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Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Transfer up to
15 Credits
Receive credit for prior coursework; No GRE required.

Develop Expertise and Boost Your Career with a Master’s in Criminal Justice Online

Earning a Master of Science in Criminal Justice will help you advance your career as police chief, emergency management director, federal investigator, forensic examiner, or criminologist by developing expertise in the organization and administration of criminal justice, homeland security, and emergency management agencies in the United States.

With this fully online master’s program, transfer up to 15 graduate credits and complete core coursework that teaches you how to address legal and ethical dilemmas in the workplace, how to conduct valid research and analyze crime statistics, and how to develop effective crime-fighting strategies based on your findings. Study the police, courts, corrections, and the history and science of criminology as you learn how to conduct criminal justice research projects and write data-based reports that can be used to create new or improved public policies.

By the end of the program, you’ll know how to apply your knowledge of criminology and crime causation theories in the workplace, and understand the implications of legal issues related to constitutional rights and amendments in criminal justice settings.


Homeland Security and Emergency Management or Without Concentration

Fast Facts:

The average median criminal investigator salary is $83,320 (Source: BLS)

Employment of criminal forensics experts is projected to grow 17 percent from 2016 to 2026 (Source: BLS)

Master’s degree holders can work in the legal, non-profit, and government professions (Source: BLS)


credit hours

Online MS in Criminal Justice Program Details

Of the 30 credits required for the Master of Science in Criminal Justice, students must complete interdisciplinary study in criminal justice that includes 18 credits of core requirements, a concentration, and the 3-credit capstone.

Core Courses: 18 Credits


This graduate course introduces you to major theories of crime causation, the historical development of knowledge about criminality and antisocial behavior, and the relationships between criminal behavior and race, class, gender, and culture. Find out how crime data is measured and reported in the United States, how psychological theories are used to improve criminal justice policies, and how to conduct research and statistical analysis on crime data.

Criminal Justice Theory and Policy

Study the ways criminal justice theory is used to develop public policy. Examine case studies related to the social construction of crime, due process, police in the community, prosecutorial discretion, wrongful conviction, juvenile courts, restorative justice, prison systems, and the crime control industry.

Quantitative Analysis for Criminal Justice

Part of the research methods sequence, this course will introduce you to statistical theory and practice. Learn how to interpret and produce criminological statistics and how to perform statistical testing. Topics in this class include descriptive and inferential statistics and hypothesis testing and linear regression.

Research Methods in Criminal Justice

Develop your research methodology skills in this graduate course in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Apply what you learn by planning and conducting your own research studies, including a crime analysis project and program evaluation. Learn to integrate theory and practice and to design effective criminal justice research projects.

Constitutional Law

Deepen your knowledge of the practical application of U.S. constitutional laws and amendments in the criminal justice system. Topics in this graduate course include: federal courts; the powers and limitations of the presidency; the electoral process and the Commerce Clause; due process and property rights; the Bill of Rights; freedom of expression and religious liberty; privacy and equal protection of the law; and security and freedom in wartime.

Legal and Ethical Issues in Criminal Justice

In this course, you learn how to make informed and justified decisions by using concepts, definitions, and theories of ethical and moral reasoning. Each week, you explore decision making related to topics such as: organizational justice and police misconduct; weak management; workplace ethics; lying and deception; racial prejudice and discrimination; racial profiling; abuse of authority; noble cause corruption; the death penalty; police corruption; police brutality; drug raids; corrections, probation, and parole; and civility.

Non-concentration: 9 Credits

Students must complete 9 credits from among the following courses:

  • Corrections
  • Law Enforcement
  • Overview of Justice Administration
  • Risk Assessment in Homeland Security
  • Crisis Management in a Public Forum
  • Terrorism and Counterterrorism
  • Overview: Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Mental Health Issues in Criminal Justice
  • Human Trafficking
  • Arbitration

Homeland Security and Emergency Management: 9 Credits

Courses in this concentration examine domestic and international issues and trends and their impact on criminal justice. Students will analyze and evaluate homeland security issues as they relate to criminal justice. Courses include:

  • Terrorism and Counterterrorism
  • Overview: Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Risk Assessment in Homeland Security


Criminal Justice Capstone: 3 Credits

In this eight-week culmination course, you demonstrate skills and knowledge gained in this program by discussing, researching, analyzing, and writing about critical issues in criminal justice theory and policy. Examine topics such as the racial implications of “midnight basketball” and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the influence of crime rates and trends identified in the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) on federal sentencing, implications of the Patriot Act, and validity and reliability in applied social science research. Assignments include a final research project and slide presentation, and exploration of career planning resources.

The capstone is an intense and rewarding course that enables you to network and make professional connections that help you advance your current career or move into a new position.

Integrate the evolution of important criminological theories with the development of contemporary criminal justice policy.

Critique the criminal justice system and its policies through the application of current theory and literature to contemporary issues.

Gather, analyze, and interpret quantitative and qualitative data in the field of criminal justice and report on findings.

Interpret the Court’s decisions concerning constitutional law as they impact the professionals in the criminal justice systems.

Evaluate the use of ethical theory in the criminal justice systems’ decision-making process.

View additional details about programs and courses:

Download the Graduate Studies Catalog

Common Careers with an
Online MS in Criminal Justice

Correctional Officer Supervisor


District Attorney or Attorney General Investigator

Emergency Management Director

Forensic Examiner

Forensic Psychologist

Police and Detective Supervisor

Supervisory Criminal Investigator

“Being able to complete classwork around my work/life schedule made the experience with Excelsior seamless!”
Amanda Alfred
Master of Business Administration, 2017


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Institutional Accreditation

Excelsior College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. (267-284-5000).

All of Excelsior College's academic programs are registered (i.e., approved) by the New York State Education Department.

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