A Master in Criminal Justice degree can lead to a variety of rewarding leadership positions in public service including in police departments, social service organizations and federal agencies. The private sector also provides relevant jobs. Graduates work in the FBI, Bureau of Prisons at the Federal level, the Treasury Department and various corrections and law enforcement agencies at local and state levels. The degree can also lead to a career in planning, development and analysis.
Master in Criminal Justice degree programs cover advanced criminal justice and criminology theories as well as research methods. The programs typically cover subjects such as the criminal justice process, criminology, criminal law, budget and planning for criminal justice managers, and administration in criminal justice.
The most affordable online Master in Criminal Justice degree programs are in descending order based on cost per credit.
#1 NMSU Distance Education New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, New Mexico)
New Mexico State University (NMSU), an accredited, public, comprehensive, land-grant university, boasts five campuses and co-op extension offices in 33 counties. NMSU online offers an array of graduate and undergraduate degree programs and a number of Certificate and Licensure options.
U.S. News and World Report ranks NMSU in the top tier among Best National Universities.
The online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program prepares students for doctoral studies in criminal justice or related programs or for employment in administrative and policy-making fields in law enforcement, court, and correctional agencies.
Total Number of Credits: 39
Cost Per Credit: $267.90
In-State Tuition: $10,448
The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools provides NMSU accreditation.
#2 American Public University (Charles Town, West Virginia)
The American Public University (APU), a for-profit online university, combines the American Military University and the American Public University. APU offers numerous degree and certificate programs.
The U.S. News and World Report ranked APU #34 best online bachelor’s program in 2014.
The online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program covers advanced studies in criminal justice and law, juvenile and delinquent behavior, security, and terrorism. Plan of study includes core courses, concentrations, and a capstone project.
Core courses include topics such as:
Criminal Justice Process
Criminal Justice Ethics
Number of Credits: 36
Cost Per Credit: $325.00
The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools provides APU accreditation.
#3 Columbia College (Columbia, Missouri)
Columbia College, a private, liberal arts nonsectarian college, retains the covenant with the Christian Church. The college offers both undergraduate and graduate programs through the college’s many academic divisions.
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice online degree program highlights four foundational areas: Trends in policy development, criminal justice, research, and ethics in criminal justice.
The program provides two management tracks in Law Enforcement Administration and Corrections Administration. The curriculum consists of foundation, core, and elective courses as well as a capstone course and management track options.
The Criminal Justice Master’s degree program core courses include:
Criminal Justice Policy
Budgeting and Planning for Criminal Justice Managers
Human Resource Management and Theory
Emergent Issues in Criminal Justice Leadership
Number of Credits: 36 (plus 9 with management track options)
Cost Per Credit: $350
Tuition: $12,600 (approximate, without fees)
The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools provides Columbia College accreditation.
#4 UCM Online University of Central Missouri (Warrensburg, Missouri)
The University of Central Missouri (UCM), a public university, offers over 150 degree programs of study.
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice online degree program provides the necessary knowledge and skills for students who desire to enter and/or advance in criminal justice fields; or who desire to begin research or teaching positions in criminal justice.
Coursework emphasizes leading justice system issues in areas such as administration, management, and information acquisition. The plan of study includes core courses and electives with a thesis or non-thesis option.
The Master in Criminal Justice degree includes courses in subjects such as:
Statistics for Criminal Justice
Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
Administration in Criminal Justice
Criminal Justice Studies in Group Behavior
Legal Aspects of the Criminal Justice System
Number of Credits: 36
Cost per Credit: $350.50 (includes fees)
Total Tuition: $12,618 (approximate)
The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools provides UCM accreditation.
#5 Western Oregon University (Monmouth, OR)
Western Oregon University (WOU), Oregon’s oldest public liberal arts university and home to the well-known Teaching Research Institute, has over 6,200 students and ranks #84 in the 2015 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities (West).
The university organized the online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program for individuals currently working in the criminal justice system, but qualified non-practitioners may also apply to the program. The online program provides students with the skills necessary for managerial and other professional occupations in criminal justice.
