Online Graduate Criminal Justice & Law Degrees

The phrase “justice for all” is simple to say but complex to put into action. Proper implementation relies on various factors, including knowledge of what’s best for offenders, victims and communities. As such, a number of socio-political considerations guide the institution of justice and legal policies.

In addition, new issues are constantly arising, and they further complicate criminal justice theory. The unprecedented 9/11 terrorist attacks, the current opioid epidemic and cyberterrorism have law enforcement, judges, forensic psychologists, investigators and more struggling to make practical, efficient changes to outdated operation methods.

One such change is to use evidence-based crime reduction strategies, but government and law enforcement officials need critically analyzed research to implement policies that work. Overall, organizations across the fields of law and criminal justice need knowledgeable professionals to make vital changes on community and nationwide scales.

An online criminal justice degree may help current and aspiring professionals gain the expertise and critical thinking skills necessary to devise solutions that will:

  • Create more accurate criminal databases
  • Improve sentencing laws to better deter crime
  • Eliminate wasteful spending across law enforcement agencies
  • Prevent international and domestic terrorism

Undergraduate programs address these topics, but an online master’s degree in criminal justice can help individuals thoroughly understand specific nuances related to crime and law, allowing them to address challenges more effectively.

The various online criminal justice and law graduate programs and certificates from ASU can help professionals advance their careers and implement policies that strengthen their communities, the country and the world.

Criminal Justice (MA)


The online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program is designed to help students achieve higher-level positions within law enforcement. The program aims to help students understand why crime occurs, its impact on society and how justice is applied.

The curriculum benefits individuals who work in this field or want to transition into it and are seeking advanced job titles or high salaries without having to specialize in a specific area. Studying under nationally recognized experts in policing, fraud, corrections, gangs and courts, graduates can better compete for top positions in law and justice, such as law enforcement administration or public policy.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Program evaluation
  • Applied data analysis
  • Criminology Criminal justice planning

Possible careers include:

  • Lawyer
  • Criminal investigator
  • Police detective
  • Judge


Emergency Management and Homeland Security (MA)


Increased global terrorism threats and instances of severe weather disasters have created a need for knowledgeable, competent security and emergency management professionals. This demand is exemplified by the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — which was formed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks — as well as the number of large-scale crimes and natural disasters in 2017 and 2018.

The online Master of Arts in Emergency Management and Homeland Security (EMHS) blends emergency management theory with public policy concepts to help enhance students’ critical thinking skills and prepare them to address a wide variety of disaster-related issues. These topics can include crisis organization and management, budgeting, oversight, reporting and more.

Students can emerge from the program ready to assume leadership positions. The knowledge they obtain while earning their degrees can aid them in supporting stronger, more resilient communities that are better equipped to handle times of crisis.

Students may concentrate in one of the following areas:

  • Homeland security
  • Emergency management
  • Biosecurity and threat management
  • Community resilience

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction
  • Volunteer resource management
  • Information technology in emergency management
  • Community resilience

Possible careers include:

  • Emergency management director
  • Risk management specialist
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Medical and health services manager

Forensic Psychology (MS)


Forensic psychology juxtaposes the criminal justice system, human behavior and mental health. Courts often rely on the work of forensic psychologists to help determine a person’s guilt or mental state, as well as to recommend humane punishments or treatments.

Forensic psychologists need a thorough understanding of fundamental legal principles, historical and modern psychological theories, how courts operate and more.

Individuals interested in advancing their forensic psychology careers or transitioning into this field can earn an online master’s degree in forensic psychology from ASU. The program consists of coursework in mental disorder diagnosis and treatment, legal decision-making, and criminal law and behavior.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Psychopathology
  • Legal psychology
  • Research methods
  • Courts and sentencing

Possible careers include:

  • Jury consultant
  • Juvenile offenders counselor
  • Licensed clinical counselor
  • Researcher

Global Security (MA)


A number of complex security challenges — including international terrorism, election interference and cyberattacks that span across borders — threaten the world today. Global terrorism attacks numbered 1,055 in 2017, and these problems may continue to increase in number as well as complexity in the future. Furthermore, cyberattacks increased greatly that year, with criminals using an expanding number of strategies to achieve their goals.

The online Master of Arts in Global Security may provide students with the advanced knowledge necessary to address these threats. Utilizing the insights of expert ASU faculty, the global security degree can help students explore the primary causes of conflict, institutional structure, domestic and international response, and theories and policies supporting peace and stability. The courses encourage students to develop their problem-solving skills with a critical, multidisciplinary approach supported by the faculty’s various backgrounds. Educators and lecturers in this program include former National Security Council staff, military advisors, retired general officers, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, human rights advocates, legal scholars and top policymakers.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Comparative studies of conflict
  • The future of war
  • Emerging technology and global security
  • Terrorism and insurgency

Possible careers include:

  • Policy analyst
  • Private security manager
  • Risk assessment analyst
  • Intelligence consultant

Legal Studies (MLS)


The online Master of Legal Studies is designed for non-lawyers to gain a foundation in the U.S. legal system without entering a standard law program. The ASU MLS can help working professionals understand how law intersects with their current or desired professions. It can also help people who regularly interact with lawyers in a professional setting communicate more efficiently.

