Online Master’s Programs In Criminology

A master's in criminology can lead to new and exciting career opportunities. Here, we list the top online criminology programs.

Updated September 23, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Online Master’s Programs In Criminology

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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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Questions About Master's in Criminology Programs


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.

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.

Break down your current financial situation, and receive a college tuition estimate you can afford to pay.

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.

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.

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. 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. 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.

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.

Scholarships for Criminology
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

American Criminal Justice Association Scholarships

Varies 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.

Melissa Linville Criminal Justice Scholarship

Varies 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.

Online Master's In Criminology Programs 2022

#1

University of California, Irvine

School Information
Location Irvine, California
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

University of California, Irvine delivers undergraduate and graduate programs from its Irvine campus.

The institution offers an online master of advanced study in criminology, law, and society for busy students who want to earn their degree while maintaining employment. Graduates often benefit from increased criminology career opportunities after earning their master's degree. The school delivers services including academic advising, experiential learning programs, and career counseling.

The school charges online enrollees affordable tuition rates, making graduate studies more accessible. Learners with financial need can apply for federal aid, including grants and loans. Scholarships and fellowships can also help degree candidates reduce out-of-pocket expenses. 

University of California, Irvine Fast Facts:

Per-Credit Price: N/A

Students Receiving Aid: 63%

Students Receiving Loans: 32%

Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No

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#2

Missouri State University-Springfield

School Information
Location Springfield, Missouri
Admission Rate 88%
Graduation Rate 56%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Missouri State University-Springfield delivers graduate-level programs for online learners throughout the country. With 82 distance programs, the public institution provides academic programs in both in-person and convenient online formats. While attending the school, graduate degree-seekers can pursue a master of science in criminology and criminal justice. The online program's flexible scheduling options can make it easier for busy students to complete degree requirements.

Learners gain specialized knowledge during advanced classes. Master's students can participate in experiential learning opportunities to apply skills and knowledge from program coursework. Master's degree-seekers typically graduate in 1-2 years, unless enrolled part time. Admissions advisors provide prospective learners with program-specific application details.

Online enrollees benefit from affordable tuition rates. The institution discounts graduate tuition rates for Missouri residents, charging in-state students an average of $5,202 and nonresidents an average of $10,476. The institution holds accreditation, which means enrollees can submit the FAFSA and determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid. To fund their education, 97% of the school's students receive financial aid.

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#3

West Liberty University

School Information
Location West Liberty, West Virginia
Admission Rate 71%
Graduation Rate 45%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Degree-seekers can enroll in West Liberty University's undergraduate and graduate programs online or on campus in West Liberty, West Virginia. In addition to on-campus graduate programs, the school offers a variety of online programs. One option includes a master of science in criminology for degree-seekers who want to continue working.

In addition to rigorous coursework, the master's program features access to faculty and career advising. The online program's flexible scheduling options can make it easier for busy learners to complete degree requirements. Master's degree-seekers typically graduate in 1-2 years, unless enrolled part time.

Students at the accredited institution can qualify for federal grants and loans. To pay for school, 57% of the school's enrollees take out loans, which they must repay after graduation. In addition, 96% of the institution's learners qualify for financial aid.

West Liberty University Numbers:

Total Programs: 34

Number of Online Programs: 2

Online Master's Programs: 6

Number of Online Students: 1,008

Price Per Credit: N/A

Religious Affiliation: Non-Affiliated

Transfer Credits Toward Degree: No

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#4

Indiana State University

School Information
Location Terre Haute, Indiana
Admission Rate 90%
Graduation Rate 41%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Learners attending Indiana State University can choose from many top-ranked online master's programs, including a master's in criminology and criminal justice. With 5,748 distance students, the public institution also delivers programs on campus in Terre Haute, Indiana. Learners with personal or professional obligations often benefit from online programs' flexible scheduling options.

The rigorous curriculum helps degree-seekers develop transferable career skills while gaining advanced knowledge in criminology. In addition to completing major courses, students customize the master's curriculum by choosing electives. Online enrollees develop industry-specific knowledge during flexible coursework. Graduates often land competitive roles in their field. The institution's career services and alumni network can help master's students locate and secure professional opportunities.

Master's degree-seekers can access support services including career advising and financial aid counseling to ensure they choose the best academic and professional tracks. Online learners at the school pay affordable tuition rates and can apply for institutional funding to further reduce the financial burden of earning a master's degree. Scholarships and fellowships can also help learners reduce out-of-pocket expenses. The cost per credit is unknown.

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#5

Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus

School Information
Location Indiana, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 93%
Graduation Rate 56%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus provides academic programs for online and on-campus degree-seekers. Learners can choose from in-person and online learning formats. Students at the institution can pursue an online master of arts in criminology and criminal justice.

Rigorous coursework, faculty mentorship, and career advising help enrollees prepare for criminology careers. Learners balancing academics with personal or professional obligations can take advantage of the online program's flexible scheduling options. Degree-seekers enrolled full time typically need 1-2 years to graduate with a master's.

The institution holds accreditation, which means students can submit the FAFSA to receive federal grants and loans. To fund their education, 71% of the school's enrollees take out loans, which they must repay after graduation. Additionally, 92% of the institution's learners receive financial aid to pay for their education.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus Numbers:

Total Programs: 137

Number of Online Programs: 6

Online Master's Programs: 35

Number of Online Students: 3,231

Tuition Per Credit: N/A

Religious Affiliation: Non-Affiliated

Transfer Credits Accepted: No

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