Master’s in criminology: Top 5 universities in the US

Postgraduate qualification in criminology comes with a whole world of opportunities that can even open up new career paths that do not even exist yet.

By U2B Staff 

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For many, an interest in crime is confined to the realms of Netflix or nonfiction podcasts, but for some with more of a passion, it does not have to be so. There is a whole field of study devoted to this passion and it is called criminology. For those interested in this field, a master’s of criminology is a qualification that comes with many benefits.

Criminology is the study of crime from a social perspective. This includes examining crimes, who commits them, why they do so, the impact of their crimes, and how to prevent it from happening.

The study is a branch of sociology that traditionally examines human behavior, interaction, and organisation. It also ties in research and concepts from other areas of study, such as philosophy, anthropology, biology and psychology.

What do criminologists do? They examine a wide range of topics that are related to crime.

Why are they important? Where there is civilisation, there will always be crime, making it a global concern, both on an international and local scale. As the world evolves, so does the severity of common crimes. 


These individuals shed light on the deep-lying reasons why some people choose to break the law, exploring the circumstances and researching the best methods to reeducate and rehabilitate offenders, so they will be able to rejoin society reformed in the future. Criminologists directly improve the lives of those in their communities, and this is why they are necessary. 

While a bachelor’s degree is the more popular option among students who seek entry-level career options in the field, an MA or MS in criminology enhances a student’s understanding of the discipline. An MA is generally more social-focused, whereas an MSc would tend to be more theoretical and research-oriented. With this in-depth understanding, comes additional career advancement opportunities. It also serves as a stepping stone into postgraduate and doctorate-level studies in various areas such as law and forensics.

A master’s of criminology is a qualification that comes with many benefits. Apart from a demand that will never die down, specialising in the field can be an incredibly rewarding decision for those already in law enforcement or are currently thinking about joining the field. According to US News, these are the top graduate schools in the US for a master’s in criminology: 

University of Maryland

The university’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a Master’s Programme which was designed to give students a strong foundation in criminology and criminal justice research. 

This foundation enables graduates to pursue research positions in government and private non-profit agencies or research institutes. This programme equips students well enough to continue their education and obtain a Ph.D. degree.  

University at Albany, State University of New York

SUNY’s School of Criminal Justice offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice programme which prepares individuals for a leadership role in the criminal justice system. Here, students gain an advanced understanding of the system and criminology. 

Whether prospective students wish to further their role in law enforcement or become active in public policy, this programme will allow them to acquire the knowledge they need for a successful career in areas such as policing, law, crime analysis, and research. 

University of California, Irvine

UCI’s Department of Criminology, Law and Society’s online Master of Advanced Study in Criminology, Law, and Society prepares professionals for leadership positions in criminal justice and legal professions. The curriculum emphasises theoretical and practical application central to crime and its control, social policy and law. 

Graduates are positioned for both career advancement and further academic endeavors and its alumni prove this, holding prominent positions in the FBI, Homeland Security, the DA’s office, police departments, crime units, probation and parole agencies, clerks of courts, appellate law, criminal defense law, psychology, education and social work. 


University of Cincinnati

This top-ranking university’s School of Criminal Justice offers an on-campus Master of Science in Criminal Justice programme designed to be completed in just one calendar year if studied full-time. 

The programme approaches the study of crime and criminal justice from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing insights from sociology, law, public administration, and criminal justice. In addition to providing students with advanced coursework in the field, the programme emphasises the development of analytical, administrative, leadership, and research skills.

Arizona State University 

The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s MS in Criminology and Criminal Justice is a research degree programme designed to provide students with a high level of theoretical and empirical knowledge about crime and criminal justice.

The programme equips students with the advanced research skills needed for careers as criminal justice researchers, leadership roles in criminal justice and related agencies and organisations. Graduates will also be able to further their education with a doctoral programme.