Best Online Master’s in Criminology Programs

Criminologists study the underlying social and environmental causes of criminal behavior. They develop an understanding of human behavior and its influence on crime. This analysis can be used to determine why crime occurs in particular areas of a city, country or state. Through research and collaboration with community members and law enforcement authorities, criminologists are able to identify ways of preventing crime from occurring again.

Criminologists are experts in the field of sociology . They employ scientific methods , develop hypotheses, and review statistical data to investigate factors that lead to criminal behavior. These professionals communicate with a wide variety of people including community leaders, politicians, and law enforcement officers.

Criminology focuses on understanding and preventing crime as a part of the larger social system. It also examines the causes of criminal behavior and its various outcomes, using both an individual offender’s background and analysis of their behavior, as well as statistical data from broader events and trends.

Criminology is an analytical field that examines crime as part of an entire social system, as opposed to criminal justice, which focuses more on punishing perpetrators and deterring illegal activity. An online master’s in criminology prepares students for careers in corrections, law enforcement and more while providing graduates with an interdisciplinary approach to address crime’s causes and outcomes.


Top Accredited Online Master’s in Criminology Programs

1. University of California, Irvine

UCI is a public research university with approximately 36,000 students. More than 100 graduate certificates and degrees are available at the university, including an online master of advanced study in criminology, law, and society.

Graduates of this 52-quarter-credit program are prepared to work in fields such as social work and criminal justice research as leaders.

Police, courts, and corrections; legal institutions and society; and white-collar and corporate crime are all required courses. At the start of their first fall quarter, students participate in a five-day residency. A capstone seminar in social problems, law, and policy concludes the program.

There are no minimum GPA or standardized test score requirements for admission to this program. Applicants must, however, provide a 600-word personal history, an 800-word statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation.

Graduation Rate: 83%
Location: Irvine, CA

2. Florida State University

Learners must take relevant, career-focused courses like civil and individual rights, criminal justice administration, and penology as part of FSU’s online master’s degree in criminology.

Applied statistics and computer applications in criminal justice are among the 36-credit courses offered. An independent study or internship is available to all students.

Applicants must demonstrate strong academic potential, even though FSU does not have a minimum GPA requirement. GRE scores are not required for applicants with five or more years of relevant work experience. Students should also include a current resume and a personal statement of 300-500 words. The Canvas platform is used by FSU to support distance learning.

Graduation Rate: 83%
Location: Tallahassee, FL

3. University of Central Florida

UCF, which is based in Orlando, enrolls around 70,000 students each year in over 220 academic programs.

An online master’s in criminal justice can teach distance learners how to apply criminology theories to real-world situations. FBI agents, correctional office supervisors, and criminal profilers are among the jobs available to graduates.

The 36-credit program can be completed in less than two years. Descriptive statistics and applied research methodologies are two core courses. Learners can explore topics related to the emerging challenges that criminal justice systems face at home and abroad through elective courses.

Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree. Prospective students must also submit GRE scores that are competitive.

Graduation Rate: 73%
Location: Orlando, FL

4. Boston University

Since 2002, BU has offered career-focused online programs. The university now offers an online master’s degree in criminal justice that can be completed in 16 to 18 months by distance learners.

The 32-credit curriculum is evenly split between required and elective courses. Research and evaluation methods, as well as criminal justice administration, are required courses. Crime analysis, strategic management, or cybercrime investigation and cybersecurity are all options for students.

Students must submit a current resume, a personal essay, and three letters of recommendation. Each year, BU offers six start dates and accepts applications on a rolling basis. Admission to the program is not contingent on standardized test scores.

Graduation Rate: 88%
Location: Boston, MA

5. Florida International University

FIU is a public research university with over 57,000 students enrolled each year. Distance learners can choose between fully online and hybrid delivery methods for their online master’s in criminal justice at the university.

Required courses in the 36-credit program include criminological theory, advanced data analysis, and transnational crime and national security. Students also take nine credits of general electives and 12 credits of criminal justice electives. Internships and teaching practice are two elective options.

A 3.2 GPA in upper-division coursework is required in addition to a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree. A statement of purpose, a research writing sample, and two recommendation letters are required of prospective students.

Graduation Rate: 58%
Location: Miami, FL

6. Saint Joseph’s University

Through the Canvas platform, SJU offers over 30 online certificates and degrees, including an online master’s degree in criminal justice. This program emphasizes a thorough examination of the criminal justice system from top to bottom, preparing students for scholar-practitioner roles in their fields.

Students can choose a concentration in behavior analysis, behavior management, federal law enforcement, intelligence and crime analysis, or homeland security in addition to a general track. Emergency management and terrorism countermeasures are included in the homeland security concentration. Depending on their concentration, students complete 30-36 credits.

A letter of intent, a resume, and two recommendations are all required for admission. Applicants with a GPA of less than 3.0 must also submit a 300-500 word explanation of their previous grades.

Graduation Rate: 80%
Location: Philadelphia, PA

7. Regis University

Regis offers nearly 200 academic programs, with many of them available online through the Blackboard platform. The university offers an online criminology master’s degree that examines crime through the lens of cognitive and behavioral psychology. Six start dates are available each year, with five-week and eight-week courses available.

