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 and 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.
Popular Criminal Justice Masters Programs
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 category 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.
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.
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]
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA||$93,310||70|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||$91,150||970|
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.
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
View All 124 Criminal Justice Programs
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!
Northcentral UniversityMaster of Science in Forensic Psychology MPA Criminal Justice MPA Homeland Security Master of Business Administration - Homeland Security Master of Business Administration - Criminal Justice Master of Legal Studies Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Criminal Justice
Loyola Marymount UniversityMaster of Tax Law (MT) Master of Laws (Tax LLM)
Lewis UniversityMS in Computer Science - Digital Forensics MS in Criminal Justice
Michigan State UniversityMaster of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Utica CollegeMS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Intelligence MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
Fordham UniversityMaster of Studies in Law in Corporate Compliance
Anna Maria CollegeMaster of Public Administration - Homeland Security Master of Public Administration - Criminal Justice
Hofstra UniversityMaster of Laws in Health Law & Policy Master of Arts in Health Law & Policy
University of MiamiMaster of Arts in International Administration (MAIA)
Lasell CollegeMaster of Science in Criminal Justice: Violence Prevention and Advocacy Master of Science in Criminal Justice: Homeland Security and Global Justice Master of Science in Criminal Justice: Emergency and Crisis Management
Saint Joseph's UniversityMS in Criminal Justice - Intelligence and Crime Analysis Specialization MS in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security Specialization MS in Criminal Justice - Behavior Analysis Specialization MS in Criminal Justice MS in Criminal Justice - Federal Law Enforcement Specialization
American UniversityMaster of Science in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security
Grand Canyon UniversityM.S.L. with an Emphasis in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Southern New Hampshire UniversityMS Criminal Justice w/conc in Advanced Counterterrorism MS Criminal Justice
Walden UniversityMS in Criminal Justice - Cyber Crimes MS in Criminal Justice - Behavioral Sciences MS in Criminal Justice - International/Global Criminal Justice Issues MS in Human & Social Services - Criminal Justice MS in Criminal Justice - General MS in Criminal Justice - Public Management & Leadership MS in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security Policy & Coordination MS in Criminal Justice - Terrorism, Mediation & Peace MS in Criminal Justice Leadership & Executive Management - General Program MS in Criminal Justice - Law & Public Policy
Roger Williams UniversityM.S. Criminal Justice
Capella UniversityMS - Criminal Justice
Eastern Kentucky UniversityMaster of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management - Concentration in Homeland Security Master of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management - Concentration in School Safety
University of New HavenMaster of Science in Criminal Justice Master of Science in Investigations
Emporia State UniversityForensic Science
Sacred Heart UniversityMaster of Arts: Criminal Justice
Liberty University OnlineMaster of Science in Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology Master of Arts: Human Services Counseling: Criminal Justice Master of Science: Criminal Justice Master of Business Administration: Criminal Justice Master of Science in Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
University of the SouthwestMBA - Law Enforcement and Corrections
UMassOnlineMaster of Arts in Security Studies: Industrial and Economic Security Concentration Master of Science in Security Studies: Critical Infrastructure Protection Concentration Master of Arts in Security Studies: International Security Concentration Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Master of Arts in Security Studies: Homeland Defense Concentration
University of TampaMaster of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Nova Southeastern UniversityCriminal Justice, M.S. National Security Affairs and International Relations, M.S.
University of EdinburghLLM in Corporate Law LLM in Law and Chinese LLM by Research LLM in International Banking Law and Finance MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice LLM in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice LLM in Human Rights LLM in Comparative and European Private Law LLM in Intellectual Property Law LLM in Law LLM in International Law LLM in European Law LLM in Commercial Law LLM in International Economic Law MSc in Global Crime Justice and Security LLM in Medical Law and Ethics LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law Graduate LLB