Advance in Criminal Justice
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Become a leader in public safety with a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. This online degree program gives you the know-how to apply the latest research, leadership strategies and criminological theories for effective decision-making in the U.S. justice system. Whether you're looking to advance your career in local law enforcement, aiming to work for a federal government agency or want to help set public policy, a master's in criminal justice can help you gain the skills you need to be a leader in today's ever-changing criminal justice field.
Students may either pursue a general track – ideal for those who want to craft their own focus through elective classes – or choose between concentrations in public safety administration or advanced counterterrorism and homeland security.
The master’s in criminal justice online degree is a 36-credit program that focuses on management, leadership, data analysis and budgeting skills. Depending on your electives, your criminal justice program may also touch on business law and ethical business practices.
Through your courses in the master’s in criminal justice online program, you’ll:
Graduates will be prepared for a wide range of careers and advancement opportunities. You'll come away with the skills you need to stand out during the hiring process in both public and private sectors.
You'll learn key skills, including: Resource planning, consensus building, ethical leadership and business management.
Protect your country and community by earning your Master's in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Advanced Counterterrorism and Homeland Security.
Our world has never been more connected. To keep our global community safe, we need an advanced understanding of the people and organizations that threaten our security. Reaching this goal requires a higher demand for professionals in many areas, whether through local or federal government, law enforcement, security or other public safety organizations, who have the specialized knowledge needed to protect our communities.
The master's in counterterrorism concentration will specifically explore issues around homeland security, including legal and constitutional factors, as well as tools for identifying and assessing security threats.
Courses may include:
In addition to this concentration, we also offer a full master's in cyber security degree program for those who want to take a more technical approach to defense.
The MS in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Public Safety Administration will help prepare you for career advancement in law enforcement, specifically in leadership positions that address public policy.
A public safety administration master's degree can help you understand the challenges facing society today and learn how policy decisions are made and implemented at the national, state and local levels. Courses are designed with the present and future administrator or leader in mind: All have a direct application to the challenges of managing a criminal justice agency.
The coursework in this criminal justice online program deals with forecasting and public budgeting, police and community behavior, and scenario planning. You'll learn how to navigate the complexities of the American criminal justice system.
Graduates of the public safety administration master's degree program typically work for local, state and federal governments, as well as nonprofit and educational organizations.
Many jobs fall into this category, but among the related occupations most in demand are city managers and county administrators, for which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6% growth through 2028.* Earning a criminal justice master's degree online with SNHU could help position you for career advancement or promotion to senior responsibility roles in public safety organizations.
The curriculum for the public safety administration master’s degree combines the core of our criminal justice online program with the theories and analysis needed to take the reins in public safety. Experienced faculty will help you develop into a leader with strategic planning and management skills.
This master's in criminal justice degree could help prepare you for a number of different roles once you graduate. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth for police officers and detectives; 8% growth for private detectives and investigators; 5% growth for emergency management directors and 13% growth for social and community service managers through 2028 – all roughly on pace or faster than the national average for all occupations.2 Demand may vary by location, but a continued need for public safety bodes well for new prospects.
Earning your master's degree can be a significant advantage in career advancement and promotion to senior responsibility roles in the criminal justice field. Graduates of the criminal justice online program will likely find a wide variety of positions available to them, including those in:
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 12 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, Southern New Hampshire University has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
Built by criminal justice students who wanted a place to talk about their cases, network and learn more about the industry, the Law and Disorder club is a perfect place to supplement your studies. Available on SNHUConnect – the online social platform for SNHU learners – the club also provides access to industry experts who can offer insights and advice on how to break into the field. As co-founder, student and peer mentor Kristine Ducote puts it: "I want these students to go out and succeed, and I want them to go out and have what they need before they graduate. It’s very important to me because we address issues that really need addressing.”
SNHU also hosts a regular criminal justice forum, the Contemporary Justice Series, for both online and campus students. Attendees can network with peers and experts, as well as engage about current debates in criminal justice including bail reform, police-community relations and wrongful convictions.
According to Jeff Czarnec, associate dean of faculty of criminal justice and social sciences, these events give students a rare opportunity to open the floor. "It keeps the dialogue going," he said. "That’s really what an institution of higher learning should be about."
See why 96% of students would recommend SNHU.*
Part of our mission to expand access to quality, higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials — with no GRE or GMAT required.
Master's degree candidates must also submit a personal statement. Students with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75 are eligible for provisional acceptance.
To apply, use the online application.
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions, and walk you through the application process, which includes:
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 5 graduate terms. You can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials.
The curriculum for the master’s in criminal justice online has been designed by working criminal justice professionals and is taught by faculty members with years of practical experience.
Take, for example, Dr. Sheryl Victorian, an assistant chief and SNHU instructor with nearly a quarter century of law enforcement experience. Currently, she oversees 550 sworn officers for the Houston, Texas police department, which has a jurisdiction of over 2.4 million people.
Beyond being highly qualified, Victorian brings a fearless commitment to exploring, discussing and actively taking part in some of the most pressing law enforcement issues of our time – specifically, police-community relations.
"In order for us to build trust in our communities, we need to build relationships," Victorian said. "We need their help and their support. I think it's incumbent on the police department to be proactive in building those relationships."
