Last Updated: April 28, 2021
Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice
Criminal Justice is a professional degree offered at the graduate level to professionals working in the criminal justice domain and for those seeking a postdoctoral program. The criminology program mostly focuses on justice administration, court services, forensic psychology, homeland security, correctional counseling, criminal justice planning, law and leadership, global issues, public safety, crime analysis, and delinquency.
Completing a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice allows candidates to work in both the public and private sector within the industry but along with dealing with jobs that help solve criminal cases they will be required to study the patterns of crime and the impact it has on the society as a whole.
Application Requirements for MA in Criminal Justice
Applying for a Master’s in Criminal Justice has been growing exponentially challenging over the years due to the growth in popularity for the course. The requirements for applying can vary from college to college but they have a few many common requirements that have to be met in order to gain admission to any college of the student’s choosing.
While considering applying for the course, one has to start their preparation a year in advance ideally so that they can cover all the basics and not rush at the last moment. The program is offered both as an on-campus course and an off-campus course. For most on-campus courses, GRE is a requirement which online courses do not insist on the same.
The other requirements include-
- Bachelor’s degree from the fields of criminal justice, arts and science, and even technology.
- GPA above 3
- Work Experience can be produced by candidates who are already working in the criminal justice industry.
- Duly filled out application forms
- Official Transcripts from all colleges the candidate has studied in
- A minimum score of 7.0 in the IELTS examination, or 580 in TOEFL, or 92 in the iBT TOEFL, or 4 in each section of the ISPLR, or 68 in the Academic section of the Pearson Test of English with the least score of 60 at least in all communicative skills, or a grade C in the CPE assessment;
- As many as 3 letters of recommendation
- GRE scores/GMAT scores depending on the university
Course Concentrations for MA in Criminal Justice
The concentrations offered in different universities vary from each other and it is important for students to consider their career goals before choosing a college since not all concentrations are provided everywhere. The most common and popular concentrations offered generally are-
- Cybersecurity and Cybercrime teaches students about internet-related criminal activities and the means to prevent them which includes dealing with information security and other cybercrime technology.
- Homeland Security deals with all major topics of national security and they have to learn about terrorism, along with risk assessment and management of similar crimes.
- Public Administration contains information regarding ethics, HR management, and the challenges associated with the administration of justice in the country.
- Forensics deals with the study of examining fingerprints, firearm ballistics and lets them incorporate it with computer forensics in order to attain and store important data.
Skills Developed through the MA Program
The Criminal Justice program imparts knowledge in all facets of crime and its relation to society. Students are trained to examine economic, political, and cultural influences on crime, and how to respond to such activities in a lawful manner. Besides, they are specially trained in personal and social forces that also drive a person to commit a crime.
One of the driving qualities looked for in a criminal justice official is ethics
. Though it is considered a soft skill it is also understood to be one of the essential qualities required for a career in the field. But they will also be required to stick to the existing policies related to crime and justice and adapt to the changing environments they have to deal with which are both political and natural. While working, it is also imperative that they address problems considering the sensitivity of the issue at hand and deal with it accordingly.
The soft skills that they require include good communication skills
for both communicating with people and writing reports that are factually and grammatically correct. Physical Fitness, Computer Proficiency, Research Data Interpretation, Multitasking, Stress Management
, etc. are the other few skills that have to be worked on by the student during the duration of the course.
Course Duration of MA in Criminal Justice
The Criminal Justice program is offered either as an MA in Criminal Justice degree or as a dual degree in combination with Social Welfare. Since most graduates opting for the Master in Criminal Justice program are often working professionals, it takes them an average of two to three years
to earn the degree.
An online program in the same course has a minimum duration of only 9 months where the student can choose to complete it sooner since the course gets automatically completed with the completion of 30 to 40 credits depending upon the university.
Cost of Studying MA in Criminal Justice
The tuition fee for the Master of Criminal Justice program on average costs between $600-$750 per credit course. The approximate cost of completing the course if it is on-campus will be $23,900 for private campuses and around $11,500 for public colleges in all. Besides this cost, students need to bear their living expenses, stationery charges, and other allied expenditure.
But while it may seem expensive in most universities there are always affordable places that students can choose to study the course by checking the credibility of the place. Colleges must have a national or regional accreditation where the nationally accredited colleges place less rigorous admission requirements that can aid the candidate in receiving admission and the regionally accredited institutions require higher standards from students in general.
The institution one applies to can also have additional accreditations that state their proficiency in the subjects they teach which will be a bonus to the students applying in similar places.
Opting for a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice
Many students who have completed a Bachelor's degree in law often contemplate on a career vis-á-vis a Master’s degree. While a master's degree maximizes career opportunities and proportionally increases the pay package, it also opens doors to a post-doctoral program. Here are some pointers that can help students make the decision that suits them best:
- It often helps a student earn a 6-figure pay in about five years from obtaining the degree.
- It helps increase career opportunities.
- It is especially useful for those intending on administrative jobs. Some legal careers do not require a master's degree. Hence, students need to make an informed decision as there are money and time involved.
- Beneficial for those who enjoy fieldwork while enforcing the law.
Campus vs Online program for MA in Criminal Justice
Many institutions offer an online program in Criminal Justice. This is especially beneficial to those who are seeking to complete this degree while working full-time or for those who are looking for a cost-effective option. Some benefits of an online program include:
- Flexibility of study hours.
- Ability to work and study, which ensures one to have a regular income while pursuing the Master's program.
- Saving on books as most of the study material is provided online in digital format.
- Helps one specialize in the field of interest rather than study all the subjects listed under this course.
- Transcends geographical limits. Students can pursue a program from a university of their choice.
Top Universities for MA in Criminal Justice
- Pennsylvania State University
- University of Maryland
- University of California Irvine
Career after MA in Criminal Justice
People with a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice have innumerable career options ahead of them. Candidates can work in both the private and public sectors as long as they have to work in the criminal justice industry. The jobs in the private domain have been growing ever since the expansion of the IT industry and the scope of fraud involved in the same industry. While Criminal Justice used to be a domain strictly for the public sector it has now become imperative that fields like the IT sector keep professionals for their data analysis and other computer-related applications.
The few jobs, as listed by the US news website, that they can apply for falls under the title of
- Cybersecurity Investigator- deals with cases related to digital information and online activities.
- Cyber Defense Operator- works with the creation and usage of automated defense and attack systems relating to computers and the internet.
- Federal Marshall- deals with the protection of the federal judiciary while at the same time finding fugitives. They also deal with the management and sale of assets acquired through illegal activities.
- Policy Analyst-deal with the task of creating public awareness regarding different issues which may be political or social in nature. This job requires a lot of research regarding present policies and events.
- Criminologist- works with the collection of crime scene data and analyzing them with the help of sociologists, psychologists, and other officers.
- Fraud Investigator- have to deal with the evaluation of scenes where fraud is suspected and provide preventive measures for the same. They mainly deal with professional organizations and insurance-related companies among others.
- Victim Advocate- offers supports to the victims in a crime scene by providing them with emotional support along with the resources and assistance they require during the criminal justice proceedings.
- Forensic Psychologist- have to work with people in the legal profession and analyze the psychological information prevalent in different cases. They have to work on civil, criminal, and family dispute cases.