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Criminal Justice Masters Degree School Rankings

Criminal Justice Masters Degree School Rankings

The term for this academic discipline can be criminal justice or criminology. In both cases the ranked colleges offer programs for students interested in all facets of the field, be it law enforcement, research, penology, forensics or any of the rehabilitative functions. Criminal justice has moved over the past twenty five years from a strictly behavioral academic approach to the exploration of the punitive and preventative value of various approaches to criminal activity. Graduate studies in the field can lead to careersin law enforcement leadership, rehabilitative services or management of federal programs that are administered at the local level.

  • University of Maryland Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is ranked #1 by the US News and World Report annual survey of U.S. colleges and graduate schools. There are three options for the Master of Criminology & Criminal Justice degree: traditional, professional and a joint degree offering. The traditional program is a 30 credit curriculum that includes a thesis. The professional degree does not include a thesis and is a popular choice for law enforcement professionals who need an advanced degree to qualify for a leadership position. The joint degree program combines study for this program and a law degree.
  • University at Albany - SUNY enjoys good ranking among criminal justice programs in the country because the State University of New York (SUNY) system has chosen to devote sufficient resources to the School of Criminal Justice there. The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice is suitable for students who are furthering criminal justice careers and for students who wish to move on to the PhD program. Offices from the New York State Police, the New York City Police Department enroll in the program every year; admissions requirements include prior completion of a bachelor's degree. There is also a joint degree option in Criminal Justice and the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at the University.
  • University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice enjoys its high ranking in part because of the quality of research produced by its graduate students and alumni. The Master of Science in Criminal Justice is, however, designed to meet the needs of both law enforcement professionals and students whose interests lie in criminology research and perhaps a PhD in the field. There are three areas of concentration for the degree: Corrections, Law Enforcement & Crime Prevention, and Administration of Justice. This MS program is designed for completion in one year of full time study and is also available online.
  • University of Missouri/St. Louis offers a Master of Arts in Criminology & Criminal Justice degree. This 33 credit hour program is offered with the option to complete with or without a thesis. In many universities the non-thesis choice is the route taken by mid career law enforcement professionals working towards qualification for a leadership position in a policing agency. In this particular program however the School recommends the thesis as an integral part of the degree program. Six credits are allocated to thesis research and writing, normally as two 3 credit courses spread over two semesters to be completed after all other academic course requirements have been met.
  • Penn State University offers a Master of Arts degree in Crime, Law & Justice. Unlike many schools in the criminal justice field, this one considers the MA degree to be a stepping stone to the PhD program which in turn is designed for academic pursuits. It is the classical model for graduate level studies. The program has a strong theoretical and methodological approach to criminal justice because of its relationship with the University's Department of Sociology. In fact students can opt for a doctoral program in Sociology or in Crime, Law and Justice. The MA program is very small and very select, with all students accepted receiving financial support from the University, just as with a doctoral program.

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