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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 graduate degree program that can be completed online at a pace that fits your schedule.

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An Online Criminal Justice Degree with Real-World Results

Learn about emerging criminal justice issues while gaining the degree you need to advance in the field with UMass Lowell's top-ranked Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program. 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 the criminal justice community.


Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report Ranked #5 Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report
Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program for Veterans in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report Award Ranked #3 Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program for Veterans in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report

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, to name a few. The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program is evidence based and data driven, so graduates emerge with the knowledge that is needed to evaluate policies and model best practices, as well as crisis and emergency management administrative skills.

The online Master's in Criminal Justice serves four types of students:

  1. those seeking a master's degree as a prerequisite for entry into the criminal justice field
  2. those currently working in the criminal justice system who wish to broaden their skills and obtain job-related knowledge and expertise
  1. those currently working in the criminal justice system who seek to specialize and/or work in some other area of the system
  2. those currently working in the criminal justice system or those who want to enter the field who want to gain the training and expertise that is necessary to meet the growing need for criminal justice educators

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
Graduates from UMass Lowell's M.A. in Criminal justice program have advanced their careers at various local, state and federal law enforcement and judicial agencies. They have taken jobs ranging from payroll clerk in the Bristol County Sheriff's Office to assistant chief investigator at Federal Defenders of San Diego. Individuals with a graduate degree in Criminal Justice can seek leadership and supervisory roles such as:
  • 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
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, first-line supervisors of police and detectives earned a median yearly salary of $91,590 in 2017.
—U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017
Graduates of the program deepen their understanding of key concepts, and also learn how to apply this knowledge to related social problems and changing situations. 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.
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.

UMass Lowell's Master of Arts in Criminal Justice is consistently independently ranked as a top online program.

Best Online Graduate Degree in Criminal Justice Award
Ranked #5: Top 10 Online Master's Degrees in Criminal Justice by The Best Schools
Best Online Graduate Degree in Criminal Justice Award
Ranked #10 Best Online Master in Criminal Justice Program by Best College Reviews
Top Ranked Online Criminal Justice Degree Program Award
Ranked #17: 25 Best Online Master's Degrees in Criminal Justice by Criminal Justice Degree Hub

Curriculum Outline

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

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 he or she is 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 the Registrar's Office.

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.

Course Descriptions

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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

The implications of criminal laws, criminal justice practices and programs. Focus on inequalities based on gender, race and class. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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). 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

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. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.
Prerequisites:

CSCE Graduate Restrictions

This course is designed as an independent study of a subject not offered in the standard curriculum. 3 credits.
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. 3 credits.

Tuition & Fees

At UMass Lowell, we believe that students should have as much information as possible up front so they can make informed decisions before enrolling in a degree program or signing up for a course.

Tuition for UMass Lowell Online and Continuing Education students is the same for both in-state and out-of-state students. Tuition is priced per credit. To calculate the tuition for a course, simply multiply the per-credit tuition by the total number of credits per course. Exception: If the total number of course contact hours is greater than the total number of credits, the per-credit tuition is instead multiplied by the total number of contact hours.

Tuition

Per credit-contact hr.
Undergraduate Face-to-Face Courses and Audit $340.00
Undergraduate Online Courses and Audit (except Manning School of Business* Undergraduate Online courses and Audit) $380.00
Manning School of Business* Undergraduate Online Courses and Audit $385.00
Graduate Online, On-Campus, and Off-Campus Courses and Audit (except Manning School of Business* Online, MBA in Haverhill, MSIT, Masters in Engineering Management, and Education Courses) $575.00
Graduate Education Courses $470.00
MSIT and Masters in Engineering Management** Online Courses $590.00
Manning School of Business* Graduate Online Courses $655.00
MBA Graduate Courses in Haverhill $655.00
Cost per credit includes access fee (parking after 3pm and access to Blackboard).

*Applies to courses with the following prefixes: ACCT, BUSI, ENTR, FINA, MGMT, MKTG, MIST, POMS offered through the Manning School of Business
**Applies to courses with the following prefixes: CIVE, CHEN, EECE, MECH, PLAS offered through the Francis College of Engineering

Additional Fees

Registration Fee per Term (non-refundable) $30.00
Late Fee for Non Payment $50.00
Fee for Undergraduate Degree Application $60.00

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Registration

Current students can register using SIS Self-Service, while new students, who have not already applied and been accepted into a program, must use the Non-Degree Registration Form.

You may take courses without being officially enrolled in a certificate or degree program, but you must meet the particular course prerequisites. Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Class size is limited. We recommend that you register early to reserve your place in class.

For more information, please visit our Registration Page.

New Students

If you have not already applied and been accepted to a program.

Current Students

If you have applied, been accepted and are currently enrolled in a program.

Questions:

Online & Continuing Education Support:
Email our Advising Center for assistance, or call 800-480-3190 and press 1 to speak with an advisor.


Please Note: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information presented within this website, the Division of Online & Continuing Education reserves the right to implement new rules and regulations and to make changes of any nature in its program, calendar, locations, tuition and fees. Whenever possible, appropriate notice of such changes will be given before they become effective. 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.

Applying into a Graduate Degree Program

All applicants must submit:
  • An application - Apply Online
  • An application fee
  • A statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation (2)
  • Official transcripts
  • No GRE required
  • Resume
    Required for certain programs such as the Master's in Business Administration and the Master of Science in Health Informatics and Management

For specific information regarding any of the above application materials (which may vary for some programs), please see UMass Lowell's Graduate Admissions Process at https://www.uml.edu/Grad/Process/.

Applications can be completed and submitted at any time during the year. Each application is processed - and each applicant notified - as soon as all of your admissions materials have been received and reviewed. For additional details, please visit http://www.uml.edu/grad/.

Graduate Program Admissions Requirements

Admission to all graduate programs at UMass Lowell is contingent upon successful completion of a bachelor's degree. In many cases, applicants may register for a course before they have formally applied into the program; however, students requiring financial aid may want to wait until they have been formally accepted into the program to ensure that their course(s) will be covered. Please see our How to Apply tab for additional information and contact UMass Lowell's Office of Graduate Admissions if you have questions about the application process.

Apply Online

Questions Regarding Your Graduate Application?

Email Graduate_Admissions@uml.edu or call 800-656-4723.

For General Assistance:

Call the Division of Online & Continuing Education at 800-480-3190 if you have general questions about registering for your online courses, or to find out who the advisor is for your graduate program. Our admissions and advising teams are here to help!

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