Updated December 5, 2022

A degree in criminal justice prepares you for a career in government, law, or at a nonprofit. The 25 Cheapest Online Master's in Criminal Justice brings together programs that can open some of these doors to the next step in your career!  Do you enjoy mysteries? Real crime television shows? If you enjoy unraveling a ...

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A degree in criminal justice prepares you for a career in government, law, or at a nonprofit. The 25 Cheapest Online Master's in Criminal Justice brings together programs that can open some of these doors to the next step in your career! 

Do you enjoy mysteries? Real crime television shows? If you enjoy unraveling a puzzle or wish you could be like someone on Criminal Minds, a career in criminal justice might be right for you. A degree in criminal justice can open doors to many jobs with titles such as a forensic psychologist, criminal profiler, emergency management director, or a detective. In fact, the job market for police and detectives is expected to grow by seven percent by 2026, while the average reported salary in 2018 was $63,380, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Master's Degree in Criminal Justice adds even more expertise while ensuring one has the experience and education necessary to advance into management and administrative roles. However, an online program offers the flexibility to do this while still working full-time. In fact, many of these programs are designed specifically for those who are already in the field but want to grow.

When looking at graduate degree options, it is important to consider the time to completion, as some programs can take as short as one year to as long as two for students going full-time. Another important factor to consider is concentrations available. Concentrations are a way for a student to specialize their degree, and options can include Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Victim and Offender Services, and Criminal Justice Theory.

Selection Criteria

Best Value Schools publishes college degree rankings with the belief of how one's higher education should be, both, affordable and an investment of continued value for the students who pursue them. The staff of BVS collects data from reputable sources in order to calculate Net Price and the short and long-term value of every ranked degree. Collected data is simplified into weighted categories before scoring and then scaled through a BVS Score up to 100. The weighted categories are:

  • Degree Investment Return (25%
  • Student & Alumni Evaluation (25%)
  • Cost Value (25%)
  • Matriculation (10%)
  • Academic Success (15%)

No matter what degree you decide on, we hope our research and support has made the selection process easier. There are numerous resources BVS utilizes to collect information on degrees, and we encourage you to check them out for yourself!

Here are the 25 Cheapest Online Master's in Criminal Justice!
#1 Fayetteville State University Fayetteville, NC
#2 University of North Georgia Dahlonega, GA
#3 New Mexico State University Las Cruces, NM
#4 Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau, MO
#5 University of Nebraska Omaha Omaha, NE
#6 University of North Texas Denton, TX
#7 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
#8 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY
#9 University of Oklahoma-Norman Norman, OK
#10 Lamar University Beaumont, TX

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

  1. Fayetteville State University

    Fayetteville, NC



    At the top of this list is Fayetteville State University's Master of Science in Criminal Justice. This program is perfect for those who are already working in the field or those who have prior educational experience in criminal justice. It is also ideal for military personnel. Students can start in the fall, spring, or summer semesters. The 33-credit course of study offers three options to students for how they proceed through the program, which is the thesis option, the comprehensive exam option, and the enhanced coursework option. Sample courses from this program include Females, Crime, and Justice, Program Evaluation in Criminal Justice, and Corporate and Government Crime.

    For admission, students are required to submit their GRE scores. The GRE submitted must have been taken within the last five years to be valid. Additionally, students must have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher, and for the application, a personal statement and two letters of recommendation are required. The Criminal Justice Graduate Admissions Committee considers all aspects of the application, and they are looking at a student's ability to succeed, as demonstrated by the letters of recommendation and the personal statement.

  2. University of North Georgia

    Dahlonega, GA



    Students can earn their Master of Science with a major in Criminal Justice at the University of North Georgia. The program requires 36 semester hours of coursework, and students can start the program in either the fall, summer, or spring semesters. UNG focuses in particular on international crime and justice. Some of the courses that students can choose from in this program include Forensic Behavioral Analysis, Legal Liabilities of Criminal Justice, and Family Violence.

    For those who have taken graduate courses before, up to six credit hours can be transferred into the program. The degree culminates in a comprehensive seminar that prepares students to graduate.For admission, students should have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher and have completed at least one statistics course and at least one methodology course. Additionally, three recommendation, a resume, an application, and a letter of intent are required. Students should also have copies of their undergraduate transcripts sent to UNG.

  3. New Mexico State University

    Las Cruces, NM



    At New Mexico State University, students can earn their Master of Criminal Justice degree. This program requires 36 credit hours of coursework. Some sample classes include Feminist Research Methods, Race, Crime and Justice, and Law and Social Control. A thesis is not required for this program. Students can receive credit for an internship. Interestingly, NMSU is home to one of the oldest criminal justice programs in the United States, and its graduates work across the U.S. and around the world. It is ranked as No. 49 on U.S. News & World Report 's Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs.

    Graduates of this program have praised the faculty members' abilities to still create an interactive learning environment despite it being an online program. Students are still very much able to use their professors as resources throughout the program, and the faculty members are the same as they are for the on-campus program.

