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 143 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 Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Criminal Justice MPA Criminal Justice Master of Business Administration - Homeland Security MPA Homeland Security Master of Legal Studies Master of Business Administration - Criminal Justice
Fordham UniversityMaster of Studies in Law in Corporate Compliance
Lewis UniversityMS in Public Safety Administration MS in Criminal Justice MS in Computer Science - Digital Forensics
Loyola Marymount UniversityMaster of Tax Law (MT) Master of Laws (Tax LLM)
Loyola University ChicagoMaster of Jurisprudence in Rule of Law for Development (PROLAW) Master of Laws in Health Law Master of Laws in Rule of Law for Development (PROLAW) Master of Laws in Compliance & Enterprise Risk Management Dual Degree JD/MSW in Law and Social Work Dual Degree MJ/MSW in Law and Social Work Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology
Utica CollegeMS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Intelligence MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
American UniversityMaster of Science in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security Master of Legal Studies
The Chicago School of Professional PsychologyM.A. Industrial/Organizational Psychology: Internship Track AND Master of Legal Studies M.A. Forensic Psychology: Non-Licensure Track AND Master of Legal Studies
Saint Joseph's UniversityMS in Criminal Justice - Federal Law Enforcement Specialization MS in Criminal Justice MS in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security Specialization MS in Criminal Justice - Intelligence and Crime Analysis Specialization MS in Criminal Justice - Behavior Analysis Specialization
Hofstra UniversityMaster of Laws in Health Law & Policy Master of Arts in Health Law & Policy
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 MiamiMaster of Arts in International Administration (MAIA)
Pepperdine UniversityMaster of Legal Studies Master of Laws in Dispute Resolution
Purdue University GlobalM.S. in Criminal Justice M.S. in Legal Studies M.S. in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Southern New Hampshire UniversityMS Criminal Justice MS Criminal Justice w/conc in Advanced Counterterrorism MS Criminal Justice w/conc in Public Safety Administration
Colorado Technical UniversityMaster of Science in Management - Homeland Security Master of Science - Criminal Justice
Grand Canyon UniversityM.S.L. with an Emphasis in Homeland Security and Emergency Management M.S. in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies M.S. in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
Sacred Heart UniversityMaster of Arts: Criminal Justice
Lasell UniversityMaster of Science in in Criminal Justice: Homeland Security and Global Justice Master of Science in Criminal Justice: Emergency Crisis Management Master of Science in Criminal Justice: Violence Prevention and Advocacy
University of TampaMaster of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Liberty University OnlineMS: Criminal Justice: Public Administration JM: International Legal Studies Master of Science in National Security MS Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement Leadership JM: American Legal Studies MS: Criminal Justice Master of Science in Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology Master of Science in National Security: Homeland Security Master of Science in Criminal Justice: Homeland Security Master of Arts: Human Services Counseling: Criminal Justice MS: Criminal Justice: Cybercrime Investigation LLM: International Legal Studies Master of Business Administration: Criminal Justice Master of Science: Criminal Justice
University of the SouthwestMBA - Law Enforcement and Corrections MS Biology in Forensic Science MS Criminal Investigative Leadership
Capella UniversityMS - Criminal Justice
Villanova UniversityLLM in Taxation
University of EdinburghLLM in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice LLM in Law and Chinese LLM in Medical Law and Ethics LLM by Research LLM in International Economic Law LLM in Law LLM in International Law LLM in Human Rights MSc in Global Crime Justice and Security MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice LLM in Global Environment and Climate Change Law LLM in Comparative and European Private Law LLM in International Banking Law and Finance Graduate LLB LLM in Corporate Law LLM in Intellectual Property Law LLM in Commercial Law LLM in European Law
Nova Southeastern UniversityCriminal Justice, M.S. National Security Affairs and International Relations, M.S.
Villanova UniversityMS in Cybersecurity
Roger Williams UniversityM.S. Criminal Justice
Loyola University ChicagoMaster of Laws in Tax Law Master of Laws in Trial Advocacy, Appellate Advocacy, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Dual Degree JD/MBA in Law and Business Master of Laws in Business Law Dual Degree MA/JD in Law and Political Science Master of Laws for International Lawyers Master of Laws in Child and Family Law Dual Degree JD/MPP in Law and Public Policy Dual Degree JD/MEd in Law & Education Policy Dual Degree JD/MA in Law & Comparative Education
Emory UniversityLL.M. for International Lawyers Law