In order to complete the program, students need core courses, electives, a thesis or a special studies course and comprehensive exam.
The Master’s degree in Criminal Justice includes core courses in topics such as:
Research in Criminal Justice
Graduate Studies Workshop
Theory and Research in Crime and Delinquency
Criminal Justice Administration/Organizational Behavior
Ethics and Leadership in Criminal Justice
Number of Credits: 45
Cost Per Credit: $371
In-State Tuition: $16,695 (approximate, not including fees)
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities provides Western Oregon University accreditation.
#6 Indiana State University Extended Learning (Terre Haute, Indiana)
Indiana State University (ISU), a public university, has six colleges and more than 100 majors.
The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education includes Indiana State University in its list of Doctoral/Research Universities. The Princeton Review named ISU one of the Best in the Midwest.
The ISU Extended Learning online Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree program offers students the ability to advance in criminology careers and/or to continue their graduate studies toward a doctorate in criminology, criminal justice, or other fields. Core courses and a culminating thesis complete the program.
The online Master in Criminology and Criminal Justice degree includes courses in topics such as:
Ethics in Criminal Justice
Law and Criminal Justice Administration
Police Problems and Practices
Research in Criminology
Number of Credits: 33
Cost Per Credit: $380
Total Tuition: $12,540 (approximate and does not include fees)
The North Central Association of Schools and Colleges provide ISU accreditation.
#7 Saint Cloud State University (St. Cloud, Minnesota)
Saint Cloud State University, a public college, offers numerous majors and pre-professional programs from six colleges and schools.
The Saint Cloud State University online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program consists of core courses, elective courses, a thesis or portfolio-project and a possible internship with a criminal justice agency.
Number of Credits: 36
Cost Per Credit: $441.60
Total Tuition: $15,898 (does not include applicable fees)
The North Central Association of Colleges and Universities provides Saint Cloud State University accreditation.
#8 eTroy, Troy University (Troy, Alabama)
Troy University, a public university has over 19,000 students. The university serves students across four Alabama campuses, sixty teaching sites in 17 states and 11 countries. It also offers 46 undergraduate, 22 graduate and 2 doctoral programs. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools provides Troy University accreditation.
The eTroy University Master of Science in Criminal Justice online degree program prepares students to enter fields such as law enforcement personnel or criminal justice administration. The plan of study includes required core courses as well as thesis or non-thesis options (capstone project).
The online Master in Criminal Justice degree includes courses in topics such as:
Trends in Criminal Law
Survey of Research Methods in Criminal Justice
Seminar in the Administration of Justice
Number of Credits: 30 (non-thesis option) or 36 (thesis option)
Cost Per Credit: $488
Tuition: $17,568 (approximate with thesis option, fees not included)
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools provides Troy University accreditation.
#9 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Online (Lowell, Massachusetts)
University of Massachusetts-Lowell, a public research university, is part of the University of Massachusetts system.
The online Master of Criminal Justice degree program offers classes (11 required courses) in areas such as crime analysis, leadership, management skills in emergency management, public policy, forensic psychology, and terrorism. The plan of study includes core courses and electives.
The Criminal Justice Master’s degree program includes topics such as:
Criminal Justice Scholarship
Law and Public Policy
Issues in Policing
Number of Credits: 33
Cost Per Credit: $545
Tuition: $17,985 (approximate and does not include fees)
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges provides the University of Massachusetts Lowell accreditation.
#10 University of Wisconsin-Platteville (Platteville, Wisconsin)
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville, a state university, has three colleges serving over 8,000 students on-campus and an additional 3,000 through its five distance education programs.
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program offers coursework, specializations, and electives which review criminal law, statistical methods, research, advanced criminal justice, and organizational management. The online Master in Criminal Justice degree requires core courses and electives with either a thesis or research paper and an internship. The university also provides a child advocacy certificate.
Number of Credits: 30 credits
Cost Per Credit: $630
The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools provides University of Wisconsin-Platteville accreditation.