Online Master’s In Criminology Programs 2021

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Criminologists analyze criminal behavior, research the causes of crime, and conduct criminal investigations. A master’s in criminology degree prepares graduates for careers as a detective or criminal investigator. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), detectives and criminal investigators earn a median annual salary of $83,170, with federal detectives making six-figure salaries.

Our list ranks the top online master’s in criminology programs for 2021. Prospective graduate students can use the rankings to find the best fit for their career goals and budgets. This article also introduces salary data for criminology careers, common criminology courses, and scholarships for criminology graduate students.

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FAQ


  • Can you get a criminology degree online?

    Yes. Many colleges and universities offer online criminology degrees, including master’s programs in criminology. During an online degree, learners complete coursework in a distance learning format.


  • How do I start a career in criminology?

    A criminology degree prepares graduates for careers as a law enforcement officer, researcher, or detective. At the graduate level, criminology programs train criminal investigators and federal law enforcement agents.


  • What is the difference between criminology and criminal justice?

    Criminology focuses on a subfield within the broader arena of criminal justice. In a criminology program, students examine criminal deviancy, the motives behind criminal behavior, and crime prevention.


  • What kinds of jobs can you get with a master's in criminology?

    With a master’s in criminology, graduates work as detectives, criminal investigators, federal law enforcement agents, and police administrators. The training also prepares graduates for roles in research and policymaking.


Why Get a Degree in Criminology?

An online criminology degree trains master’s students in criminal behavior, profiling, and crime data analytics. Current law enforcement officers advance their career with graduate-level training while other professionals transition into criminal justice with a master’s degree. Graduates work as detectives, criminal investigators, FBI agents, and police administrators. They take on decision-making, policy direction, and research roles in a variety of settings.

The online learning format prioritizes flexibility and accessibility. Working professionals choose a top program without relocating or leaving their job. Distance learning also makes it possible to attend an affordable program in another state.

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How Much Does a Criminology Degree Cost?



The cost of a criminology degree depends on school and enrollment status. Graduate programs typically charge higher tuition rates than undergraduate programs. Public universities usually cost less than private universities, and online learners often benefit from tuition discounts.

Many criminology graduate programs cost over $700 per credit. The online criminology degree at Arizona State University costs $720 per credit, while Northeastern University charges $1,011 per credit for its online master’s in criminology and criminal justice. Some programs charge additional lab fees.

In addition to tuition costs, master’s students must budget for fees, textbooks, and related expenses. Distance learners often benefit from lower transportation, parking, and commuting expenses. Also, an online learning format helps working professionals balance school with their career.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree



Earning a master’s in criminology typically costs thousands of dollars. But how much can you afford to spend on your degree? Our affordability calculator uses income, expenses, and projected financial aid to determine your budget for college costs. Use the calculator to find a program that fits your budget.

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How Much Do Criminology Majors Make?

Salaries with a master’s in criminology degree vary depending on the job title, employer, and location. Detectives and criminal investigators earn a median annual salary of over $83,000, according to BLS data. Detectives in federal law enforcement earn an even higher average salary of over $107,000. For example, FBI special agents qualify as federal law enforcement officers.

A master’s degree meets the requirements for many supervisory and decision-making roles. Current law enforcement officers often increase their salaries with a master’s degree and move into management and administrative roles. Criminology jobs also present research and policymaking opportunities in the criminal justice field. With additional education, master’s students pursue academic roles such as criminology professor.

Because salaries vary, prospective students should research the earning potential and job growth in their planned career path. For instance, current law enforcement officers can research salary scale in their department.

Courses in Criminology



A master’s in criminology degree emphasizes analytical skills, criminal justice research, and policymaking. During a master’s program, graduate students take courses in criminology theory, data analytics for law enforcement, and crime prevention. They study the application of research in law enforcement practice, and criminal procedure.

Many criminology graduate programs incorporate a practicum, master’s thesis, or capstone project to build professional skills and gain hands-on experience. Master’s students may also choose electives in cybercrime, social policy, or criminal law to specialize their degree. This section introduces common courses during a criminology degree. While every university sets its own curriculum, many include these options.

In criminology theory classes, students examine theories of crime and criminal deviance. The course surveys psychological, sociological, and economic theories of crime, including current social science research on the topic. Learners also examine the relationship between theories and practice, such as law enforcement responses and public policy on crime. The class prepares learners for advanced coursework in criminology.

Data analytics courses train criminology degree-seekers in acquiring and analyzing complex data. Learners strengthen their analytical skills through material on data mining, data analysis, and data sources with a focus on crime data. Topics may include analytics on victimization rates, shootings, geographical hotspots, and judicial rulings.

Master’s students examine effective crime prevention strategies. The course covers advanced topics such as analyzing competing policy proposals, structuring policy memos, and applying crime prevention research in practice. Learners explore policies related to policing, social programs, gun control, and incarceration, including methodological practice. The course prepares graduates for leadership roles in policy formation.

Certifications and Licensure for Criminology



Professional certifications and licenses help criminology specialists demonstrate their skills and experience. For example, focused certifications in law enforcement analysis, financial crime detection, or criminal justice addictions counseling let professionals advance in specialized roles. Most of these certifications require work experience, an examination, and a degree in criminology or criminal justice.

Certified Law Enforcement Analyst


The CLEA credential demonstrates expertise in crime analysis, intelligence analysis, profiling, investigative analysis, and police research. Candidates qualify through a point system that considers work experience, academic training, skills, and professional knowledge. Applicants must hold at least three years of experience as an analyst and demonstrate current membership in the International Association of Crime Analysts.

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Certified Financial Crime Specialist


The CFCS credential demonstrates expertise in financial crime, like fraud, tax evasion, and human trafficking. Candidates provide two professional references and pass an examination using online proctoring software to complete the exam from home. The 145-question exam takes four hours to finish.

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Criminal Justice Addictions Professional


The CCJP credential recognizes experienced addiction counseling professionals. Candidates meet educational and experience requirements, including supervised professional experience. The credential also requires passing scores on an examination. Professionals apply for the credential with their local member board, so the procedures and documentation requirements vary.

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Scholarships for Criminology



Criminology graduate students qualify for several scholarships to cover their degree costs. Professional organizations, private foundations, and universities offer scholarships to criminal justice and criminology students. In addition to the opportunities below, master’s students should research scholarships based on their career plans, state, and professional background.

  • American Criminal Justice Association Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: The ACJA scholarship offers financial support to graduate students pursuing a degree in criminal justice or a related field like criminology. The association also offers a student paper competition and other awards.

    Amount: Varies

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  • Melissa Linville Criminal Justice Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The scholarship supports students seeking a career in criminal justice. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and enroll in a higher education program in the criminal justice field. The scholarship requires an essay.

    Amount: Varies

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Online Master’s In Criminology Programs 2021



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