If you’re interested in both law enforcement and psychology, a master’s degree in criminal justice can lead you to a rewarding career in the field. As a criminal justice student, you’ll gain advanced skills in criminology, crime scene analysis, forensics, psychology, and more. A master’s is the standard requirement for many high-level positions in the criminal justice field, and a practical choice for those who want to move up through the ranks. Many schools offer entirely online master’s in criminal justice degrees that allow working students to complete coursework on a flexible schedule that won’t interfere with their professional lives.
An online master’s in criminal justice is a highly specialized degree that leads to advanced career tracks in areas including criminology, forensic psychology, criminal profiling, upper management, and academia. For those who wish to move into leadership roles, more specialized fields of crime analysis, or positions in education, a master’s degree is a necessity.
We’ve ranked the top online criminal justice master’s degree programs across the U.S. Weighing factors such as graduation rates, program offerings, and financial aid availability, the the programs featured in our ranking will prepare students for professional success without saddling them with massive debt. Explore the list below to find a school that best fits your academic and career goals, and take the first step in advancing your criminal justice career today.
Texas A&M University
|Value Score 8.53||
Part of the Texas A&M System, one of the largest university networks in the nation, TAMIU sits in the southerly city of Laredo, not far from the border with Mexico. In this rich, multicultural region, it provides education for more than 7,000 students. The school’s international mission is enhanced by a strong online presence. TAMIU’s “24/7 worldwide classroom” offers students the opportunity to pursue baccalaureate and master’s degrees digitally, including an affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice.
The comprehensive program encourages students to look critically at practical applications of justice in modern society. It explores criminological theory, ethics, corrections, legal studies, and the administration of justice. Graduate students conduct research and take one of two tracks: thesis, which requires an original paper, and non-thesis, which substitutes additional hours of classwork for the writing component. TAMIU has been recognized on a national level for its budget-friendly online education.
University of the Cumberlands
|Value Score 8.44||
A private liberal arts college based in the scenic city of Williamsburg, UC was founded by Baptists to provide access to higher education to the residents of the Cumberland Mountains. The school of 6,000 still retains an affiliation with the Southern Baptist Church, and it remains true to its vision to provide a first-class education at rates that are compatible with the means of mountain people. UC’s virtual classrooms align perfectly with this mission.
The affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice is designed for students who want to enter the world of law enforcement and for current criminal justice professionals desiring to advance their careers. It provides opportunity for rural law enforcement officers to interact with professionals who do the job on a federal or state level, and gain first-hand knowledge how these larger agencies operate. Applicants are not required to have a baccalaureate in the field to enroll in the master’s program. All courses needed to earn the degree are available online, and they’re offered in synchronous and asynchronous formats.
Sam Houston State University
|Value Score 8.23||
One of the nation’s fastest-growing universities, Sam Houston State takes its name from the famous general who is often credited with bringing Texas into the United States. The school was founded in 1879 in Huntsville, making it one of the oldest in the Lone Star State. More than 20,000 students pursue degrees in 80 fields of study at the massive institution, and it has nationally recognized programs in education, business, the performing arts, and computer science.
Its online master’s degree in criminal justice and criminology is considered among the best in the nation. The program is designed for students interested in furthering their careers in law enforcement, corrections, or rehabilitation, and focuses on criminological theory. It requires 36 credit hours, and is set up such that working officers can complete the curriculum in two years without having to miss shifts on the job. It’s available entirely online.
Texas Southern University
|Value Score 8.15||
One of the nation’s largest historically black universities, TSU is a comprehensive metropolitan university, sprawling for more than 150 leafy green acres in downtown Houston. A diverse student population of more than 9,200 at the school selects from among 100 undergraduate and graduate degrees, with particularly strong business management, biology, pharmacy, law, and administration of justice programs.
TSU’s online master’s of science in administration of justice degree is aimed at mid-career professionals working in law enforcement, courts, corrections, or social services, and it requires 36 credit hours to complete. Prospective students must have five years of work experience, a bachelor’s degree, and two letters of recommendation to enroll. The entire curriculum can be completed on the web, and the school uses the Blackboard platform to deliver its classes. TSU has been recognized nationally for excellence.
Angelo State University
|Value Score 8.00||
Founded in 1928, ASU is part of the Texas Tech University System, a consortium of four schools and learning centers devoted to delivering public education at the highest level. Based in San Angelo, in the western part of the Lone Star State, ASU confers baccalaureate and master’s degrees in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional disciplines. The school’s 9,600 students can choose from among 100 majors and concentrations and enjoy a student to faculty ratio of 19:1. Rams and Rambelles can pursue their education entirely online if they choose, selecting from among dozens of degree programs.
The affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice is offered through the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Center for Security Studies, and it’s designed for both students interested in entering the field of law enforcement and professionals currently working in criminal justice who want to broaden their knowledge base and enhance their opportunities for advancement. The degree can be completed in as few as 18 months.
Fayetteville State University
|Value Score 7.97||
One of the member schools of the University of North Carolina System, FSU was founded in 1867 as Howard School for the education of young African Americans. Today, it’s among the most diverse schools in the nation and still ranks nationally for degrees conferred to African Americans. FSU is set in Fayetteville, a city of 200,000 in North Carolina’s Sandhills region, best known as the home of Fort Bragg, and its student body has grown to more than 6,000.
The school has been offering a criminal justice master’s degree online for more than 10 years, and it can be earned entirely via the web or combined with some in-classroom work – either way it’s the same degree and the same accreditation. The goal of the Criminal Justice Department at FSU is to produce students who are creative thinkers and leaders, and the degree sets them up to pursue a doctorate in the field.
East Carolina University
|Value Score 7.88||
One of the largest schools in a state known for large schools, ECU is a massive institution of higher learning in the city of Greenville, North Carolina. Not only does it have a huge student body — with nearly 29,000 students enrolled in 88 bachelor’s, 72 master’s, and 17 doctoral programs — it’s also geographically big, spreading across 1,300 acres on five different campuses and field stations. The economic impact of the school is mighty, too, coming in at almost $3 billion annually. And that’s not counting its web presence.
ECU has a thriving virtual campus, including a criminal justice master’s degree online. The non-thesis program explores every facet of criminal justice, focusing on preventing crime and keeping neighborhoods safe. The school’s alumni work at the FBI, homeland security, Secret Service, courts, police and sheriff’s departments, and in crime labs across the country.
University of North Alabama
|Value Score 7.87||
Set in the Shoals area near the Tennessee border, a four-city region along the Tennessee River famous for the Muscle Shoals sound, UNA is Alabama’s oldest public, four-year university. The school was founded in 1830, and in the 1870s became one of the first institutions of higher learning in the nation to admit women. Today, it’s a comprehensive regional university with 8,000 students enrolled in its four colleges — Arts and Sciences, Business, Nursing, and Education.
UNA is also very active online with a dozen baccalaureate and graduate level degree programs available in its virtual classrooms. Among them is an affordable online master degree in criminal justice, which explores all aspects of law enforcement in America, including forensics, psychology and sociology, intelligence and security, political science, and emergency response and disaster management. The school uses the Canvas platform to deliver its digital curriculum and participates in the national Quality Matters program, which ensures that online education adheres to the highest standards.
Albany State University
|Value Score 7.76||
ASU is one of three historically black colleges in the University System of Georgia. Based in the small city of Albany in the southwest corner of the state, the school is home to 3,500 students pursuing degrees from the bachelors to the doctoral level in fifty disciplines. The school has won national rankings for the excellence and affordability of its online programs, and it’s particularly strong in the field of forensics.
The online master’s in criminal science requires 30 hours of classroom study as well as a thesis, delving deep into the theoretical, philosophical, and methodological underpinnings of law enforcement. The first online graduate program within the University System of Georgia, it has overtaken the school’s brick-and-mortar version and has more students enrolled than any other criminal justice program in the state’s system. Either the Miller Analogies Test or the GRE must be passed for admission.
University of Oklahoma – Norman Campus
|Value Score 7.66||
Located 20 minutes south of Oklahoma City, the University of Oklahoma is set in the small city of Norman, and it’s the largest school in the state with more than 30,000 students. A giant public research university, UO was founded before Oklahoma even became a state. More than 170 majors are available for students to select from, including a highly regarded online master’s degree in criminal justice.
Offered through the school’s Outreach virtual classroom, the program prepares students for the modern world of law enforcement and stresses the importance of communication with diverse audiences and the ability to creatively solve problems. The curriculum requires 33 hours and is pursued entirely online; in fact, the school has to make sure it has enough interested students to offer the onsite version. Each class is designed for working adults, and can easily be fit between law enforcement shifts.
Tarleton State University
|Value Score 7.53||
One of the 11 universities in the Texas A&M University System, TSU is based in the tiny city of Stephenville, one of several communities that bills itself as the “Cowboy Capital of the World.” More than 12,000 students are currently enrolled in the rapidly growing school, pursuing more than 100 undergrad and graduate degrees on the main campus and at satellites in Waco, Midlothian, and Fort Worth. Students in the school’s virtual Global Campus can earn degrees that carry the same weight as those won in classrooms on Washington Street.
TSU’s affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice has won national recognition for excellence, and it can be pursued entirely online. Graduates are expected to be fluent in the theoretical and legal principles of criminal justice, able to conduct research, make decisions, and assume responsibility in the field. Interested students can learn more by reading the school’s Texas Justice, the newsletter of the criminal justice department.
