10 Best Graduate Criminology Programs

This is a ranking of the 10 Best Graduate Criminology Programs in the US. Criminology is the study of crime, how and why it happens. Different than Criminal Justice, which focuses more on the study and application of the justice system, Criminology often takes a more academic approach, and views crime as a social problem with social solutions.

Criminology-badge
CLICK THIS IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD THIS BADGE

Criminologists have the chance to make the world a better, safer place with the knowledge they’ve acquired through their intensive training. With the chance to specialize in areas of interest, graduates can help prevent crime and social crises in minority communities, and at a national scale.

Master’s programs in Criminology launch academic careers, as well as careers in helping corporate, police, or public policy procedures around criminal behavior and prevention.

Different programs offer different areas of emphases, and can prepare students for different potential career paths by way of offering course-work and practicum experience, which can make a difference in the field of Criminology.

10 Best Graduate Criminology Programs Ranking Guidelines


10 Best Graduate Criminology Programs: School List

1
University of Pennsylvania
School of Arts and Sciences
Philadelphia, PA
University of Pennsylvania
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Private
3
Master's
Degree Information:
Master of Science in Criminology
School Type: Private
Number of Online Programs: 3
Types of Online Programs: Master's
Degree Information: Master of Science in Criminology

The Criminology program at the University of Pennsylvania is the longest continuous program of research and teaching in this area of study in the nation. The Department of Criminology offers an undergraduate major, a Master of Science, and a Ph.D.

The Master of Science in Criminology offers an interdisciplinary approach to criminology. Students learn hands on skills such as mapping crime patterns, analyzing crime data, and applying such information to make evidence-based decisions. The program combines the study of criminological theories, examination of criminal justice policies and their impact, and practical interactions with officials working in the justice system.

Credit requirements: 8 courses, 7 required courses and 1 elective

Selection of required courses:

  • Proseminar in Criminology
  • Proseminar in Criminal Justice
  • Evidence-Based Crime Prevention
  • Criminal Justice Data Analytics
  • Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis
  • Research Methods/Crime Analysis
  • Criminology in Practice

Program length: One academic year

Start dates: Fall


Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit previous transcripts, three letters of recommendation, GRE or LSAT scores, and a personal statement.

Accreditation: The University of Pennsylvania receives accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

2
Florida State University
College of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Tallahassee, FL
Florida State University
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
90+
Undergraduate Certificate, Bachelor, Master, Graduate Certificate, Specialist, and Doctoral
Degree Information:
Master of Arts • Master of Science in Criminology • Master of Science in Cyber Criminology
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 90+
Types of Online Programs: Undergraduate Certificate, Bachelor, Master, Graduate Certificate, Specialist, and Doctoral
Degree Information: Master of Arts • Master of Science in Criminology • Master of Science in Cyber Criminology

The College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, online, and dual degree programs.

Students interested in graduate level study can pursue a Master of Arts or a Master of Science in Criminology. The Master of Arts program requires six credits of humanities studies and proficiency in a foreign language that the Master of Science does not require.

Both Master’s programs offer three degree-tracks: Coursework-only option, Area paper option, or a Thesis option.

A Master of Science in Cyber Criminology is also available.

Credit requirements: 33 hours of coursework

Selection of required courses:

  • Theory in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Survey of Criminal Justice Studies
  • Survey of Criminological Theories
  • Research Methods I
  • Statistics I

Program length:  Student must complete all work within seven years


Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must have a previous undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.25 or higher. Students must also submit GRE test scores, three letters of recommendation, and a 300 to 500-word statement of interest.

Admissions does accept up to six transfer credits.

Accreditation: Florida State University receives accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students
SAT or ACT requirement: Yes
Total transfer credit accepted: 90+
Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
Graduate applicants must have a previous undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. The admissions team does accept graduate transfer credit.
GRE or GMAT requirement: Yes
3
University of Maryland – College Park
College Park, MD
University of Maryland – College Park
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public
63
Master's, Doctorate
Degree Information:
Traditional Master of Arts in Criminology
School Type: Public
Number of Online Programs: 63
Types of Online Programs: Master's, Doctorate
Degree Information: Traditional Master of Arts in Criminology

The University of Maryland opened the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice in 1969. The Department has grown into one of the most popular majors on campus with degree programs consistently recognized at national levels. Undergraduate and graduate level studies are available.

