California Masters in Criminal Justice & Legal Studies Degrees
Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies programs represent two sides of the legal system, and depending on your interests, either might provide the foundation for beginning, or expanding, your career. Crime takes place in our neighborhoods, in the international sphere, in business as well as in cyberspace. All these sectors need a host of well-trained professionals including those who investigate crime, understand the criminal mind, create and uphold public policy and safety, and work in the legal and paralegal systems. Pursuing a Masters degree in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies may be a great fit if you are interested in advanced and relevant knowledge in any of these fascinating areas.
Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies: Overview
Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies programs comprise a host of possibilities. You might choose to study about law enforcement, corrections, first responders, politics, paralegal or legal fields. Each program may have its own prerequisites and admissions requirements, and may build on your prior undergraduate education. Graduate programs may be designed for current criminal justice administrators or those who seek a comprehensive understanding of legal procedures and how the judicial system operates. Some masters degrees are used as stepping-stones to PhD in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies fields, it all just depends on what you are studying.
Did You Know?
Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are usually lawyers, retired judges, or business professionals with expertise in a particular field, such as insurance[i]
Choosing a Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Program
By the time you get to graduate school, you may already have a strong sense of what direction you want to take for your masters’ degree. It is important to differentiate between a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Legal Studies versus other Masters degrees in the category of ‘Criminal Justice and Legal Studies’.
What is a Master of Science in Criminal Justice program with an Emphasis in Legal Studies? This type of degree is designed for law enforcement, corrections, probation, and parole officers aspiring to other potential career opportunities, as well as individuals who want to learn about the law, social order, and justice in a more in-depth manner. Your program likely involves a capstone project and/or final written proposal, coursework in Legal studies such as international law and methods of legal research.
Some of the other subjects that students in this type of Criminal Justice Masters program might study could include:
- Law enforcement management
- Criminal justice theories and their applications
- Principles of police administration
- Leadership in the criminal justice system,
- Restorative justice versus
- Traditional punishment,
- Procedures for criminal investigations
- Psychology in the legal system, including
- Understanding the roles of expert witnesses, jury consultants, and criminal profilers
- Crisis management
- Criminal law and the criminal justice process
What Other Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Masters Programs are there?
As you might see from the subject selection, if you are interested in furthering your learning with an additional two-year commitment, you might choose accredited master’s programs that delve into any number of complex criminal justice topics.
Criminal Justice Masters programs might involve pursuing either a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) with concentrations in various areas such as:
- Masters of Criminal Justice & Criminalistics Programs
- Masters of Forensic Science Programs
- Masters of Homeland Security & National Defense Programs
- Masters of Law Enforcement, Policing & Investigation Programs
- Masters of Legal Studies Programs
- Masters of Paralegal Programs
Masters in Legal Studies and Law Degrees
If you aspire to a career in the courtroom, you might pursue a Master of Law (LL.M.), Juris Doctor, Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) or look into a joint MS/JD program from an accredited school. These degrees fall within the categry of 'Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal" but they are profession-specific academic paths.
“Becoming a lawyer usually takes 7 years of full-time study after high school—4 years of undergraduate study, followed by 3 years of law school”[ii]
Campus or Online Masters in Criminal Justice & Legal Studies?
Once you have determined your field of study, consider whether you are looking at a graduate school you can physically attend, or whether distance-learning is more convenient. Many graduate schools offer online degrees that are the same as their campus format with the exception of the delivery method via web, to appeal to current professionals. It is certainly personal, but keep in mind:
If you are studying something like Forensic Science or Cybersecurity where there is likely some laboratory work, you may not get a fully online program.
Campus programs build interpersonal skills, team building and other necessary skills, so in some cases you might benefit more from being onsite.
The great thing about the GradSchools.com site is that you are able to search based on either learning format. To pull up a list of graduate schools with Masters in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies programs in a specific location, use the city, state or country settings. Contact the college or university from the site for fuller information. Some of the listings you might explore could include:
MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies, Master of Science in Public Safety Administration, Master of Science in Cybersecurity-Intelligence, Master of Science in Criminology, or Law MSW/JD Dual Degree. Make sure to search by subject for all the other possibilities.
