half weeks. Students enrolled can complete the entire program in 24 months.

Foundational courses make up twelve of the credit hours. Elective courses make up the remaining twenty-four credits. 

Course options include:

  • Advanced Victimology
  • Problem Oriented Policing
  • Network Security, Data Protection And Telecommunications
  • Computer Crime: Legal Issues & Investigative Procedures

Admission requirements for these online criminal justice programs vary. Students may wish to consult with an admissions advisor. 

#27. Liberty University

MS Criminal Justice 

Liberty University

The Helms School of Government at Liberty University offers a 100% online, 36-credit hour MS in Criminal Justice degree. This award-winning, thesis-optional degree program also offers four cognate customizations:

  • General
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Homeland Security
  • Public Administration

Featured classes for this graduate degree include:

  • Rehabilitation & Reintegration of Offenders
  • Leadership, Ethics & Policing
  • Homeland Security Organization & Administration
  • Politics, Strategies & Initiatives of Com. Econ. Development

The online MSCJ at Liberty is founded on focusing on “best practices and trends” in higher education. Graduates leave equipped with the most recent data and most effective methods. The skills they gain in these master’s degrees can help them both achieve their careers goals.

Liberty ensures student support with an array program of services and resources. These are tailored to distance learners in the online campus. From online writing resources to study aids and all supports in between, online students enrolled do not have to worry about not getting the attention they need. 

#26. Xavier University

MS Criminal Justice 

Xavier University

The online MS in Criminal Justice at Xavier provides a focus on administration in the justice system. This is done through a master’s degree curriculum based on “theory and practice of criminal justice in law enforcement, courts, corrections, and the private sector.” 

The master’s degree has six start dates a year. Students enrolled can finish the program in one to two years. You can take up to 4 years if needed. Distance learners can even begin the program before they are admitted. Once they have submitted an application, they can be a “non-degree seeking graduate student.” Then, they can take up to six credits. The classes are flexible and may need not be taken in a specific order. They are taught by the accomplished and renowned faculty.

Topics covered in the thirty-credit hour degree include:

  • Sociology of Crime & Delinquency
  • Forensics & White Collar Crime
  • Human Resources for Criminal Justice Administrators

#25. Columbia College

MS Criminal Justice 

Columbia University in New York City

This master’s degree has a goal of examining and learning from the “critical issues confronting the contemporary criminal justice administrator.”  It is an online MS in Criminal Justice Administration (MSCJ) degree program through Columbia College’s Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services Department. These master’s degrees are ideal for the professional who wants to move into amore administrative role.

The degree focuses on four specific areas:

  • trends in criminal justice
  • policy development and analysis
  • research design
  • ethics in criminal justice

Distance learners have the option of pursuing management tracks in Law Enforcement Administration or Corrections Administration. 

You must take 36 credits to graduate. The 36 credits are broken down into twelve hours of foundational courses, fifteen hours of required courses, and nine hours of electives.

Course options include:

  • Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
  • Seminar in Juvenile Justice
  • Law Enforcement and the Community
  • Community Corrections

Admission requirements for these criminal justice programs are rigorous. Take advantage of applying early and apply for financial aid to save money! 

#24. University of Wisconsin–Platteville

MS Criminal Justice 

University of Wisconsin-Platteville

The MS in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) online program at UW-Platteville gives students enrolled three different emphasis areas to customize their degree. 

The specializations from which students enrolled can choose are:

  • Criminal Justice Theory
  • Criminal Justice Management
  • Victim and Offender Services

The master’s degrees and emphases are designed to benefit professionals who want to move to higher-level positions in the field or who want to go onto to teach.

This master’s degree is a thirty-credit hour higher education program. There is an additional nine-credit hour certificate in Child Advocacy Studies available. This master’s degree option is ideal for practitioners who want to be able to better serve and protect some of the youngest victims.

Some of the classes offered in this criminal law program include:

  • Perspectives on Child Maltreatment and Child Advocacy
  • Law as Social Control
  • Juvenile Delinquency & Justice: Race, Class, Gender, and Youth
  • Policing in a Democratic Society

Earning a master’s at this state university is affordable. It’s a great way to save money while completing the criminal justice programs of your dreams. Be sure to take advantage of financial aid!

#23. California University of Pennsylvania

MS in Legal Studies

California University of Pennsylvania

This master’s degree is offered 100% online. The MS in Legal Studies with a Criminal Justice Concentration degree program at Cal U focuses on an examination of the “functions and processes of the American justice system.” It also has a goal of preparing “students for career advancement in the justice system, whether in policing, law, corrections, investigations or human service positions.”