Leadership principles, ethical conduct and positions of power, and criminal psychopathy are all required courses. Students can concentrate on cybercrime and terrorism or human behavior. An internship, a project, or a comprehensive course are the three capstone experiences available to all students.

Students must submit a resume as well as a 500-750 word personal statement in response to two prompts. Prior college work, work experience, professional certification/licensure, and military service are all accepted at Regis.

Graduation Rate: 69%
Location: Denver, CO

8. Saint Louis University

SLU is one of the country’s oldest Catholic universities, with roughly 13,000 students enrolled each year. The university offers an online master’s in criminology and criminal justice; however, distance learners may be required to attend some evening classes on campus, depending on the courses they choose.

The 33-credit curriculum includes foundational coursework in jurisprudence and global public health practice. Guided electives and advanced classes in one of three concentrations: administration of justice, emergency management, or treatment and rehabilitation allow students to tailor their education. The specialization in emergency justice is only available online.

Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students who do not meet this requirement may be eligible for conditional admission. A three-page professional statement, a resume or CV, and three reference letters are also required.

Graduation Rate: 77%
Location: Saint Louis, MO

9. The University of West Florida

The Canvas platform is used by UWF, which is based in Pensacola. Over 50 online degrees and certificates are available, including a master’s in criminal justice. Students gain the research and data analysis skills needed to enter doctoral programs or pursue careers in education, program administration, and policy advocacy through a 33-credit curriculum.

As a capstone project, all students complete an internship or a research paper. Optional certificates in social work or homeland security can be used to supplement major coursework.

In addition to their GPA and GRE or MAT scores, UWF uses a holistic admissions process that considers the quality of each applicant’s undergraduate education. Students must submit three recommendation letters as well as a personal statement outlining their future objectives.

Graduation Rate: 43%
Location: Pensacola, FL

10. Colorado State University Global Campus

CSU-Global offers dozens of degree and certificate options to online learners in an effort to provide more postsecondary learning opportunities to nontraditional students. A master’s degree in criminal justice is one of these options.

Applied research for criminal justice professionals, analytical methods, and criminal justice policy development and analysis are among the 36-credit program’s core courses. Students must also complete 12 credits in a specialization, with options such as fraud management and information technology available. Individuals who are currently employed in the criminal justice system can earn credit by completing an internship.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a GPA of at least 3.0. Students with a lower GPA may be accepted, but they may be required to take an additional research and writing fundamentals course.

Graduation Rate: 54%
Location: Greenwood Village, CO

What Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Criminology Program?

Online criminology degree programs teach the skills necessary to meet the demands of a career in this professional field. Training in current research methods and theory, as well as specialized coursework in fields such as juvenile justice, forensic science, or court reporting prepares students for leadership positions in local, state, or federal agencies. A job search will likely begin with networking and applying to specific government agencies that offer employment opportunities.

The majority of online master’s in criminology programs require 33-36 credits, which most students can complete in one or two years. Professionals who work full-time while studying, on the other hand, may require more time to complete their studies. The duration of the program may also be affected by whether the coursework is delivered synchronously or asynchronously. A thesis, practicum, or internship requirement can also affect how long it takes students to finish their program.

Specializations are available in many criminology master’s programs. Conflict resolution, criminal behavior, global criminology, law and society, and victimology are all popular choices.

Some schools offer a master of business administration (MBA) in criminology, which prepares graduates for managerial roles. These programs typically provide courses in business and management, including marketing, accounting, and supply chain management. A traditional master of science (MS) or master of arts (MA) tends to focus on quantitative research and laboratory work. It is hard to find schools that allow you to complete a fully online MA in criminology program because many require substantial lab time, though you can complete most or all of an MS online.

As an online master’s in criminology program , you might be able to apply for a license immediately after completing your degree program. However, you should check your state’s educational requirements to ensure that you meet the necessary qualifications. You may be able to earn a master’s in criminology online with the intention of improving your job prospects and skills.

Admission Requirements for Online Master’s in Criminology Programs

A bachelor’s degree in criminology or a related field, relevant work experience, and a minimum GPA are all required for most online master’s in criminology programs. With sufficient work experience or outstanding test scores, an applicant may be able to compensate for a lower GPA.

Academic transcripts from previous schools, recommendation letters, GRE test scores, and an application fee are typically required for admission to a master’s program. Some schools may require applicants to submit essay responses to questions about various criminology issues instead of a personal statement.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master’s in Criminology Program?

A typical online master’s in criminology curriculum draws on criminology, legal theory, philosophy, psychology, statistics, and sociology, among other disciplines. Students learn how to prevent crime as well as how and why it happens through coursework. Students in both on-campus and online programs are typically given a thorough grounding in research and statistical methods.

What Can I Do With an Online Master’s in Criminology Degree?

A master’s degree in criminology can open doors to various career paths. This type of degree prepares you for careers in the criminal justice system with positions such as detectives, crime scene investigators, and forensic scientists. You can also become a correctional officer or police officer after graduating with a master’s degree. Study the many aspects of law enforcement with an online master’s in criminology.

Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 5% job growth for police and detectives, compared to 4% for all other occupations. During the same time period, the BLS predicts a 14% increase in forensic science technician jobs.

FAQs About Master’s in Criminology Programs