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Criminal justice professionals reaching for greater heights in their careers or making the switch to the Criminology field are ideal candidates for a Master’s in Criminology degree.
This master’s program can help prospective students increase their understanding of crime, justice, and even public policy. They explore investigative and statistical techniques as they develop a deeper understanding of the human factors that influence a crime along with a more comprehensive knowledge of criminal justice and law enforcement systems, which, according to the Labor Statistics Bureau, is projected to have a 3% employment demand.
Graduates become well-prepared to teach Criminology and take on leadership roles and upper-level jobs in the criminal justice field, government agencies, and the police department.
- Most Unique Criminal Justice Careers
- Highest Paying Criminal Justice Jobs and Salaries
- Best Grad Schools with Online Master’s in Criminology
Students who want to earn an online Master’s in Criminology can expect to gain acute psychological and behavioral insights into criminals and their crimes. The Criminal Justice Field holds special significance since all other aspects of society are enabled by and thrive under conditions of safety.
The field is also constantly evolving to meet new threats, challenges, and public safety issues, and professionals who aim to succeed in the field are well-served by access to the best advanced educational preparation.
We have put together a list of graduate schools that offer the best online Master’s in Criminology programs. Each graduate degree or school stood out with the following attributes:
- Delivers online or hybrid Criminology graduate programs to serve the needs of working professionals with little to no disruptions to their ongoing careers,
- Features Master’s in Criminology curricula that provide training in key criminal justice topics, ranging from research to theories, policy and practice, and more,
- Produces skilled professionals ready for a Criminology doctorate program or career advancement,
- Taught by faculty with extensive expertise in the field either as active practitioners or as scholars,
- Offers competitive tuition and fees, federal financial aid, and a host of financial aid options,
- Holds the relevant and appropriate accreditation proving adherence to academic standards,
- and, Earns industry approval, or maintains affiliation with, organizations that utilize the principles of Criminology.
Want to learn how our ranking process for online graduate programs works? Read our Methodology!
10 Best Online Master’s in Criminology Programs
Kent State University
Established in 1910, Kent State University is one of Chicago’s premier universities. It has since become an engine for growth in the region and beyond, positively impacting economic, cultural, and workforce development. The university is home to 33,000 students enrolled across eight campus systems.
- Kent State University offers online Master’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice to help aspiring students and working professionals achieve their desire for career growth and public service in the fields of policing, victimology, and global security.
- This interdisciplinary master’s degree equips prospective students with insights into social science, theoretical frameworks, and critical thinking skills that are integral in safeguarding the public.
- Students experience a unique blend of theoretical and applied learning to help them advance their careers in policy or practice.
Kent State’s online Master’s in Criminology & Criminal Justice program allows students to choose among three concentrations. On top of a solid foundation in research methods, criminal law, and justice institutions, students can also choose to specialize in Global Security, Policing, or Victimology. This will help them customize their learning to easily meet their career goals.
Did You Know?
Kent State University has garnered numerous accolades throughout its history. It was awarded the top national designation for the highest research activity. To date, the higher learning institution has produced more than 16 Pulitzer Prize winners and counting. It is also known as the birthplace of liquid crystal technology.
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN
Since its founding in 1911, East Tennessee State University remained committed to improving the quality of life for the people in the region and beyond through offering high-quality academic programs. The university is currently serving 14,000 students from all 50 states and more than 50 countries.
Students who want to pursue a higher education or advance their careers in their chosen fields may choose among 166 highly respected academic programs, with many of them ranking nationally.
- The online MA in Criminal Justice & Criminology makes use of data-driven and innovative strategies to address crime along with its causes and subsequent treatment of offenders.
- The master’s degree is designed to provide tools and knowledge for both practitioners and professionals who want to enter the field to help them understand, develop, and implement strategies with the use of applied coursework and mentorship.
- The online learning format means students have flexible schedules, allowing them to meet the program requirements at their own pace, anytime and anywhere.
The online master’s in criminology degree can be completed online in 20 months. The program’s unique program of study features two approaches to learning, featuring traditional coursework along with practice-based coursework.
This means the master’s degree program offers criminology courses that cover theory, research methodology, and quantitative analysis while also emphasizing the importance of evidence-based practice. The elective courses include topics such as organizational leadership, crime analysis, and criminal justice administration.
Did You Know?
East Tennessee State University belongs in the top 10% of colleges for the least amount of student debt. The university offers numerous financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, federal student loans, and more.
Students at East Tennessee State University who reside within the state can take advantage of the Hope Scholarship, also known as the Lottery Scholarship as it is funded by the Tennessee Lottery Scholarships (TELS) Program.
University of California, Irvine
The University of California, Irvine, established in 1965, aims to enhance life in the community with its rigorous academic programs that feature cutting-edge research and dedicated public service. Currently, the university is housing more than 37,000 students. It offers 87 bachelor’s degree programs, 84 master’s degree programs, and 53 doctorate degree programs.
