An online master's degree in criminal justice goes beyond typical policing practices. Degree-seekers learn about theoretical and administrative approaches to law enforcement. These programs explore varied approaches to criminal justice and criminology. Coursework prepares students for leadership positions in the field.
Applicants need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Some programs require a background in criminal justice. Others admit students regardless of experience.
Our guide lists the best online master's degrees in criminal justice. Read on to learn about costs, common classes, and potential careers for graduates.
Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Justice Master's
What can I do with a master's in criminal justice?
Graduates who earn an online master's degree in criminal justice may work as detectives, emergency management directors, or probation officers. Some degree-holders enroll in doctoral programs.
How much do professionals with a master's in criminal justice make?
Many factors influence criminal justice salaries, including professionals' job title and geographic location. Detectives earn a median $86,940 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Can you get a master's degree in criminal justice online?
Many schools offer an online master's degree in criminal justice. Some programs run fully online, while others require in-person sessions.
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Why Get a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice?
An online master's degree in criminal justice builds advanced knowledge in law enforcement theories and practices. Enrollees gain specialized skills in criminology, criminal justice administration, and law enforcement leadership.
A graduate degree can help criminal justice professionals increase their earning potential. The top 10% of detectives and criminal investigators earn a median $113,860 annually, according to the BLS. Police and detectives who work for the federal government earn $92,080.
Earning a master's in criminal justice online provides flexibility. Degree-seekers can further their education while continuing their career. An online format also lets learners attend the top program without relocating.
How Much Does a Criminal Justice Degree Cost?
Master's degrees cost an average of $66,340, according to EducationData.org. Many factors influence cost, including school type and program length. Most master's programs last about 1.5-2 years. Part-time enrollees take longer.
Students can save money by attending in-state, public schools. Learners pursuing an online master's degree in criminal justice from a private or out-of-state school may spend more. Some schools charge online learners the same rate, regardless of residency.
Additional Online Student Fees
Online learners save money on commuting and other education-related expenses. However, they should plan for extra costs like graduation and technology fees. Online degree-seekers must also buy textbooks and other school supplies. Students can save money by buying used or digital books.
Learners pursuing an online master's degree in criminal justice may need to complete some in-person components. This may lead to travel and lodging expenses.
How Much Do Criminal Justice Majors Make?
Most criminal justice graduates pursue law enforcement careers. Many degree-holders work as police and detectives. These professionals earn a median $86,940 annually, according to the BLS. The top 10% of detectives earn more than $113,860 annually.
Criminal justice degree-holders may also work in related fields, such as emergency management. The BLS reports emergency managers earn a median $76,250 annually. The top 10% of emergency management directors earn more than $142,870 annually.
A master's degree can help candidates pursue many advanced careers with higher salary potential. Graduates may also earn a doctorate in criminal justice, which prepares them to teach college.
Courses in Criminal Justice
An online master's degree in criminal justice builds broad knowledge of the criminal justice system. Enrollees study policing practices and the U.S. court system. They also explore general topics such as law, criminal justice management, and theories of crime.
Many online criminal justice master's degrees offer concentrations. Common options include criminology, cybersecurity, and homeland security. See below for three common classes in master's in criminal justice online programs. Please note that classes vary by program. Consider this list a sample curriculum.
Most programs include a general course that introduces theoretical and analytical frameworks for criminal justice studies. This class covers the history of the criminal justice system and major theories and approaches to law enforcement. Students examine the social, cultural, and political role of criminal justice and policing practices.
Analysis of Criminal Justice Systems
Research forms a major component of many online criminal justice master's degrees. This class explores the use of research and data in creating and evaluating criminal justice policies and practices. Learners gain a broad understanding of research tools and methodologies. They learn how to conduct and evaluate research.
Criminal Justice Research Methods
This class introduces criminology and the various factors that influence criminal behavior. Students may explore the major theories and approaches to criminology, including physiological, psychiatric, psychological, and genetic. This class also examines the role criminology plays in determining criminal justice policy and practices.
Survey of Criminology
Career and Salary Outlook for Criminal Justice
An online master's degree in criminal justice prepares students for many advanced careers in law enforcement and related fields. Most criminal justice careers do not require a master's degree. However, the degree can make candidates more competitive for top positions.
See below for three common careers for criminal justice graduates. Read on to learn about typical duties, annual salaries, and projected job growth.
DetectivesThese professionals investigate crimes and gather evidence related to criminal investigations. They may specialize in one type of crime, such as homicide or narcotics. Detectives typically interview witnesses and collect evidence to identify criminal suspects. They may also supervise and direct other police officers.
Emergency Management DirectorsThese directors oversee preparations for emergency scenarios, such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks. They work with government agencies, public safety officials, and other professionals to plan for and respond to disasters. Emergency management directors commonly assess disaster risk factors. They also design safety protocols and lead disaster-response teams.
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment SpecialistsProbation officers rehabilitate criminal offenders, helping them stay out of jail or reintegrate into society after being in jail. Master's degree-holders can pursue more administrative roles, directing overall probation practices and policies. Graduates may also work as treatment specialists, developing rehabilitation plans for their clients.
|Career||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)|
|Emergency Management Directors||$76,250||6%|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||$55,690||4%|