The Traditional Master of Arts in Criminology requires students to complete 10 graduate level courses with a grade of B or higher. In addition to the Traditional Master of Arts in Criminology, the Department also offers a joint MA/JD and a professional Master’s with locations in China or Vietnam.

Credit requirements: 30 credit hours

Selection of required courses:

  • Seminar in Criminal Justice
  • Fundamentals for Criminological Research
  • Research Methods
  • General Linear Models
  • Seminar in Criminology

Students complete the programs with Thesis Research.


Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must first apply to the Graduate School by submitting previous undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a Statement of Goals and Purpose, and an academic writing sample.

Accreditation: The University of Maryland receives accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

4
State University of New York – University at Albany
School of Criminal Justice
Albany, New York
State University of New York – University at Albany
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
23
Bachelor's, Master's, Certificates
Degree Information:
Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 23
Types of Online Programs: Bachelor's, Master's, Certificates
Degree Information: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

The School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, SUNY recently celebrated 50 years of educating well-rounded and career-ready graduates. The School offers undergraduate and graduate level studies, including dual BA/MA, MA/MSW, and MA/JD programs. The curriculum in each program strives to be interdisciplinary incorporating the political, economic, and cultural influences on criminal behavior and policy choices.

The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice degree helps students looking for careers in the criminal justice system or who wish to pursue further education at the doctoral level. Research and statistical skills are a key part of the curriculum. Students in this program may elect to take one of four concentrations, including Problem Solving and Analysis and Crime Causation, Prevention, and Intervention. Students benefit from the School’s ongoing partnerships with the New York City Police Department, the New York State Police, and numerous other local, state, federal, and non-profit agencies.

Credit requirements: 33 credits

Selection of required courses:

  • Theories of Crime
  • Theoretical Foundations of Criminal Justice
  • Applied Statistics
  • Research Design

Students complete the program with a Capstone Experience Seminar.


Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit previous transcripts, three letters of recommendation, GRE test scores, and a Statement of Goals. The School accepts up to nine transfer graduate-level credits of related coursework.

Accreditation: SUNY Albany receives accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
You must either be a matriculated degree student in one of the online degree programs or you must be accepted to the University as a graduate non-matriculated student.
5
University of Southern California
Bovard College
Los Angeles, CA
University of Southern California
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Private, Research University
180
Master's, Doctorates, Certificates
Degree Information:
Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
School Type: Private, Research University
Number of Online Programs: 180
Types of Online Programs: Master's, Doctorates, Certificates
Degree Information: Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

USC Bovard College offers online graduate level programs to aspiring professional students seeking to advance their careers. The curriculum promises a tech-savvy, student-centered approach that recognizes the need for flexible scheduling.

The Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program covers a comprehensive array of topics, from foundational criminology theories to emerging trends. Students will apply ethical theories, evaluate research studies and statistical data, design and implement evidence-based policies, and demonstrate leadership within the field.

Credit requirements: 24 units

Selection of required courses:

  • Criminology
  • Analysis of Criminal Justice Systems
  • Criminal Justice Leadership
  • Applied Research Methods for Criminal Justice
  • Youthful Offenders
  • Criminal Investigations

Program length: One-year or Two-years tracks

Start dates: Three enrollment dates available each year.


Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit official transcripts from all previously attended institutions, professional resume, Statement of Purpose, and a minimum of two letters of recommendation. GRE or GMAT not required for admission.

Accreditation: USC receives accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

6
University of Illinois at Chicago
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice
Chicago, IL
University of Illinois at Chicago
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
40+
Certificates, Bachelor, Master
Degree Information:
Master of Arts in Criminology, Law, and Justice • Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology, Law, and Justice
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 40+
Types of Online Programs: Certificates, Bachelor, Master
Degree Information: Master of Arts in Criminology, Law, and Justice • Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology, Law, and Justice

The Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice offers two graduate level study programs in the field: the Master of Arts and the Doctor of Philosophy. The comprehensive curriculum of the Master’s program includes four main areas of study: research methodology, theory, the nature and development of rule, and the behavior and application of rule-breaking. The department offers several concentrations including Gender and Women’s Studies, Violence Studies, and Latin American and Latino Studies. The Doctor of Philosophy programs builds on the curriculum of the Master’s program, adding additional coursework in theory and research methods.

