What is a Master of Science in Criminal Justice?

The rapid advance of technology and the specter of terrorism have created an expanding need for professionals with advanced skills to grapple with the criminal justice issues of the 21st century. A degree in criminal justice touches on many different elements, all involving the study of people through concepts of sociology, psychology, and how legal decisions are made. This online master’s program is designed to prepare you to go into the field of criminal justice, either the academic field or a more pragmatic-oriented field such as law enforcement or corrections.

Accelerated 6-week courses
Transfer up to 9 approved credits
1 course at a time
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Degree Completion Journey

Serve the greater good – earn your master’s in criminal justice online from the University of Arizona Global Campus. Your online courses cover advanced topics in law, ethics, forensics, and corrections.


Year 1

  • This course introduces students to the fundamentals of the criminal justice system, substantive criminal law, and the U.S. Constitution. This course may be waived for students holding undergraduate degrees in criminal justice or having completed certain courses.

  • This course examines criminal justice policies and theories, and structures of the criminal justice system. Research and materials in this course will also be used to explore criminal justice policies and social justice.

  • This course explores classical and contemporary literature in criminology and criminal justice. Both theory and empirical research will be used to examine criminal behavior as well as the structure, function, and interaction of the criminal justice system.

  • This course examines the structure, functions, and operations of the constitution and judicial processes. The impact of historical and contemporary constitutional issues on the criminal justice process will also be examined.

  • This course introduces the use of research methods in the study of criminal justice. The focus is on the examination of the issues related to collecting, analyzing, and using data. Students will learn to test hypotheses, draw inferences, and write a research report.

  • This course introduces students to the intersection between psychology and the criminal justice system. Students will examine major sub-areas of psychology that comprise the discipline of forensic psychology including criminal psychology, legal psychology, victimology, police psychology, and correctional psychology.

  • This course examines theoretical and applied criminal justice ethical standards as they relate to criminal justice decision-making. Students will evaluate issues concerning discretion, due process, truthfulness, corruption, and discrimination.

  • This course provides an international perspective on law enforcement. Students will focus on the phenomena of globalization of criminal activity, major aspects of the legal traditions and criminal justice systems of selected countries, as well as international legal and law enforcement institutions.


Year 2

  • This course provides an overview of the principles and concepts of victimology, an analysis of patterns and trends, as well as theoretical reasoning and responses to criminal victimization. Students will examine the consequences suffered by victims as well as the services and resources available to them.

  • The Capstone: Evaluation & Program Analysis in Criminal Justice course focuses on key concepts, methods, and issues in criminal justice program evaluation and performance measurement research. Program evaluation and performance measurement research methods are evaluated to determine their efficacy and applications. Finally, students will develop a program evaluation proposal on an existing public sector, nonprofit, or private criminal justice program.



Program Requirements

To be awarded the Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree, all students must complete 39 credits with a 3.0 minimum grade point average. Students who have earned an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or have successfully completed undergraduate coursework in criminal justice, criminal law, and constitutional law with a grade of “C” or higher will be exempt from the requirement to take CRJ 501 Criminal Justice, Criminal Law & the Constitution. Students who waive CRJ 501 are required to take 36 total program credits in order to meet graduation requirements.

Special Terms and Conditions

Successful completion of this program by itself may not qualify a student for employment with a federal, state or local law enforcement agency. State and local police agencies may require training and certification specified by the individual state’s law enforcement board and may be provided post-hire at a police academy. Other federal, state and local agencies as well as private entities may have individualized requirements. Prospective students are advised to contact individual agencies and states’ law enforcement boards for additional information relating to these requirements. Students seeking licensure or certification in a particular profession are strongly encouraged to carefully research the requirements prior to enrollment. Requirements may vary by state. Further, a criminal record may prevent an applicant from obtaining licensure, certification, or employment in this field of study.

Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.

Quality Matters Certification

The Online Teaching Support Certification recognizes programs that require all online faculty to undergo training in best practices for online course delivery, provide faculty with ongoing pedagogical support, encourage faculty professional development to increase their knowledge and skill in online teaching, emphasize instructor availability and feedback to learners, and collect and use feedback from learners to improve online teaching. Learn More

Customize Your Criminal Justice Degree with UAGC Specializations

Delve into other areas with a specialization added to your criminal justice degree. Each specialization is designed to provide you with exposure to that particular field and nuance of the criminal justice discipline. These specializations can provide you with the valuable information needed to expand your knowledge. A specialization consists of three (3), three (3) credit courses. Choose from the following specializations:
  • Homeland Security keeps the homeland safe against danger and terrorism. Take courses that include topics such as modern terrorism, domestic terrorism, cyberterrorism, Homeland Security organization, strategies, programs and principles, emergency management, the media, and the issues of civil liberties through the Homeland Security Specialization offered at the University of Arizona Global Campus. Learn how to protect your homeland with the Homeland Security Specialization. Your specialization may require prerequisite course work. Please talk to your advisor for more information.

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  • The field of law enforcement & corrections administration offers a wide variety of careers you can pursue after graduation. Focus your degree with a Law Enforcement & Corrections Administration specialization. With this addition to your online degree program, learn how to analyze theoretical concepts of organizational behavior and management. The specialization will cover topics such as organizational behavior, employment and policy law, and budgeting for law enforcement and corrections administrators. Discover more about enhancing your degree and the courses required for the specialization. Your specialization may require prerequisite course work. Please talk to your advisor for more information.

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Careers in Criminal Justice

Apply the knowledge you've gained with your criminal justice degree toward a career in the criminal and social justice field. The US criminal justice system faces unique and unprecedented challenges in the 21st century. As a graduate with an MS in Criminal Justice, you may also wish to pursue the following careers:


  • Police Captain
  • Shift Supervisor
  • Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers
  • Deputy
  • Deputy Sheriff
  • Patrol Officer


Successful completion of an undergraduate or graduate degree in criminal justice degree by itself does not lead to licensure or certification in any state, regardless of concentration or specialization. Further, the University of Arizona Global Campus does not guarantee that any professional organization will accept a graduate's application to sit for any exam for the purpose of professional certification. Students seeking licensure or certification in a particular profession are strongly encouraged to carefully research the requirements prior to enrollment. Requirements may vary by state. Further, a criminal record may prevent an applicant from obtaining licensure, certification, or employment in this field of study.


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Other Degrees That May Interest You

Check out other degree programs that suit a variety of interests and may enhance a wide scope of career opportunities at UAGC. Discover similar programs to find the right path for you.

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Are you currently a licensed RN?

This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.

Are you a member of the military?

We are currently not accepting new enrollments in the state of North Carolina.