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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Criminal Justice Administration

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Explore a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice Administration

Criminal justice administration is a field of study designed to prepare graduates for management and supervisory positions in police forces, corrections facilities, and security services. Online master's degree programs in criminal justice administration will equip students with the analytical, management, and practical skills they need to be effective leaders in the field. Common topics in this area of study include policing, law, court systems, and corrections. Students will also gain an understanding of government institutions and practices for controlling deviance, mitigating crime, penalizing those who commit crimes, and rehabilitating prisoners. Most career opportunities will be with state and federal governments, but some openings may be with private companies.

Students who choose an online curriculum can adjust the number of classes they take each term according to the demands of their job and family life. Since students can enroll full or part time, transfer applicable credits, and even take breaks from some programs, the time to completion can vary. However, the typical range is one to three years for this type of program.

Class Curriculum

Students enrolled in a criminal justice administration program can expect a curriculum that combines survey, seminar, practicum, and research courses. Common topics for this area of study include crime theory, delinquency, law, the criminal courts process, and professional ethics. Students can also expect courses in budgeting, computer applications, and training and development. Some examples of specific courses that may be required include:

  • Theory of Crime and Criminology. This type of course covers the historical explanations of criminal behavior, the social impact of crime, crime prevention, and current issues in criminal justice. Students will examine crime data and learn about biological, psychological, and sociological theories.
  • Constitutional Law for Criminal Justice. Students enrolled in this course will learn about constitutional law and its impact on modern American society. Discussion topics will include constitutional rights and potential civil liability in the workplace.
  • Public Budgeting. This course will introduce students to non-profit and governmental accounting, reporting, and auditing procedures. Students will also learn about the ever-increasing scrutiny and accountability these organizations are faced with.

Course work for this type of degree program often includes reading assignments, case studies, exams, research papers and projects, presentations, and situational exercises. Some programs may also require a certain number of field hours and/or a research-based capstone project to graduate. This ensures that students possess the knowledge and skills necessary to translate their education into practical applications.

Building a Career

Graduates of a master's degree program in criminal justice administration are equipped with the analytical skills, theoretical foundation, and practical knowledge necessary to pursue management and supervisory positions with police departments, corrections facilities, and security service agencies or companies. While most positions will be found in the public sector, some private companies may also have opportunities available for criminal justice administration graduates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for law enforcement workers is expected to increase by 7% over the projection period of 2010 to 2020. This is slower than the 14% growth expected for all occupations during this time frame.

First-line supervisors of correctional officers earned a mean annual wage of $58,780 according to statistics. Those who worked for the federal government earned the highest salaries at a mean of $71,620, followed by those who worked at psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, at a mean of $62,130. Please note, however, that these statistics do not always reflect actual starting salaries which can be influenced by level of experience, education, location, the specific employer, and the general job market.