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Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

Dive into the current topics shaping today's approaches to public safety with this flexible 11-course online criminal justice master's degree that can be completed at a pace that fits your schedule.

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Megan MorrisM.A. in CJ
Masters Degree Criminal Justice online student Megan Morris.
Alarm Clock Next Start Date: September 4

Master's Degree in Criminal Justice Online

Learn about emerging criminal justice issues while gaining the degree you need to advance in the field with UMass Lowell's top-ranked online Master's Degree in Criminal Justice. This program is designed for students seeking entry into the criminal justice field and those who already work in the system and wish to broaden their skills and expertise.

Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice Program in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report Ranked #3 Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice Programs in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report
Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs for Veterans in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report Award Best Online Master's in Criminal Jusice in Massachusetts for Veterans

Offering a broad range of classes in areas such as leadership, crisis and emergency management, criminal profiling, law and public policy, crime analysis, forensic psychology, sex crimes, terrorism, and victimology, the M.A. in Criminal Justice program is designed to meet the changing needs of our society. Throughout this program, you will develop the knowledge to evaluate policies, model best practices, and build skills in crisis and emergency management.

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Earn Your Master's Degree in as Little as 18 Months

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Earn a Top-Ranked Master's for Under $20k

Career Outlook

Jobs (2022)
% Change (2022-2023)
Median Earnings
Annual Openings
Source: Lightcast (2023) Target Occupations in New England


  • Corrections Officer
  • Criminal Justice Educator
  • Criminologist
  • Federal Agent (CIA, FBI, DEA)
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Industrial Security Consultant
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Parole Officer Supervisor
  • Police Chief or Detective
  • Prison Warden
  • Private Investigator
  • Probation Officer
  • Security Operations Manager
  • U.S. Customs Agent
  • U.S. Marshall
  • Victim Advocate

The M.A. in Criminal Justice program has a long history of producing dedicated, well-rounded students who are in top demand by federal, state and local agencies.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, first line supervisors of policy and detectives in Massachusetts earned a mean annual salary of $109,090 in 2022.
— U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2022
The School of Criminology and Justice Studies faculty are experts in areas ranging from transnational crime and weapons of mass destruction, to offender re-entry, victim's concerns, and mental health and the justice system. This master's in criminology program is evidence-based and data-driven.

Massachusetts Law Enforcement Professionals:

UMass Lowell's Master of Arts in Criminal Justice is Quinn Bill-certified by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Providing educational incentives through salary increases for regular full-time officers in participating cities and towns throughout the state, the Quinn Bill ensures that police officers who graduate from eligible institutions and programs qualify for incentive pay.

Visit the Police Career Incentive Pay Program website to learn more.

"I've dedicated my life to service in the city of Lowell. With my master's degree, I'll be able to advance my career and bring a higher level of professionalism to my work."
Christopher P.
Lowell police officer, B.S. and M.A. in Criminal Justice
A graduated student

Success Story

"I was able to earn my master's degree faster than expected. By taking courses throughout the year, including in the summer, I completed the program in record time. Having the ability to do it all online was perfect for me since it didn't interfere with my job."

Stacy D., Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
Stacy D.

Stacy D.

Curriculum Outline

- Total Number of Courses Required for the Master's Degree in Criminal Justice: 11 (33 credits)

Course Descriptions

CRIM.5010 Criminological Theory: Foundations (3cr)

This course provides a detailed examination of the best known and most influential theories of crime causation. Topics include: theory construction, hypothesis testing, theory integration, and the links among theory, research, and policy.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.5200 Administration of Justice (3cr)

An examination of the components of the criminal justice system and a review of the administration of federal, state and local criminal justice agencies, including a focus on criminal law and procedure.

CRIM.5210 Managing Justice Organizations (3cr)

A range of criminal justice management issues are addressed, including organizational structure, purpose, rewards and relationships, leadership and management styles, and the development of effective change strategies by criminal justice agencies. The complex role of the criminal justice manager in both the adult and juvenile justice system is emphasized.

CRIM.5220 Issues in Policing (3cr)

An introduction to research on the police, both basic research and applied, evaluative research. Since police discretion was discovered in the 1950s, basic research has focused on factors that explain the discretionary use (and abuse) of police authority, and particularly on factors that would signify bias in police decision-making, and also on the mechanisms by which police may be held accountable to the public. Evaluative research, beginning with the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment in the 1970s, has been concerned with estimating the effects of programmatic and tactical innovations on social conditionssuch as crime, fear of crime, satisfaction with police services and quality of life.