This is a program of dedicated probity and authenticity. Only serious prospects need apply. Twelve credit hours of required courses are coupled with fifteen hours covering the criminal justice concentration. The remaining nine to ten hours are made up of student-chosen electives and a thesis.

Classes criminal justice majors will take include:

  • Financial Investigations
  • Law and Police Process
  • Polygraph and Lie Detection
  • Intelligence Practice in Homeland Security

#22. Western Kentucky University

MA in Criminology


WKU Online offers a thirty-credit hour online Master of Arts in Criminology degree program. These master’s degrees are 100% online and do not require a thesis. The program requires fifteen hours of core courses.

Course options include:

  • Advanced Social Statistics
  • Survey of Criminal Justice Studies

The remaining fifteen credit hours are chosen from electives. Distance learners must select at least two classes from within WKU’s Department of Sociology.

Criminal justice majors will take classes such as:

  • Neighborhoods and Crime
  • Family Violence

The other electives can be selected, with advisor approval, from a list of electives at other departments. Distance learners can even study through Eastern Kentucky University’s Department of Correctional and Juvenile Justice Studies and the Department of Criminal Justice.

A whole host of support services are offered to WKU degree seekers. This is to provide them the tools to be successful. Options range from tech services to tips on online studying to a test anxiety management app. Students may wish to take advantage of financial aid to save money while earning a master’s here. 

#21. University of Louisville

MS Criminal Justice 

University of Louisville

U of L’s online MS in Criminal Justice (Justice Administration) (MSCJ) degree program claims a unique program with an “innovative curriculum and award-winning faculty.” This master’s degree is ideal for those who want to advance in their careers.

The program is supported by many networks and partnerships. It is both rigorous and renowned. It is offered with six start dates a year in an accelerated six-week format. Students enrolled participate in 36 credits in a curriculum made up of core courses, electives, and a master’s thesis paper.

Core coursework focuses on legal theory, statistics and research methods.

Course options include:

  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
  • Serial Murder
  • Personnel Management in Criminal Justice System

Students enrolled can complete the program in under 24 months. Distance learners are provided support through “professional student advisors.” Average tuition per credit hour is low with lots of benefits available for military veterans. Kentucky National Guard may also be eligible for a reduced tuition rate). Significant financial aid is available for those seeking higher education in the online campus. 

#20. University of California, Irvine

MAS in Criminology, Law, and Society

University of California irvine

UCI’s Department of Criminology, Law and Society offers two distinct online programs for professionals who are interested in the psychology behind crime.

First, there is a master’s degree for students enrolled who would like to focus on “theoretical and practical applications central to crime and its control, social policy, and the law.” The online Master of Advanced Study (MAS) in Criminology, Law and Society is a thirteen-course degree program. It can be completed in two years. You can take up to 4 years if needed

The UCI criminology major includes classes like:

  • Hate Crimes
  • Crime Hotspots
  • Preventing Errors of Justice

The classes are all delivered online. But there is one introductory accelerated five-day on-campus residency course required. The Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology (MLFP) degree program is offered in conjunction with the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior.

This master’s degree is for students who desire to examine the “intersection of psychology and legal issues, with an emphasis on the use of psychological principles, theories, and research to better understand legal processes and systems.” Average tuition and fees are affordable. Significant financial aid is available. 

#19. Colorado State University-Global Campus

Master of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration

Colorado State University Global

You’ll find one of the best online programs at Colorado State University. The Master of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration degree through CSU-Global is a practical, foundational 36-credit hour program. It consists of 39 credit hours for students whose undergraduate GPA was less than 3.00. These students must take the graduate-basics “Fundamentals of Research and Writing” course.

Two specialization options await the CSU-Global online campus student. These are the options in Criminal Justice Leadership and Fraud Management.

The Criminal Justice Leadership specialization may need twelve credits of classes such as:

  • Criminological Theory
  • Working With Criminal Justice Agencies
  • Criminal Justice Systems 
  • Ethics, Justice, and Social Control

There are many other classes covering policy analysis and administration. CSU-Global gives prospective students a chance to experience online classes prior to enrolling. This is to make sure online learning is a good fit. Students enrolled in the online campus pay the same average tuition as those not engaged in distance learning. The program includes ample financial aid opportunities. 

#18. Indiana University Bloomington

MA in Criminology

Indiana University Bloomington

These master’s degrees take just a year of full time study! The online MA in Criminology is sought after by students who want to obtain research or administrative positions in the field of criminal justice. It is also ideal for those who plan to pursue doctoral studies or other higher education options. It features the same experienced on-campus faculty members and many of the campus resources available. This online program offers maximum convenience.

