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Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Criminal Justice

The safety and well-being of the citizens of a country depend largely on the swiftness and fairness of its criminal justice system. Professionals who wish to make a positive impact on society and actively contribute to its functioning can find a career in criminal justice most fulfilling. Those already working in the field can take their knowledge and skills to the next level by opting for a graduate certificate in criminal justice. A graduate certificate in criminal justice provides them with an opportunity to further develop their competence and avail of advanced career opportunities.

A number of universities offer online graduate certificate programs in criminal justice that can be completed in two to nine months. These programs generally require no campus visits, allowing students to pursue their education while also keeping their job. While every program has a unique curriculum, some of the common themes students can expect to explore are legal aspects of criminal justice, the administration of criminal justice organizations, mitigation, death penalty, and criminology theory. The coursework completed in some of these certificates can also be applied towards a master of science (MS) in criminal justice.

The following guide covers seven excellent graduate certificates in criminal justice as well as three notable faculty members teaching them.

Featured Accredited Online Graduate Certificates in Criminal Justice

Arizona State University – School of Social Work, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Arizona State University’s School of Social Work and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice collaboratively offer an online graduate certificate in criminal sentencing and sentencing advocacy. This certificate program is best suited for criminal justice professionals who wish to move ahead in their careers and develop specialized knowledge in the field.

Students are introduced to various principles of justice, court processes, and sentencing schemes for writing reports and assessing offenders. The faculty for the program includes renowned professionals who inspire students through real-world solutions to issues around safety, child welfare, city management, water scarcity, and human trafficking.

In order to get accepted into the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work, criminology, criminal justice or a related field. Other requirements include a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0, a completed graduate admission application, official transcripts, and proof of English proficiency for applicants whose native language is not English.

Consisting of 15 credit-hours, courses in this program include a seminar in courts and sentencing, pre-sentence investigations, and alternatives to penal sanctions. The curriculum trains students to work effectively as consultants to problem-solving courts, sentencing advocates, and mitigation specialists in the death penalty, felony, and parole.

Through the program, students learn ethical methods of investigation, as well as the role of expert witnesses, mitigation specialists, and sentencing advocates. They also learn how to tackle different types of offenders.

  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six months
  • Estimated Tuition: $512 per credit-hour

Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University offers an online criminal justice leadership and management certificate program. Professionals working in criminal justice are best suited for this program. This certificate program provides students with an opportunity to advance their career and grow professionally, while also continuing with their jobs. The program faculty includes renowned professors who have research and teaching expertise in criminology, victimology, policing, legal issues, and corrections.

Admission requirements for the program include a completed graduate application, an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution in an allied field, official transcripts of all academic work previously undertaken, a cumulative undergraduate degree grade point average of 3.0 (or higher), a current resume, a personal essay, previous criminal justice experience, and TOEFL scores for international students.

Comprising 18 credit-hours, courses in this certificate include the critical analysis of justice administration, legal aspects of criminal justice management, resource development in the organizational context, police in society, and program evaluation in criminal justice.

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Sam Houston State University ensures that students are job-ready as soon as they graduate from the program. Notably, this program also helps students complete half of the coursework required for a master of science (MS) in criminal justice leadership and management.

  • Location: Huntsville, Texas
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $603.75 per semester-hour

Liberty University

Liberty University offers an online graduate certificate program in criminal justice. Through this 100 percent online program, students can stay active in their job, with their family, and in their community while pursuing their educational goals. Whether their goal is to grow in their current position or explore different areas of criminal justice, this certificate program helps students achieve both objectives.

The major admission requirements for the program include a regionally or nationally accredited bachelor’s degree with a 2.0 or above cumulative combined grade point average, an admission application, official college transcripts, and proof of English proficiency for applicants whose native language is not English.

Made up of nine credit-hours, courses in this program include criminal justice integration, administration of justice organizations, and topics and trends in criminal justice.

Students explore topics such as the role of the courts and the law enforcement agencies. They learn how to handle leadership challenges in law enforcement with wisdom and integrity. On successful completion of the program, students can enjoy growth opportunities in fields such as law enforcement, criminology, and more.

  • Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six months
  • Estimated Tuition: $565 per credit-hour (full-time), $615 per credit-hour (part-time)

Boston University

Boston University’s Metropolitan College offers an online strategic management in criminal justice graduate certificate program. This fully online program allows students to connect with a global network of criminal justice professionals. This certificate is ideal for experienced, mid-career criminal justice professionals who want to advance into upper management, policy-making, or executive-level positions in their agencies. It can help them develop valuable skills such as analyzing problems and implementing sustainable policies. The program faculty includes leading criminal justice professors with extensive field experience and scholarship in the judicial system, corrections, and policing.

Applicants to the program must have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution prior to enrollment. They are required to submit a completed application for graduate admission, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a current resume, transcripts from each college and graduate school attended, and international applicants must submit proof of English proficiency by submitting official results of the TOEFL or the IELTS.

Comprising 16 credit-hours, the curriculum is designed to provide students with the skills needed to face contemporary criminal justice challenges and lead reforms, not only domestically but also internationally. Some of the courses are COO-public emergency management, criminal justice administration and ethics, criminal justice policy and planning, and crime and intelligence analysis.

