Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs of 2021

Today, a master’s in criminal justice is a major benefit for almost any individual looking to pursue a rewarding career in the field. The growth of online education has made it easy to enroll in an online master’s program in criminal justice.

The online master’s in criminal justice is ideal for professionals who have a degree, or are working on their bachelor’s degree. This highly-specialized program will give you the expertise you need to pursue careers in this growing field, and prepare you for advancement opportunities.

There are thousands of professionals working in the criminal justice field on  the local, state, and federal levels. Police officers can compete for jobs with just a high school diploma and  academy training. A college degree, on the other hand, can open doors far beyond the local law  enforcement office.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earning a bachelor’s degree is one of the best ways to secure an entry-level position as a police officer. With this in mind, you may also want to consider online master’s in criminal justice programs.


Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs

Top 15 Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs

1. University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando offers a fully online master’s degree in criminal justice. Students can prepare for future careers such as police detective, U.S. Marshal, and more in as little as two years of study. Agent of the FBI or a marshal.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$327 per credit (in-state); $1,151 per credit (out-of-state)

Duration
Duration

2 years

Credits
Credits

36 credits

Core courses must be completed by all students for a total of 18 credits. Students also choose six restricted electives and nine general electives credits. Although the program does not require a thesis, those who wish to do so may use six of their nine general elective credits to do so. A three-credit capstone experience is required of all students.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has regionally accredited UCF.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: Not required

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 73%
Location: Orlando, FL

2. Florida International University

FIU, which is based in Miami, offers an online master’s degree in criminal justice. Students interested in interning in the field, preparing to teach at the college level, or pursuing a doctorate degree can all benefit from the program’s flexibility.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$400 per credit

Duration
Duration

N/A

Credits
Credits

36 credits

Students take the same five core courses and then select criminal justice and general electives.

There are a lot of writing requirements in this program. A research paper or other evidence of strong writing ability is required of applicants.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has granted FIU regional accreditation.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.2 minimum in upper-division courses
Tests: Not required

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 58%
Location: Miami, FL

3. Florida State University

FSU, which is based in Tallahassee, offers an online master’s degree in criminology with a focus on criminal justice studies. The program is designed for working professionals and prepares students for leadership roles in their organizations as well as teaching positions.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$554 per credit (in-state); $614 per credit (out-of-state)

Duration
Duration

N/A

Credits
Credits

36 credits

Students must take five core courses, including criminological theory, computer applications in criminal justice, and research design. Students can tailor their studies to their areas of personal interest by taking elective classes like crime prevention and treatment, police and society, and victimology. Individualized directed study can be used for a portion of a student’s elective credits.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has granted FSU regional accreditation.

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE

Program Name:  Master of Science in Criminology With a Major in Criminal Justice Studies
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 83%
Location: Tallahassee, FL

4. California State University, Long Beach

CSULB is a large public university in the Los Angeles area that offers a fully online master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$575

Duration
Duration

2 years

Credits
Credits

36 credits

Crime and intelligence analysis is an optional concentration that focuses on crime mapping, intelligence and social network analysis, and geographic information science.

The program is designed for working professionals and prepares students for administrative, research, or teaching positions. The program combines theory with hands-on practical applications and provides numerous networking opportunities with other criminal justice professionals. After two semesters, all students must pass a qualifying exam and either complete a thesis or pass a comprehensive final exam.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission has regionally accredited CSULB.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum over a student’s last 60 credits
Standardized Tests: GRE or LSAT

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 69%
Location: Long Beach, CA

5. Texas A&M International University

TAMIU, which is based in Laredo, offers an online master’s degree in criminal justice. This non thesis program can be completed in as little as 12 months by full-time students.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$336 per credit (in-state); $974 per credit (out-of-state)

Duration
Duration

1-2 years

Credits
Credits

 36 credits

Advanced social research, criminological theory, and advanced quantitative methods are among the topics covered in this research-intensive program. The program includes five core courses as well as electives (such as cybercrime and police practices) that allow students to tailor their education to their specific interests. Every student must complete a capstone project on a topic of their choice in the modern criminal justice system.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has regionally accredited TAMIU.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.8 minimum
Standardized Tests: Not required

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 46%
Location: Laredo, TX

6. Boston University

BU, a Massachusetts-based private university, offers an online master’s degree in criminal justice.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$925 per credit

Duration
Duration

N/A

Credits
Credits

32 credits

The program covers a wide range of topics, such as public policy, social control theories, and organizational leadership. Strategic management, crime analysis, or cybercrime investigation and cybersecurity are all options for students.