Students complete 30 credit hours of study. This master’s degree focuses on topics such as:

  • Criminological Theory
  • Ethical and Philosophical Issues in Criminology
  • Crime and Delinquency Prevention Strategies

In this master’s degree in criminal justice, you will get both a practical and stimulating online education. A final synthesis project culminates the degree. Average tuition is affordable for all online programs here.

#17. University of Massachusetts Lowell

MA in Criminal Justice and Criminology


An online master’s degree at UMass Lowell includes eleven three-credit hour courses. 

This online master’s in criminal justice includes courses such as:

  • Managing Justice Organizations
  • Law and Public Policy
  • Crime Analysis and Mapping
  • Responding to Child Maltreatment
  • Violence in America
  • Mental Health & Criminal Justice

UMass Lowell has a long history of providing solid online programs. The online master’s in criminal justice is no exception. The student support reflects that quality. There is always-available tech support, advisors, program coordinators and expert faculty. Online graduate tuition is low with financial aid available.

#16. Rowan University

MA in Criminal Justice Program

Rowan University

The online MA in Criminal Justice through Rowan University’s Rowan Global Learning & Partnerships is a good choice for students who have professional goals in career paths such as leadership roles or more higher learning. This online program is offered as an accelerated program. The 30-credit hour degree can be completed in just five consecutive semesters. 

In this online master’s in criminal justice, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the criminal justice system. You’ll also learn how to conduct criminal justice research. You’ll take criminal justice electives and core courses at this private institution such as:

  • Management Of Criminal Justice Organizations
  • Contemporary Developments In Theory
  • Law And Society

There are three start dates per year. Each of these electives and key courses are delivered in an eight-week chunk.

#15. University of Central Florida

MS Criminal Justice 


The online MS in Criminal Justice program at University of Central Florida “pushes boundaries and shifts paradigms.” Not to be confused with the criminal justice major FIU, this program is an MCJ degree that allows students to take advantage of all kinds of hands-on experiences.

This is done to create the criminal justice force of tomorrow. Online enrollees will study all aspects of how people come to commit crimes. Students complete classes in how punishment and retribution is shaped by the history of the U.S. criminal justice system. Students must take 36 credit hours to graduate.

Twenty-one hours are dedicated to your main chunk of coursework in this criminal justice program. As part of this master’s in criminal justice at the University of Central Florida, you’ll take classes like:

  • The Nature of Crime
  • Criminal Justice Organizations

You can also take nine credit hours of electives. Plus, students either participate in a Capstone or a thesis. 

#14. University of Oklahoma

MS Criminal Justice 

University of Oklahoma

This MS in Criminal Justice program requires thirty-three credit hours to graduate. Each course is delivered in asynchronous sixteen-week sessions. Three tracks are available online:

  • Corrections Management
  • Restorative Justice
  • Administration and Leadership

Online enrollees can opt to take six additional credit hours to focus on whichever area they choose.

This online master’s in criminal justice has eighteen hours of prerequisite courses. These cover the basics of research methods and theory. There are nine hours of elective course topics such as:

  • Restorative Justice Programs for Drug Offenders
  • Penology
  • Global Drug Trafficking

This online criminal justice master’s degree program is completed with a six credit hour thesis. You can also choose to complete one of the track areas with a comprehensive exam. 

#13. Bowling Green State University

MS Criminal Justice 

Bowling Green State

You’ll find one of the best online programs at Bowling Green State University.

Eleven courses make up the online MS in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) degree program in the BGSU eCampus. There is rolling admission, six start dates a year, and two classes offered each eight-week term. Because of this, students enrolled can complete the thirty-three credit hour degree program in less than 24 months.

Classes are delivered in an asynchronous format. However, there may be some requirements to logon at the same time as the professor and classmates for live discussion.

In this master’s degree, students take classes like:

  • The Nature of Crime
  • Criminal Justice Processes & Institutions

Students who are enrolled can choose between a portfolio or final thesis to complete the degree. 

#12. University of the Cumberlands

MS in Justice Administration

University of the Cumberlands

The online MS in Justice Administration degree at UC is a practical, experiential program. It takes advantage of the deep ethical and community-service oriented mission of the school.

It is ideal for students who want to move into or move up in a crime-fighting field. This is a thirty-one credit hour program that takes just one year. That makes this one of the fastest criminal justice degree online options.

The program requires a one-credit hour Capstone Course in Justice Administration.  