Credit requirements: 40 semester hours

Required courses:

  • Law and Society
  • Criminological Theory
  • Criminal Justice: Process and Institutions
  • Race, Class, and Gender Dimensions of Crime and Justice
  • Quantitative Methods and Design
  • Qualitative Methods and Design
  • Statistical Applications in Criminology, Law, and Justice

Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must have a previous bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, GRE test scores, three letters of recommendation, a one-page personal statement, and a sample of academic writing.

Accreditation: The University of Illinois at Chicago receives accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students
SAT or ACT requirement: Yes
Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
Graduate applicants must display a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 in the last 60 semester hours of course work.
GRE or GMAT requirement: Varies based on program
7
Northeastern University
College of Social Science and Humanities
Boston, MA
Northeastern University
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Private University
60+
Undergraduate Certificate, Bachelor, Master, Doctorate, Graduate Certificate
Degree Information:
Online Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice
School Type: Private University
Number of Online Programs: 60+
Types of Online Programs: Undergraduate Certificate, Bachelor, Master, Doctorate, Graduate Certificate
Degree Information: Online Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Hosting one of the oldest Schools of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the nation, Northeastern University offers a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, several dual degrees, or a PhD in the field. A minor and graduate certificate are also available.

The Online Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice is the newest program addition to the School. The program is comprised of four required courses and four electives, which can be completed in one academic year. The program provides students the flexibility to customize their experience through interdisciplinary coursework, directed studies, and cooperative education (co-op). Co-ops are unique opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom by working paid, full-time positions in the field. The co-op option will extend the duration of the program by six months. The flexibility of the program caters to working professionals seeking to advance within their careers and to full-time students around the globe.

Credit requirements: 32 semester hours

Selection of required courses:

  • Criminology
  • The Criminal Justice Process
  • Research Methods in the Social Science
  • Statistical Analysis OR Introduction to Computational Statistics

Selection of elective courses:

  • Immigration and Crime
  • Global Criminology
  • Counterterrorism
  • Resilient Cities

Learning enrollment options: Full or part-time

On-ground, online, and hybrid options available

Program length: Average, one academic year.


Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit prior transcripts. Admissions accepts up to nine semester hours of transfer credits

Accreditation: Northeastern University receives accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC).

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students
SAT or ACT requirement: Yes
Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
GRE or GMAT requirement: Varies based on program
8
George Mason University
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Fairfax, VA
George Mason University
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
40+
Bachelor, Master, and Graduate Certificates
Degree Information:
Master of Arts • Master of Science in Criminal Justice • PhD in Criminology, Law, and Society
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 40+
Types of Online Programs: Bachelor, Master, and Graduate Certificates
Degree Information: Master of Arts • Master of Science in Criminal Justice • PhD in Criminology, Law, and Society

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University offers undergraduate and graduate level study in the area of Criminology, Law, and Society. The graduate curriculum incorporates theory and empirical research with practical policy application for a well-rounded approach.

A Master of Arts and PhD in Criminology, Law, and Society are all available. Students in the Master of Arts program focus on high-quality research best suited for further education or research-based career positions within the field. Faculty offer experience in psychology, political science, criminology, and other related fields that bring a multidisciplinary perspective to the classrooms. Guest speakers from the justice and security fields often visit classes, providing excellent networking opportunities.

The College also offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice.

Credit requirements: 30 credits

Selection of required courses:

  • Values, Ethics, and Criminal Justice Policy
  • Criminological Theory
  • Law and Social Science
  • Justice Organizations
  • Evidence-Based Crime Policies

Students must apply six credits towards a thesis.


Admissions and transfer credit information: To apply, students must submit previous transcripts, a Statement of Goals, GRE test scores, a minimum of two letters of recommendation, a professional resume, and a writing sample.

Accreditation: George Mason University receives accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC). 