  4. Southeast Missouri State University

    Cape Girardeau, MO



    The 30-credit Master's in Criminal Justice at Missouri State University is a cooperative program, and it centers in on the practical application of administering criminal justice programs and policies. It is particularly pertinent for those who wish to pursue a career in law enforcement. Students can choose from three capstone experiences, which are a thesis, an internship, and a leadership capstone. Additionally, courses in this program include Civil Law and Liability, the Death Penalty in America, and Crime, Media, and Pop Culture.

    Students from SMSU have interned or worked as police officers, FBI agents, and highway patrol officers.Courses at SMSU are offered in either eight or 16-week courses, but students do not have to be online at any specific times in order to complete coursework. Everything can be done asynchronously. However, students still work with their academic advisor to set their course schedule and have access to student services on campus if they were to ever need them.

  5. University of Nebraska Omaha

    Omaha, NE



    The University of Nebraska's Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice has been ranked as the No. 1 Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program according to U.S. News & World Report. It is also the No. 1 Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program for Veterans, per the same publication. The degree itself requires 36 credit hours of coursework, completed through 12 courses. Students can finish the program on either a full- or part-time basis. Full-time students are able to graduate within 18 months.

    The MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice does not require the GRE for admission.The online programs at the University of Nebraska are still backed up by student support services to ensure that students feel that they have the support that they need to succeed in finishing their degree. Coursework can be completed anytime, and the MS is designed for working professionals who which to advance in their studies.

  6. University of North Texas

    Denton, TX



    The University of North Texas awards a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Justice Policy and Administration. The degree can typically be finished in two years and requires 36 credit hours of coursework. A comprehensive examination serves as a culminating experience for those in the program. Courses in this program include Organized Crime, Advanced Criminological Theory, and Evaluation and World Criminal Justice Systems. For those who have already completed some relevant coursework, up to nine credit hours may be transferred into the program. Students can also take up to six credit hours of a Directed Studies course with a faculty member.

    To apply, students should fill out the online application and submit copies of their official transcripts from any universities attended. Additionally, two letters of recommendation and a personal statement are required. UNT considers all applications holistically. International students should also submit TOEFL scores. Once everything is submitted, applications will be reviewed by the department and the admissions office.

  7. Sam Houston State University

    Huntsville, TX



    Sam Houston State University has prepared students for careers in local, state, and national criminal justice roles as judges, probation officers, police administrators, victim advocates, and law enforcement agents through the Master of Science in Criminal Justice program. This degree, which requires 36 credit hours of coursework, typically takes two years to complete. It is designed for working professionals in particular who are looking to advance in their career and need to complete graduate work to do so.Students can start in the fall or spring semesters.Additionally, faculty members in this program have been recognized as the No. 1 most productive researchers nationally by the Journal of Criminal Justice Education. U.S. News & World Report has also ranked it as No. 3 on their list of Best Online Criminal Justice Graduate Programs.

  8. University of the Cumberlands

    Williamsburg, KY



    The University of Cumberland's Master's in Justice Administration is designed to serve nontraditional students and works to offer a unique experience in its online curriculum where students can still engage with faculty members and their studies in the same way as in an in-person curriculum. Students can also choose from the following specializations: Law Enforcement, Corrections, Homeland Security, Juvenile Justice, Family Services, Investigations, and Addiction Studies.

    The course of study in its entirety requires 31 credit hours of coursework, which culminates in a capstone project.The University of the Cumberland is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. For admission, students must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. They should fill out the online application and send copies of their transcripts. An interview and two letters of reference are also required for the program.

  9. University of Oklahoma-Norman

    Norman, OK



    The University of Oklahoma at Norman's Master of Science in Criminal Justice addresses the need for criminal justice professionals to be able to serve as leaders who can make tough, ethical decisions. Students can choose to complete tracks in Corrections Management, Restorative Justice, and Administration and Leadership. Courses are 16 weeks in length, and typically, students are enrolled at two classes at a time during the fall and spring terms and one in the summer.

    In total, the degree requires 33 credit hours of study and is mindful of students' work schedules while still providing a top-level education.The University of Oklahoma extended campus, which houses all of the university's entirely online programs, has graduated thousands of students. It is committed to providing an education to adult students and military service members who are looking to finish their degree. It also grants certain benefits to military service members and veterans, including transfer credits and tuition waivers.

  10. Lamar University

    Beaumont, TX



    Lamar University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice that helps students to advance in their careers. It requires 30 credit hours of coursework but not a thesis. However, there is a capstone course that serves as the culminating experience for students. Lamar also has several start dates throughout the year, meaning that students are able to finish the program in as little as one year. Students are not required to take the GRE for admission, but students must have taken at least one social science course and one statistics course.

    Finally, courses in this program include Serial Murder, Constitutional Law, and Homeland Security.Lamar's MS was ranked No. 39 by U.S. News & World Report on its list of Best Online Criminal Justice Graduate Programs. For its online education, Lamar has its students complete an online orientation and then gives them access to a variety of student support services so that they still feel like they are a part of the campus community.

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