The following schools have been given top billing by US News and World Report for their graduate degree programs in Criminal Justice. These institutions also have stellar reputations at the undergraduate level. Therefore, this is a compilation of highly regarded schools for a student to consider in the advancement of his/her education in the field of criminology.

The graduate tuition costs are per semester for comparison purposes. The first number is for in-state residents and the latter number is out-of-state residents.

1. Pennsylvania State University- University Park

Penn State boasts about their unique degree that merges the sociology and criminology departments. This gives students the option to pursue careers in either sociology or criminal justice post-graduation. Like other programs, they possess a highly respected faculty of experts in the field of criminology. They offer unique programs like quantitative criminology for those with a strong interest in statistics. Fields of interest for the faculty include gender, race and age relations in regard to crime, violence’s influence on both victimization and mental disorders, criminal careers and organizations, deterrence, communities and crime, programs and policies and their effectiveness, and juvenile crime.

The graduate program provides training in theory, methods, statistics, and substantive issues related to crime and its control. For students with strong interests in methodology and statistics, they also offer a graduate certificate in quantitative criminology. Related departments (such as political science, psychology, economics, history, and statistics) provide a wide range of graduate courses of interest to Criminology students.

Moreover, because Penn State is also an interdisciplinary program incorporating a broad range of perspectives on criminology and crime and justice, students can receive Ph.D.’s in criminology while obtaining a top-quality education from a major research university.

Tuition: $9408/$16,090

2. Rutgers

With over 15,000 graduate and professional students from around the world, Rutgers is a leading public research university with graduate programs on campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden, New Jersey—and beyond.

The Program in Criminal Justice (CJ) was founded in the 1970’s as the Administration of Justice major within the School of Social Work. In 1998 it relocated to Lucy Stone Hall on Livingston campus where the Program currently resides today, and in 2000 the curriculum for the Program’s undergraduate major in Criminal Justice–offered through the School of Arts and Sciences–was originally established. Since its establishment, more than 40 years ago, the school’s CJ program has become one of the country’s elite.

The School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers is committed to developing and applying criminological theories, professional knowledge and analytical and problem-solving techniques to the reduction of crime and its impact on society. The masters program requires students to complete a minimum of 30 credits towards the degree. All requirements for the Master of Arts degree should be completed with three years of first matriculation in the criminal justice program.

The required Masters degree courses include:

  • Justice, Law and Policy
  • Problem Analysis
  • Planning and Evaluation
  • Foundations of Scholarship
  • Masters Project Seminar
  • Fieldwork or Elective Course

Tuition: $7944/$13,368

3. Michigan State University (MSU)

The School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University is the nation’s oldest continuous degree-granting program in criminal justice. Since 1935, MSU has been a leader in criminal justice scholarship—with its pioneering research, undergraduate, and graduate education and engaged collaboration with criminal justice agencies, the private sector, and communities locally and abroad.

The School of Criminal Justice offers two residential masters degree programs along with a residential PhD degree program.

The first residential program is a 30-credit hour Masters Degree in Criminal Justice (CJ), designed to prepare and enhance criminal justice professionals with coursework in the operation and management of different areas of the criminal justice system. The program provides students with analytic skills, an interdisciplinary knowledge base, and practical understanding of the settings where law enforcement, courts, correctional, and corporate security policies are implemented.

The second residential program is the Masters Degree in Forensic Science (FS). Forensic Science – the application of scientific methods to legal matters – is an exciting, complex, and multidisciplinary field of study. The 38-credit hour program is designed to give a broad theoretical and practical background in the scientific, legal, and investigative aspects of forensic science in one of three concentration areas: Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Biology, and Forensic Chemistry.

The Doctoral program in Criminal Justice is designed to support the interdisciplinary study of crime and criminal justice. The program permits students to design an individualized curriculum that can focus on traditional issues of crime, violence, law and society, and the administration of justice, as well as emerging areas such as conservation criminology, cyber crime, prevention of product counterfeiting, security, and terrorism.