Armstrong State University
|Value Score 7.49||
Armstrong was founded in 1935 in the southern city of Savannah, Georgia. With a 268-acre arboretum-style campus just a short drive from the shore, ASU is set right in the heart of the city. The admiration likes to say that with 7,000 “Pirates,” Armstrong is small enough to cultivate a real sense of community but large enough to offer more than 100 fields of study. As a four-year public university, and part of the University System of Georgia, ASU provides its students with a wealth of options, including a very strong online arm.
The school offers an online master’s degree in criminal justice. The program requires 36 credit hours to complete, and students have the option of writing a thesis, doing a field practicum, or taking two additional courses. A certificate in the growing field of cybercrime is also available.
Wichita State University
|Value Score 7.35||
Based in metropolitan Wichita, Kansas, WSU is the third-largest university governed by the Kansas Board of Regents. It’s a comprehensive, public research institution, with more than 14,000 students. Founded in 1886 as a “Young Ladies College” or “Congregational Female College” and geared toward producing teachers, the school has been expanding and changing ever since. In addition to the x-acre main campus, WSU has satellite learning centers in four other locations, as well as a digital campus.
The school’s online arm offers the same tuition no matter where you live; dedicated advisors; 24/7 online support; and the same quality education that is taught on campus. The affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice is offered by a department with a wealth of experience — it’s the second-oldest criminal justice program in the nation. The curriculum is offered entirely online, taught by a faculty of law-enforcement professionals with expertise in policing, gangs, fraud, corrections, and courts.
Sul Ross State University
|Value Score 7.23||
Set in the Davis Mountains of West Texas — in the state’s famous Big Bend Region — Sul Ross State University was named for former Texas Governor and Confederate General Lawrence Sullivan Ross. A public school in the Texas State University System, SRSU school serves a nineteen-county area, bringing educational opportunities to more than 3,000 students. The school’s main campus is in the small town of Alpine, and its affiliated Rio Grande College has additional learning centers in Castroville, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Uvalde.
It also has a thriving presence on the web, delivering an array of undergrad and graduates degrees entirely online. SRSU’s criminal justice master’s degree requires four core courses: a seminar on courts and the judiciary; a seminar in criminal justice theory; methods of social research; and a graduate seminar. The school represents Texas through and through, and it was the birthplace of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
New Mexico State University
|Value Score 7.16||
In the southerly city of Las Cruces, NMSU is the flagship of the New Mexico State University system and the only land-grant university in the Sunshine States. It’s the oldest institution of public education in the state, founded in 1888, and it occupies more than 900 acres beneath the scenic Organ Mountains. The school’s criminal justice department is among the oldest in the nation, conferring degrees for more than 50 years — it’s the largest academic department in NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, with more than 900 bachelor’s candidates, and 100 enrolled in the master’s program.
The online master’s degree in criminal justice comes at the field from an interdisciplinary social sciences perspective, preparing students for careers in law enforcement, the courts, social services, and corrections. The course is delivered through the Canvas platform. NMSU is known for its “contribution to the public good,” and for diversity.
Missouri Southern State University
|Value Score 7.13||
Nicknamed MoSo, Missouri Southern is a four-year, public university in the town of Joplin. Just off Route 66, in the foothills of the Ozarks, the school has nearly 6,000 students enrolled in 200 academic programs. Among them is an affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice, which MoSo offers in a partnership with Southeast Missouri State University. Students take classes from both institutions in a fixed rotation spread across six academic terms — four semesters and two summer sessions.
The required 36 credit hours are divided between 18 credits of core classes and 12 credits of electives. Students then have the option of doing a thesis, an internship, or a capstone project for the remaining credits. Everything can be taken online. The curriculum explores the psychological, sociological, economic, and cultural roots of crime, and teaches students to do research, analyze data, and solve problems facing law enforcement professionals.
|Value Score 7.12||
Not to be confused with New York’s Columbia University, Columbia College is a private liberal arts school affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Columbia, Missouri. The school’s 36 learning centers nationwide serve more than 29,000 students every year. Almost 6,000 of those enrolled are pursuing baccalaureate and graduate degrees on CC’s Online Campus.
The virtual classrooms of CC host more than 800 classes annually, leading to 29 online degrees. The school’s web-based master’s in criminal justice is intended for professionals who want to work on the administrative side of their vocation and focuses on four main areas: trends in criminal justice, policy development and analysis, research design, and ethics in criminal justice. Classes are designed to be as hands-on as the web allows, and students can specialize in law enforcement or corrections. Each course last eight weeks, and there are six sessions per year.