The Workplace and Your Graduate Degree
Common question: ”What can I do with a legal studies (or fill in the blank) degree? Well, here’s the thing, a degree isn’t a guarantee of a job, but since crime doesn’t stop…you may be interested in some of these statistics:
- Employment growth for Forensic Science Technicians is projected to grow 27% from 2014-2024[iii].
- Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 8 % from 2014-2024[iv]
The Bureau of Labor Statistics actually has a fantastic PDF of potential careers in homeland security. Words of advice? Research the career then choose the academic path that is considered the best preparation.
Take the Next Step
Whether you are drawn to corrections, law enforcement, research, the behavior of criminals, the patterns of crime, DNA testing or legal work, there are numerous directions to take for advanced study. Why not investigate your options for a Masters degree in Criminal Justice or a Masters in Legal Studies degree and find one that aligns with your personal or professional goals!
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/legal/arbitrators-mediators-and-conciliators.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm | bls.gov/careeroutlook/2006/summer/art01.pdf
Northcentral University’s Master of Science in Forensic Psychology is a graduate-level examination of the psychological make-up of criminals, victims and other individuals as they interact with the judicial system.
California Southern University
CalSouthern’s Master of Laws program (LLM) gives attorneys the opportunity to develop highly specialized knowledge to grow their practices and enhance their legal careers. It’s also a great way for attorneys to distinguish themselves...
- Monterey, CAMonterey, CA
Middlebury Institute of International Studies
Trains professionals for careers in analyzing, preventing, and responding to terrorist threats and the spread of WMDs.
- Seaside, CASeaside, CA
Monterey College Of Law
Master of Legal Studies degree is a two-year terminal Masters degree. Does not qualify graduate to practice law or take the California Bar Examination. Juris Doctorate degree is an evening, campus based, four year program.
- Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
Loyola Law School Los Angeles
Loyola Law School prepares students to practice law effectively in any jurisdiction in the United States.
- Pleasant Hill, CAPleasant Hill, CA
John F Kennedy University
The JD/MBA program provides graduates with two degrees: a Juris Doctor degree and a Master of Business Administration.
- Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
University of Southern California
The basic law degree, the Juris Doctor, qualifies students to sit for any state bar examination. Full-time attendance for six semesters is required of students pursuing the J.D.
- Los Angeles, CA
Alliant International University
Alliant's MS in Applied Criminology will teach you to scientifically study crime, preparing you for a career in criminal justice.
- San Jose, CASan Jose, CA
San Jose State University
An interdisciplinary MS program in Justice Studies, drawing upon criminology, sociology, psychology, and history.
- Santa Barbara, CASanta Barbara, CA
Ventura College Of Law
Part-time evening law degree program...
- San Diego, CASan Diego, CA
California Western School Of Law
The J.D./M.S.W. Dual Degree Program was initiated in 1996. It offers students the opportunity to earn the two degrees in four, rather than the usual f...
- San Diego, CA
- Costa Mesa, CACosta Mesa, CA
- Orange, CAOrange, CA
Chapman offers LLM degrees in Taxation, Trial Advocacy, Entertainment Law, Business & Economics, and International.
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
University of San Francisco
The USF Master of Laws program, for graduates of law schools outside of the United States, is currently limited to 25 students allowing for personalized attention throughout your studies.
- San Francisco, CA
- Sacramento, CASacramento, CA
California State University, Sacramento
- Ontario, CAOntario, CA
University of La Verne
The University of La Verne is rich in tradition and history. Since its founding in 1891, the university has been vital to the...
William Howard Taft University
The Master of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.) Program (hereinafter the Program) is a directed independent study program specifically designed for practicing...
- Turlock, CATurlock, CA
California State University, Stanislaus
The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice builds upon the strong preparatory undergraduate Criminal Justice Program with its...
- Fullerton, CAFullerton, CA
Western State University College Of Law
The mission of Western State University College of Law is to provide the highest quality legal education, based on an innovative program of studies de...
British American University
British-American University School of Law is a unique method of non-traditional correspondence law study.
- San Diego, CASan Diego, CA
San Diego State University
This academic masters prepares students to work in the field of criminal justice policy or to teach at the community college level. Thesis requirement...
- San Francisco, CASan Francisco, CA
New College of California
New College of California School of Law is the oldest public interest law school in the nation.