In her local community, that means finding opportunities to engage with the public. One way she does this is through the Houston PD's Positive Interaction Program, which invites city residents to a station house each month to learn about various aspects of the department. This gives residents a chance to meet and build relationships with local law enforcement and start a dialogue addressing specific concerns they have within their neighborhoods.
She is just one of many faculty members who finds a way to leverage their experiences in a meaningful way for students. Others, who have backgrounds in the NYPD or the FBI, add their own lens to critical conversations about criminal justice.
Many courses also include field-authentic assignments with videos, simulations, national data and role-playing exercises. The program’s capstone course allows students to work on relevant research projects with law enforcement or other agencies, ensuring real-world experience prior to graduation.
"I’m really proud of the way SNHU has developed their courses to be more realistic and more helpful," said Mark Evenson, chief of police in Brentwood, CA, and adjunct faculty member in SNHU's criminal justice program. "They do a much better job preparing people for careers in criminal justice than other schools that I’ve seen.”
Total Credits: 36
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
*Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed Annually.
$150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
A criminal justice master’s degree can prepare you to take on leadership roles in law enforcement and public safety. By earning your degree, you’ll be equipped with the critical thinking, data driven decision-making and organizational management skills necessary to succeed in an evolving law enforcement landscape.
While many criminal justice careers don’t require a college degree, law enforcement agencies are increasingly looking for college graduates when hiring. Earning a master’s degree can give you a leg up when applying for top jobs or seeking a promotion and prepare you to adapt in an evolving field.
"So many things change constantly that it is important to prepare students for the changes that occur on a daily basis," said Dr. Jeff Czarnec, the associate dean of faculty of criminal justice and social sciences for SNHU Online and a retired police officer. "What we deal with today is different than 2 years ago, and that's different from 5 years ago. It's about preparing them to think creatively and act nimbly and prepare for the changes."
Depending on your career goals, a master’s degree concentration in advanced counterterrorism or public safety administration could help you take your learning even further.
A counterterrorism master’s degree will help you understand how to analyze foreign and domestic terrorism threats, gather, examine and interpret intelligence and deconstruct biases and mindsets about terrorism.
With a public safety administration master’s degree, you’ll get a firm grasp on the behind-the-scenes workings of criminal justice and public policy, preparing you to guide and implement policy at local, state and federal levels.
At SNHU, tuition rates for online master’s degree programs are some of the lowest in the country – and, by freezing online tuition every year since 2012, we're doing our best to keep it that way.
It's important to note, though, that the actual cost of your degree will vary based on the specific courses you take, the materials required for each course and your prior educational experience. You may, for example, transfer up to 12 credits of relevant graduate coursework, saving you tuition, as well as time, to complete your program.
Many courses also include additional costs for learning resources. While SNHU’s online college degree programs aim to make use of free resources whenever possible – including e-books, websites and training videos – some courses will require textbooks.
It depends. With an online master’s degree program, you can fit your learning into your current schedule, earning a master’s degree in as few as 15 months.
We like to manage student expectations by saying that most master’s degree programs can be completed in about 2 years. That said, with 5 graduate term starts per year, you have the flexibility to move at a slower pace if you'd like. This can be especially beneficial to those earning their degree while balancing a career and family.
At the end of the day, we want to make your goals more accessible. That means giving you the flexibility to complete your program at whatever pace works best for you.
With a public safety administration master’s degree from SNHU, you’ll be ready to apply your law enforcement experience to leadership positions that address public policy.
Whether you hope to take on a leadership role at the local, state or national level, you’ll be prepared to navigate the complexities of the U.S. criminal justice system across a variety of agencies and in-demand careers.
With a job as an emergency management director, you could prepare for and lead the response to natural disasters and other emergencies for a city, county or state. Emergency management jobs are expected to grow 5% by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2
You could also guide the day-to-day workings and long-term growth of a city or county as a county administrator, mayor or city manager. Management jobs like these are projected to grow 6% by 2028, according to BLS data.2
A criminal justice master’s degree will prepare you for a variety of jobs across many industries, including law enforcement, corrections, public safety and administration.
Earning a criminal justice master’s degree can give you the critical thinking and problem solving skills you need to stand out in the evolving law enforcement, corrections and public safety fields.
According to BLS, some of the top criminal justice jobs2 include:
The best online college for criminal justice is one that treats you as an individual and can be tailored to help you reach your personal career goals.
At SNHU, we started offering online classes in 1995 to help active duty military students pursue their degree from anywhere. We've since taken great pride in our ability to evolve our online learning solutions to suit the needs of all learners.
Our online programs are:
We understand that a career in law enforcement often requires long hours and shift work. In order to help you succeed in the criminal justice master’s degree program, we'll help you find the right balance between work and school, and support you along the way whenever you need it.
Our faculty will also insert real world examples and experiences into the learning process as a way to ensure you’re able to take your knowledge from the classroom to your career. At SNHU, criminal justice courses are taught by law enforcement and public safety professionals with years of hands-on experience – including many who are still actively working in the field.
Finally, a capstone project required before graduation ensures that you’ll get the chance to apply the skills and knowledge you’ve learned toward a real life challenge impacting your organization or community.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
*According to a survey of over 12,000 SNHU online students conducted in the fall of 2018.
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the Internet, at
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.