You will learn everything you need to know about the criminal justice system in classes like:

  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Homeland Security
  • Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Crime
  • Sex Crimes: Myths & Motives

#11. East Carolina University

MS Criminal Justice 

East Carolina University

There are eighteen courses at the core of the 36-credit hour non-thesis online MS in Criminal Justice program at ECU. It is offered through the Department of Criminal Justice. Classes include:

  • Criminal Justice and Terrorism
  • Diversity Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Civil Liability in Criminal Justice

Decorated faculty members provide the stimulating curriculum. It is grounded in their own experience. You’ll examine practical and practiced cutting edge methods and research. Average tuition for all distance education students is affordable, though there are price variations based on residency.

#10. University of Colorado Denver

Master in Criminal Justice Program

University of Colorado Denver

The Master in Criminal Justice (MCJ) degree program at CU Denver is offered through the recognized and respected School of Public Affairs. It has 36-credit hours. The program consists of:

  • five core courses (focusing on policy, research and theory)
  • electives
  • either a three to six-hour thesis or three credit capstone project

Don’t have an educational or professional background in criminal justice? An internship with a local, state, federal or juvenile justice program is also required to supplement your online education. Take advantage of this, since it will give you access to leadership roles and hands-on experience.  

#9. University of Cincinnati

MS Criminal Justice Program

University of Cincinnati

The eleven-course, thirty-three credit hour Master of Science Criminal Justice (MSCJ) degree program is another one of the best online master’s to know about. This online master degree at UC packs many valuable and applicable elements into the program. That’s all in the 24 months that it takes to complete the degree.

Students can participate in the general track. They also have choices between three specific concentrations. The Analysis of Criminal Behavior concentration focuses on what makes repeat offenders tick.

In this online criminal justice master’s, you will take classes like:

  • Biosocial Factors in Serial Offending
  • Computer Criminology: Cybercrime & Digital Security

Then there is the Law Enforcement & Crime Prevention concentration for the online criminal justice master’s. This best online concentration examines “theories and practices” in such courses as:

  • Applied Crime Prevention
  • Seminar on Police Effectiveness

The last concentration option in the online criminal justice master’s is Corrections & Offender Rehabilitation. It offers such classes as “Correctional Theory and Policy”.

Students who are enrolled in this concentration will understand the “theoretical and philosophical frameworks of corrections.”

#8. Regis University

MS in Criminology

Regis University

Regis University’s College of Contemporary Liberal Studies offers a Master of Science in Criminology degree program. This best online master’s is ideal for individuals who “are passionate about reducing criminal behavior.” It invites students to examine and research what factors may contribute to crime. It also teaches students enrolled how to establish successful practices for reformation and prevention. The program requires 36 credit hours to graduate.

Three focus areas are available in this online criminal justice master’s. They are:

  • Leadership
  • Human Behavior
  • Cybercrime/Terrorism

Students who opt for one of the focus areas in this online criminal justice master’s can replace nine credits of the general course with focus-specific classes.

The general curriculum covers varied topics like:

  • Ethical Conduct and Positions of Power
  • Rapid Decision Making
  • Crime Prediction and Prevention
  • Animal Exploitation

Faculty members detail their experience and knowledge of the field in a blog to give students a taste of criminology outside of academia. Average tuition for online and on-campus students in the MS in Criminology program is affordable. It is listed as the same rate for all students who are enrolled online. This is regardless of residency.

#7. Nova Southeastern University

MS Criminal Justice Program

Nova Southeastern University

The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at NSU provides an online, interdisciplinary MS in Criminal Justice program. This is through the Department of Justice and Human Services. It is a thirty-credit hour program. Students take:

  • fifteen hours of required core coursework
  • twelve credit hours of a concentration
  • a choice between a practicum internship or a master’s thesis

There are twelve concentration options to customize the degree. Some are interdisciplinary and in conjunction with another College within NSU. An example is the Emergency Preparedness Leadership concentration through the College of Osteopathic Medicine. There’s also the Legal Perspective in Criminal Justice concentration through the Shepard Broad College of Law.

Average tuition is low at this private institution. That’s even with the added student services fee for this criminal justice online master’s program.

#6. University of Nebraska Omaha

MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice Program

University of Nebraska at Omaha

The Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice at UNO’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is a 36-credit hour online degree program. Students take:

  • twelve credit hours of foundational courses
  • nine credits of criminal justice electives
  • a three-credit Diversity course (either a Capstone or dissertation)
  • twelve credits of open electives from other departments

The academics of the online master’s in criminal justice program are rigorous and well-respected. Courses for the criminal justice online curriculum include:

  • Survey of Corrections
  • Sociology of Deviant Behavior
  • Seminar in Theoretical Criminology

The intentionality behind the programs, resources, and faculty support for online degree seekers is well-developed and extensive. There should be no concern that students need to go through the programs unsupported. Average tuition and fees for the online master’s in criminal justice is affordable. Financial aid is available.