CRIM.5400 Criminal Profiling (3cr)

An overview of the development and characteristics of violent offenders, some of whom will evolve to become criminal psychopaths. The class provides an analytical understanding of the unique characteristics of serial criminals and the methodologies used to commit their crimes.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.5410 Forensic Psychology (3cr)

This course applies psychological theories, principles, and research to issues of concern to the criminal justice system with a special focus on the intersection of the mental health and criminal justice systems.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.5600 Gender, Race and Crime (3cr)

The implications of criminal laws, criminal justice practices and programs. Focus on inequalities based on gender, race and class.

CRIM.5700 Crisis and Emergency Management (3cr)

This course will provide a broad introduction to the critical challenges of disaster management. The course will address past and present strategies for reducing and responding to hazards posed by both manmade and natural disasters. Emphasis will be placed on what we can learn from the history of disasters, and on how we can apply those lessons to the management of future events.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.5710 Domestic Terrorism and Violent Extremism (3cr)

This course examines the evolution and contemporary nature of domestic terrorist threats and violent extremist movements that the U.S. has confronted over the past several decades. Special attention is focused on right-wing militias, religious extremists, racial supremacist/hate groups, and extreme environmental and animal rights groups. Students will also learn about political and socioeconomic factors that enable a terrorist group's ideological resonance, prison radicalization, the role of the Internet in mobilizing individuals toward violent behavior, and the legal and criminal justice dimensions of responses to terrorism.

CRIM.5720 Comparative Terrorism and Counterterrorism (3cr)

This course examines a broad spectrum of terrorist groups and counterterrorism responses in over a dozen countries, including Colombia, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Northern Ireland/UK, Pakistan, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Yemen. This comparative analysis will help students develop and understanding of patterns and trends within political violence (including radicalization, tactics, financing, targeting behavior, malevolent creativity, disengagement and de-radicalization) and the many different policies and strategies adopted by governments in response to terrorist threat.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.5730 Threat Assessment and Risk Management (3cr)

The goal of this course is to enhance understanding and increase expertise regarding risk management and the impact of terrorism on economic and other critical infrastructures in the United States. The course will provide the tools (operational and statistical) and technology required to mitigate these risks. A second purpose of the course is to examine and critically discuss current and future methods to create best practices in security management.

CRIM.5740 Overview of Homeland Security (3cr)

The U.S. has embraced the homeland security monolith without a full understanding of what it encompasses. This course provides a comprehensive overview of homeland security and defense as undertaken in the United States since 9/11. The course critically examines the current body of knowledge with a specific focus on understanding security threats, sources, and reasons for these threats. The roles of the key players at the federal, state and local levels, the policies and procedures enacted since 9/11, and the homeland security system in practice are also examined.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.5900 Descriptive & Inferential Statistics (3cr)

This course is a rigorous introduction to statistical inference: probability theory, confidence intervals, and hypothesis tests. The course also covers regression analysis, which is developed in a non-technical way, with an emphasis on interpretation of regression results, using examples from recent research.

CRIM.5910 Research Design (3cr)

Research design is a graduate-level introduction to methodology as used in criminology/criminal justice. The course surveys the research design enterprise and covers a host of issues on the measurement and collection of data, and other procedures that influence whether a research study will lead the investigator to scientifically rigorous information. This course explains various strategies for devising social science studies, compares the relative benefits of various designs, and identifies the tools necessary to conduct studies that will yield data worthy of analysis and interpretation. This material will be valuable for students who will conduct research and administrators who must evaluate the research of others.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.6130 Law and Public Policy (3cr)

The course is an introduction to crime and the efforts to control crime through public policy. We explore the foundations of the policy-making process at the federal, state, and local levels. The course also considers broad theoretical applications pertaining to public opinion, national culture, and comparative analyses among Western democracies and their differing approaches to crime. This course employs a variety of learning tools, from roundtable discussions to policy cases.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.6300 Victimology (3cr)

This course examines the study of crime victims and of the patterns, impact, and formal responses to criminal victimization. Particular attention is given to research issues such as measurement of victimization, fear of crime and related measures, and conducting research with victimized populations, as well as discussion of current issues in the field of Victimology. Substantive topics may include theories of victimization, the overlap between victims and offenders, social-psychological and other impacts of victimization on primary and secondary victims, media coverage of victimization, and evaluation of prevention and intervention programs for victims (criminal justice system based programs and others).


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.6310 Intimate Partner Violence (3cr)

An examination of the nature and extent of intimate partner violence and an analysis of the causes and consequences of violence between partners as well as the latest research regarding the criminal justice response.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.6320 Responding to Child Maltreatment (3cr)

Introduction to empirical findings and theoretical perspectives concerned with the maltreatment of children and youth. Includes an examination of prevalence rates, risk factors, consequences, and system responses.

