A master’s degree in criminal justice helps to secure a competitive edge for professionals that choose a path to leadership in the expansive field. Consider earning a master’s in criminal justice/ most affordable master’s in criminal justice program and earn a high-quality advanced degree without the expensive costs associated with some programs.
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Benefits of Earning a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice
Earning a master’s degree in criminal justice allows a professional in the field to take the next step along their career path and to excel in their chosen field. One of the benefits of earning a master’s degree in the field is the fact that there are so many career paths to take in criminal justice.
O*Net describes the duties of criminal investigators or special agents, and includes some job titles. Examples of job titles of an individual working in criminal investigations include:
- Detective or detective sergeant
- Criminal investigator or agent
- Police detective or master police detective
- Special agent or FBI special agent
- Narcotics detective
The expansive career opportunities available for graduates of a master’s degree in criminal justice program means that there are multiple career opportunities that allow a student to follow a path based on their particular career interests. Some people prefer a career in corrections, working in a prison or other correctional facility, rather than working as a criminal investigator or agent. Parole or probation officer supervisor positions likely require completion of a master’s degree.
Do you want to work as an intelligence agent, to have a career in immigration and customs, or to work in another federal agency such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), or the U.S. Secret Service? Earning a master’s degree is often required for these types of positions.
The median annual salary and the job outlook for a criminal justice professional are other benefits to working in the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the 2019 median annual pay for police and detectives was $65,170 per year, or $31.33 per hour. There is an expected ‘much faster than average’ job growth through at least the year 2029 in the field of criminal justice. The BLS explains that as a worker’s educational attainment increases, the level of unemployment decreases, while the earnings increase with each new education level.
Consider earning your master’s in criminal justice degree from one of these schools that offer affordable programs. Some schools offer their programs only in a traditional in-person format, while other schools offer programs in an online format, or provide both options for completing a master’s degree in criminal justice. Please note that the stated tuition covers only the cost of one credit hour of instruction. The listed tuition is the cost of instruction for resident students, which may differ from the rate charged to students that reside outside the state where the school is located, or that enroll in an online master’s in criminal justice program.
|1||University of Oklahoma||Norman, Oklahoma|
|2||Lamar University||Beaumont, Texas|
|3||University of North Texas||Denton, Texas|
|4||University of Nevada, Reno||Reno, Nevada|
|5||University of Mississippi||Oxford, Mississippi|
Best 20 Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice
University of Oklahoma
The Extended Campus of the University of Oklahoma offers the accelerated Master of Science in Criminal Justice program that helps students develop critical skills needed for problem solvers, analytical thinkers and experts in public relations. Some topics covered include criminal justice policy development, the theoretical foundations of criminal justice, drug abuse policy, and ethics in criminal justice.
The program features the option to choose a track in restorative justice, corrections management, and administration and leadership. Offering the different tracks allows students to pursue the path that most interests them and aligns with their career goals.
Lamar University offers an online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program for criminal justice professionals that want to enhance their career opportunities and earnings. Students gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the theoretical foundations of crime control, planning and evaluation in criminal justice, issues in corrections, along with constitutional law, policing, and ethics.
Courses cover topics such as criminal justice leadership, criminal justice policy, planning and evaluation, homeland security, cybercrime, and serial murder.
University of North Texas
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program at the University of North Texas prepares graduates for roles as researchers, scholars, administrators or for front-line positions such as police officers, detectives, probation or parole officers. Students gain an understanding of the nature and the scope of issues posed by criminal acts and behaviors, along with the administration and operation of criminal justice systems.
Students have the option of completing the program in the traditional on-campus format or in online format. Some courses include Criminal Justice Policy, Legal Aspects of the Criminal Justice System, and Advanced Criminological Theory.
University of Nevada, Reno
Students that pursue the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program at the University of Nevada, Reno learn how theory, research and social policy interact in respect to criminal justice. The program prepares graduates for leadership roles in criminal justice, or to continue their education to earn a doctoral degree, or to teach at the undergraduate level. Students learn the importance of problem-solving skills, policy analysis and addressing issues in criminal justice. The program offers a thesis and non-thesis option.
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi offers an online accelerated Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree. Students choose either the Homeland Security and Emergency Management program option or the Criminal Justice Leadership option. Both concentrations offer students the opportunity to become effective decision makers and to gain the knowledge and skills to become criminal justice leaders.
The eight-week accelerated course format provides the advantage of completing the program much faster than the completion time for many traditional master’s degree programs in criminal justice. The school also offers a master’s degree in criminal justice program that is delivered in the traditional classroom format.
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Invest in your future as a criminal justice leader or administrator by earning the Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree at Trine University. The online program was recently updated to focus on two very relevant areas of criminal justice, including crisis intervention and child welfare and the family. The unique focus areas allow graduates to pursue their passion for working in a leadership position within the criminal justice system or within the private sector.
Students in this master’s degree in criminal justice program study criminal justice research and writing, criminology, crisis intervention for law enforcement, psychopathology, child welfare and the family, victimology and several other study areas.
Sacramento State University
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program at Sacramento State University is a generalist degree that focuses on a variety of focus areas across the field of criminal justice. Students gain a greater depth of knowledge related to the profession, which features a contemporary curriculum. Some topics covered in the curriculum courses include research methods, criminological theory, advanced research design, juvenile justice, psychodynamics of confinement, and law adjudication.
Florida International University
Florida International University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice program that was specifically developed for criminal justice professionals that want to advance their education to the doctorate level, or for students that look forward to a career in academia. Other students want to advance their career and turn to a focus on applied research and analysis with criminal justice agencies and organizations.
