Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

Find top-ranked online master’s in criminal justice degree programs to help students strengthen leadership skills within the context of criminal justice, law enforcement, and national security.

Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Justice Degrees

Why get a master’s in criminal justice?

A master’s in criminal justice helps to strengthen leadership skills within the context of criminal justice, law enforcement, and national security.

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What can I specialize in?

Students will have the opportunity to focus on a range of specialized topics including criminal psychology, legislative policy, and administration practices in law enforcement.

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How long does it take to get a master’s in criminal justice?

Students can pursue this degree either online or on-campus, and most programs require the completion of between 30 and 36 credits. This typically takes two to three years to complete.

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What can I do with a master’s in criminal justice?

Graduates can go on to hold supervisory positions in law enforcement, work in the field of forensic science, or act as district attorneys. The master’s degree in criminal justice may also be a basic threshold for many leadership roles in national intelligence, security and cybersecurity.

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Learn more about what you can do with a master’s in criminal justice.

Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

How do we determine the best online criminal justice master's degree programs?

Pursing your degree online doesn’t mean you need to settle for a inferior school. Today, most universities and colleges offer online degrees, and many respected schools are seeing significant growth in their numbers of online students.

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why influence — i.e., the academic impact of faculty and alumni associated with a school — gets at the heart of what is truly best in education. The combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers is the best indicator of academic excellence. For our online degree rankings, we focus on the academic influence of faculty and alumni in the specific disciplines we’re ranking.

If you are serious about finding the best online colleges, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our methodology here.

25 Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

  1. #1

    Florida State University

    #155 institution's historical influence
    #174 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    39K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/28

    Tallahassee, FL

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminology
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 21
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  2. #2

    University of Southern California

    #31 institution's historical influence
    #30 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    Los Angeles, CA

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 24
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  3. #3

    Sam Houston State University

    #826 institution's historical influence
    #1048 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/21

    Huntsville, TX

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
    MS in Criminal Justice

    Concentrations

    • Leadership and Management
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  4. #4

    University of Cincinnati

    #152 institution's historical influence
    #1179 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/26

    Cincinnati, OH

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    University of New Haven

    #1436 institution's historical influence
    #770 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/24

    West Haven, CT

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
  6. #6

    University of Arizona

    #85 institution's historical influence
    #605 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    39K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/25

    Tucson, AZ

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    Online Degrees

    Master in Legal Studies

    Concentrations

    • Compliance and Legal Risk Management
    • International Economic Law and Policy
    • Intellectual Property
    • Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy
    • Human Rights
    • Mining Law and Policy
    • Environmental Law and Policy
    • Tax Law and Policy
    • Criminal Law and Policy
    • Family and Juvenile Law
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  7. #7

    Boston University

    #46 institution's historical influence
    #56 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1425/32

    Boston, MA

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 32
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  8. #8

    University of Mississippi

    #329 institution's historical influence
    #710 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    21K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/25

    University, MS

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    Online Degrees

    MAS in Criminal Justice

    Concentrations

    • Homeland Security
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: 1 year
    • Format: Online
    MAS in Criminal Justice

    Concentrations

    • Leadership
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: 1 year
    • Format: Online
  9. #9

    Texas A&M University

    #134 institution's historical influence
    #91 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    58K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/28

    College Station, TX

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  10. #10

    University of Central Florida

    #478 institution's historical influence
    #181 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    45%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    59K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/27

    Orlando, FL

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  11. #11

    University of California, Irvine

    #114 institution's historical influence
    #87 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    30%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    37K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1295/28

    Irvine, CA

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Criminology
    • Required Credits: 52
    • Completion time: 3-4 years
    • Format: Online
  12. #12

    University of Alaska Fairbanks

    #777 institution's historical influence
    #235 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/21

    Fairbanks, AK

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Criminal Justice Administration
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    Marshall University

    #851 institution's historical influence
    #1031 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/22

    Huntington, WV

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  14. #14

    Florida International University

    #498 institution's historical influence
    #215 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    47K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    Miami, FL

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  15. #15

    University of North Texas

    #423 institution's historical influence
    #1391 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    Denton, TX

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice, Justice Policy and Admin.
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  16. #16

    University of Massachusetts Lowell

    #924 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/26

    Lowell, MA

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    Online Degrees

    MA in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  17. #17

    Wayne State University

    #150 institution's historical influence
    #842 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/24

    Detroit, MI

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion time: 2 years
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO
  18. #18

    Roger Williams University

    #1987 institution's historical influence
    #741 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    5K

    Bristol, RI

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  19. #19

    Charleston Southern University

    #3990 institution's historical influence
    #1142 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/25

    Charleston, SC

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 33
    • Completion time: 18 months
    • Format: Online
  20. #20

    University of Nebraska Omaha

    #1576 institution's historical influence
    #970 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    13K

    Omaha, NE

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminology & Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MPA in Public Administration

    Concentrations

    • Criminology & Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 39
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  21. #21

    University of Louisville

    #302 institution's historical influence
    #1277 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/25

