2023 Best Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs

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Deciding which college to attend can be a daunting task. For many, it will be the most important decision that they make in their lives. To make an informed decision, you have to consider a lot of variables, such as cost of attendance, financial aid, student/teacher ratio, academics, student life, and more. These factors will either positively or negatively impact the quality of education that you receive.

Do you want to acquire a master’s degree in criminal justice, but don’t know what institution you should attend? Well, if you are as ambitious as I was in my late teens, then you want to attend a top school, instead of an average or mediocre one. Fortunately, we have already done the legwork for you. To help you find the right school for your interests and goals, we’ve compiled a list of 2022’s best master’s in criminal justice programs.

What institution did we forget? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

  1. Missouri State University, Springfield, MO

Missouri State’s graduate degree in criminal justice centers on the administrative end of law enforcement, preparing learners for careers in leadership positions. Part of the master of professional studies degree program, the coursework entails 33 hours of credits, including 12 in the criminal justice coursework. Degree candidates must finish a research paper and pass a holistic examination in the semester during which they graduate. The institution intended the degree program for completion in three years, and candidates must hold at least a 3.0 GPA for admission. Learners with an undergrad degree in a field other than criminal justice or sociology may need to take an additional 15 credits.

  1. Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

The master’s degree in criminal justice at Michigan State combines case studies, work in the field, and a multidisciplinary approach in the classroom. The degree program stresses critical thinking, management skills, and research, preparing graduates for further study or to step into the workforce. Learners can elect to concentrate on security management and select to work on a thesis or non-thesis program. The 30-credit course of study requires that learners finish 24 credits in classwork and six additional credits in research. Those who do select to write a thesis will defend it orally at the culmination of the degree program.

  1. University of Nebraska Omaha, Omaha, NE

A 36-hour degree program, the University of Omaha’s graduate degree in criminology and criminal justice contains 11 classes and a capstone class. Designed to fit the busy schedules of working adults, the program revolves around evening classes, and full-time learners can receive their degree in 18 months or less. Specializations in public administration and counseling allow degree program candidates to focus their studies. UO places importance on community-based law enforcement, and the coursework features many classes in diversity and gender. The institution does not require the GRE for admission, but candidates must carry a GPA of 3.0 or better.

  1. Boston University, Boston, MA

Boston University intended its master of criminal justice degree program to help graduates advance their careers, prepare for law school, further their study for teaching, or work on a doctorate. Participants study criminal behavior, leadership, and methods of social control, and they can concentrate on cybercrime and strategic management. The 40-credit coursework is split between 24 credits of core prerequisites and 16 electives. To receive their degrees, all learners must pass a holistic examination reviewing all they learned. BU requires hat degree candidates sustain a 3.0 as they work their way via the degree program.

  1. Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

Arizona State University defines its master of science in criminology and criminal justice degree as a research degree program intended to give graduates the skills they need to move into careers in criminal justice research or doctoral studies. Learners must complete 30 credits and add a thesis or a capstone project. The coursework stresses real-life skills and features classes in statistics, data, and analysis. Many learners enroll in this course of study concurrent with public administration or public policy. Candidates must hold a 3.0 GPA and submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, and GRE scores.

  1. University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Oklahoma University’s master of science in criminal justice provides coursework heavy on ethics, communication, decision making, problem-solving, and front-line leadership skills. The customizable degree program offers candidates the choice of specializing in three areas: administration, restorative justice, and corrections. The 33-credit course of study follows an accelerated schedule, but degree candidates have a maximum of five years to finish. Learners must sustain a 3.0 GPA during the degree program. Availability of on-campus classes depends on enrollment numbers, so some classes may not be available every semester.

  1. East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Learners in Eastern Carolina’s master of science in criminal justice degree programs not only receive their graduate degree in law enforcement, but they can also pick up valuable licensures in public management, security studies, and criminal justice education at the same time. The 36-credit degree program offers candidates the chance to customize their degree in several ways. The coursework divides neatly between 18 credits of core classes and the rest in electives. Learners can focus on the area of interest, do international study, work on independent research, engage in graduate assistantships and field experiences, or join the National Criminal Justice Honor Society.

  1. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX

The College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State prides itself on graduating learners with an education grounded in the latest and best practices in criminal justice with a well-rounded liberal arts base. The school’s master of arts in criminal justice and criminology takes and academic approach to law enforcement. The 36-credit coursework encourages learners to do research and make an impact on the future of criminal justice.

  1. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH

Bowling Green University designed its master of science in criminal justice for working law enforcement professionals. Classes in the degree program meet from 6–9 p.m., allowing learners to continue to work while they advance their careers. The 33-credit program aims to equip graduates with the skills needed to work in leadership positions in criminal justice, and it builds a base for future work at the doctoral level. Full-time degree candidates can finish their studies within one calendar year, while part-timers can finish in two years. Candidates have the choice of starting in the spring, summer, or fall semesters.

  1. Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

At Florida State, learners can enroll in a master of arts (MA) or a master of science (MS) degree program, complete a thesis or do an “area paper.” MA learners must finish the same 33 credits as the MS learners and complete at least six credits in the humanities. They must also fulfill a foreign language prerequisite. The college requires all degree candidates to sustain a C or better and to finish their studies within seven years.

  1. Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Northeastern’s master of science in criminology and criminal justice degree program investigates the causes and prevention of crime. This multidisciplinary 32-credit degree program contains classwork in sociology, psychology, political science, law, and public administration, and learners can tailor their coursework using electives. Learners can enroll either part or full-time, and the university schedules classes to fit around the workday of professionals. An experiential choice gives degree candidates the chance to work with a mentor in the field.

  1. Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN

At Indiana State, learners in the master of science in criminology and criminal justice degree program build a portfolio of expertise in an area of interest. This might consist of criminology, intelligence analysis, cybercrime, security studies, or any number of other fields. The 36 required credits are taken via core classes in ethics, theory, and research along with “systems” classes in public administration, organizational behavior, and investigation. Candidates should have taken sociology, psychology, and political science, and classes in juvenile delinquency at the undergraduate level. Culminating experiences and holistic exams close out the degree program.

  1. Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ

Rowan University has a master of arts in criminal justice. This 30-credit program is intended to prepare graduates for leadership positions in law enforcement agencies, for roles in private and public research institutions, and to step into doctoral programs in criminal justice. Learners can elect to do a thesis or a holistic exam after completing the required classes, in theory, research methods, and criminal justice policy. Electives consist of an array of subjects, including courts, prevention and rehabilitation, white-collar crime, violence, and race and ethnicity.

  1. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

The University of Cincinnati designed its master of science in criminal justice to give graduates information processing and problem-solving skills no matter what direction they go in. The 33-credit program consists of 11 classes in law, administration, sociology, and core criminal justice subjects. Through research, learners get a theoretical understanding of crime and criminality and the various methods that can used to solve those problems. The institution stresses that the degree program also readies social scientists for careers in research.

  1. Lewis University, Romeoville, IL

Lewis University has graduated more than 40 police chiefs and superintendents over the years. As a member of the Academic Alliance of the FBI National Academy Associates, the school has placed dozens of graduates in top positions in the FBI, Secret Service, and homeland security. Classes in administration, management theory, and research form the core of Lewis’ 36-credit master of science in criminal justice. Program candidates can utilize electives in law enforcement, public administration, juvenile justice, homeland security, and corrections to focus their studies. For full admission, learners must hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field or currently work in criminal justice.

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