#5. Boston University

MS in Criminal Justice Program

Boston University

This online master degree at Boston University offers a choice of a general track or a concentration in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity. There is also a concentration in Strategic Management. Regardless, all students at Boston University are well equipped with a “competitive edge.” This is all gained when achieving a Master of Science in Criminal Justice diploma from Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET).

This online master is ideal for students who wish to:

  • analyze criminal behavior
  • apply principles of leadership in organizational settings
  • learn theories of social control
  • gain an informed perspective of law enforcement, the judicial system, and corrections

The degree is 40 credit hours long. It takes just 24 months. Twenty-four credit hours of core courses are followed by sixteen hours of electives.

There are options for students who opt not to participate in a concentration as part of the online master’s in criminal justice. The criminal justice online elective choices at this private institution include:

  • Applied Digital Forensic Investigation
  • Trauma and Crisis Intervention
  • Criminal Justice Policy and Planning

Average tuition is the same for all criminal justice online degree seekers. That is regardless of residency. 

#4. Arizona State University

MA in Criminal Justice Program

Arizona State

The School of Criminology & Criminal Justice at the College of Public Service & Community offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice (MACJ) degree program. This is through ASU Online. Students can take as little as 24 months. You can even take 4 years or up to six years for ultimate flexibility. Eleven classes make up the 33 credit hour program. Each class is presented in seven-and-a-half week sessions.

Students who are enrolled can take twelve credit hours of related classes studying crime motivation.

The classes that are integral to the online master’s in criminal justice include:

  • Criminal Justice Planning and Program Evaluation
  • Applied Data Analysis in Criminal Justice

There are eighteen hours of electives. Plus there is a three-hour Capstone course to culminate the degree. There are renowned faculty and plenty of support services. ASU Online assures that online degree seekers will succeed in the program. 

#3. Sam Houston State University

MS in Criminal Justice Program

Sam Houston State University

You’ll find one of the best online programs at Sam Houston State University. Students receive a stellar education from decorated faculty members through the College of Criminal Justice at SHSU Online. They are also eligible for a $1,000 scholarship as first-time online students.

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program at Sam Houston State University is meant to be “Education Everywhere, for Everyone.” There are dedicated program advisors providing assistance. Students who have already worked in the field move through the 36 required credit hours with the support they need.

There are 21 integral courses as part of this online master’s in criminal justice. Students who are enrolled online at Sam Houston State University will cover:

  • quantitative analysis
  • research methods
  • policy

They will take classes in the online campus such as:

  • Emergent Issues In Criminal Justice Leadership
  • Seminar In Organization & Administration
  • Communication Theory & Administration Of Justice

Students can then select fifteen hours of electives to round out the degree. This is done to best serve their academic and career goals. 

#2. Florida State University

Master of Criminology


It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Master of Criminology degree program at Florida State University is in our top three.

Florida State University offers us a 36-credit hour program. Students who are enrolled online will take fifteen key courses. These are all delivered via the online campus as part of the online master’s in criminal justice.

Courses in the FSU criminal justice masters include:

  • Applied Statistics in Criminology
  • Computer Applications in Criminal Justice
  • Prevention & Treatment Of Crime & Delinquency
  • Race, Ethnicity, Crime & Social Justice

Students who are enrolled online can take up to nine credits  from other disciplines. Average tuition is the same per credit hour for all students. This is regardless of residency. However, there are additional non-resident fees that students who are enrolled online will have to pay.

#1. Michigan State University

MS Criminal Justice 

Michigan State

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice at Michigan State University has been online in the College of Social Science since 1998. It should be no mystery that this program secures the number one spot on our list.

Students at Michigan State University can take 30 credit hours in 18 months to three years. They can opt for a general track or one of two specializations. These are Security Management or Judicial Administration.

Many of the courses in the online master’s in criminal justice cut across a variety of disciplines. Students who are enrolled online at Michigan State University will take classes like:

  • Crime Causation, Prevention, and Control
  • Policy Analysis under Conditions of Change
  • Proseminar in Criminal Justice

Students in the online master’s in criminal justice take one to three elective classes. The course topics available in the online campus are wide and varied. For example, students who are enrolled online can take:

  • Osteology and Forensic Anthropology
  • Essential Components of Courts
  • Special Studies in Food Safety

The MSU online process is laid out step-by-step starting for prospective students. It continues all the way through until graduation. This is to guarantee a supported, enriching online experience. Average tuition for students who are enrolled online is the same as it is for all students. That makes this one of the most affordable online master’s in criminal justice to boot. 

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Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor