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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Criminal Justice

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Criminal Justice

Value
Boston University wins best online master’s degree program in criminal justice for value. Boston University provides a 7.6% return on investment without financial aid, and a 7.6% and a 9.5% return on investment with financial aid. Boston University online students have 24/7 access to technical support, and frequent communication with the Office of Distance Education and criminal justice professors. Students interact through online discussions, debates, and email.

Financial Support
Boston University wins best financial support in an online criminal justice master’s degree program. Boston University provides financial aid through scholarships, graduate loans, and graduate assistantships. The Boston University financial aid website has FAQs, workshops, and online resources to help students with loan and money management guidance.

Technology/Tech Support
Capella University’s online courses can run on a 56K modem, and are supported by Mac and PC. Students have access to the course dashboard, degree plan, Capella news, financial aid alerts, and course contacts through Capella Mobile on iPhone or Android, and e-books, online articles, and online discussion related to course work is accessible on tablet computers. Capella University also provides 24/7 access to technical support.

Student Engagement/Activities
Arizona State University wins best student engagement in an online criminal justice master’s degree program. Arizona State University connects students through a variety of apps, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and YouTube. Students may check in through ASU’s Spark app to see what other ASU students and alumni are doing in their area. Students may also participate in Arizona State University’s new student orientation and participate with other criminal justice students in online discussions.

Disability Support
Arizona State Universitywins best online master’s degree program in criminal justice for disability support. Arizona State University’s Disability Resource Center provides the necessary equipment and accommodations for students with document disabilities, including testing, interpreting, laboratory, and note-taking services. Students with disabilities may also be eligible for scholarships.

Library Support
Boston University wins best library support in an online criminal justice master’s degree program. Boston University’s library houses databases for online research, handbooks, archives, and library tutorials to assist research and catalogue use. Boston University also provides online books and journals within its databases.

Faculty Credentials
Boston University wins best online criminal justice master’s degree program for faculty credentials. Boston University’s criminal justice faculty all hold Ph.Ds and have professional or research experience in criminal justice. Boston University’s course instructors are also available by phone or email to answer questions.

Prior Learning Options
Capella University’s wins best online criminal justice master’s degree program for prior learning options. Capella’s Prior Assessment may provide credit for work training, continuing education programs, and/or self-instruction. Credit from previous academic course work may transfer to specific degree programs. Military experience may also be applicable toward a Capella degree.

New Online Student Orientation
Arizona State University’s online student orientation provides step-by-step video tutorials for registration, academic advising, class preparation, email, Arizona State University’s Spark app, Facebook, and Twitter, and ASU’s library resources. ASU’s online student orientation also briefs students on the ASU software, calendar, and other faculty resources available to online students. Arizona State University wins best online criminal justice master’s degree program for new online student orientation.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice is a popular field of study which examines the role of government institutions in deterring and mitigating crime, penalizing those who break the law, and offering rehabilitation programs. Online master’s degree programs in criminal justice will cover topics such as law, police work, the courts system, and corrections facilities. This type of program is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue management careers are in law enforcement, corrections, probation, or security services. The majority of positions will be in the public sector, but graduates may also find opportunities with private companies.

Students who choose an online program have the flexibility to adjust their course load to fit with their work and family obligations. Since students have the option to enroll full or part time, the average time to completion for this type of program can range from one to three years. Other factors, such as whether or not a student has any transfer credits or remains continuously enrolled, can all contribute to the amount of time it takes to earn the degree.

Class Curriculum

Criminal justice students can expect a mixture of lecture, seminar, and research courses. Common topics include law, the philosophy of justice, crime theory, policing, deviance, and ethics in the criminal justice system. Students can also expect research and advanced practicum courses which require them to demonstrate a practical understanding of the knowledge they have gained throughout the program. Some examples of courses that may be included in this type of program are:

  • Statistics for Criminal Justice. Students will explore practical applications of basic and advanced descriptive and inferential statistics. This course will focus on various multivariate statistical procedures.
  • Police Problem-Solving Practicum. This course examines contemporary police techniques and problem-solving tools such as SARA, COMPSTAT, crime mapping, intelligence-led policing, and computer-enhanced problem-solving. Students will also learn about handling common issues, such as noise abatement, property offenses, and traffic violations.
  • Advanced Crime Theory. This course is designed to help students develop the analytical skills to assess theoretical concepts, assumptions, propositions, and variables in criminal justice. The course will discuss both quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Common assignments for criminal justice students include reading assignments, exams, research papers, and situational exercises. Depending on the graduation requirements for the program, students may also need to complete a certain number of practicum courses and/or a master’s thesis to earn their degree. This will require students to complete original field-based research and demonstrate a practical understanding of the concepts and theories they have learned throughout the program.

Building a Career

Individuals who earn their master’s degree in criminal justice will have the necessary analytical skills and practical knowledge to pursue supervisory positions in law enforcement, corrections, probation, and security services. The majority of available positions will be with state and federal institutions, but some opportunities are available with private companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for correctional officers is expected to grow by 5% from 2010 to 2020. This is slower than the 14% growth expected for all occupations.

The median annual wage for correctional officers and jailers was $39,040 in 2010, according to the BLS. First-line supervisors of correctional officers earned a median annual wage of $55,030. Supervisors in this field who worked for the federal executive branch earned the highest salaries at an annual mean wage of $71,620. However, these statistics are estimates. Actual job openings and starting salaries can vary greatly depending on the applicant’s level of experience, education, location, the type of employer, and the overall job market.

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