Students interested in the criminal justice system can use an online master’s in criminal justice to pursue a variety of different careers in the field, to advance in their current position, or to gain a foundation for doctoral studies. Not all criminal justice master’s online programs are the same, however. In this ranking, we explore the best value colleges for online criminal justice master’s degrees for 2016-2017.

Rating and Ranking Methodology
Awards and Recognition (Related to Criminal Justice)
• National Level – 2 points
• Regional Level – 1 point
20-Year Net ROI
• Above 500,000 – 4 points
• Above 400,000 – 3 points
• Above 300,000 –2 points
• Above 200,000 – 1 point
Customization Options
• Content Customizations (e.g. Concentrations and Specializations)—1 Point
• Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid, Synchronous, etc.)—1 Point
Criminal Justice Research Opportunities – 1 point
Innovative Programs and/or Teaching Methods in Criminal Justice – 1 point
Criminal Justice Internship Opportunities – 1 point
Related Student Organizations and Societies – 1 point
Wow Factor: awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us – 1 point

Best Value Colleges for an Online Master’s in Criminal Justice
Starting with a pool of roughly 40 accredited schools offering an online master’s in criminal justice, our editors used the 20-year ROI from PayScale.com to narrow the list to the top-earning 20 criminal justice master’s online colleges and universities. We then applied the rating and ranking methodology above. In cases where two or more schools received the same number of points, our editors used the schools’ graduate tuition reported by College Navigator to break the tie. What results is the ranking for the 20 best value colleges for an online criminal justice master’s degree.

#20 – Western Kentucky University

Online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Western Kentucky University Online online criminal justice master's degree

Western Kentucky University’s criminal justice master’s online program is elective-rich, thanks to its partnership with Eastern Kentucky University.

Website
Points: 4

Western Kentucky University offers a completely online master’s in criminal justice comprised of on-demand courses. The 30-credit hour program requires that students take core courses such as Advanced Social Statistics and Survey of Criminal Justice Studies as well as elective courses like Neighborhoods and Crime, Environmental Criminology, and Family Violence. The school also partners with Eastern Kentucky University to offer criminal justice master’s online students additional elective options such as Offender Rehabilitation Strategies, Corrections and Society, and Crime and Popular Culture.

Graduate Tuition: $10,860

#19 – Regis University

Online Master of Science in Criminology

Denver, Colorado

Regis University online criminal justice master's

The master’s in criminal justice online from Regis University features three focus areas of study.

Website
Points: 4

The online master’s in criminal justice from Regis University is offered through the College of Contemporary Liberal Studies. Enrolled students will choose from three areas of focus in order to customize their degree program: the leadership focus, the human behavior focus, and the cybercrime/terrorism focus. Specific course topics include Contemporary Crime Policy: Current and Future Need, Crime Prediction and Prevention, Seminar in Social Psychology, and Risk Management. In addition to the online criminal justice master’s degree, Regis also offers a graduate certificate in criminology.

Graduate Tuition: $10,800

#18 – Concordia University—Saint Paul

Online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Leadership

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Website

Concordia University online criminal justice master's degree

Recipients of Concordia University’s online master’s degree in criminal justice are better positioned for career advancement.

Points: 4

The online master’s in criminal justice from Concordia University—St. Paul is designed to help criminal justice practitioners advance in the field. The 36-credit hour program is less flexible than other programs on the list in that it follows a prescribed curriculum, as opposed to offering elective courses. Some course titles include Legal and Legislative Issues, Correctional Design, Applied Ethics in Criminal Justice Leadership, and Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice Leadership. Students must also complete a capstone course before earning their online criminal justice master’s degree.

Graduate Tuition: $8,550

#17 – University of New Haven

Online Masters in Criminal Justice

West Haven, Connecticut

criminal justice master's online

Students of the University of New Haven earn their online criminal justice master’s degree over the course of two years.

Website
Points: 5

The University of New Haven offers an online master’s in criminal justice through the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences. The 36-credit hour program can be completed over a period of two years and includes specialty course topics such as Mental Health, Law, and Criminal Justice; Theories of Criminal Behavior; and Leadership Issues in Policing. There is no GRE required for admission into this master’s in criminal justice online program, and students can enroll at any point during the year.

Graduate Tuition: $15,432

#16 – University of California—Irvine

Online Master of Advanced Study in Criminology, Law, and Society

Irvine, California

University of California--Irvine online criminal justice master's

The master’s in criminal justice online from the University of California-Irvine is a comprehensive, 52-credit hour program.

Website
Points: 5

The University of California—Irvine offers a 52-unit online master’s in criminal justice degree program designed to be completed over a period of two years. Although the majority of the program can be completed online, students are required to take an accelerated 5-day introductory program on campus at the start of the program. Specialty course topics include Crime and Social Deviance, White Collar Crime, and Organizational Perspectives on the Legal System. Admission to this online criminal justice master’s degree program requires at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and two formal writing samples.

Graduate Tuition: $13,010

#15 – University of Louisville

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Louisville, Kentucky

University of Louisville criminal justice master's online

Criminal justice master’s online students at the University of Louisville may be eligible for scholarships.