- The University of California, Irvine’s online Master’s in Criminology, law, and Society under the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society.
- This program is for professionals who wish to advance their education and gain skills integral to criminology and criminal justice, preparing for leadership positions in a range of fields, including corrections, social services, law enforcement, and probation or parole.
- To earn the master’s degree, students will need to complete a total of 52 units of coursework, which can be done within two years.
Instead of a thesis, students are required to complete a capstone project – Social Problems, Law and Policy. On top of this, they will also need to complete required courses such as Research Methods and Statistics.
Did You Know?
The University of California, Irvine consistently ranks among the universities in the country and beyond in a broad range of fields. It is one of the 71 leading research universities elected into the prestigious Association of American Universities.
Loyola University New Orleans
New Orleans, LA
Since its establishment in 1904, Loyola University New Orleans has gone on to become an esteemed university known for its excellent academic programs. It is currently home to more than 4,500 students across 110 undergraduate, 36 graduate, and professional degree programs.
Loyola University New Orleans is Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges-accredited.
- Loyola University New Orleans offers an online Master of Criminology & Justice program to help aspiring students gain entry into high-level positions in the field.
- Students will need to complete a total of 30 credits to earn the master’s program, covering courses such as Theories of Criminal Behavior, Research and Statistical Methods, Seminar in Criminal Justice Administration, and Master’s Research and Practicum.
- The online master’s program prepares students to advance in a wide range of careers for criminal justice professionals, including criminologists, drug enforcement agents, criminal profilers, police administrators, and more.
The criminology program offers two dual degree options. This includes the Master of Criminology and Justice/Master of Pastoral Studies and Master of Criminology and Justice/Master of Science in Counseling.
Did You Know?
Classes at Loyola University New Orleans are kept small in size with a 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio. This means students can be given enough attention and support throughout their whole learning experience.
Indiana State University
Terre Haute, IN
Indiana State University offers more than 100 majors and more than 70 online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is their commitment to provide high-quality education with a blend of experiential learning and career readiness to give students the best chance to succeed in their chosen careers and in life.
- The online MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice program, offered at Indiana State University, is designed for academic criminologists and criminal justice professionals.
- Students are expected to build portfolios in their areas of interest, whether it is in criminological theory, investigation, cyber criminology, or law enforcement.
- Criminology graduates who wish to earn the degree must complete a total of 36 credits, including courses such as Ethics in Criminal Justice, Research in Criminology, Correctional Counseling, Advanced Criminal Procedure, and Advanced Criminal Investigations, among others.
The online Criminology and Criminal Justice online master’s program is available 100% online. This means students are not required for campus visits. This master’s degree is most suitable for those who aim to attain their terminal degree or wish to attend law school.
Did You Know?
Whether on campus, hybrid, or online, Indiana State University is deeply committed to ensuring everyone feels appreciated, valued, respected, and welcome. This is reinforced in their strategic plan, Focusing on Our Future Together. Students are empowered with the integration of critical thinking and cultural competency in their educational journey.
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University is a public, land-grant, research university in the city of College Station, Texas. It first opened its doors to students in 1876 as the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas, hence the A&M which it retains to this day. It gained its current name in 1963 in light of the university’s growth & expansion.
At present, Texas A&M is a “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity” facility, and has one of the nation’s largest student body in the country, with over 74,800 students for the 2022-23 academic year.
- Texas A&M University offers an online MS in Applied Criminology, which prepares students for roles that serve criminal justice and public safety.
- The program is worth 36 credit hours in total and can be completed in 18 months. The program also has no thesis requirement.
- There is a choice of four tracks in this criminology master’s degree, namely: General Criminology, Criminal Justice Administration & Management, Forensic Accounting, and Homeland Security.
- The program’s core courses include Police & Law Enforcement, Criminology, Criminal Law and Courts, and Corrections.
Texas A&M’s online Master’s in Criminology is one of the highest-rated programs in the country and is a good fit for both newbies to the field as well as seasoned professionals
Did You Know?
Aside from being a land-grant institution, Texas A&M University is also part of the sea-grant and space-grant research consortia and is the only institution in the state of Texas to simultaneously hold these three designations.
Florida State University
Florida State University is a public research university in Tallahassee, Florida. It was established in 1851 and is one of the senior members of the State University System of Florida. It became a State College in 1901, and earned university status in 1947.
Currently, FSU has over 45,400 students, and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity.”
- FSU offers an online Master’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice program, a highly rated program that welcomes a wide variety of professional backgrounds.
- The program contains a total of 36 credit hours, of which 15 credits are for the core courses, and the rest (21 credits) are for the program’s electives.
- The program’s core courses include criminology research, criminal justice theory, criminological theories, applied statistics, and more.
This online master’s in criminology program is one of the highest-rated in the country and internationally, in terms of excellence, research productivity, and value. Florida State University also emphasizes the importance of research-informed policy & practice, which is also reflected in the master’s degree program.