Tuition: $7752/$15,228

4. University of Cincinnati

The nationally ranked School of Criminal Justice holds the number one ranking for research productivity and recognition in U.S. News & World Report as one of the top three doctoral programs in the nation.

With a mission dedicated to research, teaching, and service, the School supports these and related activities through the Center for Criminal Justice Research, which includes the Corrections Institute and the Policing Institute. Students are provided opportunities to learn and conduct research, training, and technical assistance in a wide range of criminal justice settings.

Available both online and on campus, their Master of Science program is flexible enough to meet your needs—whether you are a working professional or plan to become a full-time graduate student. Designed to be completed within one year of full-time study, you will study crime and criminal justice from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing insights from sociology, law, public administration, and criminal justice.

Internships are a required component of the curriculum, and students serve a range of organizations including: Local police departments, Rehabilitation Centers, Law firms, FBI, DEA, and Secret Service.

Tuition: $7234/$13,105

5. University of Maryland- College Park

This school is consistent front-runner in the criminology arena. They also boast a substance abuse research program, and the ability to complete part of the degree by taking international law classes abroad with the Nanjing University of China. This lends a global perspective to students that is unique in the field of criminal justice. A PhD program is also available. Its close proximity to Washington DC makes it a consistent recruiting pool for the federal agencies based in and around our nation’s capital.

The program of graduate study leading to a Traditional Master of Arts and Doctorate of Philosophy degrees in the area of Criminology and Criminal Justice is intended to prepare students for research, teaching and professional employment in operational agencies within the field of criminal justice. This program combines an intensive background in a social science discipline such as criminology, criminal justice, sociology, psychology and public policy with graduate-level study of selected aspects of crime and criminal justice.

A recent study of Department M.A. and Ph.D. alumni reveals that master’s degree graduates have found employment in both public and private institutions in virtually every kind of activity associated with the criminal justice system: research; teaching; federal, state and local law enforcement; courts; corrections; private security; and funded programs. Ph.D. graduates have found employment mostly in teaching, research, and government agency administration.

Tuition: $6876/$14,832

6. Florida State University (FSU)

FSU’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice believes they set the standard for education and scientific study of crime and criminal justice. The college’s top priority is to provide graduates with critical and independent thinking skills. Their policy-defining research, collaborative study, and leadership engagement opportunities are just a few of the ingredients that help develop these important skills.

The Colleges master’s program emphasizes the importance of scientifically rigorous research that informs public policy. The master’s degree in criminology prepares students to be informed, knowledgeable users of scientific research that examines criminal behavior and public policy responses to crime. Many master’s students ultimately pursue a Ph.D..

The College of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. The general requirement for the MS degree includes 33 hours of coursework. Of these, at least 24 hours must be taken within the College, and 21 of the 24 hours must be graded. Students must earn at least a B (3.0) in each of the five required courses, or they must be repeated, if they wish to continue on to the Ph.D. program. They also must earn a “C” or better in required courses at the M.S. level as long as the overall GPA is at least a 3.0 for their master’s level work in order to graduate.

The MA degree includes the same credit and grade point average requirements as the Master of Science. However, these students must complete 6 semester hours in humanities courses (non-CCJ elective courses). They must also demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language; one of the proficiency options being to complete 12 semester hours of a single foreign language at the college level with a 3.0 average.

Tuition: $5915/$13,644

7. University of California- Irvine (UCI)

Since 1965, UCI has combined the strengths of a major research university with the bounty of an incomparable Southern California location. With more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff, it is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system.

UCI boasts that The Department of Criminology, Law and Society (CLS) is recognized as one of the nation’s top programs in criminology, criminal justice, and legal studies, and has a distinctive history. Their distinctive, interdisciplinary Department of CLS integrates two complementary areas of scholarship — criminology and law and society (sometimes called socio-legal studies). It is the only criminology department and one of only two law and society units in the University of California system.