Arizona State University – Skysong
|Value Score 7.07||
Just outside of Phoenix, Arizona State has a long history as a trendsetter. The huge public research university is renowned for innovation — it even has a center devoted to new technologies and new thinking called Skysong. The school currently educates more than 90,000 students across all its campuses, including the classrooms it hosts in cyberspace. And its graduate programs are consistently listed among the best in the nation.
ASU provides extensive opportunities for students across the globe to take advantage of its high-quality education, offering more than 100 degree programs entirely online. Among them is an affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice. The 33-credit curriculum takes a broad look at crime, why it happens, and its impact on society. The centerpiece is a capstone course, theory and practice in criminal justice, in which students must write a thesis paper.
|Value Score 7.04||
Located in the city of Beaumont, 90 miles outside of Houston, Lamar U is one of the fastest-growing schools in Texas, with about 15,000 students. Part of the Texas State University System, LU was founded as a junior college in the 1920s and has seen enrollment increase by 78% across the past decade.
The school’s affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice requires 36 credit hours and emphasizes both practical skills and theoretical concepts. The program is designed to ready students for administrative-level jobs in law enforcement, the courts, and the social services. It does not require a thesis but does include two comprehensive exams — one after 18 hours of coursework and the other after 27 hours. Classes are delivered through the Blackboard platform.
Delta State University
|Value Score 6.96||
Delta State or DSU got its start as a teacher’s college in 1925 in the small city of Cleveland in the Mississippi Delta. Two hours south of Memphis, the school is one of eight publicly funded universities in Mississippi, and is known for small classes — it has a remarkable 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio — and affordability. The student body of 3,500 pursues degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctoral level in x fields of study, with education remaining one of the most popular fields.
Online students interested in visiting should consider doing so during the school’s famous annual cooking competition, pep rally, and football game. DSU’s online master’s in social justice and criminology is aimed at professionals working in law enforcement and new grads who are interested in criminal justice. The 36 credit-hour curriculum requires either a thesis or a comprehensive written and oral examination.
University of Central Missouri
|Value Score 6.88||
UCM‘s affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice has won national recognition from multiple agencies for both quality and value. Based in Warrensburg, a town of about 19,000 50 miles southeast of Kansas City, this might be due to the fact that the school makes a unique promise to its students in its Learning to a Greater Degree Contract. The contract guarantees that graduates who keep up their own side of the bargain will enter the marketplace with a degree that makes them a top competitor and will graduate on time with less debt.
UCM’s master’s of science in criminal justice is just one of more than 150 degrees offered to the school’s 14,000 students, and it has become one of the most respected programs of its kind in the world. Founded in 1962, the program is designed for students who want to take administrative or leadership positions in criminal justice fields. Coursework emphasizes organization, management, and leadership, and information acquisition, analysis, and interpretation.
University of Massachusetts – Lowell
|Value Score 6.82||
A national research university with more than 17,000 students, UMass Lowell sits beside the Merrimack River in the old mill town of Lowell, 30 miles northwest of Boston. The school’s reputation for quality has been on the rise in recent years — it has been nationally recognized as one of the country’s top public universities for the better part of a decade — and it emphasizes a hands-on approach to education. River Hawks can choose from among almost 200 degree programs from the baccalaureate to doctoral level, including a web-based master’s in criminal justice.
Students are required to take five core courses — administration of justice, criminological theory: foundations, research design, descriptive and inferential statistics, and managing justice organizations or law and public policy — along with six electives. It can be completed entirely online.
|Value Score 6.81||
Founded in 1887 as a teachers college in the small city of Troy, Alabama, Troy U has grown into a comprehensive public university — and a large worldwide institution. Troy educates more than 19,000 Trojans on four campuses in Alabama, 60 sites across the country, and centers in 11 countries. All that in addition to its virtual classrooms.
The school’s criminal justice department is one of its largest, with baccalaureate, master’s degrees, and minors in forensics, homeland security, legal studies, and cybercrime. All programs can be completed online, in the classroom, or in hybrid form. The affordable online master’s in criminal justice is noted for its value, its excellent faculty, and rigorous standards. It was designed for students who want to work toward a terminal degree in criminal justice and for law-enforcement professionals who would like to advance their careers while remaining on the job.
University of Colorado Denver
|Value Score 6.72||
UCD is split into three campuses– the main campus in Denver, the medical campus in Aurora, and the virtual campus on the web. It’s a massive institution — one of the biggest employers in the state capital. The school wins more research grants and awards more graduate degrees than any other school in the state of Colorado. Considered one of the best public colleges in the nation, it’s particularly famous for its medical school, but it’s also strong in nursing, pharmaceutics, and public affairs.
