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best online criminal justice master’s degree
Top Five Careers
Potential Increased Earnings
Potential Increased Earnings
Best States for employment
Best States for employment
Accreditation
Accreditation
online no gre
No GRE Programs
Top Online
Top Online
Online Curriculum
Program Curriculum
Online Criminal Justice Master’s Degree
Q&A
Sources
Sources
Best Programs and Schools
Best Programs and Schools
Cheapest Programs and Schools
Cheapest Programs and Schools
Accredited Online Masters in Criminal Justice
Accredited Programs and Schools

Earn an Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice

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Find the best online criminal justice master’s degree program for greater career challenges and earnings

Today’s threats to public safety and security are growing. Current criminal justice professionals in the U.S. are needed to assume leadership roles that help their organizations rise to the challenge. Individuals working in these fields should consider earning an Master’s in Criminal Justice online. In completing the master’s degree, students can extend their career to take on advanced positions in the corrections, law enforcement, and rehabilitation fields.

Graduates can also become a college-level instructor at two-year schools. The flexibility of online studies enables students to retain their current position while completing their degree.

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Top Five Criminal Justice Careers Requiring a Master’s Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) cites five strong careers in criminal justice that require a master’s degree. This list contains current salaries, where criminal justice grads work, and the projected job growth for their roles:

Criminologist

Mean annual wage:$92,040. Job growth: 15 percent, 2012 to 2022

  • University social scientist programs
  • Public and private research organizations
  • Juvenile justice courts
  • Corrections
  • Criminal investigations units
  • Insurance companies

Forensic Psychologist

Mean annual wage: $77,030. Job growth: 14 percent, 2016to 2026 Where they work:

  • Police and sheriff’s department investigation units
  • The FBI and other government agencies
  • Private internal investigation teams
  • Criminal courts
  • Prosecutors’ offices
  • Jails and prisons

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers

Mean annual wage: $61,900. Job growth: 12 percent, 2016 to 2036 Where they work:

  • Post-secondary community colleges
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • State and Federal governmental entities
  • Trade schools

Computer Forensics Investigator

Mean annual wage: $75,000. Job growth: 12 percent, 2016 to 2036 Where they work:

  • Forensic analytical laboratories
  • Local and state law enforcement agencies
  • Federal government, including FBI and CIA
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Computer, internet, and data companies

Private Detectives and Investigators

Mean annual wage: $50,090. Job growth: 11 percent, 2016 to 2026 Where they work:

  • Private surveillance and investigation companies
  • Attorney’s offices
  • Background-check agencies
  • Hotels and commercial firms
  • Patent and intellectual property investigation companies
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Potential for Increased Earnings with a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice employment opportunities are based on the applicant’s experience and their level of academic attainment. Job pay and number of openings vary by state. According to research by the San Francisco Chronicle, the average criminalist starting wage was $33,000 a year for candidates with a bachelor’s degree. In contrast, the annual average starting salary for those with a master’s degree was $55,000 a year. In another study, Saint Joseph’s University researchers found that police officers earn approximately $48,000 a year.

If you earn your master’s degree and advance to deputy police chief, your annual earnings spike to about $74,800. But earnings alone should not inform your decisions on graduate education. Employers recruiting for positions that do not require a master’s degree may prefer that applicants have one and you can be rewarded for your academic achievement. The following compares the best locations for selected criminal justice jobs and their mean annual pay:

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Best States for Criminal Justice Professionals in Employment and Earnings

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the states with the highest employment of First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives as:

  • New York
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Georgia

Top-paying states (mean annual wage) for police supervisors are:

  • California, $154,430
  • New Jersey, $130,490
  • The District of Columbia, $117,770
  • New York, $115,940
  • Alaska, $112,910

Here are the top states with the largest employment of Forensic Science Technicians:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Arizona

Are here are the states that pay the highest annual wages for Forensic Science Technicians:

  • Illinois, $87,660
  • California, $85,280
  • Massachusetts, $79,440
  • Connecticut, $73,970
  • New Hampshire, $70,960