CRIM.6400 Criminal Mind and Behavior (3cr)

This course is designed to address a broad range of topics relevant to criminal behavior and the development of the so called criminal personality. Factors that are considered to influence the evolution of criminal mentality are examined and the laws and the past and current response of the criminal justice system to repeat offenders are explored.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.6410 Mental Health & Criminal Justice (3cr)

The course focuses on how and why individuals with serious mental illness become involved in the criminal justice system, and on how the criminal justice and public mental health systems respond to that involvement. Topics include law enforcement responses, court-based strategies, mental health and corrections, community supervision of individuals with mental illness, violence and mental disorder, and unique challenges associated with female and juvenile populations.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.6420 Sex Crimes and Offenders (3cr)

This course examines the nature of sex offenses as well as the mind of the sex offender, and focuses on motives, possible victims, and rehabilitation. The responses of the mental health and criminal justice systems are examined and the effectiveness of those responses is assessed.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.6500 Violence in America (3cr)

This course provides an in-depth analysis of the causes, context, and control of a wide range of violent crimes. Topics covered in this class include: Murder, rape, robbery, assault, and violence in the helping professions, the workplace, school, gang violence, cult violence, and institutional violence. For each form of violence, we examine issues related to(1) the extent of the problem, characteristics of the crime, victim, and offender, (2) causation, (3) crime prevention, and (4)crime control strategies.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.6510 Criminal Homicide (3cr)

A survey of the nature and extent of criminal homicide. There will be five main components: statutory definitions of homicide; theories of homicide; homicide rates over time and across jurisdictions; trends and patterns in homicide characteristics; and cross-cultural comparisons. Homicide is an important topic in criminology for three reasons: (1) it is the crime of greatest severity in any penal code; (2) it is a fairly reliable barometer of all violent crime; and (3) at a national level, no other crime is measured as accurately, precisely, and comprehensively.

CRIM.6550 Substance Abuse and Crime (3cr)

This course examines the dynamics of substance abuse, the interrelationship between substance abuse and crime, and the use of both criminal and civil law to deal with the problems posed by substance abuse.


CSCE Graduate Restrictions

CRIM.6919 Directed Study in Criminal Justice (3cr)

This course is designed as an independent study of a subject not offered in the standard curriculum.

CRIM.6940 Crime Analysis and Mapping (3cr)

This course examines the use of new technologies to analyze crime patterns and develop crime prevention strategies. Students study theories that explain the geographic distribution of crime and learn how to use Geographic Information Systems to study crime in ways that draw upon theory as well as how to apply GIS techniques in the law enforcement and corrections fields.

Program Requirements

To be recommended for a University of Massachusetts Lowell master's degree, candidates must satisfy all of the general requirements below, plus any additional requirements that may be required by the department through which the program is offered. Any additional requirements for this program are either listed below or may be found in the University's Graduate Program Catalog.

General Requirements:

  • Students must complete the program of study designed by the Department in which they are enrolled and approved by the University.
  • Satisfactory grades in all subjects offered for the degree must be earned. See Academic Standing.
  • All financial obligations, including tuition, fees and expenses, must be satisfied as evidenced by completion.
  • Upon completion of all their courses, graduate degree candidates must submit a signed Declaration of Intent to Graduate (DIG) form to their coordinator. The coordinator will apply them in SIS, Graduation Tracking.

Graduate Program Policies

In applying for a degree program or registering for courses, each student assumes full responsibility for knowledge of and compliance with the definitions, regulations and procedures of UMass Lowell as set forth on our website. For additional information, please refer to the Graduate Program Policies found within the UMass Lowell Graduate Catalog.

Tuition & Fees

Tuition at UMass Lowell is typically half the cost of private colleges, and our online tuition is among the lowest in the nation. Tuition for online programs offered through the Division of Graduate, Online & Professional Studies is the same whether you live in-state, out-of-state or outside of the U.S.

Summer 2024 Tuition

Cost Per Credit Cost Per 3-Credit Course*


Online and Virtual $600 $1,800
Online Business1 $655 $1,965
Online Education2 $470 $1,410
Online 7000-Level Education $655 $1,965
Select Online Nursing M.S. courses3 $750 $2,250
Select On Campus courses4 $600 $1,800
All other On Campus courses5 View Here
*Tuition is priced on the listed credit hour unless the contact hour is different. Tuition is then based upon the listed contact hour.
1Applies to ACCT, BUSI, ENTR, FINA, MGMT, MKTG, MIST and POMS courses.
2Applies to EDUC courses excluding 7000-level courses.
3Applies to NURS.6510, NURS.6511, NURS.6512 and NURS.6513 courses.
5Applies to graduate on campus courses excluding select courses

Additional Costs

Term Registration Fee $30
Returned Check Fee $30
Graduate Degree and Certificate Application $50

Please note: Tuition and fees are subject to change.

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Looking for Financial Assistance?

UMass Lowell offers a variety of financial aid and scholarship options.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Many paths are available to those with a Master's in Criminal Justice, including careers in law enforcement, corrections, legal professions and more.

