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Masters Degree in Criminal Justice Programs

Online Masters in Criminal Justice Degree Programs offer individuals the opportunity to explore both sides of the legal system. Your desire to serve your community may

translate into a desire to pursue or expand a potential career in law enforcement, corrections, politics or in legal fields. Or, you may be inclined to investigate cases, research the law, prepare legal documents in a law office. Whatever your personal and professional goals, there are various masters in criminal justice and legal studies online programs to choose from.

Online Masters in Criminal Justice Degree Information

Inside Online Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Degree Programs

Online Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies degree programs explore the institutions and systems that uphold social control, deter and moderate crime, sanction offenders and work to maintain justice within society. Usually criminal justice and legal studies are thought of as related areas that may each lead to a different type of profession. While an online Masters degree in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies may teach you about the law, social order and the justice system, there are also several concentration areas to choose from within the larger context of criminal justice and legal studies. If you have ever watched a crime show on television, you may have identified with one aspect – the laboratory, the investigative legwork, the tech staff, the officers, the lawyers or the judges. This skims the surface of the team of individuals who are valuable within the field of criminal justice and legal studies.

FAST FACT

In the field of criminalistics and criminal science, 16.5% of workers hold a Masters Degree (year 2014)[i]

Online Criminal Justice & Legal Studies Programs: Basics

Each university offering Masters in criminal justice and legal studies programs may have its own set of prerequisites, although graduating with a Bachelors degree from an accredited college is common. Program lengths vary as there may be full time and part time options for degree completion. Check with your prospective school rather than assuming it could take 2 years. Some programs may involve (virtual) classroom learning, research, a capstone project or thesis or even laboratory work. There may also be participation requirements for online students to take part in interactive discussion boards and forums.

Types of Online Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Degrees

Within Online Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Programs, you might find several types or tracks for degrees. Some of the common masters degrees within criminal justice and legal studies might include the Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS) and Master of Public Administration (MPA).

Online MA Criminal Justice & Legal Studies

If you plan to study criminology, philosophy, law, victimology or the psychology of criminal behavior, these facets of criminal justice and legal studies may fall under Online Master of Arts degree programs. M.A. Criminal Justice and Legal Studies degrees may require less technical skills but might explore criminal justice within different cultures. Often the Master of Arts is considered a ‘terminal degree’ while the MS is sometimes a platform for a PhD in Criminal Justice.

Online MS Criminal Justice & Legal Studies

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies degrees may explore more scientific topics (business, technology, science) and may cover more technical skills than the Master of Arts degrees. MS programs typically require some type of thesis project during the last year whereas some MA programs may have a fieldwork component during the last year.

Online MPA Programs in Criminal Justice & Legal Studies

Online MPA programs tend to offer core courses that emphasize social and civic responsibility and decision-making. While an MBA (Master of Business Administration) focuses on business in the private sector, the online Master of Public Administration is considered a preparation for potential leadership and management positions in public sectors -local, state or federal government.

Types of Online Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Degree Programs

Look for Online Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies degree programs in several domains, depending on whether you are drawn to science, crime scenes, research, or security and protection. You will find these subjects easily on our navigation menu:

  • Online Masters in Criminal Justice Degree Programs
  • Online Masters in Forensic Science Degree Programs
  • Online Masters in Homeland Security & Intelligence Degree Programs
  • Online Masters in Law Enforcement, Policing & Investigation Degree Programs
  • Online Master of Legal Studies Degree Programs
  • Online Masters Paralegal Studies Degree Programs

Online Masters in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Online Masters in Criminal Justice degree programs may appeal to students who are interested in law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice and the administrative aspects of criminal justice and the penal system. Sometimes offered with a concentration in Legal Studies, students in some online masters in criminal justice and legal studies degree program might take courses in topics such as[ii]:

  • Criminal Behavior
  • Criminal Law and Policy
  • Constitutional Rights
  • Analysis of Criminal Punishment

Online Masters in Forensic Science Degree Programs

Online Masters in Forensic Science degree programs may appeal to professionals who aspire to take on a managerial role within crime scene and laboratory analysis; many individuals who seek to become forensic science technicians have a bachelors degree in the natural sciences and a masters degree in forensic science.[iii] Students in online masters in forensic science programs may study topics such as:

  • Pathology
  • DNA Testing
  • Drug Chemistry

Online Masters in Homeland Security & Intelligence Degree Programs

Online Masters in Homeland Security & Intelligence degree programs may appeal to professionals interested in working in leadership roles within federal agencies. Topics vary between programs but might include[iv]:

  • Terrorism Studies
  • Emergency Management
  • Infrastructure Protection
  • Intelligence Analysis
  • Cybersecurity

Online Masters in Law Enforcement, Policing & Investigation Degree Programs

Online Masters in Law Enforcement, Policing & Investigation Degree Programs may appeal to may appeal to professionals interested in applying the theories and practices of criminal justice to structuring, managing, directing and controlling criminal justice agencies[v]. Students in online masters in law enforcement program might find course topics such as[vi]:

  • Security and Loss Protection
  • Police Science
  • Pathology
  • Reconstructive Analysis

Online Master of Legal Studies Degree Programs

Online Master of Legal Studies degree programs may appeal to students who want to prepare for potential careers within the legal profession, whether as lawyers or support professionals. Students may find courses in topics such as[vii]:

  • Legal Research
  • Legal Issues
  • Conflict Resolution, Arbitration and Mediation[viii]
  • Compliance[ix]

Online Masters Paralegal Studies Degree Programs

Online Masters in Paralegal Studies degree programs may appeal to students interested in preparing themselves with the skills to conduct research, drafting, investigation and record keeping functions under the supervision of the court or an attorney. Topics vary but might include[x]:

  • Instruction in Legal Research
  • Drafting Legal Documents
  • Appraising
  • Pleading
  • Courthouse Procedures

Find Accredited Online Schools for Criminal Justice Degrees

The accreditation agency for an online MPA in Criminal Justice & Legal Studies program is the NASPAA. All NASPAA-accredited programs have successfully met standards for Professional Masters Degree Programs in Public Affairs, Policy and Administration.[xi] Universities and online schools offering Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies degree programs may be accredited regionally, and only agencies that are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education are included in its database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs[xii], making them a good reference should you have concerns.

Take the Next Step

Online Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies degree programs are usually designed with the working professional in mind, experienced and ready for the next step. Browse our directory of sponsored listings for an online Master of Arts, Master of Science or Master of Public Administration in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies. Refine your results by choosing from the categories listed above; these may also have sub categories and concentrations that may be of interest. From there, request info through the online navigation. This helps you determine the unique features of prospective universities, and helps you stay on top of admissions procedures and deadlines.


[i] https://datausa.io/profile/cip/430111/[ii] https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/cip2000/ciplist90.asp?CIP2=43 |[iii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm |[iv] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2006/summer/art01.pdf |[v] https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/cip2000/ciplist90.asp?CIP2=43 |[vi] https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/cip2000/ciplist90.asp?CIP2=43 |[vii] https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=88352 |[viii] bls.gov/ooh/legal/arbitrators-mediators-and-conciliators.htm |[ix] .bls.gov/soc/2010/soc131041.htm |[x] https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=87791 |[xi] accreditation.naspaa.org/resources/roster-of-accredited-programs/ |[xii] http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/FAQAccr.aspx