Website
Points: 5

The University of Louisville offers an accelerated 36-credit hour online master’s in criminal justice degree program designed to be completed over a period of two years. The curriculum is comprised of five required core courses including course titles such as Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice Management and Theories of Crime and Delinquency as well as six elective courses. Master’s in criminal justice online students can choose from topics such as Crime Analysis, Economic Analysis of Crime, and Race and Gender Issues in Criminal Justice. The school also offers two subject-specific scholarships for eligible students: the Blue Coats Scholarship and the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) Scholarship.

Graduate Tuition: $11,866

#14 – University of Alaska—Fairbanks

Online Master of Arts in Administration of Justice

Fairbanks, Alaska

University of Alaska-Fairbanks

The online master’s in criminal justice from University of Alaska-Fairbanks includes an on-campus component.

Website
Points: 5

The online master’s in criminal justice from the University of Alaska—Fairbanks is offered almost completely online, but students are required to visit the Fairbanks campus at the culmination of the program for the thesis or exam component of the program. Students must also take six core courses and two elective courses, including course titles such as Personnel Management in Criminal Justice, Community/Restorative Justice, and Ethics in Criminal Justice Management. There are no special admissions criteria for this online criminal justice master’s degree program.

Graduate Tuition: $9,409

#13 – University of Central Florida

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Orlando, Florida

University of Central Florida master's in criminal justice online

UCF offers both an online master’s in criminal justice and a doctoral program.

Points: 5

The University of Central Florida offers a 36-credit hour online master’s in criminal justice through its College of Health and Public Affairs. The program consists of seven core courses, two criminal justice electives, and three general electives. Some course titles include The Administration of Justice, Criminal Justice Organizations, Juvenile Justice, Law and Social Control, and American Criminal Courts. UCF also offers a new doctoral program for those online criminal justice master’s students who want to further their study after graduation.

Graduate Tuition: $8,872

#12 – East Carolina University

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Greenville, North Carolina

East Carolina University criminal justice master's online

In addition to the online criminal justice master’s degree, East Carolina University also offers three criminal justice certifications.

Website
Points: 5

The online master’s in criminal justice from East Carolina University is offered through the Thomas Harriet College of Arts and Sciences. Enrolled students have the option of obtaining one of three different certifications while simultaneously working towards their online criminal justice master’s degree: Certificate in Criminal Justice Education, Certificate in Security Studies, or Certificate in Public Management and Leadership. Online students are encouraged to join the school’s two affiliated student organizations: Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society and the Criminal Justice Student Association.

Graduate Tuition: $6,857

#11 – Columbia College

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Columbia, Missouri

Columbia College mster's in criminal justice online

Columbia College’s online master’s in criminal justice features two distinct management tracks.

Points: 5

The online master’s in criminal justice program offered through Columbia College’s Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services Department is designed for professionals already working in the field or those students who plan to pursue doctoral-level coursework after graduation. Students may choose one of two management tracks to customize their degrees: Law Enforcement Administration or Corrections Administration. Specialty course topics include Current Future Directions in Criminal Justice, Crisis Intervention, and Law Enforcement and the Community. This particular master’s in criminal justice online program encourages hands-on learning and student collaboration.

Graduate Tuition: $6,593

#10 – Michigan State University

Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice

East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State University criminal justice master's online

The online criminal justice master’s degree from Michigan State includes two optional specialties.

Website
Points: 6

Michigan State University offers an online master’s in criminal justice through its School of Criminal Justice. The program is customizable; students can follow a general track, pursue a specialty in Security Management or Judicial Administration, or focus on international criminology. Courses can also be taken on a full-time or part-time basis, and can be completed in as little as 18 months. Criminal justice master’s online students enrolled at MSU will take courses such as Crime, Causation, Prevention, and Control; Quantitative Methods in Criminal Justice Research, and Policy Analysis Under Conditions of Change.

Graduate Tuition: $16,122

#9 – Arizona State University

Online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

Tempe, Arizona

Arizona State University criminal justice master's online

Online criminal justice master’s degree students can attend ASU online on a part-time or full-time basis.

Website
Points: 6

Arizona State University offers an accelerated online master’s in criminal justice that can be completed in as little as 18 months, although a part-time format is also available. Enrolled students take 7.5 week courses studying topics such as Criminal Justice Planning and Program Evaluation, Applied Data Analysis in Criminal Justice, and Courts and Sentencing. At the culmination of the program, students are also required to complete a capstone course, which will enable them to apply their learning to real-world scenarios. No GRE is required for admission into this criminal justice master’s online program.

Graduate Tuition: $11,304

#8 – Colorado State University

Online Master’s in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration

Greenwood Village, Colorado

Colorado State University master's in criminal justice online

Colorado State University offers an online master’s in criminal justice with over a dozen specialties.