The school’s online master’s of criminal justice focuses on law enforcement, the judiciary, corrections, juvenile justice, and law-making. The course can be taken entirely via the web or combined with time in the classroom, and it has a proven track record; more than 40 police chiefs in Colorado got their master’s at CU, along with CIA and FBI agents and many academics. CU Online has a free webinar for anyone interested in more information.
Concordia University – Saint Paul
|Value Score 6.68||
CSP is a small, private school of 4,000 affiliated with the Lutheran Church and based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Founded in 1893 to educate prospective ministers, it’s evolved into a more traditional liberal arts university with 53 degree programs in a wide variety of disciplines, though it remains “Christ centered.”
The school’s affordable online master’s in criminal justice leadership is a 36-credit hour program designed to be completed in seven weeks entirely in the digital domain. It’s aimed at professionals already working in the field, and its scheduled asynchronously to allow for maximum scheduling flexibility. Ninety-two percent of graduates from CSP are employed after graduation. The school is committed to affordability and makes every effort to help students transfer credits.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
|Value Score 6.55||
UA-Little Rock is a comprehensive, metropolitan research university, offering more than 160 degree programs to its 18,000 students. A public, land-grant, and space grant, school, it’s come a long way from its founding in 1927 as a small junior college. UALR offers a master’s degree in criminal justice that provides students with a solid foundation in the advanced concepts of criminal justice, including supervisory and administrative proficiency and methodological and statistical skills.
The program requires a baccalaureate degree, a history of work in the field, and a score of at least 50 on the Miller Analogies Test or a 900 on the GRE. Up to six hours of credit may be transferred. The 36 credit hours are split in half between core and elective courses, and the program differs slightly from the classroom version — students interested in pursuing a PhD in criminal justice are recommended to attend in person rather than online.)
Southeast Missouri State University
|Value Score 6.44||
Southeast Missouri State was founded as a teacher’s college in 1873 on the banks of the mighty Mississippi in the small southeastern city of Cape Girardeau. (Mark Twain mentioned the school in Life on the Mississippi.) It has since grown into a comprehensive university with 12,000 students enrolled in more than 200 different fields of study. Still strong in education, the school has a growing reputation in the performing arts, thanks to its new River Campus and the Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts.
The university also has a thriving online presence, including its web-based master’s degree in criminal justice, which it offers in partnership with Missouri Southern University. Classes are taken from both institutions across six academic terms — four semesters and two summer sessions. The required 36 credit hours are divided between 18 credits of core classes and 12 credits of electives. The remaining credits are awarded for a thesis, a capstone project, or an internship. The curriculum explores the psychological, sociological, economic, and cultural roots of crime, and teaches students to do research, analyze data, and solve the various problems facing law enforcement professionals. It has won national recognition for excellence, and all classes are available online.
Auburn University at Montgomery
|Value Score 6.44||
AUM was created in 1967 by the state of Alabama at the behest of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce. Businesses in the city needed better educated employees. Almost 50 years later, the school has blossomed into one of the top universities in the South. Students attend classes at its five colleges — Business, Education, Arts and Sciences, Nursing and Health Sciences, and Public Policy and Justice – in more than 90 different disciplines. Online students won’t have the opportunity to attend traditions like Shriek Week or be welcomed with a War hawk WOW, but they can select from more than two dozen different digitally-delivered degree programs.
The web-based master’s of science in justice and public safety explores all facets of modern law enforcement, juvenile justice, corrections, and security. It’s delivered in an accelerated format and can be completed in as little as one year. Students not based in Alabama can still get a reduced rate on tuition for the award-winning program.
University of Wisconsin – Platteville
|Value Score 6.21||
Set in the small city of Platteville in the southwestern part of the state, UWP has been growing faster than any other school in the University of Wisconsin System. From 2004 to 2013, the student body has grown by 40%, and now numbers almost 9,000. In 2014, the 800-acre campus was hit by a devastating tornado, but the university quickly rebounded. In addition to its programs offered on campus, UWP hosts eight in its virtual classrooms.
The school has 35 years of experience in distance learning. Its affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice features three specializations: criminal justice theory, criminal justice management, and victim and offender services. This program can be completed entirely online.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
|Value Score 6.20||
UAF is the nation’s northern-most land, sea, and space grant university, and the flagship of the University of Alaska System. Almost 10,000 “Nanooks” attend the school, arriving from every state except Delaware and 48 different countries, selecting from among from 180 degree programs. They study on six different community campuses spread along the extraordinarily scenic coast, in addition to the main campus in Fairbanks, and enjoy a great deal of attention. The school has a 12:1 student to faculty ratio.
Nanooks in UAF’s elearning program have access to more than a dozen degree programs, including a master of arts in the administration of justice. This 30-credit course examines the structure and workings of the U.S. criminal justice system. Students in the program have the opportunity to avail themselves of the spectacular scenery and terrain.
