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Master’s in Criminal Justice in the US

A Master’s in Criminal Justice is a graduate-level course of study that prepares students to enter or further their careers in criminal justice. Students learn how to understand administrative strategies and research trends within the system so they can put them into action to benefit law enforcement, victims, correctional institutions, and all others who engage in one part or another with the legal system. International students may find these programs particularly beneficial because of the great opportunity they provide for foreign students to learn the laws of the United States and integrate more fully with its foreign culture.

What is a Master’s in Criminal Justice?

A Master’s in Criminal Justice is a research-centric degree program that seeks to prepare students to take a role in the increasingly important US legal system that keeps families across the nation safe. There are many programs from which graduate students can choose, but many have similar structures and content requirements. Students who engage in a Master’s in Criminal Justice must often complete some of the following coursework:

  • Sociology of deviance.
  • Victimology.
  • Police Administration.
  • Local, state and federal court systems.
  • Crime and social control.
  • Criminological theory.
  • Organized crime.
  • Drug Control Policy

Additional courses may include criminal law and procedure, violent crime, sexual and domestic violence and ethics.

A great deal of students’ time will be spent in researching these areas, attending and participating in lectures and seminars, writing research papers and performing assessments to prove their capabilities. Students are also often required to complete a thesis. This thesis topic is usually the student’s choice, and they may work closely with a faculty advisor in researching and writing the dissertation. Following its completion, aspiring graduates are then required to defend their work in front of a panel of faculty members. Once this requirement has been met, students have officially completed the program.

A thesis is not always necessary to attain a Master’s in Criminal Justice. Many programs offer an alternative that simply requires additional coursework and research in order to graduate.

Some programs also offer the chance of specialising in a particular area of study. This often includes behavior analysis, federal law enforcement, intelligence and crime analysis, and homeland security.

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Master’s in Criminal Justice in the US?

Graduates of a Master’s in Criminal Justice program may see many benefits when they finish their degree and enter their chosen career paths. These programs allow students to develop deep professional ties with local, state and federal law enforcement officers, corrections workers, drug treatment program employees, and crime control policy organizations. These ties offer students increased opportunities to learn and research in the field.

Additionally, students who work full time can benefit from the part-time and online study structure that these programs often contain. They are able to further their knowledge and skills, which makes them better candidates for many positions in criminal justice-related fields, while also increasing their earning potential. Graduates are also well-prepared if they choose to further their education in the pursuit of a PhD in Criminal justice.

What Kind of Career Can You Expect With a Master’s in Criminal Justice?

Careers for graduates of a Master’s in Criminal Justice are plentiful and diverse. Students can choose from practically any position within the field of law. This includes:

  • Parole officers
  • Behavioral experts
  • Criminologists
  • Mental Health experts
  • School resource officers
  • Criminal investigators
  • Corrections officers

Parole officers, for example, are responsible for monitoring the actions of people who have just been released from prison. They are also responsible for ensuring that these individuals follow the law, stay within their court-designated areas, and help them deal with their new freedom. They are often tasked with helping new releases find employment, conquer substance abuse, and report any missteps to the proper authorities.

Criminal investigators are a specialized type of sworn law enforcement officer that leads and performs investigations into felony acts and those who commit crimes. They gather evidence, talk to witnesses and try to connect information to prove if someone committed a crime or not. They then work with the district attorney’s office to testify about the things they saw and the things they did during an investigation to ensure the guilty party is prosecuted.

While many Master’s in Criminal Justice programs are offered nationwide, there are distinct differences in the offerings from each school. Look through your options and choose a program that aligns with your dreams and ambitions for your future career.

Suffolk University

Boston, United States

  • 211SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 52,644Average Tuition
  • 84%Acceptance Rate

Suffolk University is a non-sectarian university located in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, United States. It was named after its location in Suffolk County, Massachusetts....

Northeastern University

Boston, United States

  • 215SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 62,800Average Tuition
  • 32%Acceptance Rate

Northeastern University located in Boston, Massachusetts, offers 150 undergraduate majors of study and 125 graduate areas of study through its nine colleges and schools of Arts, Media & Design; Business, Computer & Information Science; Engineering; Health Sciences; Law; Professional Studies; Science; and Social Sciences & Humanities; as well as select advanced degrees at graduate campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto....

Widener University

Chester, United States

  • 236SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 52,909Average Tuition
  • 65%Acceptance Rate

Widener University (Widener) is a private institution with campuses in Pennsylvania and one in Delaware, USA. The university offers a wide range of master's degree programs through its academic schools namely: School of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, Nursing, Human Service Professions; Delaware Law School; and Widener Law Commonwealth....

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, United States

  • 250SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 34,549Average Tuition
  • 86%Acceptance Rate

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a public research university in Birmingham, Alabama, United States. Through its twelve faculties, the university delivers master’s degree programs in the fields of accounting, anatomical science, anthropology of peace and human rights, art history, biology, biomedical and health sciences, biostatistics, business administration, civil engineering, clinical laboratory sciences, clinical pathologist assistant, clinical/medical social work, engineering, mechanical engineering, nuclear medicine technology, nurse anesthesia and many more. ...

University of Colorado, Denver

Denver, United States

  • 267SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 40,993Average Tuition
  • 73%Acceptance Rate

University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) is a public institution with its main campus located in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. CU Denver offers a wide range of master's degree programs through its eight academic faculties including: Business School; School of Education and Human Development; College of Architecture and Planning; and Graduate School....

American University

Washington, United States

  • 289SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 31,500Average Tuition
  • 29%Acceptance Rate

American University (AU) is a student-centered research University located in Washington DC, USA. The institution offers 87 postgraduate master’s degree programs through its eight schools of Arts & Sciences, Business, Communication, Education, International Service, Professional & Extended Studies, Public Affairs and Law....

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, United States

  • 309SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 24,000Average Tuition
  • 73%Acceptance Rate

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) is a learning and research institute in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. Students can choose from over 150 master’s degree programs at EMU. ...

Illinois State University

Normal, United States

  • 327SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 33,465Average Tuition
  • 74%Acceptance Rate

Illinois State University is the first publicly-funded higher education institution in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. It offers undergraduate majors and graduate degree programs in a wide variety of concentrations including applied science and technology, arts and sciences, business, education, fine arts, and nursing. Illinois State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission....

University of South Carolina

Columbia, United States

  • 343SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 11,158Average Tuition
  • 65.2%Acceptance Rate

University of South Carolina (USC) is an American Public University founded in 1801. The university’s primary campus is located in Columbia, South Carolina, and it has dedicated faculties through which it offers master’s degree courses....

University of Central Florida

Orlando, United States

  • 418SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 21,500Average Tuition
  • 50%Acceptance Rate

University of Central Florida (UCF) is a comprehensive research university located in metropolitan Orlando, Florida, USA and offers about 87 Master's degree programs....

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