Website
Points: 6

As one of the most customizable online master’s in criminal justice programs on our list, Colorado State University’s Master’s in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration features over a dozen different specialties, including Business Intelligence, Fraud Management, Healthcare Administration, and Organizational Leadership and Change Management. The 36-credit hour program can be completed entirely online, and course titles include Criminological Theory, Criminal Justice Policy Development and Analysis, and Restorative Justice: A Social Movement. Online criminal justice master’s students must also complete a capstone project or internship prior to graduation.

Graduate Tuition: $9,000

#7 – University of Colorado—Denver

Online Master of Criminal Justice

Denver, Colorado

University of Colorado- Denver criminal justice master's online

Online criminal justice master’s degree students and the University of Colorado- Denver can opt for a fully online or hybrid format.

Website
Points: 6

The University of Colorado—Denver offers a flexible online master’s in criminal justice program from its School of Public Affairs. Students can opt to complete the entire program online or mix online and on-campus courses. They can also customize their degree to meet their career goals by choosing electives in domestic violence, community corrections, homeland security, police administration, or policy and planning. No previous experience in criminal justice is required for admission into this online criminal justice master’s program.

Graduate Tuition: $7,804

#6 – Florida International University

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Miami, Florida

Florida International University master's in criminal justice online

Florida International’s online master’s in criminal justice students can also earn a certificate to teach at the college level.

Website
Points: 7

Florida International University offers an online master’s in criminal justice through the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. The 36-credit hour degree program is comprised of five core courses, four criminal justice electives, and three general electives. Specialty course topics include Criminological Theory, Transnational Crime and National Security, and Criminal Justice Policy Analysis. A separate certificate program is also available for those criminal justice master’s online students who wish to become college instructors in the field.

Graduate Tuition: $11,097

#5 – University of Wisconsin—Platteville

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Platteville, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin Platteville online criminal justice master's degree

The master’s in criminal justice online from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville features a unique Victim and Offender Services emphasis.

Website
Points: 7

The online master’s in criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin—Platteville features three distinct emphasis areas: Criminal Justice Theory, Criminal Justice Management, and Victim and Offender Services. Further program customization is made possible by the wide variety of electives available for students to choose from. Some of these elective titles include Psychology in the Criminal Justice System, Crisis Intervention Theory, Human Resource Management, and Cybercrime. A separate Child Advocacy Studies certificate is also available for those criminal justice master’s online students who wish to work in this field.

Graduate Tuition: $8,710

#4 – California State University—San Bernardino

Online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

San Bernardino, California

University of California- San Bernardino online criminal justice master's

University of California-San Bernardino’s online criminal justice master’s students can choose a thesis or professional degree option.

Website
Points: 7

The online master’s in criminal justice offered through California State University—San Bernardino can be completed fully online or via a hybrid format, but it is important to realize that some elective courses are only available on campus. There are also two program options available: a traditional thesis option for those students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree following graduation and a professional option for those online criminal justice master’s students who plan to work in the field after obtaining their degree.

Graduate Tuition: $7,843

#3 – University of North Texas

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Denton, Texas

University of North Texas online criminal justice master's degree

The online master’s in criminal justice from the University of North Texas is completely self-paced.

Website
Points: 7

The University of North Texas offers a flexible online master’s in criminal justice for students or working professionals who are unable to attend on-campus classes in Denton. The program is self-paced, and students can choose to take one, two, or three classes at a time as they work toward their degree. Some of the courses comprising this master’s in criminal justice online include Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Justice Theory, and Criminal Justice Administration. Students must also complete a self-designed capstone project prior to graduation.

Graduate Tuition: $7,165

#2 – Boston University

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston University online master's in criminal justice

Boston University’s master’s in criminal justice online was the school’s first online degree program.

Website
Points: 8

Boston University offers an online master’s in criminal justice with two available concentrations: Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity and Strategic Management. The 40-credit hour program includes six required courses in foundational criminology courses, but students can customize their master’s in criminal justice online by choosing four electives from the criminal justice department or related departments. Specialty course topics include Youth Crime Problems, Applied Digital Forensic Investigation, Forensic Behavior Analysis, and Policing in a Democratic Society. Most students complete the program in 18-24 months.

Graduate Tuition: $48,082

#1 – University of Cincinnati

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Cincinnati, Ohio

University of Cincinnati online criminal justice master's degree

The master’s in criminal justice online at the University of Cincinnati includes a unique Police Effectiveness Seminar.

Website
Points: 8

The University of Cincinnati offers an online master’s in criminal justice with three concentration options: Analysis of Criminal Behavior, Law Enforcement/Crime Prevention, and Corrections & Offender Rehabilitation. Students can opt for the part-time two-year program or take courses full-time and complete their degree in just one year. Core courses include Applied Statistics in Criminal Justice and Basic Research Methods in Criminal Justice, for example, but master’s in criminal justice online students may also choose from electives such as Correctional Theory and Policy, Applied Crime Prevention, and Seminar on Police Effectiveness.

Graduate Tuition: $14,468

This concludes our ranking of the top values in online master’s in criminal justice degree programs for 2016-2017.

Sources:

Payscale.com
NCES College Navigator

Also see related:

By CVO Staff
October 2016