While a few schools do offer a master's degree in criminal justice administration, this degree is more commonly referred to as a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. This can be a helpful degree for those seeking career advancement, a supervisory role or increased opportunities within this field. Read on to learn more about some career options for those who hold this degree as well as program requirements to complete the M.S.
Career Options With an M.S. in Criminal Justice
|Job Title||Median Salary (2017)||Projected Growth, 2016-2026*|
|FBI Agent||$63,988** (2018)||7% (police and detectives)|
|Emergency Management Director||$72,760*||8%|
|Law Enforcement Educator||$60,400*||12%|
|Juvenile Probation Officer||$51,410*||6%|
|Victim Advocate||$34,816** (2018)||16% (social workers)|
|Criminologist||$79,650* (sociologists)||1% (sociologists)|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com
Job Descriptions for a Graduate Degree in Criminal Justice
FBI Special Agent
FBI special agents perform investigatory functions for the federal Department of Justice. Some special agents focus on specific areas of need, such as human trafficking or computer crimes. Special agents must be U.S. citizens and are subject to intensive training requirements before beginning the position.
Emergency Management Director
Emergency management directors are responsible for leading the response to a range of disaster situations, including natural disasters. They research best practices, meet with local safety officers, and develop a plan for response. The director may then train first responders or other staff as to their responsibilities. In the aftermath of a disaster, they may ensure that emergency response facilities are operational and create damage assessments.
Forensic scientists, or crime scene investigators, work closely with law enforcement personnel in the investigation of crimes. They typically analyze forensic evidence, including fingerprints and hair, in order to identify who has committed a crime. Some forensic scientists specialize in computer-based crimes. In addition, forensic scientists properly maintain evidence so that it may be useful in the criminal conviction process.
Those who work as victim advocates focus on individuals who have been the victims of crime. They ensure that victims are knowledgeable about their rights and may attend legal proceedings, including trials, with them. They must be familiar with federal and state laws. Some victim advocates may focus on specific populations, such as college students.
Law Enforcement Educator
Law enforcement educators direct training programs for recruits and current law enforcement officers. They plan a syllabus or other training program and administer it to students. Some law enforcement educators are involved in research activities.
Juvenile Probation Officer
Juvenile probation officers work with young people who have been incarcerated. They provide them with resources, such as educational and counseling programs, to prevent recidivism. Juvenile probation officers assess and supervise the child's home and community situations.
Criminologists study the factors that contribute to crime, such as behavior and demographics. They then provide detailed data and reports that assist law enforcement officers with reducing crime and catching offenders. Some criminologists play a more direct role in the investigation process by going to crime scenes, interviewing victims and offenders, and providing testimony within the court setting.
M.S. in Criminal Justice Program Requirements
Typically, students can earn the M.S. in Criminal Justice in one year of full-time study, with 30-36 credit hours required. Part-time program options and online courses are frequently available, to allow for working professionals in the field to earn an advanced degree. Some programs require the completion of a thesis to graduate.
To enter the M.S. program, students should hold a bachelor's degree with undergraduate coursework in the social sciences. Students should expect to provide transcripts, a resume, and letter of intent. Some programs may require experience in the criminal justice sector; and/or the provision of GRE scores.
M.S. courses vary based on area of specialization. Some courses that students frequently encounter include:
Criminal Justice Administration
Students enrolled in this course will become familiar with the range of law enforcement agencies and the types of problems each of them address. Alternative practices including community policing and restorative justice may be considered. The roles of leadership to create optimal agencies are reviewed.
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
A course on juvenile justice considers the specific concerns faced by those dealing with young people who commit crimes. The course considers how many young people have been adjudicated delinquent and where the problems are most severe. Best practices in delivering treatment and prevention to this population are considered.
Students begin this course by gaining a historical understanding of the nature of international terrorism. The strategies utilized by major terrorist organizations is compared. Upcoming trends in terrorism are examined.
Forensic Financial Analysis and Accounting
This course covers methods of uncovering illegal financial activities. Students learn how to analyze transactions and records in order to uncover wrongdoing. Major federal statutes related to financial accounting should be understood in-depth at the conclusion of the course. A case study or mock trial can put forensic accounting skills to practical use.
Upon the completion of this course, students should have a thorough understanding of U.S. courts and the criminal justice system. Students learn the major theories of criminological thought, including the Chicago school and conflict theories. Research within the criminal justice field is examined.
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice can provide the advanced training needed for high-level roles in a range of careers. Students can expect to study such areas as administration, theory and forensics.