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students
SAT or ACT requirement: Yes
Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
GRE or GMAT requirement: Yes, for most programs
9
University of Cincinnati
College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Humanities
Cincinnati, OH
University of Cincinnati
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
90+
Associate, Bachelor, Master, Certificates, and Doctorate
Degree Information:
Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 90+
Types of Online Programs: Associate, Bachelor, Master, Certificates, and Doctorate
Degree Information: Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

The School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati offers a host of program options including undergraduate studies, minors, certificates, and graduate studies. There are also several online programs for professional students seeking more flexible scheduling. Additionally, the School of Criminal Justice maintains three nationally-renowned centers for research.

The Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program emphasizes gathering and processing information in order to apply evidence-based solutions. Students remain interdisciplinary, using theories and perspectives from psychology, criminology, sociology, and law. At the end of the program, students are eligible for a variety of career paths.

Credit requirements: 33 credits

Selection of required courses:

  • Seminar in Criminal Justice
  • Seminar in Criminology
  • Applied Statistics in Criminal Justice
  • Basic Research Methods in Criminal Justice

Online instruction style:  Asynchronous

Learning enrollment options: Full or part-time

Program length: One to two years

Start dates: Three enrollment periods each year: Fall, Spring, and Summer.


Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must have a previous undergraduate degree in any field and submit a minimum of one letter of recommendation. Admissions looks for a 3.0 GPA in the last two years of college work. Students who do not meet the GPA requirements must submit GRE test scores.

Accreditation: The University of Cincinnati receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students
SAT or ACT requirement: Yes
Total transfer credit accepted: Students must have a minimum of 30 transferable credits
Minimum GPA of transfer credit: Transfer credit must have a grade of D or higher

Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
Graduate school applicants must have a minimum of a B average in undergraduate course work.
GRE or GMAT requirement: Yes
10
University of Missouri – St. Louis
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
St. Louis, Missouri
University of Missouri – St. Louis
School Type:
Number of Online Programs:
Types of Online Programs:
Public University
18
Bachelors, Masters and Certification Programs
Degree Information:
Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice
School Type: Public University
Number of Online Programs: 18
Types of Online Programs: Bachelors, Masters and Certification Programs
Degree Information: Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice

The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral level programs. The curriculum in each program is interdisciplinary and research intensive. Faculty members are actively involved in various aspects of the field, bringing personal experience and networking opportunities to the classroom.

The Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice offers both Thesis and Non-Thesis tracks. Classes emphasize both theoretical knowledge and hands-on application of material. Students have 12 elective hours to help customize their educational experience. By the end of the program students are prepared for management and research-based positions in the field.

Credit requirements: 33 credits

Required core courses:

  • Foundations of Criminological Theory
  • Proseminar: Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Methods
  • Statistics

Learning enrollment options: Full or part-time.


Admissions and transfer credit information: Students must submit previous transcripts showing a minimum GPA of 3.0, a Statement of Purpose, and a minimum of two letters of recommendation. Admissions does not require GRE scores, but will review them if included in the application. Admissions accepts up to 11 graduate level transfer credits.

Accreditation: The University of Missouri receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students
Students must submit:

A completed Undergraduate Application
A nonrefundable Application Fee
An Admission Test Score (ACT or SAT)
A High School Transcript (including class rank and showing successful completion of required high school units as shown)
Admission Requirements for Graduate Students
Students must submit:

A baccalaureate or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education,
An undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and major field GPA of at least 2.75,
An acceptable score on each requisite examination, and
Satisfactory additional materials required by the particular program.

10 Best Graduate Criminology Programs: End of School List


10 Best Graduate Criminology Programs Ranking Guidelines:

This ranking was developed in part by researching which colleges have had the most academic influence in the field of Criminology by referencing our sister site AcademicInfluence.com*. The academic influence is determined by publications (and their citations) from alumni and faculty of these schools in the field of Criminology. We then looked at which colleges offer graduate degrees in particular in Criminology, and researched their programs. The degree programs in particular, the university reputation as a whole, and the college’s academic influence in Criminology were used to produce this ranking.

*Learn more about the ranking process at AcademicInfluence.com.