The certificate program familiarizes students with organizational structures in a criminal justice system. It teaches them how to plan criminal justice policies, as well as policy monitoring and program evaluation.

The program opens up several opportunities for graduates. Depending on their prior education and work experience, they can take up roles such as forensic examiners, police and detectives, criminal justice and law enforcement teachers, information security analysts, criminal investigators and special agents, and first-line supervisors of police and detectives.

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Eight to 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $925 per credit-hour

Franklin University

Franklin University offers an online graduate certificate in criminal justice leadership. This program provides students with an overview of the criminal justice system, policy-making, and law enforcement. The faculty for the program includes seasoned professionals within the criminal justice industry.

Admission requirements for the program include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, a cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.75 (GMAT/GRE scores will be required if GPA is less), and English language proficiency for students who are not citizens of a country where English is the official language.

The program consists of 16 credit-hours, and all these credits can be transferred toward the credits required for the MA in criminal justice administration. Classes include instruction in the effective administration of justice, adult and juvenile systems of justice, criminology theory and solutions to crime, and adult and juvenile penology. Students learn how to conduct analysis, design interventions that comply with standard practices in the field, and solve problems.

  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six months
  • Estimated Tuition: $670 per credit-hour

John Jay College of Criminal Justice – City University of New York (CUNY)

The CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice offers an online advanced certificate in criminal investigation. This program is ideal for students who wish to take up a career in research, join a criminal investigation agency in the US, or work as a homeland security expert at the local or national level. Students can pursue this certificate while also studying for a John Jay master’s degree in criminal justice.

In order to get accepted into the program, applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher and appropriate letters of recommendation, among other documentation.

Consisting of 12 credit-hours, courses in the program include law, evidence and ethics, the constitution and criminal justice, crime scene investigation, and investigating cybercrime.

Students learn how to use the ethics and rules of crime scene investigation to analyze diverse crime scenes and put their knowledge of criminal investigation to practical use.

  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to three months
  • Estimated Tuition: $470 per credit-hour

Texas A&M University–Commerce

Texas A&M University–Commerce offers three fully online graduate certificates in criminal justice, comprising 12 credit-hours each:

  • Criminal Justice Management – This certificate focuses on policy and management issues and specializes in management issues such as planning, evaluating, organizing, directing, staffing, coordinating, budgeting, and reporting. Courses include criminal justice administration and management, criminal justice planning and evaluation, criminal justice policy, and special topics.
  • Criminal Justice Studies – This program assists students in developing management skills applicable in criminal justice agencies or in a graduate program at the master’s level. Courses include a seminar in policing and law enforcement, a seminar in criminology, issues in criminal law and courts, seminar in corrections, and special topics.
  • Homeland Security – This program introduces students to applicable management principles, homeland security concepts, policy analysis, and critical leadership skills necessary to successfully address security challenges within the United States. Courses include terrorism, homeland security, counterintelligence, and red teaming.

Professionals and students who wish to further their knowledge and skills in criminal law, criminal causality, police management, correctional settings, national security, and policy should consider taking up these certificates. Upon successful completion of all these programs, the credits earned can count toward a master of science in applied criminology (MSAC).

The major admission requirements for all the certificates include an undergraduate degree from an accredited college, all official transcripts, and proof of English language proficiency for international students.

  • Location: Commerce, Texas
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five weeks for each course
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,056.44 per credit-hour

Professors to Know in Graduate Certificates in Criminal Justice

Brian Lawton, PhD John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Dr. Brian Lawton works as an associate professor in the criminal justice department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He teaches courses such as quantitative methods and crime mapping.

Currently, his research explores the intersection of crime and public health. Prior to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, he held teaching positions at George Mason University and Sam Houston State University. He has published in top journals such as Crime & Delinquency, the Journal of Drug Issues, and the Journal of Criminal Justice. Professor Lawton holds his PhD and MA in criminal justice from Temple University, and a BA in justice studies from Rhode Island College.

Amanda Lindsay, MS Arizona State University

Professor Amanda Lindsay teaches criminal justice at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. She teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses such as the introduction to criminal justice and a seminar on violent crime, among many others. Her research focuses on sex trafficking, quantitative and qualitative research methodology, police use of force, and victimization. She is a member of professional organizations such as the American Society of Criminology and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. She completed her MS in applied criminology, her BS in criminal justice, and her BA in sociology—all at Northern Arizona University.

Mary Ellen Mastrorilli, PhD Boston University

Dr. Mary Ellen Mastrorilli is an associate professor of the practice of criminal justice at Boston University. She teaches courses such as the principles of sociology, crime and punishment, research methods, criminal justice administration, and criminal justice policy and planning.

Her research interests include female offenders, community corrections, and law and society. She has published in prominent journals such as The Prison Journal, and Géneros—Multidisciplinary Journal of Gender Studies. She earned her PhD, from Northeastern University, MPA from Suffolk University, and a BA from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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Farheen Gani

Farheen Gani is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).

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