The program includes courses in research methods, theory in criminology, Data analysis in criminal justice, and transnational crime and national security.
The Walden University online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree offers students the opportunity to transition into leadership roles in the profession and to gain a competitive edge as students take the next step along their career path.
The school offers a unique path to completion of the degree requirements and allows students to choose the path that best meets their needs. Choose the traditional course-based path, which is an instructor-led approach and learning opportunities on a predetermined schedule. Students that want a more flexible learning approach have the opportunity to choose the Tempo Learning competency-based format. Learn at your own pace with no set weekly deadlines.
The school offers an impressive list of 10 specializations in its master’s in criminal justice program, including emergency management, cybercrimes, law and public policy, terrorism, mediation and peace, and public management and leadership.
University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program that meets the needs of students preparing for an advanced career position in criminal justice. The program features a rigorous curriculum with focus on courses that prepare graduates for positions in the changing world of criminal justice at home and abroad. Some courses include Research Methods in Criminal Justice, Administration of Justice, American Criminal Courts, and The Nature of Crime.
University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati online master’s degree in criminal justice prepares criminal justice leaders of tomorrow and guides current professionals to administrative or leadership positions in criminal justice. The program demonstrates how conceptual and theoretical frameworks apply to real-world situations across a variety of criminal justice pathways. The program also focuses on trends in criminal justice. Select the Analysis of Criminal Behavior Concentration, the Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention concentration or the Corrections and Offender Rehabilitation concentration.
Southeast Missouri State University
Southeast Missouri State University offers an online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program in either a hybrid format, which means that there is a combination of online and face-to-face course requirements, or the 100 percent online format. Students that select the online format have no on-campus requirements. Complete the degree requirements in your preferred delivery format and receive the same high-quality instruction provided to other students.
All students work closely with faculty members to ensure completion of degree requirements. Some program courses include Law and Social Control, Restorative Justice, Death Penalty in America, and Crime, Media, and Pop Culture.
Tiffin University offers an affordable master’s degree in criminal justice in a 100 percent online format. The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program is designed for professionals in the field that want to advance their career opportunities. The school offers an impressive selection of concentrations, including crime science, crime analysis, homeland security, criminal behavior, justice administration, and forensic psychology. Choose your desired concentration to move along the career path in criminal justice that most aligns with your interests and career goals.
Active duty military personnel and veterans receive a generous tuition discount.
Tarleton State University
Tarleton State University offers prospective students the opportunity to gain the insight, skills and knowledge to become more effective criminal justice professionals and to advance their career opportunities. The school offers the program in the student’s choice of the traditional on-campus format or online format.
Students take courses that may include Statistical Methods for Criminal Justice, Victimology, Management of Criminal Justice Personnel, Introduction to Digital Forensics, Executive Leadership, and Advanced Criminal Justice.
Sam Houston State University
The online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program at Sam Houston State University provides the opportunity for busy professionals to earn their degree without taking time away from their job or family. The program is ideal for students that want to seek career advancement or that want to take a different path in their current criminal justice career.
The school indicates that graduates have secured positions as judges, police administrators, federal law enforcement agency employees, and chief probation officers.
Arizona State University
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program at Arizona State University prepares students to successfully apply their newly gained knowledge and skills in positions of criminal justice leadership and administration after graduating from the program. Learn the causes of crime and its impact on society. Students also study policing, criminology and the courts, along with advanced program planning and management.
Curry College offers an affordable Master of Arts in Criminal Justice degree program that challenges prospective students to ‘go beyond street smarts.’ The school recognizes the hard work, dedication and focus of current criminal justice professionals, and the desire for many professionals in the field to advance their career to new levels, including leadership and administration.
Examples of courses in the program include Leadership in the 21st Century, Theory and Application, Criminal Justice Organization Management Change and Resource Allocation, and Contemporary Issues.
There are no extra fees required for students enrolled in this program.
Colorado State University
Colorado State University offers an online Master of Science degree program that features the opportunity to complete course requirements anywhere and on their own time. The school has not raised tuition in seven years, and charges the same tuition rate for both resident and non-resident students.
The curriculum focuses on topics that includes criminological theory, applied research as it relates to criminal justice, policy development and analysis, administration and management of criminal justice organizations, and ethics in criminal justice.
Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University invites future Master of Science in Criminal Justice program students to ‘become an agent of change’ upon graduation from the program. Students focus on topics such as policymaking, organizational leadership in criminal justice agencies, and specialized criminal justice topics such as terrorism, forensic science, and criminal advocacy.
University of New Haven
The master’s in criminal justice program at the University of New Haven is offered in a 100 percent online format. Current law enforcement professionals, experts in national security, corrections or victim advocacy benefit from a Master of Science in Criminal Justice program with no GRE or GMAT requirement.
Focus areas include Police Behavioral Studies, Crime Analysis, or Leadership and Management.
First responders and other active duty safety personnel receive a 50 percent tuition discount.
Finding an affordable Master’s in Criminal Justice program is potentially a difficult, time-consuming task for criminal justice professionals that want to enhance their career opportunities and increase their earnings. We took away the hard work for you by researching and ranking these master’s degree programs in criminal justice.
We ranked these schools based on affordable tuition and the program length, assigning a unique score to each school based on these factors.
Remember that tuition rates do not include the costs associated with any required fees, course materials or supplies.
We carefully research schools included in our lists and obtain information directly from the school. No school is permitted to pay us for a higher ranking. Any school wishing to be sponsored is listed separately and labeled as a sponsored or featured school. Please contact us if you would like to include your school in our rankings or if you would like to update the information for your school.