    Law enforcement occupations include policing, detective work or careers as federal agents. Jobs in corrections include positions as probation officers, parole officers or correctional treatment specialists. You may also be able to work in correctional administration, overseeing the operations of prisons and jails.

    Some graduates pursue career paths in the legal field, working as lawyers, legal analysts and researchers. With a strong understanding of criminal justice and the legal system, you'll provide valuable insight into legal cases. Additionally, you may be able to work in policy development, using your knowledge to shape laws and regulations related to criminal justice.

    Private security is another career path you can pursue with a Master's in Criminal Justice. This can include working for private security firms, corporations or even individuals. With your advanced knowledge of criminal justice, you can help prevent and respond to security threats, conduct investigations, and provide risk assessments. This field can offer various opportunities, from executive protection to cyber security.

    Finally, many criminal justice master's degree holders pursue careers in social services. This can include working with at-risk youth, victims of domestic violence or individuals struggling with addiction. With your knowledge of criminal justice, you can help provide support and resources to those in need and work toward preventing crime and reducing recidivism rates.
  • If you have a passion for justness and a desire to positively impact your community, pursuing a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice may be for you. Criminal justice professionals uphold the law while working to eliminate bias and discrimination in the system. Graduates of this program often receive promotions and find their higher-level positions rewarding professionally and financially.

    However, senior-level positions in the field can be demanding. Criminal justice professionals often find themselves in high-pressure situations and must remain calm and focused under stress. Physical and mental resilience is often expected of those in the field. Although a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice will provide you with entry and advancement in many professions, students interested in targeted career paths might prefer related degrees in Security Studies. UMass Lowell offers online Security Studies Masters Degrees with concentrations in Critical Infrastructure Protection, Cybersecurity, Homeland Defense, Industrial & Economic Security, and International Security.
  • The potential salary increases of earning a Master's in Criminal Justice can make it worth the investment. According to labor market analytics firm Lightcast's 2023 job posting data, criminal justice bachelor's degree holders in New England can expect median earnings of $88.4K per year, while master's degree holders can expect earnings of $96.1K per year. Additionally, master's degree holders may be eligible for promotions to higher-level positions such as detectives, FBI agents or probation officers. You may also pursue career opportunities in academia, research or policymaking with a master's degree.

    In addition to career and salary growth, pursuing a Master's in Criminal Justice provides significant personal growth opportunities. You will gain expert-level knowledge and skills in the field and develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills that employers highly value. Furthermore, the process of earning a graduate-level degree demonstrates dedication, discipline, and perseverance, which will serve you well in your personal and professional life.
  • According to the 2023 Best Online Programs, UMass Lowell ranks as the top online Master's Degree in Criminal Justice for veterans and the number 2 online master's for the general population by U.S. News & World Report. Our online degree offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers topics such as criminology, justice administration and law. You can also choose from Security Studies concentrations in Homeland Defense, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Cybersecurity, Industrial & Economic Security and International Security. Our graduates have gone on to successful careers in law enforcement, corrections and other criminal justice fields.

    In addition to consistently being ranked among the nation's best online Master's of Criminal Justice, UMass Lowell's program is also among the most affordable. Students who complete the program online pay the same tuition rate whether they live in-state, out-of-state or in another country. The flexibility and convenience of our online degrees allow you to balance your education with work and other responsibilities.


Applying into a Graduate Degree Program

You can apply anytime. There are no deadlines. Applications are accepted throughout the year.

All applicants must submit:
    • An application
    • An application fee ($50)
    • A statement of purpose
    • Two letters of recommendation (Optional)
    • Offcial test scores
        • GRE not required
        • If English is NOT the national language in your home country, please submit one of the following English proficiency tests:
            • TOEFL: minimum acceptable score is 79
            • IELTS: minimum acceptable score is 6.5
            • Duolingo: minimum acceptable score is 115
            • ASC English: minimum acceptable level is 6
            • Pearson Test of English: minimum acceptable score is 53

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.800 GPA from an accredited institution

Additional Information

Subject to departmental approval, a maximum of 6 credits of graduate level coursework taken at an accredited university outside of UMass Lowell with a grade of B or better may be transferred into the Criminal Justice master’s degree program

Students with a Bachelor's degree from an accredited program who have an undergraduate grade point average between 2.500 and 2.800 may, with the permission of the Graduate Coordinator, take limited courses as non-degree students. If they successfully complete two courses with a grade of B or better, they may then make formal application to the program, submitting all required credentials.

F1 student visas may be available for full time on-campus students.

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Questions Regarding Your Graduate Application?

Email Graduate_Admissions@uml.edu or call 800-656-4723 (for U.S. students) or 978-934-2390 (for international students).

For General Assistance:

For general questions about registering for courses or to find out who the advisor is for your graduate program, call 800-480-3190. Our admissions and advising teams are here to help!

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