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How to Get a Master’s in Criminal Justice

From new understanding of equity issues and the problem of mass incarceration to emerging challenges like cybercrime, the field of criminal justice is changing—fast. 

In the face of these obstacles, the field needs leaders with a solid ethical grounding and understanding of new approaches to justice. It’s no surprise that from 2022-2032, jobs in criminal justice administration are expected to increase by 7%, according to labor analytics firm Lightcast.

One way to explore changing approaches to criminal justice and gain access to new opportunities in the field is to obtain a master’s degree in criminal justice. But how can you get this degree, and how do you know if it’s right for you?

What Is a Master’s in Criminal Justice?

A master’s degree in criminal justice is a graduate degree that explores the theory behind criminal justice systems and the practical and legal considerations that professionals in the field need to know. 

According to Dr. Chenelle Jones, chair of public safety programs at Franklin University, a master's in criminal justice degree provides learners with an advanced understanding of theory that allows them to analyze the causes and correlates of crime critically.

"This, in turn, allows students to develop and implement practical solutions for crime prevention and intervention," Jones said.

Typically, master’s degrees in criminal justice are suited for professionals currently working in the field and career changers looking to enter criminal justice for the first time. While a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice provides valuable background, it is not a requirement for entering a master’s in criminal justice program.

How to Get a Master’s in Criminal Justice

The requirements for earning a master’s degree in criminal justice vary significantly by program, starting with admission. 

Admissions Requirements for a Master’s in Criminal Justice

The primary requirement for admission to an accredited master’s degree program is a bachelor’s degree, which can typically be in any field. Some schools require GRE or GMAT scores for admission—however, Franklin’s Master’s in Criminal Justice Administration does not require test scores. GPA requirements also vary by program. At Franklin, a GPA of 2.75 or above on a 4.0 scale is required for admission, though students with GPAs of 2.5 may be granted admission on a conditional basis. 


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Online and In-Person Options

While some criminal justice master’s programs require full-time, in-person attendance, today the majority are available online. According to Lightcast, 85% of criminal justice master’s degrees were delivered online in 2021. Franklin’s program is 100% online, and our flexible schedule is designed so that working professionals can complete their degrees without missing a beat. 

Expected Coursework

Some criminal justice master’s programs focus on areas like forensics or cybercrime, while others, like Franklin’s Master’s in Criminal Justice Administration are designed to prepare graduates for leadership positions in a wide variety of roles, including federal and state agencies and nonprofits.

Typical coursework for a master’s degree in criminal justice includes:

  • Victimology
  • Criminology
  • Adult and Juvenile Penology
  • Strategic Policing and Crime Control
  • Public Administration

At Franklin, the program requires 32 credit hours. 

Cost and Length of a Master’s in Criminal Justice

Master’s programs vary significantly in cost and time commitment, typically taking one to two years to complete. Franklin University’s Master’s in Criminal Justice Administration can be earned in as few as 14 months for a total cost of less than $25,000. 

Why Get a Master’s in Criminal Justice? 

A master’s degree in criminal justice offers the opportunity for professionals to dive deep into current and emerging challenges, giving you the theoretical foundation and practical skills you need to help build a more effective and equitable criminal justice system.

Developing your understanding of the complex issues the criminal justice is currently facing and learning from experienced professionals will help prepare you to develop innovative solutions for some of the most pressing problems our society is currently facing. 

Earning a master’s degree will help you prepare for more complex roles and demonstrate your qualification and commitment to agencies and departments. A graduate degree signals that you are ready to move forward in your career and can help you stand out from the competition as you apply for promotions and leadership positions. If you earn your master’s in criminal justice at Franklin, you’ll also benefit from personalized coaching from expert faculty who can help you map your path forward.

During your Franklin master’s program, you will earn an embedded graduate certificate in criminal justice leadership, which focuses on ethical leadership and management in criminal justice organizations. This credential demonstrates your new capabilities to employers, even while you are on the path toward your degree. 

As Jones explains, “There are several benefits to earning a master’s degree in criminal justice administration, including specific expertise in the field that could lead to a promotion or increased salary. Additionally, a master’s degree from Franklin University teaches skills that will prepare students for leadership positions in law enforcement, the court system or corrections.”

Advance Your Career with a Master’s in Criminal Justice

Are you prepared to take the next step in your criminal justice career? Consider enrolling in Franklin University’s Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration program.

This flexible, affordable degree can be completed on your schedule in as few as 14 months. Our curriculum is built and delivered by experienced criminal justice professionals, so you can be sure you’re learning exactly what you need to succeed on the job. We know that theory is important, but it’s not enough—that’s why we use a theory-to-practice approach built on real-world cases and cutting-edge tools. 

When you earn a master’s degree in criminal justice online, your options are expansive. Whether you hope to work for a federal agency on cybercrime policy or lead a local sheriff’s department, a master’s degree can help you gain the expertise you need to succeed.

Interested in learning more about how a master’s in criminal justice can move your career forward? Learn more about Franklin University’s degree program

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