Students may concentrate in one of the following areas:

  • Corporate and health care compliance
  • Criminal law
  • HR & employment law
  • Intellectual property law
  • Law & sustainability
  • Sports law

The program’s intersectional approach can help students apply legal reasoning to a variety of situations and recognize instances where attorney involvement would be advantageous. It may be beneficial for students who work in highly regulated fields, such as human resources, health care, financial services and more.

One of the advantages of the online legal studies degree is that it is designed to give students several career options — rather than only train them to become a lawyer — or reach other specific goals. This outcome makes the program an optimal choice for people who are interested in the legal system but do not wish to make it their primary careers.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Torts
  • Contract law
  • Constitutional law
  • Civil procedure


Possible careers include:

  • Athletic manager
  • Patent officer
  • Contract manager
  • Compliance officer

Public Safety Leadership and Administration (PSLA)


Public safety officials who want to assume management and leadership positions in their organizations may benefit from the online Master of Arts in Public Safety Leadership and Administration. The curriculum covers complex, 21st-century challenges affecting the ways the next generation of public safety leaders addresses threats in local communities or the nation. Current students and graduates work in public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Students can concentrate in one of the following areas:

  • Executive fire administration
  • Executive police administration
  • Emergency medical services — mobile integrated healthcare

The executive fire administration concentration curriculum covers emergency services operations, fire innovation services, public policy, budgeting, finance and more. Students may also study related topics, such as homeland security, emergency management and emergency medical services.

The executive police administration concentration focuses on helping students develop effective crime reduction strategies, build public trust and support strong communities. The curriculum can teach them about the strategies, structures, partnerships and organizational methods that serve the community.

The emergency medical services — mobile integrated healthcare concentration can help students develop analytical, management, leadership and decision-making skills, preparing them to take high-level roles within EMS agencies.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Public policy
  • Human resource management
  • Organizational behavior
  • Public budgeting and finance


Possible careers include:

  • Firefighter
  • Paramedic
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Chief of police

Corrections Management (Graduate Certificate)


The U.S. has a higher portion of its population incarcerated than any other country, but the online Corrections Management Graduate Certificate can help corrections personnel develop the analytical and critical thinking skills necessary to respond to such circumstances and create more effective correctional techniques.

Covering subjects such as criminal justice organization, institutional management, leadership in public agencies and more, the program is designed to provide students with the foundation needed to achieve a higher-level position in their chosen field. People in related disciplines, such as public administration, may also find this program helpful.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Community corrections
  • Prison and jail administration
  • Public management Criminal justice organization and management

Possible careers include:

  • Security specialist
  • Mental health counselor
  • Clinical data manager
  • Risk management specialist

Criminal Sentencing and Sentencing Advocacy (Graduate Certificate)


A collaborative offering from the School of Social Work and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, the online Criminal Sentencing and Sentencing Advocacy Graduate Certificate can help students gain a comprehensive overview of sentencing as it pertains to the preservation of justice and the defendant’s best interests. Professionals intending to become or improve their skills as pre-sentence investigators, mitigation specialists or sentencing advocates can benefit from earning this certificate.

Students can learn about different principles of justice, sentencing schemes and court processes. They may also focus on best practices for assessing offenders, writing reports and ethical investigation standards. The lectures and coursework can help students learn ways to manage various types of offenders and properly interact with witnesses, probation officers and others involved with the court system.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Courts and sentencing
  • Alternatives to penal sanctions

Possible careers include:

  • Social worker Judge
  • Detective
  • Lawyer

Law Enforcement Administration (Graduate Certificate)


Law enforcement officials seeking a more thorough understanding of the criminal justice system may want to complete the online Graduate Certificate in Law Enforcement Administration program. Students can learn about policy development, public agency leadership and challenges managers in law enforcement fields face.

Offered by the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, the online Law Enforcement Administration graduate certificate program provides a cross-disciplinary approach that can help professionals work more effectively with other criminal justice organizations.

Courses cover subjects including:

  • Criminal justice organization and management
  • Police accountability Public management
  • Policing

Possible careers include:

  • First-line police supervisor
  • Law enforcement trainer
  • Court clerk Compliance inspector

Earning an online criminal justice master’s degree with ASU


The numerous online criminal justice and law graduate programs offered from ASU can help students advance their careers as researchers, legal aides, investigators, consultants and more. The online format provides convenience and flexibility, allowing working professionals to earn their degrees in a manner that suits their lifestyles.

Program details are subject to change. Current information can be found by visiting individual degree pages on the ASU Online website.

Sources:
1,055 Terrorist Attacks Took Place in 2017, Resulting in 6,123 Fatalities by PeachTech Lab
Increase in Targeted Cyber Attacks by Symantec
America’s incarceration rate is at a two-decade low, by Pew Research Center
ASU Online — Online Criminal Justice & Law Degree Programs

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