Did You Know?
Florida State University’s campus is the oldest continuously occupied site of higher education in the state, specifically the present-day Westcott Building, which was formerly the West Florida Seminary.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) is a public research university located in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. It was established in 1875, and like many other institutions from this time period, was established as a normal school. It was eventually renamed the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1965, and at present, has a population of over 9,300 students.
IUP has an “R2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity” designation.
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania offers an MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice program, an innovative program that prepares students for leadership positions in the criminal justice field.
- The program is offered both on-campus and online. The online program can be completed within one year for full-time students.
- The program is designed to serve as adequate preparation, whether for professional careers or for pursuing doctorate-level education.
This online master’s in criminology and criminal justice program is open to a wide range of academic backgrounds through IUP’s 4+1 program, which gives qualified high school seniors an early start. The program’s online format is also lauded for its innovation and quality.
Did You Know?
IUP’s Criminology program is long-lived, having been continuously offered over the past 4 decades. This means that graduate students become part of an extensive network of IUP alumni currently working in the country’s criminal justice system.
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University is a public research university with its main campus in the city of Statesboro, Georgia, as well as campuses in the cities of Savannah and Hinesville. It began life as the First District Agricultural & Mechanical School in 1908, and to reflect its growth in size and academic offerings gained its university status in 1990.
At present, Georgia Southern University is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity”, and has a population of around 27,000 students.
- Georgia Southern University offers a Master in Criminal Justice and Criminology program, which is designed to give students specialized training geared toward leadership in the field in a wide range of careers.
- The program is designed with a choice of three emphases/specializations, namely: Criminal Justice, Criminology, and Cybercrime. All three emphases contain 36 credit hours and are offered both online and on-campus.
- The Criminal Justice emphasis has more of an administrative and policy focus, the Criminology delves deep into the theoretical bases and underlying causes of violence, while the Cybercrime emphasis serves as training on crime prevention in the online space.
The program features a design that serves the needs of students who pursue advanced leadership careers in the field, as well as those who seek to conduct further, post-graduate education in criminal justice.
Did You Know?
Georgia Southern University also offers a Georgia P.O.S.T. Certified Master’s in Criminal Justice degree program with an Executive Track, an on-campus program offered exclusively to members of the law enforcement community. A 12-credit hour Online Graduate Certificate in Cybercrime is also offered.
University of Nebraska Omaha
The University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) is a public research university in the city of Omaha, Nebraska. It was established in 1908 as the University of Omaha and was originally a private, non-sectarian college. It became a public institution in 1930 and eventually became part of the University of Nebraska System in 1968.
Currently, the university is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity” and has a population of over 15,500 students.
- The University of Nebraska Omaha offers the MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice, which develops students to become thought leaders in the criminal justice field.
- The program contains a total of 36 credit hours and is offered both on-campus and online. The program can be completed in 18 months.
- Online students can also choose to add the Managing Adult & Juvenile Populations graduate certificate for additional credentials to their degree.
- The online criminology degree features a wide range of core courses and electives, which cover topics such as Juvenile Justice, Terrorism, Victimology, Corrections, and more.
The University of Nebraska Omaha is highly regarded as one of the country’s leading institutions when it comes to criminal justice education, assuring students of the program’s quality. The program also offers students the chance to take graduate internships.
Did You Know?
The University of Nebraska Omaha also offers its Master’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice program as a Master of Arts degree, as well as an MS/MSW Dual Degree with the Master of Social Work program.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes Criminology different from Criminal Justice?
While the two terms are closely related and many online master’s programs in Criminology incorporate criminal justice and vice versa, there are some key differences that set them apart. Many graduate degree Criminology programs focus on psychological and sociological behaviors and motivations of criminals while Criminal Justice programs revolve around the established systems and procedures.
Online Master’s in Criminology programs analyze social and environmental factors that impact criminal behavior. Criminal justice programs, on the other hand, encompass correctional institutions, court systems, and law enforcement.
What are the most common admission requirements for master’s in criminology online programs?
Prospective students who wish to get admitted into the program must hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related fields. An accredited college or university may require that students complete a personal essay and submit official transcripts, a resume, and letters of recommendation.
International students who speak a foreign language may need to demonstrate their mastery of the English language by submitting TOEFL scores. There are also universities that require students to submit GRE scores.
- Public Safety is a highly crucial aspect of society, and a master’s degree in criminology serves to prepare professionals in this field for better practice, with the right intellectual grounding and knowledge of best practices.
- A typical master’s degree in Criminology covers fundamental and theoretical bases as well as a varied range of advanced topics that inform professional practice, including criminology research, social justice, national security, transnational crime, criminal law, crime analysis, and more.
- A master’s degree in Criminology serves as preparation for students to eventually take on leadership roles in the criminal justice field, across a varied range of careers and positions.