    Louisville, KY

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  22. #22

    University of Texas at Tyler

    #2930 institution's historical influence
    #1359 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    Tyler, TX

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
  23. #23

    Wichita State University

    #843 institution's historical influence
    #407 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/23

    Wichita, KS

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  24. #24

    Nova Southeastern University

    #990 institution's historical influence
    #678 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/24

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice

    Concentrations

    • Child Protection And Juvenile Justice
    • Behavioral Science
    • Business Administration
    • Conflict And Crisis Management
    • Emergency Preparedness Leadership
    • Strategic Community Planning
    • Substance Abuse
    • Information Security
    • Information Systems
    • Investigative Forensic Technology
    • Public Administration
    • Required Credits: 30
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    MS in Disaster And Emergency Management

    Concentrations

    • Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  25. #25

    Texas Christian University

    #555 institution's historical influence
    #208 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/28

    Fort Worth, TX

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    Online Degrees

    MS in Criminal Justice
    • Required Credits: 36
    • Completion time: 2-3 years
    • Format: Online
    REQUEST INFO

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Online Degree Frequently Asked Questions

If this is your first time taking an online course, the experience may require some adjustment. While you’ll generally learn the same content and take the same exams as your on-campus peers, the medium will likely require you to manage much of this experience independently. You’ll be accountable for your own time management, your ability to harness the technology at your fingertips, and your ability to focus on the lectures, lessons, and assignments at hand. This means you’ll need to create a suitable workspace for yourself, maintain a realistic schedule, and take it upon yourself to build relationships with your instructors and classmates. With online college, your goal is to find a balance between independence and engagement.

No. The only part of online education that’s easier is actually getting there. Taking the commute out of the equation means getting to class should be a lot more manageable. But that’s where it ends. In general, your online courses will incorporate the very same materials, concepts, and testing methods as would a traditional classroom.

And in many cases, you’ll even have the same instructors as your on-campus counterparts. In fact, if you are adjusting to the experience of independent learning or working with remote learning technology for the first time, online college may even be a little more challenging for you. For a few insights on how to manage this new experience, check out our 10 Tips for Adjusting to School Online.

Accreditation is especially important when it comes to online college. This is because the online education landscape is a mix of highly-reputable institutions and less-than-reputable for-profit schools. Accreditation gives you the power to differentiate between the two. Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent accrediting agency which indicates that a college or university is meeting standards of quality, credibility, and currency. School-wide accreditation falls into two major categories: regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditors generally hold jurisdiction only over schools in the states comprising their region, whereas national accreditors hold jurisdiction over schools in all states. Regional accreditation is widely regarded as a more rigorous standard of quality and credibility than national accreditation.

Attending a college or university which is not regionally accredited could limit your opportunities. When seeking an online education, we strongly recommend that students opt for regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants, ensures your college credits can be transferred between schools, and ensures that your degree credits can be accepted if you wish to earn an advanced degree.

As long as your online college degree is regionally accredited, you should have little difficulty transferring most of your credits or credentials to another regionally accredited undergraduate school. Every school carries its own standards and procedures for granting a transfer. In many cases, you will be required to navigate a bureaucracy in which some of your credits will be transferred and others will be jettisoned. However, provided that you have attended an online school with the proper regional accreditation, you should have plenty of options for transfer.

In most cases, as long you graduate from a well-regarded, regionally-accredited online college, prospective employers won’t look sideways at your degree. In fact, unless you attend an exclusively online college or university, there will likely be no specific indicator on your degree, transcript or resume differentiating your school from its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This means that your employer will likely only differentiate between an online and in-person degree if you mention this distinction.

While some employers may express concern about making the adjustment from online education to in-person workplace collaboration, many other employers will view your online degree as evidence of valuable 21st Century professional skills such as independence, self-motivation, time management, and tech savvy.

If you are a student who thrives on the dynamic energy of in-person discussion, who requires the physical surroundings of a classroom to feel engaged, or who considers the social aspects of education to be of equal importance to the actual content of your courses, online education will require some adjustment.

While there is much that can be supplanted or simulated through the online medium, some students may find that there is nothing which can replace the conversation, collaboration, and motivation that occur in an actual classroom setting. As you make the adjustment to online education, one of the biggest challenges you will likely face is overcoming this difference in order to the get the most out of your classes. Fortunately, we’ve got some great Tips for Online Education Beginners.

The advantages of online classes are many. First and foremost, online courses give you the freedom and flexibility to attend class from anywhere that works for you, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop, or in a quiet conference room at work. In many cases, you’ll also enjoy the convenience of asynchronous learning opportunities—educational experiences that you can complete on your own schedule. This may include pre-taped lectures, ongoing chat-board discussions, and 24/7 access to digital materials. And of course, just as there are some learners who prefer the energy of a live classroom, there are those who learn best when working in their own personal space, free from distractions. If this sounds like you, you might find the solitude of online learning to be a major advantage.

Resources for Prospective Grad Students