Online Masters in Criminal Justice Degree Program Overview

Find out about online criminal justice courses and in which master's degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

Master's degree programs in criminal justice are available completely online or in hybrid formats. Applicants generally don't need a specific degree in criminal justice, but they must possess an accredited bachelor's degree and potentially work experience in the field for admission. Students take courses in crime prevention, policy analysis, terrorism and criminology. These programs often include such specialization options as security management and homeland security. While typically optional, internships may also qualify for degree credit.

Master's Degree in Criminal Justice

A Master of Science in Criminal Justice or Master of Criminal Justice program is designed to expand the knowledge and experiences of those currently working in the criminal justice field. Professionals can study advanced topics on crime, punishment and rehabilitation and prepare for greater roles in management and policy analysis. Students learn about analyzing criminal justice issues and assessing law enforcement policies.

Program Information and Requirements

Distance-learning master's degree programs in criminal justice take about two years to complete and are delivered through online classroom systems such as Blackboard. These systems provide online forums for student and professor interaction, as well as e-mail systems, homework delivery boxes and more. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of Internet usage upon enrollment. Optional internships and placement opportunities may be applied to credit requirements.

List of Common Criminal Justice Courses

The criminal justice curriculum covers a variety of different aspects of the judicial systems, including juvenile crime, court systems and criminal policy. Many modern programs also include courses on counter-terrorism and homeland security.

Quantitative Research Methods

This course develops a fundamental knowledge of designing and implementing different types of research methods. Many courses tailor their lesson to criminal justice-related research.

Pro-Seminar in Criminal Justice

Designed to analyze the most recent studies on criminal justice, this course discusses topics that go beyond the traditional realm of judicial policy. Special topics may include race, social control, changing laws and more.


Students look at the motivating factors, operating methods and domestic impact of terrorists. In addition to domestic and international terrorism, the class may also discuss domestic hate groups.

Criminal Justice Management

This course covers theories of organizational management as they apply to various criminal justice agencies. Topics include, among others, budgeting concerns and human resource laws.

Juvenile Crime

Courses in juvenile crime focus on the unique issues affecting youth with criminal tendencies and how a juvenile-specific justice system deals with this population. Students look closely at the facets that cause juvenile crime, including neglect or abuse.

Career Information

Few careers in the field of criminal justice stringently require a master's degree. However, some positions are highly competitive, making a master's degree a desirable credential for advancement. Graduates may work as probation officers, corrections professionals, law enforcement officers and criminal justice instructors. However, these jobs typically come with additional training or licensure requirements. Career options vary, and requirements depend on location and title.

In an online master's degree program in criminal justice, students take advanced courses that cover a wide range of social issues and law enforcement strategies to address them. Because they are offered entirely through distance learning, professionals can continue working while completing coursework.

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