Graduate students interested in studying policing and investigation can pursue a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. These programs combine advanced studies in law, ethics, police science and public safety, providing students with a solid foundation in all facets of law enforcement and criminal investigations.
Most programs take two years to complete, and some offer courses online or on weekends. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in a related field. Students already working in the field should also submit a copy of their resume.
Master of Science in Criminal Justice
In order to graduate, students need to complete 36 to 40 credit hours of coursework. Common course titles include:
- Crime scene investigation
- Forensic science
- Police administration
- Patrol procedures
Graduates with a Master of Science degree in criminal justice are prepared for employment in a wide variety of jobs in the law enforcement field. Some of the most popular careers include:
- Private investigator or FBI agent
- Criminologist or penologist
- Court administrator
- Law librarian
- Corrections facilities manager
- Counter intelligence agent
- Prison warden
Career and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that private detectives and investigators will see 5% job growth for the years 2014 through 2024. For police and detectives, employment is expected to increase by 4%.
The BLS reported in 2015 that detectives and criminal investigators earned a median annual salary of $77,210. Sheriff's patrol and police officers earned a median annual wage of $58,320.
Students who have successfully completed a master's program in criminal justice can enroll in a doctoral program in the field, which generally leads to an academic position in teaching and research. They may also choose to pursue additional post graduate degrees in public administration, forensic science, or go on to law school to become an attorney.
Through MS programs in criminal justice, students gain the policing and investigation skills they need for careers in such fields as law enforcement and corrections. They can also pursue advanced studies in related subjects.