These are the top states with the largest number of jobs for Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers:

  • North Carolina
  • New York
  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida

These states pay the largest annual salaries for Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers:

  • The District of Columbia, $123,320
  • California, $111,240
  • Rhode Island, $93,860
  • Iowa, $88,750
  • New Jersey, $87,300.
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Accredited Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice

Graduate school can take a huge bite out of a master’s student savings account. According to education consultant Peterson’s, the cost of tuition at graduate degree programs averages about $30,000. At the top-end, prestigious or private universities can charge as much as $120,000. That’s why the following only list the top accredited schools offering the most affordable online master’s degrees in criminal justice.

About Accreditation

The top online master’s programs in criminal justice are accredited by independent evaluators. Accreditation is voluntary and can be awarded for the entire university, for the school’s criminal justice department, and those for online degree programs. There are national accreditation associations along with six regional associations: New England; North Central; Middle states; Southern states; Western states; and the Northwest.

Accreditations vouchsafe for the university or degree program’s academic or financial quality in meeting training expectations for the industry. Employers expect graduates to complete degrees at accredited institutions. The lack of university accreditation disqualifies students from participating in federal financial aid programs.

Read more about Accreditation here.

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The Best Accredited Online Criminal Justice Master’s Degree Programs:

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The Top Online Criminal Justice Master’s Degrees, No GRE Required

The online master’s degree in criminal justice upgrades your skills and knowledge to advance into leadership roles in your field. The best online criminal justice programs cited below are not only fully accredited, but they also admit graduate students without requiring their GRE scores:

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Criminal Justice Master’s Degree Online Curriculum

Master’s degree programs will combine studies in leadership and advanced courses pertinent to a student’s field. Here is a sample of classes offered at online criminal justice master’s degree programs:

  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Cybercrime
  • Criminal Law
  • Public Policy
  • Human Resource Management
  • Labor Relations in the Public Sector
  • Homeland Security Leadership
  • Research Methodology
  • Judicial Processes
  • Court Services Management
  • Measurement of Organizational Performance
  • Capstone Project
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Q&A: Online Criminal Justice Master’s Degree

Here are pertinent questions and answers for prospective students seeking a criminal justice master’s degree online:

What should students look for in an online criminal justice master’s program?

After a prospective master’s student examines the university’s accreditations and GRE requirements, compare the graduation requirements of the program (total number of credits), the curriculum, and the cost of tuition.

Do employers accept master’s degrees earned online?

Most universities offer the same criminal justice master’s degree as their brick-and-mortar programs. Your university will not indicate that you earned the degree online. Finally, employers may favor online degrees that are earned at universities known for their on-campus degrees.

Is financial aid available for students to help with tuition and fees?

Federal student loans, grants and work study assistance is open to students enrolled in an accredited online master’s degree program. In addition, there are scholarships available from states, universities, and professional criminal justice associations. Learn more about financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

Will my degree qualify me for advanced policing?

Based on education and experience, you’ll be qualified to advance to leadership, program management, evidence analysis, and staff-training positions.

What kind of documentation will I need when applying to a graduate criminal justice program?

Most programs will require proof of completion of an undergraduate program, a professional resume documenting relevant experience, college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of goals. Many departments still require GRE scores. Some will waive the exam if a student has completed a prior master’s program or earned a bachelor’s degree with a strong GPA.

Is it better to choose a thesis or opt for a comprehensive exam?

The thesis option is a good choice for students who plan to conduct research or move into university teaching after completing a doctoral degree. Thesis students may need additional time to complete their online master’s. The comprehensive examination measures students’ wide-range understanding of the criminal justice leadership role for advancement in the field.

Are professional criminal justice organizations and associations a good resource for students?

There are more than a dozen professional criminal justice associations in the nation serving students and the professions. Among them are the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, American Correctional Association, National Criminal Justice Association, and International Association of Women Police.

Should students pursue a specialization area in their online master’s degree in criminal justice?