University of Louisiana at Monroe
|Value Score 6.16||
ULM is set in the historic city of Monroe, Louisiana’s eighth largest, in the northeast of the Bayou State. A comprehensive public university, the school has almost 9,000 students and is known for its medical school and nursing and pharmaceutical programs.
The school’s affordable master’s in criminal justice has been singled out for excellence, listed among the best in the country. Students can elect to pursue the degree in 33 credit hours, with a thesis, or in 36 without, and it typically takes 18 to 24 months to finish. Classes follow the traditional ULM schedule and are delivered through the Moodle platform. A bachelor’s degree and the GRE are both required for admission. Notably, ULM is the alma mater of country singer Tim McGraw.
Saint Leo University
|Value Score 6.10||
St. Leo, a Florida-based liberal arts school, was founded by the Order of Saint Benedict of Florida and is one of the largest Catholic institutions of higher learning in the country, but remains open to people of all faiths. The school serves more than 16,000 students. About 3,000 of them study online in the school’s virtual classrooms, which offer the same rigorous education as their more traditional counterpart. St. Leo has been hosting classes online since the 90s, and it has a sterling reputation for quality and affordability.
The web-based master’s in criminal justice prepares both active duty and aspiring professionals for careers at the highest levels of law enforcement. Classes explore such issues as public policy making, ethics and legal issues, leadership and management, offender treatment, forensic science, terrorism, hostage negotiation, and major trends in criminal justice.
|Value Score 6.04||
Wilmington U is named for the biggest city in Delaware, and it has more than a dozen campuses and learning centers in surrounding towns. But today, the vast majority of its 21,000 students — more than 41% — attend classes in cyberspace. With no residential facilities, WILMU has always been a commuter school. It confers degrees from the associate to the doctoral level and has more than 90 degree programs from which to choose.
The master’s in administration of justice offers three specialized concentrations — criminal behavior, leadership and administration, and homeland security — and can be completed entirely online or in a hybrid of virtual and real classrooms. Online students have access to the same support services as traditional students, including advising, tutoring, library resources, and tech support. WILMU also gives prospective students the opportunity to see how their web-based courses work on their site.
Fairmont State University
|Value Score 6.03||
Founded in 1865 as the first private normal school in Fairmont, West Virginia, FSU is now a growing public university and part of an expanding high-tech corridor in the Mountain State. With more than 4,600 hundred students, and three campuses, it’s now among the largest institutions of higher learning in West Virginia. Falcons select from 80 baccalaureate and five graduate degree programs, which includes a wide variety of online options.
The master’s degree in criminal justice can be completed entirely via the web, and students can select from a thesis track or a capstone track. Thirty credit hours are required for graduation. The program gives students a thorough education in criminal law and policy, police and correctional systems, the judiciary and the administration of justice, and the impact of criminal behavior on the public, and prepares them for research, teaching, management, and administrative careers in local, state, and federal law enforcement and social service agencies. Classes are delivered through the Blackboard platform.
University of Central Florida
|Value Score 6.01||
Based on population, UCF is the single largest university in the United States. The metropolitan research university serves more than 63,000 students from its home in Orlando, Florida. The school began life as Florida Technological University, with the goal of providing an educated workforce to support the growth of Kennedy Space Center and NASA’s Space Coast, and today it has 12 satellites spread across the Sunshine State. Students can select from among 200 some degrees programs, in traditional classrooms, or in online format.
The school’s affordable online master’s degree in criminal justice takes an interdisciplinary approach, exploring the historical, economic, philosophical, and political forces shaping crime and punishment in the U.S. The 36-hour curriculum requires a capstone course. UCF also offers a master’s which combines a master’s in criminal science with a graduate degree in public administration.
|Value Score 5.98||
National is a fitting name for a university system with locations spread across the country. Based in La Jolla, California, the private non-profit chain serves more than 23,000 students, many of them distance learners. The university is organized into five schools (Business and Management, Engineering and Computing, Health and Human Services, Education, and Professional Studies) and one college (Letters and Sciences), providing more than 100 degree programs. The school has earned a reputation nationwide for granting advanced degrees to women and minorities.
The master’s in criminal justice teaches students to: compare and contrast the American justice system with others; evaluate issues relating to policing; analyze court decisions; evaluate management practices in criminal justice; and develop oral, written, and technological communication. The degree can be pursued entirely online and requires eight core courses and four electives. National’s online campus provides interactive learning environments 24/7.
Saint Cloud State University
|Value Score 5.84||
St. Cloud State serves 15,000 students from its home on the banks of the Mississippi in the Minnesota city of St. Cloud. One of the largest schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, St. Cloud is a regional, comprehensive university offering more than 200 majors, minors, and professional certifications. It has become known for its welcoming approach to first year students.
