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Master’s in Criminal Justice – Programs, Accreditation, & Requirements

Statue of Lady Justice symbolizes what a student learns in a master's in criminal justice degree program.

There are many different master’s programs in criminal justice that you can pursue. When making your decision, it is essential to consider all of your options and find the program that best fits your needs.

This article will discuss some of the top master’s programs in criminal justice. And what makes them stand out from the rest. We will also provide you with information on choosing the right program.

What Is a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice?

A master's degree in criminal justice is an advanced degree that can prepare students for law enforcement and corrections careers. Also, it prepares students for other criminal justice fields.

Students who earn a master’s degree in criminal justice can pursue jobs like police officers, federal agents, or parole officers.

Many different schools offer master’s degrees in criminal justice. Some of the most popular schools include John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Northeastern University, and Michigan State University.

Each of these schools offers a unique program that can provide students with the skills to succeed in criminal justice.

Students interested in earning a master’s degree in criminal justice should research different programs and find one that fits their needs.

Reasons to Pursue a Masters’ in Criminal Justice

By pursuing a masters’ degree in criminal justice, individuals will learn to better understand the criminal justice system. Additionally, students can develop critical thinking and research skills. The program can also prepare students for law enforcement, corrections, or security careers.

Here are some of the reasons you should pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice.

It Opens Doors for Other Career Options

A masters’ degree in criminal justice can open doors for other career options. For example, many students pursue a law degree after completing their master’s. Additionally, the program can prepare students for careers in law enforcement, corrections, or security.

During your masters’ degree in criminal justice, you can apply the skills you learn to several different fields. The program provides students with a broad understanding of the criminal justice system.

It Helps You Gain Experience and Knowledge

A masters’ degree in criminal justice can help you gain experience and knowledge. The program provides students with an opportunity to work with experienced professionals. Students also have the opportunity to participate in research projects.

The program can help you gain experience working with different types of people.

Increases Your Chances of Getting a Promotion

A master’s or doctorate in any area means a higher chance of receiving a raise, and law enforcement is no exception. When promotions become accessible, you’re generally on a quicker track to them with an advanced degree.

Consider an online criminal justice master’s as the path to success if you’re already working in law enforcement and want to improve your chances for success.

Improves Your Skills and Helps You Deal with Complex Issues Easily

The master’s program provides students with an opportunity to work with experienced professionals. Students also have the opportunity to participate in research projects.

A comprehensive master’s degree program will teach you about the trends in the criminal justice industry today. It will also give you a blueprint on how to stay up to date in the future. Plus, you’ll learn about resources and tools that professionals in criminal justice can use to deal with complex issues.

Criminal Justice Master’s Degree Careers

1. Intelligence Analyst

Salary: $103,590 per year

A master’s in criminal justice can qualify you for a career as an intelligence analyst. An intelligence analyst gathers and analyzes information about potential threats to national security. They may work for the government, private security firms, or nonprofit organizations.

Intelligence analysis is the process of recognizing difficulties and threats — also, the potential opportunities to better advise decision-makers on how to tackle them in a specific context.

Intelligence analysts must conduct thorough research, analyze various sources, and be skilled in fact-based decision-making to help inform policymakers in the public and private sectors.

2. Forensic Psychologist

Salary: $77,030 per year

Forensic psychologists are distinguished from criminal profilers because they do not perform profiling. Instead, forensic psychologists operate within the legal system, conducting evaluations of potential or convicted criminals and trying to better understand and promote mental health for criminals through therapy services.

Forensic psychologists may assess whether an accused individual is fit to stand trial and evaluate insanity. They also perform and make sentencing or post-incarceration recommendations based on risk assessments. These skilled professionals also conduct a variety of other duties associated with ensuring mental health and public safety.

3. Correctional Officer Supervisor

Salary: $62,500 per year

Supervising rehabilitation professionals is a complex role performed by someone who doesn’t usually deal with offenders. Supervisors of correctional officers often work in places where correctional officials oversee prisoners or in parole departments where guards manage released criminals.

Like all other correction personnel, correctional officer supervisors are responsible for directing them and managing their activities. They also have to ensure that offenders and officers are safe and secure as the general public.

Supervisors in smaller corrections departments may have more correctional functions to manage because they are responsible for more people and activities.

Compared to the supervisor working in a more significant department focused on managing correctional officers, supervisors in smaller corrections departments are responsible for a greater proportion of corrective operations.

4. Criminologist

Salary: $59,060 per year

Criminologists study crime and its causes, as opposed to criminal investigators, who try to solve crimes to offer suggestions for law enforcement and public policy. It may address the nature and origins of illegal activity or the reaction to criminality.

Criminology is thus becoming a distinct field in the social sciences. However, criminologists may also benefit from ideas and theories from other areas such as psychology, sociology, or even environmental science.

Criminologists study crime in society rather than focusing on individuals or crime areas. Criminologists may work in the field or more traditional research settings. They gather information and compile interviews.

They also produce statistical reports to better understand a specific aspect of crime and develop the most effective strategies for addressing it. Criminologists can work for various organizations, including law enforcement and academia.

5. Cybersecurity Investigator

Salary: $98,350 per year

As businesses and governments attempt to shore up their networks against sophisticated attacks, organizations seek out skilled cybersecurity investigators. The job of a cybersecurity investigator is to find the source of these attacks and put a stop to them.

The job requires both technical expertise and investigative skills and the ability to think on your feet and stay one step ahead of the perpetrators. Cybersecurity investigators may work for private companies or government agencies, such as the FBI or NSA.

Due to the sensitive nature of their work, they often have to keep tight lips about their findings. However, we can say that their jobs are in high demand and offer good salaries and benefits.

Top 20 Best Criminal Justice Master’s Programs

1. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville State University has a master’s degree program in criminal justice studies entirely online. The multidisciplinary curriculum will cover law creation, court systems, policing techniques, correctional institutions, and the academic coursework necessary to understand the field.

The good thing about this master’s program is that the university has designed it for working professionals and those just starting their criminal justice education. You can complete the program in as little as 18 months.

Accreditation and Requirements

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits Fayetteville State University.

The school requires you to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to join this master’s program. You also need a GPA of 2.75 or above and undergo a GRE admission test. Additionally, you’ll need to submit an official college transcript(s), recommendation letter, and a statement of purpose/intent.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from Fayetteville State University

2. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Lamar University

Lamar University offers a Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice online. This degree program equips you with the expertise and breadth of understanding in law enforcement that you need to advance into higher-level roles in the criminal justice field.

This program produces fully prepared individuals for upper-level staff, administrative, management, treatment, and planning jobs in criminal justice organizations.

This program is ideal for current law enforcement or criminal justice professionals who wish to move on to work for the FBI, CIA, or other government security agencies.

This university coursework aims to educate you about the criminal justice system and policy in the United States. And theoretical structures of crime control. You’ll learn about analytical techniques, planning and evaluation, disciplinary issues, homeland security, policing and constitutional law, ethics, and criminal justice leadership.

Accreditation and Requirements

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits Lamar University.

Lamar University requires all applicants to have a bachelor’s degree before applying for this program and a GPA of 2.5 or above. The admission test is only the GRE. You must also submit an official college transcript, recommendation/reference letter, resume, and statement of purpose.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from Lamar University

3. Master of Science in Criminology & Criminal Justice – Missouri State University

The online MS in Criminology & Criminal Justice program from Missouri State University equips students to take on various responsibilities and challenges.

This program teaches students to:

  • Think about how different justice policies would work, deciding if they seem fair and if they would help people
  • Improve agency practice using sound leadership and management methods
  • Improve agency operations and control crime utilizing sophisticated research approaches
  • Make decisions about criminal justice policy based on what is known about how it works in practice

Graduates will be prepared to work in federal, state, and local law enforcement, county jails, and federal. Other employment opportunities exist in state prisons, juvenile justice organizations, child victim assistance, homeland security, and counterterrorism.

Accreditation and Requirements

Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accredits Missouri State University.

The minimum education you need to join this program is a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field.

You also need a GPA of 3.0 or above, official college transcripts, a statement of purpose, and a recommendation letter.

View More About the MS in Criminology & Criminal Justice from Missouri State University

4. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – East Carolina University

The online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program equips students to advance their careers in the field. It instructs on a community college level and helps you pursue advanced study in this closely related discipline.

The curriculum allows students to develop into highly educated and capable individuals while still being adaptable. The program’s first half comprises required courses, whereas the second half encompasses electives that are likely relevant to your abilities and objectives.

Some of the essential topics covered in this program include:

  • Principles of criminal justice
  • Criminal behavior
  • Principles of criminal justice administration and management
  • Research and statistical interpretation

Accreditation and Requirements

SACSCOC also accredits East Carolina University.

The minimum education you need to pursue this master’s degree is a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. The recommended GPA is 2.7 or above, and the admission tests include GMAT and GRE.

Other application requirements include an official college transcript, resume/CV, statement of purpose, and a recommendation letter.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from East Carolina University

5. Master of Criminal Justice – Tarleton State University

The online MCJ degree program from Tarleton State University takes you through the difficulties of safeguarding the community and the growing intricacies of the criminal justice system with analytical, critical thinking, and leadership skills.

Whether they want to continue their education after graduation, students can pursue either a thesis or non-thesis track. Subjects such as the following are covered in this program:

  • Ethics and policing
  • Corrections
  • Criminology theory
  • Victimology

Accreditation and Requirements

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits Tarleton State University.

While the minimum education you need to join the program is only a bachelor’s degree, you also need a GPA of 2.5 or above. You need to submit an official college transcript(s) and a recommendation/reference letter and participate in an interview as part of the application process.

View More About the Master of Criminal Justice from Tarleton State University

6. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Albany State University

Albany State University provides a Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree entirely online for students looking to further their education and career in the criminal justice system. This degree focuses on the criminal justice system’s theoretical, methodological, and philosophical aspects.

The curriculum includes topics like:

  • Corrections and law enforcement
  • Forensic science
  • Public administration

The 100 percent online, instructor-led curriculum is designed to give you hands-on training and specialized expertise based on theory. Graduates of this program have a firm grasp of academic writing in criminal justice. They have expert knowledge of our society’s technological and legal complexities.

Accreditation and Requirements

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits the university.

It also requires you to have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field and undergo GRE and GMAT admission tests.

Other application requirements include an official college transcript(s) and recommendation/reference letter(s).

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from Albany State University

7. Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration – University of the Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration through its online program. This degree helps students who want to go on to graduate school and those already working in criminal justice professions who wish to advance within their organizations.

This degree allows rural and local criminal justice agency personnel to engage with other professionals in similar jobs throughout the country and obtain a firsthand look at how larger agencies operate, including state and federal authorities.

Accreditation and Requirements

The SACSCOC accredits the University of the Cumberlands. The minimum education needed to qualify for this master’s program is a bachelor’s degree. You also need a GPA of 3.0 or above. Additionally, you will need to provide an official college transcript(s), essay/writing sample, and a recommendation letter.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice Administration from University of the Cumberlands

8. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Missouri Southern State University

Missouri Southern State University and Southeast Missouri State University collaborate to provide an online criminal justice master’s degree program. Students apply, pay tuition to the school of their choice, and take courses through both institutions online.

This program offers concentrations in:

  • Court Systems
  • Corrections
  • Crime Prevention
  • Law Enforcement
  • Forensic Science

The curriculum provides a comprehensive view of the criminal justice system, emphasizing critical thinking and problem-solving. Students with a bachelor’s degree in any field may apply. Classes start every eight weeks, so it’s easy to fit this program into your busy schedule.

Accreditation and Requirements

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accredits Missouri Southern State University. The Southeast Missouri State University criminal justice master’s degree is not accredited. However, it meets all requirements to be accepted into most other universities across the United States.

Applicants must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or above. You must also submit official college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal statements. GRE/GMAT scores are not required.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from Missouri Southern State University

9. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Northeastern State University

This online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program comprises five core areas: criminal justice systems, crime theory, criminal justice administration, legal issues, and research methods.

You can meet the program’s requirements by selecting electives that match your interests and professional goals. Examples of courses available include topics in forensics and investigation techniques.

This program prepares graduates for administrative, managerial, instructional, or research jobs in the criminal justice sector. Graduates may also choose to pursue graduate studies in criminal justice or a related field.

Accreditation and Requirements

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) also accredits Northeastern State University. The MS in CJ program is additionally accredited by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS).

The minimum requirement to apply for this program is a bachelor’s degree and a GPA of 2.5 or above from an accredited institution. Admission tests include GMAT and GRE. You must submit official college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from Northeastern State University

10. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – University of North Alabama

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program prepares students for careers in law enforcement, corrections, court administration, security and emergency management, and other fields.

Students will study the history of crime in America, evaluate methods in the field, and review criminological theory as the program’s foundation. Following that, students may personalize their studies by selecting electives.

You may pick and choose from some electives, such as:

  • Victimology and Forensic Investigation
  • Contemporary Issues in the Juvenile Justice
  • Nature and Functionality of the American Judicial System

Accreditation and Requirements

The SACSCOC accredits the University of North Alabama. The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 2.75 or above. Admission tests include GRE and GMAT. You must submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from University of North Alabama

11. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – University of Central Florida

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) program is designed to prepare students for jobs in the criminal justice sector, especially as law enforcement and corrections professionals.

The curriculum aims to educate students on how to protect their safety, solve problems, and make the system more progressive and equitable.

Students learn about leadership skills, the forces that shape the criminal justice system, and how to utilize them. It also teaches crime theory and other topics.

Accreditation and Requirements

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The minimum requirement to apply for this program is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. You must also submit official college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from University of Central Florida

12. Master of Science in Criminal Justice with Thesis – William Carey University

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice is a practitioner-based degree designed to meet the demands of students working in the criminal justice sector and those entering the workforce. Courses address current concerns to improve their marketability and career prospects.

Taking the core 24 program hours without a thesis allows you to do it without additional elective course prerequisites. You’ll have to complete six hours of thesis work.

The program targets students who wish to assume leadership responsibilities in their workplaces, communities, and the global environment. William Carey University offers this degree entirely online.

Accreditation and Requirements

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits William Carey University. The minimum requirement to apply for this program is a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. In addition, you must submit official college transcripts.

The online MSCJ program does not require students to take the GRE or GMAT for admission.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from William Carey University

13. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Valdosta State University

The online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program teaches students interested in law enforcement, crime analysis, and criminalistics careers. It also teaches criminal justice education and allows students to pursue further law school studies or a doctoral program.
The curriculum features:

  • Criminal Justice System Structure and Function
  • The Study of Criminology Theories
  • Scientific Research Methods
  • Statistic Techniques in the Study of Crime
  • Exams of Criminal Justice Systems Around the World

You must select a track based on two options. They include:

  • Applied criminal justice – This examines courts, penalties, or law enforcement.
  • Research and Theory – This one analyzes crime causes and connections theoretically and analytically.

Accreditation and Requirements

Valdosta State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The minimum requirement to apply for this program is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Additionally, you need to have a minimum GPA of 2.75 or above and undergo GRE and GMAT admission tests. You must also submit official college transcripts and letters of recommendation.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from Valdosta State University

14. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Texas A&M International University

Consider the online Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Texas A&M International University to advance your career as a working professional in the criminal justice or legal system. This program is adaptable, allowing you to balance outside commitments while still learning.

You’ll study contemporary criminal justice issues in the United States and other nations. The criminal justice system’s corrections, ethics, and law will be explored in-depth, with critical consideration given to theory and policies.

Accreditation and Requirements

The online MS in CJ from TAMIU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

To apply, you must have completed a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 2.5 or above. You’ll also need to submit GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

Texas A&M International University is authorized to operate as an institution of higher education by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from Texas A&M International University

15. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – University of North Georgia

The University of North Georgia’s online MS in Criminal Justice program is for professionals with legal or military experience who want to advance their careers.

Some of the topics that this program covers include:

  • Criminal justice policy
  • Police and society
  • International security issues
  • Forensic behavioral analysis

Accreditation and Requirements

The University of North Georgia is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

To apply, you must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75 or above in criminal justice or a related field from an accredited institution. Additionally, you’ll need to submit an official college transcript, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from University of North Georgia

16. Master of Criminal Justice – New Mexico State University

Students who want to pursue doctoral studies or work in law enforcement, court, and corrections agencies may benefit from the online Master of Criminal Justice degree program.

Graduates will be able to teach in criminal justice, work in the field, or pursue postgraduate studies. The curriculum includes courses on analysis and theory and lessons on methods, policies, criminology, diversity, and ethics.

Accreditation and Requirements

The Higher Learning Commission accredits the online MCJ degree program from NMSU.

You must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of at least a B or equivalent and submit GRE scores to be admitted. You must also provide an official college transcript, resume/CV, and a recommendation/reference letter.

NMSU is authorized to operate as an institution of higher education by the New Mexico Higher Education Department.

View More About the Master of Criminal Justice from New Mexico State University

17. Master of Arts in Law Enforcement & Justice Administration – Western Illinois University

The online Master of Arts in Law Enforcement & Justice Administration program assists students who want to advance in their current or future professions in criminal justice and related fields while also preparing for doctorate and law degree programs.

This comprehensive, interdisciplinary education instills analytical, administrative, and legal knowledge, research techniques, and the ability to lead in the field.

You should expect to take courses on administration, criminological theory, civil and criminal liability, quantitative skills, and specialized areas such as policing, corrections, and security.

Accreditation and Requirements

The Higher Learning Commission accredits the MA in LEJA from WIU.

To apply, you must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or equivalent. You must also provide an official college transcript, letters of recommendation, essay sample, and a resume/CV.

View More About the MA in Law Enforcement & Justice Administration from Western Illinois University

18. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Angelo State University

This university offers a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice for students and professionals who wish to pursue leadership or higher positions in the legal, law enforcement, or criminal justice systems.

Students will study the many research approaches, statistics, program planning and management, policy analysis, and program evaluation procedures used in criminal justice.

They will also learn about the agencies of the criminal justice system and the functions of professionals in that system.

Accreditation and Requirements

The MS in CJ from Angelo State is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

You need a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of at least 2.75 or above to apply. You must also provide an official college transcript, letters of recommendation, essay sample, and a resume/CV.

Angelo State University is authorized to operate as an institution of higher education by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

You can complete this program entirely online.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from Angelo State University

19. Master of Science in Juvenile Justice – Prairie View A&M University

This online Master of Science in Juvenile Justice program equips students to participate actively in juvenile justice research. Students gain the training they need to operate effectively within the system.

The educational program is multidisciplinary, covering sociology, criminology, psychology, economics, administration, methodology, and statistics. The curriculum covers all aspects of the juvenile justice system.

You’ll study juvenile crime and delinquency, intervention and prevention techniques, juvenile delinquency programs and laws, and theoretical explanations for juvenile delinquency and crime.

Accreditation and Requirements

The MS in Juvenile Justice from PVAMU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

To apply, you should have a bachelor’s degree, a GPA of 2.75 or above, and pass the GRE admission test. You must provide an official college transcript, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. You can complete this program entirely online.

View More About the MS in Juvenile Justice from Prairie View A&M University

20. Master of Science in Criminal Justice – University of Oklahoma

This online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program develops highly trained and experienced professionals capable of protecting the public, forming communities, and communicating with the media.

It develops ethical leaders capable of engaging effectively with various people, analyzing challenging issues, thinking critically and analytically, and creating beneficial public interactions.

The curriculum is adaptable to each student’s requirements. It features tracks in various disciplines to help you focus on the area most interests you.

Accreditation and Requirements

The Higher Learning Commission accredits the MS in CJ from the University of Oklahoma. To apply, you must have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA of at least 3.0 or above. You must also provide an official college transcript, a statement of purpose/intent, and a resume/CV.

View More About the MS in Criminal Justice from University of Oklahoma

Conclusion

If you are looking for a quality online criminal justice master’s degree, the schools listed above should be at the top of your list. Each of these programs offers something unique. They will also provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to pursue a successful career in this field. To see more criminal justice degrees online, check out the list of online degrees at GetEducated.com.

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