It all depends on a student’s career goals within their chosen profession. Specializations listed on a student’s diploma demonstrate in-depth training for specific roles, improving their opportunity for advancement in their sector of the justice system. A student may prefer a degree without specializations if their goal is to work in different sectors of their field or plan on entering a doctoral program.

Can earning an online master’s degree in criminal justice qualify a student for doctoral programs?

Yes, and it can reduce the time to graduate. Going on to complete a doctorate program can lead to careers in university teaching or research. Some criminal justice students continue on to law school.

Should master’s students join professional associations and attend conferences?

Networking plays a major role in finding the right employment opening. Associations can help master’s students find options nationally and within their region. Many such organizations sponsor their own job boards for members and niche career-training opportunities. Affiliation with an association can build a student’s credentials and distinguish them from other job candidates. Plus, networking with mentors or hiring authorities can benefit criminal justice professionals throughout their careers.

What is the National Criminal Intelligence Resource Center (NCIRC)?

The NCIRC is a repository of online training programs, including NSI Line Officer training, First-Amendment online training, and the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) programs.

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Sources

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251111.htm

Forensic Careers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/1999/Fall/art01.pdf

Careers in Forensics

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2009/spring/art02.pdf

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1111.00

First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes331012.htm

Forensic Careers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/1999/Fall/art01.pdf

Forensic Science Technicians

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes194092.htm#st

How Much Do Criminologists Get Paid with a Master’s Degree?

San Francisco Chronicle

https://work.chron.com/much-criminologists-paid-masters-degree-15408.html

Is the Cost of a Graduate Degree Worth It?

Peterson’s

https://www.petersons.com/blog/is-the-cost-of-a-graduate-degree-worth-it/

What’s the Best Master’s Degree for a Career in Criminal Justice?

Saint Joseph’s University

https://online.sju.edu/graduate/masters-criminal-justice/resources/articles/what-is-the-best-masters-degree-for-career-in-criminal-justice

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251111.htm

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Best Online Masters in Criminal Justice – Programs and Schools

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
Saint Leo University
33701 FL-52, St Leo, FL 33574
$7,596 31.1%
Missouri Baptist University
1 College Park Dr, St. Louis, MO 63141
$9,801 38%
Columbia Southern University
21982 University Ln, Orange Beach, AL 36561
$6,360 47.2%
University of Houston – downtown
One N Main St, Houston, TX 77002
$11,012 49.5%
Saint Leo University
33701 FL-52, St Leo, FL 33574
$7,596 31.1%
St Cloud State University
720 4th Ave S, St Cloud, MN 56301
$10,777 45.7%
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Cheapest Online Masters in Criminal Justice – Programs and Schools

College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate
St Cloud State university
720 4th Ave S, St Cloud, MN 56301
$10,777 45.7%
University of North Texas
1155 Union Cir, Denton, TX 76203
$11,822 51.5%
Missouri Southern State University
3950 Newman Rd, Joplin, MO 64801
$8,550 36.7%
University of Houston Downtown
One N Main St, Houston, TX 77002
$11,012 49.5%
Saint Leo University
33701 FL-52, St Leo, FL 33574
$7,596 31.1%
Columbia Southern University
21982 University Ln, Orange Beach, AL 36561
$6,360 47.2%
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Accredited Online Masters in Criminal Justice – Programs and Schools

College Name Tuition Graduation Rate
Saint Leo University
33701 FL-52, St Leo, FL 33574
$7,596 31.1%
Sam Houston State University
1905 University Ave, Huntsville, TX 77340
$194/credit 48%
University of New Heaven
300 Boston Post Rd, West Haven, CT 06516
$17,152 56%
College of Saint Elizbeth
2 Convent Rd, Morristown, NJ 07960
$31,000 54%
Tiffin University
155 Miami St, Tiffin, OH 44883
$13,000 33%
Missouri Baptist University
1 College Park Dr, St. Louis, MO 63141
$9,801 38%
University of North Texas
1155 Union Cir, Denton, TX 76203
$11,822 51.5%
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