Four core courses are required of all students. Those who do not choose a concentration can choose from a variety of electives, such as rehabilitation and reintegration, white-collar crime, trauma and crisis intervention, and more.

The New England Commission on Higher Education has granted BU regional accreditation.

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT optional

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
School Status: Private
Graduation Rate: 88%
Location: Boston, MA

7. University of Louisiana at Monroe

ULM is a public university in northern Louisiana that offers an online master’s degree in criminal justice.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

Sliding scale based on credits per semester, from $803 for one credit to $4,846 for 12 or more credits (in-state); $803 for one credit to $10,896 for 12 or more credits (out-of-state)

Duration
Duration

18-24 months

Credits
Credits

33-36 credits

Students have the option of writing a thesis or not writing a thesis. Six core courses are required of all students, covering topics such as theories, research methods, and minorities in the criminal justice system.

The thesis track requires students to take nine credits of criminal justice electives and six credits of thesis work. Participants on the nonthesis track, on the other hand, can choose 12 credits of criminal justice electives and six credits in a related support area. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a closely related field is required.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has regionally accredited ULM.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE (minimum score of 283 for students with a 2.2-2.74 GPA)

Program Name: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 44%
Location: Monroe, LA

8. California State University, San Bernardino

CSUSB, a public research university about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, offers an online criminal justice master’s degree.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$2,082 per credit (in-state); $2,478 per credit (out-of-state)

Duration
Duration

N/A

Credits
Credits

34 credits

The program provides a strong foundation in criminal justice for students with a variety of backgrounds, including psychology, anthropology, and sociology.

A culminating experience — either a thesis or a comprehensive capstone exam — is required of all students. Students who want to do research or continue their education usually opt for a thesis. The exam is usually chosen by those who want to pursue a career in leadership or administration.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission has granted CSUSB regional accreditation.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE optional

Program Name: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 57%
Location: San Bernardino, CA

9. New Mexico State University

NMSU, which is based in Las Cruces, offers a completely online master’s degree in criminal justice.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$412 per credit

Duration
Duration

2-3 years

Credits
Credits

33-36 credits

Current criminal justice professionals interested in moving into management roles, individuals transitioning into criminal justice work, and students interested in teaching criminal justice or a related topic are all welcome to apply.

Students can choose between a thesis and a non thesis track. Five core courses are required of all students. The thesis track students select 12 credits of general electives and six credits for their thesis. Non Thesis students can also choose 12 credits of criminal justice electives and nine credits of general electives.

The Higher Learning Commission has fully accredited New Mexico State University.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: Not required

Program Name:  Master of Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 46%
Location: Las Cruces, NM

10. Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University, a public research university in Statesboro, offers a fully online master’s degree in criminal justice and criminology.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$358 per credit

Duration
Duration

N/A

Credits
Credits

36 credits

Students can choose between a criminal justice or a cybercrime emphasis when studying online.

The criminal justice emphasis is primarily on current criminal justice system theory, policies, and issues. Alternatively, the cybercrime focus emphasizes the unique laws governing electronic devices and the internet, as well as cyberethics and jurisdictional issues. Both tracks of students take the same three foundational courses and one research or analysis class.

Students must complete a final capstone option, which can be a thesis, practicum, or comprehensive exam, regardless of their track. Students choose a capstone experience based on their personal interests and professional objectives.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has granted Georgia Southern regional accreditation.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: Not required

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 50%
Location: Statesboro, GA

11. University of North Florida

UNF is a public university in Jacksonville that offers an entirely online master’s degree in criminal justice.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$494 per credit (in-state); $1,044 (out-of-state)

Duration
Duration

2 years

Credits
Credits

39 credits

The program is built on a broad interdisciplinary foundation, combining theory, research, and practice to prepare students for a wide range of careers.

Students have a lot of freedom in terms of choosing their academic path. Two prerequisite courses and four core courses are required of all students. Participants then choose from five elective courses on topics like elite crime, critical issues in community policing, and corrections history and philosophy.