The Department of Criminology, Law and Society conducts research and teaching activities that focus on the causes, manifestations, and consequences of criminal behavior; methods of controlling criminal behavior; and the relationships and interactions between law, social structure and cultural practices. Courses include overviews of American legal systems, forms of criminal behavior, legal and criminal theory, social science and the law, victimology, and regulatory issues, in addition to substantive areas of law such as family, criminal, environmental, immigration, procedural, and constitutional.

UCI offers a highly selective PhD program designed to train the next generation of scholars in criminology and social-legal studies. We also offer an innovative online Masters program designed to further the education of working professionals in law and criminal justice.

Tuition: $5345/$10,379

8. University of Albany- SUNY

Located in New York’s capital city, the University at Albany offers its more than 17,300 students the expansive opportunities of a major research university and an environment designed to foster success. UAlbany students can choose from 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 138 graduate programs. Many of these programs are nationally ranked, among them criminal justice.

The School of Criminal Justice offers both a Masters of Arts and a Doctorate in Criminal Justice. The M.A. degree requires the successful completion of 30 credits of course work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. Up to six (6) credits of graduate level studies completed elsewhere may be applied toward the required 30 credits.

The degree provides research and statistical skills that allow students to appreciate, design and evaluate effective policy and practice. Students learn about the structure of the criminal justice system and the nature of successful crime prevention programs.

Students in the M.A. program may complete a formal concentration in criminal justice information technology through courses focused on the collection, protection, storage, manipulation, interpretation, and communication of data. They also have the option to pursue a joint M.A./M.S.W. degree or a degree with a concentration in public administration.

The School enjoys successful partnerships with the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police and the Japanese National Police. Employees of these organizations join their M.A. program every year.

Tuition: $5185/$10,095

9. John Jay College

Set in the heart of New York City, John Jay offers students a liberal arts and criminal justice curriculum that balances the sciences, humanities and the arts with professional studies. Offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees, the College is unique in its mission, preparing students to build and sustain just societies by using their talents to make a difference for themselves and others.

he John Jay master’s programs complement a baccalaureate program as well as enhance the academic and professional body of knowledge in the criminal justice field and the public service field. Each program is intended to meet the special needs of pre-career, in-career and second career students.

Its master’s degrees are offered in eleven fields of study:

The John Jay master’s programs complement a baccalaureate program as well as enhance the academic and professional body of knowledge in the criminal justice field and the public service field. Each program is intended to meet the special needs of pre-career, in-career and second career students.

Its master’s degrees are offered in eleven fields of study:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Digital Forensics
  • Forensic Mental Health Counseling
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Psychology and Lawcollege
  • Forensic Science
  • International Crime and Justice
  • Protection Management
  • Public Administration

At the top of the list is Criminal Justice, a rapidly expanding field of academic study central to the mission of the College. The aim of the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Program is to broaden the perspective of those already in the criminal justice profession and prepare students for further graduate work and scholarship. Its courses provide a general survey of the field, covering research methods, causes of crime and analyses of the police, courts and the correctional system. In addition, courses are offered in criminal law, crime mapping, cyber- crime, information security and technology, as well as drug abuse and terrorism.

Tuition: $4825/$8940

10. University of Missouri- St. Louis

Founded in 1963, UMSL is spread across 350 acres with a mix of modern and historic buildings as well as a variety of student residence halls, condominiums and apartments. It’s the perfect setting for students to gain unique insights from outstanding faculty and work experience from internships at companies and organizations found only in this world-class metropolitan region.

The mission of their Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJ) is to conduct and disseminate the findings of basic and applied research on crime and justice, to offer excellent teaching at the Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral levels, and to provide service to the campus, profession and community.

The Master’s program is designed to provide students with a command of criminological knowledge and analytical skills. The proficiency of students and their ability to work independently are assessed through course grades. The MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice requires the completion of 33 credit hours, at least 21 of which are required to be in courses housed in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Twelve of these hours represent the core of the curriculum. Students may choose between a thesis and non-thesis course of study.

The required master’s coursework (21 hours) involves:

  • Foundations in Criminological Theory
  • Criminology and Criminal Justice: Proseminar
  • Methods
  • Statistics

Tuition: $4816/$11,432


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