The school’s master’s of criminal justice degree can be pursued entirely via the web, and it can be tailored to suit the needs of the student. The school has been teaching the program for over 35 years, and three specializations are available — criminal justice administration, criminal justice counseling, or an elective. More than 96% of graduates pass the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
|Value Score 5.76||
“The Rock” enjoys a bucolic setting in the rolling hill country of western Pennsylvania. Named for the tiny town in which it resides, Slippery Rock is a comprehensive four-year university with roots as a teachers college. More than 8,500 students attend, many of them on the school’s sprawling 600-acre campus 50 miles north of Pittsburgh.
SRU’s affordable online master’s in criminal justice comprises a 30-credit-hour curriculum. It is designed to be completed in 15-18 months and explores all aspects of contemporary law enforcement. Coursework combines practical skills, theory, and research and students can select a thesis, internship, or general track, which requires completion of two additional electives. There’s also the option of a securities studies specialization, which includes an array of classes in fraud, white-collar crime, terrorism, forensics, and international crime.
Salve Regina University
|Value Score 5.75||
The campus of Salve Regina is a thing to behold. Its 80 acres sit near Newport, Rhode Island’s famous Cliff Walk, and include seven estates from the resort community’s Gilded Age, when titans of industry built palatial “cottages” for summer getaways. No surprise then that the Catholic university of 2,700, founded by the Sisters of Mercy, was the first college in New England to get a grant for historical preservation or that the school is a popular place to host weddings.
The school’s master’s in administration of justice and homeland security degree is a 36-credit hour program that can be completed entirely online, and it looks at the discipline in historical, philosophical, ethical, behavioral, legal, policy, and technological contexts. Students can choose to specialize in cybersecurity and intelligence, digital forensics, or leadership and justice.
|Value Score 5.45||
Bellevue University may be based in Bellevue, Nebraska, but it has a global footprint. The private, non-profit university has 15 locations in four states, a partnership with a school in Guangzhou, China, and an online presence that brings its vision and values to 10,000 students around the world, including many active duty military. The school actively promotes capitalism, democracy, and the American way of life, and it is market-focused, believing that education should lead directly to employment. BU’s unique in that the average age of its students is older than many other colleges and universities at 25.
The school’s master’s in justice administration and crime management is designed for law enforcement professionals in public, civilian, or commissioned positions. The program is cohort-based and can be pursued in class and online. Students become confident communicators and problem-solvers, with the ability to analyze forensic data, apply the latest theory to criminal case management, plan and create budgets, lead a team, and collaborate with a variety of public and private agencies.
University of Memphis
|Value Score 5.35||
Based in the quiet, Normal Station neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee, the U of M is the flagship of the Tennessee Board of Regents system. More than 20,000 students attend the massive research institution, spread across eight different sites, and in cyberspace, and the vast majority are undergrads. U of M confers degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctoral level in more than 300 fields of study.
The school’s online master’s offerings have been nationally recognized, and include a master’s in criminal justice. The graduate program of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, it requires 33-credit hours of classes and can be completed entirely online. The curriculum aims to provide students with a deep understanding of criminological principles, theories, and concepts, and appreciation of crime and punishment in public policy decisions. Graduates develop critical analytical and research skills.
Wayland Baptist University
|Value Score 5.34||
Wayland Baptist has grown exponentially since it was founded in 1908 in the north Texas city of Plainville. The Christian university has more than 8,000 students at 14 campuses in five Texas cities, six states – and in Kenya, too. It has been offering web-based classes since the turn of the millennium and is now among the fastest-growing online Christian colleges.
Whether at a desk in Plainville or online, students receive the same amount of personal attention and WBU’s teaching remains faith-based. The online master’s in criminal justice is a 36-hour course divided in half between core classes and electives, and it focuses on legal issues and ethics, criminal vs. civil law, law enforcement administration, and American Constitutional law. The school is an affiliate of the Southern Regional Education Boards’ Electronic Campus.
|Value Score 4.88||
A private, liberal arts school of about 3,200 students based in the city of Montgomery Alabama, Faulkner is affiliated with the Churches of Christ. The school requires all its undergrads to put in 160 hours of community service. More than 70 degrees are offered by its five different colleges: Arts and Sciences, Biblical Studies, Business and Executive Education, Education, and Law.
The school’s online arm offers 23 degree programs. These include a master’s in justice administration, which is grounded in Christian principles and ethics. The program is cohort based, and the curriculum requires 10 courses and can be completed in as little as 10 months entirely via the web. Students take a single class at a time for a six-week period and are expected to put in 12 to 15 hours per course.
Indiana Wesleyan University – Marion
|Value Score 4.82||
IWU-Marion is the largest private institution of higher learning in Indiana and the biggest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Based in the suburb of Marion, about an hour from both Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, IWU is a comprehensive, evangelical, liberal arts school with more than 15,000 students spread across its campuses in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and on the world wide web. Only 3,000 are enrolled on its 345-acre main campus; more than 10,000 are in the school’s nationally recognized adult ed and online programs.
Among these is the master’s of public administration. The 36-credit curriculum consists of 24 credits of core classes and 12 credits of specialization in criminal justice, non-profit administration, and public management. Graduates have all the credentials to assume leadership roles in law enforcement, and local, state, and federal government. Web-based learners have access to the same library, advising, and tech support as traditional students.
McNeese State University
|Value Score 4.70||
One of the nine universities in the University of Louisiana System, McNeese State is set in Lake Charles, a city of 75,000 in the heel of Louisiana’s boot. Founded in 1939 as a junior college, it’s now a regional public university serving about 8,000 students from a broad area. The prestigious Carnegie Foundation classified MSU as a Master’s University. The tree-lined 121-acre campus is augmented by McNeese Farm, the Louisiana Environmental Research Center, and nearly 1,600 other acres used for researching agriculture and ranching.
MSU offers more than 75 degree programs through its colleges of business, education, engineering and computer science, liberal arts, nursing, science, and the Doré School of Graduate Studies. A master’s of criminal science, focusing on justice administration, can be completed entirely online.
Youngstown State University
|Value Score 4.61||
Youngstown State calls itself “halfway between Believeland and the Burgh.” In other words, the university’s home in the city of Youngstown is almost equidistant from Cleveland and Pittsburgh. What started out as a single law course offered at the local YMCA has blossomed into a growing research university with more than 12,000 students pursuing degrees in over 150 fields of study.
Ten of these are hosted online, including an affordable master’s in criminal justice that focuses on management and public planning. The 30-credit curriculum requires students to take two courses a semester in an asynchronous format, so students can proceed on their own time and can continue to work full-time. At least one summer session is also expected, and graduates must write and defend a thesis.
University of Colorado – Colorado Springs
|Value Score 4.50||
Set against the spectacular backdrop of the snow-covered Rockies, CU Colorado Springs is one of the fastest-growing universities in the state. More than 12,000 students attend school on the 520-acre campus, among them 25 U.S. Olympic hopefuls. Another 3,000 take their classes via the information superhighway. UCCS offers more than 70 degree programs from the bachelor’s to doctoral levels.
The master’s in criminal justice “provides students the opportunity to explore the origins, consequences, and control of crime,” according to program director Jonathan Caudill. The curriculum takes an interdisciplinary approach, factoring in law enforcement, the judiciary, correctional systems, juvenile discipline, and the legal system. Graduates must take either a thesis track or capstone track and do some form of internship. The GMAT or LSAT is requisite for admission.
|Value Score 4.28||
Mississippi College has a thriving online campus in addition to its brick-and-mortar home in Clinton, just west of the state capital of Jackson. Notably, it was the first co-ed college in America to grant a degree to a woman back in 1831. Affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, it’s the largest private college in the Magnolia State with more than 5,000 students.
The school’s master’s in homeland security is aimed at professionals who want to advance an anti-terrorism career, and focuses on the administration of justice. Accreditation is through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida State University
|Value Score 4.19||
Everything about Florida State University is big, from its enrollment to its campus to its impact on the economy. More than 41,000 students attend the Tallahassee-based school, many of them on its 500-acre main campus, and contribute toward FSU’s economic impact of $10 billion. The university comprises 16 different colleges and has over 110 different centers and research areas. The faculty numbers over 2,400 and has included six Nobel Laureates.
Students can select from more than 341 degree programs, from the bachelor’s to doctoral level. The school’s online master’s in criminal justice is considered among the nation’s best, and consists of 36 credit hours, 15 of which must come from the core curriculum. Up to six credit hours may be transferred and applied to the degree. All classes follow the FSU schedule, and some courses may require students to purchase a Course Packet, which includes media, textbooks, and workbooks.
|Value Score N/A||
Founded in 1898, Northeastern has been an institution in Boston for more than a century, and in recent years its profile has risen dramatically. The huge private university is now considered one of the better schools in a city filled with exceptional schools. Classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a doctoral university with the highest research activity, Northeastern has a huge presence in the city with more than 25,000 students spread from Fenway and Back Bay to the South End and Roxbury. The school now has satellites in Charlotte, Seattle, Washington, Silicon Valley, and Toronto.
The school’s online master’s of criminal justice is designed to prepare future leaders in the judiciary, corrections, law enforcement, and private security. Emphasis is placed on communications, ethics, and management. Topics covered include trends in criminal behavior, including street violence and gangs, drugs and guns, cybercrime, human trafficking, and terrorism.