There are thesis and nonthesis options available in this program. Nonthesis students take two more elective classes, while thesis students devote the final six credits of their program to a thesis.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has granted UNF regional accreditation.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: Not required

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 59%
Location: Jacksonville, FL

12. Georgia College and State University

Georgia College in Milledgeville offers an online master’s in criminal justice. The program is designed for working professionals and takes four full semesters to complete.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$288 per credit

Duration
Duration

4 semesters

Credits
Credits

36 credits

The program prepares students for academic research or administrative roles in a variety of criminal justice fields, with a liberal arts foundation.

Students must take two foundational courses and six required courses that cover major topics such as criminological theory, ethics, and research design. Elective courses such as radical theorists, correctional counseling, and international terrorism help students round out their education. An internship or a capstone research project are two options available to students. At the conclusion of the program, all students must pass a comprehensive exam.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has granted Georgia College regional accreditation.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: Not required for students with a GPA of at least 3.0; students with a 2.75-2.99 GPA need at least 290 on the GRE, 395 on the MAT 395, or 450 on the GMAT

Program Name: Master of Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 64%
Location: Milledgeville, GA

13. University of San Diego

USD is a private research university that offers a fully online master’s degree in law enforcement and public safety administration.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$699 per credit

Duration
Duration

20 months

Credits
Credits

31 credits

The program, which was created in collaboration with top law enforcement organizations, focuses on the current issues that law enforcement professionals face. Students who have recently worked in law enforcement, the military, public safety, or a related field can train for command positions in a variety of agencies.

The program is completed in five semesters. Students can only take one course at a time during each semester, which is divided into two seven-week terms. Before beginning the program, students must take an orientation class and complete a one-credit integrative capstone at the end.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission has granted USD regional accreditation.

Admission Requirements

GPA:  2.75 minimum
Standardized Tests: Not required

Program Name: Master of Science in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership
School Status: Private
Graduation Rate: 80%
Location: San Diego, CA

14. Michigan State University

MSU, an East Lansing-based public research university, offers an online master’s degree in criminal justice.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$774 per credit

Duration
Duration

2 years

Credits
Credits

30 credits

The two-year program combines historical knowledge, cutting-edge technology, theory, and practical skills. Students train for high-level positions in national security, emergency management, and criminal investigation, among other fields.

Students can opt for a security management specialization or mix and match four elective courses to suit their specific interests. Six core courses are required of all students, covering topics such as crime prevention, research methods, and policy analysis.

The Higher Learning Commission has fully accredited MSU.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE waived through fall 2021

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
School Status: Public
Graduation Rate: 80%
Location: East Lansing, MI

15. Averett University

Averett University, a Baptist school in Danville, Virginia, offers an online master’s degree in criminal justice administration and leadership.

Accreditation
Format

Online

Tuition
Tuition

$655 per credit

Duration
Duration

23 months

Credits
Credits

36 credits

The interdisciplinary program, which is geared toward those already employed in public safety or law enforcement, prepares students to advance in their careers.

The program is divided into eight-week segments. Students can only take two courses at a time, allowing busy professionals to complete their degree while juggling their other responsibilities. In less than two years, full-time students can complete the program. Students can choose between a thesis and a nonthesis option.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has granted Averett regional accreditation.

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum over a student’s last 60 credits
Standardized Tests: Not required

Program Name: Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration and Leadership
School Status: Private
Graduation Rate: 80%
Location: Danville, VA

Common Master’s in Criminal Justice Degree Courses

Related Master’s in Criminal Justice Degree Concentrations

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Career Paths

A master’s degree in criminal justice qualifies graduates to work in a wide array of career options, including law enforcement, corrections, criminology and post-secondary education. After earning an online master’s degree in criminal justice, professionals commonly pursue careers in law enforcement or corrections, criminology, and post-secondary education.

Those who complete an online master’s degree in criminal justice are often prepared to pursue careers in fields including law enforcement, corrections, criminology or postsecondary education.

As with any career path, education is a benefit for those who want to advance their career opportunities and increase their earning potential. Postgraduate credentials in criminal justice can do just that, allowing you to advance in your law enforcement or corrections career path.

Forensic psychology, federal law enforcement, and emergency management are all options for criminal justice graduate students. Certification is required in some states for emergency management directors. A Ph.D. and licensure are frequently required for positions in forensic psychology.

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Admission Requirements

FAQs about Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs