Be a leader in securing and protecting the world around you. Earn one of the Best Online Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice.
The world is changing fast. As technology advances, the global picture changes, and new threats evolve and grow stronger each day. We need leaders who are prepared in the criminal justice field to ensure the safety and protection of society. From actively fighting crime on the ground to understanding and executing the responsibilities of the judicial system, the responsibility is great.
Who do we depend on for this security? We depend on leaders ranging from police officers to private detectives to forensic scientists. We depend on public servants who are committed to upholding and protecting the law. We depend on Criminal Justice professionals.
What is an Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice?
Criminal Justice professionals are the experts who carry out essential, high-stakes responsibilities in security, law enforcement, and public service. An online Master’s degree in Criminal Justice prepares professionals who are experts in legal, practical, and social threats.
Beyond the knowledge of a changing justice and crime landscape, professionals who complete a Master’s in Criminal Justice possess the tools for solving problems, advocating for the accused or threatened, and understanding the intricacies of the criminal justice system. Degree-holders are prepared for specialized careers in public service, from hands-on protective services and law enforcement to scientists and legal justice aids.
How much can you earn with an Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice?
There are several different career in Criminal Justice, and those with a Master’s degree have varied earning potential. According to Payscale.com, professionals earn between $43,145 to $157,482 depending on their chosen specialty. Paralegals and Probation Officers may trend towards the lower end of the spectrum, whereas a Chief Information Security Officer has the potential for a high salary. One thing is clear: the demand for security and criminal justice professionals will only increase, so students considering an online MS in Criminal Justice can look forward to rapid job growth.
What is required for an Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice?
Most online Master’s degree programs in Criminal Justice require a basic application, a resume or CV, an application fee, direct references or letters of recommendation, and a personal statement of purpose.
Many programs require educational background in a related field such as law enforcement, criminology, social services, or forensics, though some allow for remedial work to fulfill prerequisites. Some degree programs also look for a minimum GPA ranging from 2.75 to 3.0, and GRE requirements vary.
Students in an online Master’s in Criminal Justice program can expect to complete between 30 and 45 credit hours for the degree, generally including a combination of core curriculum and electives. Some programs offer internship opportunities, and in most some form of final evaluation is required, such as a thesis paper or exam.
What are the Best Online Master’s Degrees in Criminal Justice?
OSR uses six data points: three school-wide and three program specific. For school-wide, OSR uses Student Satisfaction, Admission Rates, and the number of programs the school offers online. For program specific, OSR checks the Median Debt of graduates from that program, how many degrees are offered within that program’s umbrella department, and what percentage of students at that school graduated from that department.
The six statistics are displayed by each school. The sliding bar under each statistic represents how that school compares to other US institutions. “Not reported” means a school did not release that information to the US Department of Education. A more detailed description of the OSR process can be found on the methodology page.
Saint Leo University
- Tuition: $9,990(in state) / $9,990(out of state)
- Internship opportunities available as part of study
- Educational partner with the FBI National Academy Associates
- Capstone, hands-on learning course component
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.00%Admission Rate58%Programs offered online22
Program LevelMedian Debt$56,375Programs in Department8Popularity at School19.10%100%OSR Score
Saint Leo University offers an MS in Criminal Justice online via either a traditional or accelerated track. Degree-seekers may complete the program in two years, or opt to accelerate their work even faster with approval. The program is made up of 36 total credit hours, with five classes of core curriculum and six electives.
University of New Haven
- Tuition: $16,020(in state) / $16,020(out of state)
- Online faculty ranked best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report
- Six start dates throughout the year
- 50% discount for active Connecticut police officers and firefighters
School WideStudent Satisfaction73.60%Admission Rate88%Programs offered online1
Program LevelMedian Debt$40,971Programs in Department3Popularity at School47.20%96%OSR Score
This MS in Criminal Justice from the University of New Haven is a nationally recognized degree conducted entirely online. A 12 credit hour core curriculum provides the foundation for the full 36 credit hour program, with three areas of focus in Crime Analysis, Police Behavioral Studies, and Leadership and Management. Students select 24 credits of electives to make up the majority of their degree.
- Tuition: $8,217(in state) / $8,217(out of state)
- Transfer credits up to 50% of degree total
- Takes 1.5 years to complete
- Non-profit university keeps costs low
School WideStudent Satisfaction73.40%Admission Rate30%Programs offered online23
Program LevelMedian Debt$34,312Programs in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School6.20%92%OSR Score
The Master’s in Criminal Justice at Liberty University is 100 percent online, and suited for those just starting their careers or developing further. The program offers specializations in Forensic Psychology, General Studies, Homeland Security, or Public Administration to enhance the degree. Students must complete 36 credit hours total, including an optional thesis program.
University of the Cumberlands
- Tuition: $5,670(in state) / $5,670(out of state)
- Eight specialization options
- Program can be completed in 1 year
- Same cost for in-state and out-of-state students
School WideStudent Satisfaction75.80%Admission Rate74%Programs offered online15
Program LevelMedian Debt$14,249Programs in Department2Popularity at School10.80%89%OSR Score
University of the Cumberlands offers a Master’s in Justice Administration that incorporates a core curriculum as well as a wide variety of specializations. The program requires 31 total credit hours, with 18 going to core courses and 12 to specialization courses. All graduates must also complete a capstone project for degree achievement.
Sam Houston State University
- Tuition: $5,391(in state) / $12,861(out of state)
- Highly rated faculty and degree program
- Flexibility for employed students
- Final degree title does not read “online”
School WideStudent Satisfaction76.00%Admission Rate74%Programs offered online7
Program LevelMedian Debt$34,638Programs in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School21.00%87%OSR Score
This online MS in Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University was ranked #1 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Designed for working professionals, the program requires 36 credit hours and furthers students’ careers in police administration, victim advocacy, and more. All courses are offered entirely online, and the degree can be completed within two years.
Florida International University
- Tuition: $8,912(in state) / $21,393(out of state)
- Some electives may be chosen from other disciplines
- Study abroad opportunity available
- Highly interactive online courses
School WideStudent Satisfaction76.40%Admission Rate54%Programs offered online26
Program LevelMedian Debt$40,837Programs in Department2Popularity at School5.80%80%OSR Score
The MS in Criminal Justice from Florida International University is an online program requiring 36 credit hours for completion. In addition to 15 credit hours of required coursework and 12 hours of criminal justice electives, students may incorporate 9 credits of general electives. College teaching preparation is available within the program for students interested in that career path.
University of Central Florida
- Tuition: $6,916(in state) / $25,759(out of state)
- Ranked a highly affordable college by Forbes
- University specializes in distance learning programs
- Online support center available to all students
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.80%Admission Rate50%Programs offered online93
Program LevelMedian Debt$38,139Programs in Department1Popularity at School3.50%79%OSR Score
The University of Central Florida grants students an MS in Criminal Justice, available fully online. The program also offers a dual degree in Master of Public Administration, fostering complementary skills for careers in public service. The degree requires 36 credit hours to complete, with 21 credits of core classes, a selection of required and voluntary electives, and final capstone project.
- Tuition: $50,980(in state) / $50,980(out of state)
- Students with industry certifications/credentials can waive courses
- Ranked #2 in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs by U.S. News
- Interdisciplinary, holistic curriculum
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.60%Admission Rate25%Programs offered online2
Program LevelMedian Debt$41,000Programs in Department1Popularity at School< 1%79%OSR Score
Boston University offers an Online Master’s of Criminal Justice degree with concentrations in either Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity or Strategic Management. The program requires 40 credit hours, with 6 required classes plus 4 electives. This degree is ideal for professionals already experienced in the field.
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
- Tuition: $14,590(in state) / $26,370(out of state)
- Majority of credits from elective courses
- Pay incentives for current Massachusetts law enforcement employees
- 5 certifications available
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.00%Admission Rate69%Programs offered online12
Program LevelMedian Debt$27,076Programs in Department1Popularity at School10.40%78%OSR Score
The online Master’s in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell is nationally ranked as a top online Criminal Justice program by various sources. The program requires 33 credit hours, 11 hours of which are devoted to core classes. Students may choose areas of interest for the remaining 18 hrs of study.
Florida State University
- Tuition: $9,684(in state) / $24,116(out of state)
- Personalized, attentive advisors
- Up to 6 transfer credits accepted
- Resident and nonresident tuition equivalent
School WideStudent Satisfaction76.00%Admission Rate49%Programs offered onlineNot Reported
Program LevelMedian Debt$35,925Programs in Department1Popularity at School6.20%78%OSR Score
An MS in Criminal Justice Studies from Florida State University is delivered entirely online. The 36 credit hour program requires zero visits to campus, and can be completed within two years. Participants earn their degree after completing 15 credit hours of core coursework and 21 credit hours of electives, 9 of which may be from unrelated disciplines.
Michigan State University
- Tuition: $17,436(in state) / $34,260(out of state)
- Up to 9 transfer credits accepted
- Coursework can be completed within 1.5-2 years
- Potential for paid field experience opportunity
School WideStudent Satisfaction72.60%Admission Rate72%Programs offered online1
Program LevelMedian Debt$27,816Programs in Department2Popularity at School2.00%77%OSR Score
This MS in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University is a flexible program with two additional focus areas available. The core program requires 30 credits for completion, and specializations in Judicial Administration and Security Management each require several additional courses. Students have access to a global community of resources as well as optional field experience.
Nova Southeastern University
- Tuition: $18,932(in state) / $18,932(out of state)
- Scholarship available for veterans
- Tuition the same for out-of-state and in-state students
- Low course requirement for full-time student status
School WideStudent Satisfaction72.60%Admission Rate58%Programs offered online8
Program LevelMedian Debt$60,291Programs in Department2Popularity at School1.50%76%OSR Score
The online MS in Criminal Justice from Nova Southeastern University is an interdisciplinary program of 30 total credit hours. Students complete 15 credit hours of core curriculum, plus courses in a chosen concentration and electives. Twelve specialty concentrations are available for a broad range of career tracks.
University of Central Missouri
- Tuition: $7,016(in state) / $14,033(out of state)
- Research opportunities available
- Two scholarships specific to the program
- Graduate assistantships available to stipend tuition
School WideStudent Satisfaction73.80%Admission Rate84%Programs offered online6
Program LevelMedian Debt$27,588Programs in Department1Popularity at School8.90%75%OSR Score
The University of Central Missouri offers an online MS in Criminal Justice degree with flexible scheduling for completion. Students select a thesis or non-thesis track to reach the required 36 credit hours for a degree. Core courses comprise 21 credit hours, and a 15 credit hours research component will include electives and optional thesis work.
California State University-Long Beach
- Tuition: $7,176(in state) / $16,680(out of state)
- Program can be completed within 2 years
- Students work with the same cohort colleagues for duration of program
- Ranked among the best online programs by U.S. News and World Report
School WideStudent Satisfaction76.60%Admission Rate28%Programs offered onlineNot Reported
Program LevelMedian DebtNot ReportedPrograms in Department2Popularity at School1.60%74%OSR Score
An MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice is offered online at California State University – Long Beach. The accelerated program is flexible in schedule, and well-suited for professionals intending to enhance their career. In addition to 36 credit hours of study, students select a thesis or comprehensive exam option for degree completion.
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
- Tuition: $7,640(in state) / $16,771(out of state)
- Rolling admission for online programs
- Low GPA and no GRE scores required
- Suited for students new to the field or with experience
School WideStudent Satisfaction72.00%Admission Rate80%Programs offered online2
Program LevelMedian Debt$28,565Programs in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School11.20%74%OSR Score
This online MS in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville focuses on three concentration options, with additional sub-focuses. Catering to a variety of continued career and education paths, concentrations in Criminal Justice Theory, Criminal Justice Management, and Victim and Offender Services are available. The program requires 30 total credit hours, half of which are core classes and half electives, with certification in Child Advocacy also available.
- Tuition: $6,174(in state) / $13,644(out of state)
- Fewer required credit hours than most programs on this list
- 3 start dates per year
- Wide variety of specialized applied courses
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.80%Admission Rate82%Programs offered online11
Program LevelMedian Debt$28,914Programs in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School6.40%73%OSR Score
The MS in Criminal Justice online at Lamar University is designed for professionals interested in propelling their current career forward. Students complete 30 credit hours of coursework from three categories of study. An extensive selection of applied criminology courses are available to enhance core course requirements.
East Carolina University
- Tuition: $4,749(in state) / $17,898(out of state)
- Study abroad and independent study options
- Part-time student status available
- Up to 15 transferred credit hours accepted
School WideStudent Satisfaction75.40%Admission Rate79%Programs offered online19
Program LevelMedian DebtNot ReportedPrograms in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School4.00%72%OSR Score
This online Master’s in Criminal Justice from East Carolina University is a 36 credit hour program offering optional certifications. Eighteen hours of core classes and 18 hours of electives give students the opportunity to create the degree best-suited for them, whether they’re building on professional experience or looking for new direction. Specific certifications in Security Studies, Public Management and Leadership, and Criminal Justice Education are also available.
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
- Tuition: $12,790(in state) / $24,532(out of state)
- No GRE scores required
- Course access available 24/7, for easy scheduling
- Complete in as little as one year
School WideStudent Satisfaction73.60%Admission Rate76%Programs offered online9
Program LevelMedian Debt$37,983Programs in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School5.50%72%OSR Score
The MS in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati – Main Campus offers a fast-track to completion within one year, or the option to take more time. A top-ranked online program, the degree requires 33 credit hours and offers a general course track. Additionally, concentrations are available in Analysis of Criminal Behavior, Law Enforcement & Crime Prevention, and Corrections & Offender Rehabilitation.
University of Nebraska at Omaha
- Tuition: $4,950(in state) / $13,824(out of state)
- Ranked a best online Criminal Justice program in 2018 by U.S. News and World Report
- GRE scores not required
- Degree can be completed in 18 months
School WideStudent Satisfaction75.40%Admission Rate87%Programs offered online14
Program LevelMedian Debt$35,082Programs in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School9.70%71%OSR Score
At the University of Nebraska at Omaha, an MS in Criminology is available online at a flexible pace. Students may also elect to complete some courses in person if they wish, and the program totals 36 credit hours. Eleven classes plus a capstone course complete this degree designed for working professionals.
California State University-San Bernardino
- Tuition: $7,176(in state) / $16,680(out of state)
- Regularly ranked a top program in the nation over the last three years
- Up to 12 unrelated credits from CSU – San Bernardino can count toward degree
- Program schedule designed to accommodate working professionals
School WideStudent Satisfaction78.00%Admission Rate57%Programs offered online1
Program LevelMedian DebtNot ReportedPrograms in Department1Popularity at School8.40%70%OSR Score
An online MA in Criminal Justice is available from California State University – San Bernardino. Designed for professional interested in furthering their careers in the field, students may choose to complete a thesis or a cumulative exam for degree completion. The program requires 45 credit hours for both tracks, with required courses and electives.
University of Louisville
- Tuition: $12,246(in state) / $25,486(out of state)
- Up to 6 transfer credits accepted
- Classes offered year round, six starts per year
- Accelerated class schedule available
School WideStudent Satisfaction75.20%Admission Rate75%Programs offered online4
Program LevelMedian Debt$41,124Programs in Department1Popularity at School5.90%69%OSR Score
This MS in Criminal Justice from the University of Louisville is a 100 percent online program with the opportunity to pursue various specializations. Students must complete 36 credit hours for a degree, combining 15 hours of core classes, 18 hours of electives, and a final paper worth 3 credit hours. Students may also optionally choose an accelerated six week term schedule.
- Tuition: $7,271(in state) / $7,271(out of state)
- Designed as enhancement for professionals in the field
- Management career options available
- GRE scores not required
School WideStudent Satisfaction73.60%Programs offered online23
Program LevelMedian Debt$55,231Programs in Department1Popularity at School8.30%69%OSR Score
An MS in Criminal Justice Administration is available online from Columbia College. The program also offers management tracks in either Law Enforcement Administration or Corrections Administration. The core degree requires a minimum of 36 credits, with an additional 9 credits for the optional management tracks.
- Tuition: $13,266(in state) / $13,266(out of state)
- Fewer credit requirements than most programs on this list
- Wide variety of elective courses available
- Accelerated timeline for degree completion
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.00%Admission Rate69%Programs offered online5
Program LevelMedian DebtNot ReportedPrograms in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School6.70%69%OSR Score
Rowan University’s online MA in Criminal Justice is a part-time program designed to be completed within 5 consecutive semesters. Students must complete 30 credit hours made up of 18 credits of required courses and 12 elective hours. Degree completion is achieved after either a comprehensive exam or a thesis project.
Colorado State University Global
- Tuition: $9,000(in state) / $9,000(out of state)
- Professors specifically trained to teach online
- Year-round course offerings
- GRE scores not required for admission
School WideStudent Satisfaction65.40%Programs offered online15
Program LevelMedian Debt$46,357Programs in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School2.80%68%OSR Score
A Master’s in Criminal Justice is available online from Colorado State University – Global Campus. Degree-seekers complete 36 credit hours of study, and may tailor courses to pursue specific areas of focus. An internship component in the field is also available to enhance field experience.
University of North Texas
- Tuition: $5,450(in state) / $12,920(out of state)
- Up to 9 transfer credits accepted
- Students select number of courses to enroll in at one time
- Potential to complete degree in under two years
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.20%Admission Rate72%Programs offered online3
Program LevelMedian DebtNot ReportedPrograms in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School4.30%68%OSR Score
An MS in Criminal Justice is available online from the University of North Texas, ranked second in the state and #18 in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report. The two year degree includes both a core curriculum and electives for a total of 36 credit hours. Students complete a final comprehensive exam to receive their degree.
New Mexico State University-Main Campus
- Tuition: $4,390(in state) / $15,309(out of state)
- Students in some states eligible to pay in-state tuition rate
- No prior related education required
- Coursework entirely online via a Learning Management System
School WideStudent SatisfactionNot ReportedAdmission Rate64%Programs offered online8
Program LevelMedian DebtNot ReportedPrograms in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School8.00%68%OSR Score
This online Master’s of Criminal Justice degree from New Mexico State University – Main Campus is ideal for candidates entering the field or those with experience. Students complete 36 total credit hours of coursework, with an internship option available as part of study. Coursework centers around 15 credit hours of core content, 12 credits of related electives, and 9 credits of electives from unrelated disciplines.
Arizona State University-Tempe
- Tuition: $11,240(in state) / $24,320(out of state)
- GRE not required for admission
- Ranked a top five program by U.S. News and World Report
- Extensive, flexible time to complete degree
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.00%Admission Rate84%Programs offered online1
Program LevelMedian Debt$40,664Programs in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School< 1%65%OSR Score
This is a highly flexible MA in Criminal Justice degree from Arizona State University. Offered through the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, the program requires 33 credit hours and includes a capstone course and research paper. Students may enroll full or part time, and have six years to complete the degree.
Kent State University at Kent
- Tuition: $11,310(in state) / $20,396(out of state)
- GRE scores not required for admission
- Small, collaborative classes
- Students take one class at a time
School WideStudent Satisfaction74.00%Admission Rate88%Programs offered online9
Program LevelMedian DebtNot ReportedPrograms in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School4.20%64%OSR Score
The MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Kent State University at Kent is available fully online. Students complete 33 credit hours of work, combining core curriculum with elective choices. Special areas of concentration are available in Corrections, Global Security, Policing, and Victimology.
Missouri State University-Springfield
- Tuition: $4,824(in state) / $9,702(out of state)
- GRE scores not required unless no prior background in field
- Cost for online study is the same for residents and out-of-state students
- Participation in community partnerships available
School WideStudent SatisfactionNot ReportedAdmission Rate84%Programs offered online24
Program LevelMedian DebtNot ReportedPrograms in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School< 1%63%OSR Score
An MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Missouri State University – Springfield is available online. Students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours for the degree, and may choose a thesis-track or non-thesis track program. Each option is made up of a core curriculum, electives, and a final requirement.
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus
- Tuition: $7,821(in state) / $13,473(out of state)
- Ranked #1 Criminal Justice program in the nation by U.S. News and World Report
- Six start dates throughout the year
- GRE scores and background in related field not required
School WideStudent SatisfactionNot ReportedAdmission Rate73%Programs offered online7
Program LevelMedian DebtNot ReportedPrograms in DepartmentNot ReportedPopularity at School2.20%62%OSR Score
Bowling Green State University – Main Campus provides an MS in Criminal Justice online that is ranked best in the nation. The majority of class content is self-paced, and does not require logging online at designated times for participation. The program requires 33 credit hours, and classes last seven weeks with a one week break between each.