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Master’s Degree Programs in Criminal Law Overview

Majors Overview November 3, 2015

Those interested in criminal procedure, criminology, and due process should look into Master of Science in Criminal Justice (M.S.C.J.) degree programs.

Master’s Programs in Criminal Law

Those who seek criminal law training without earning a Master of Laws (LL.M.) or Juris Doctor (J.D.) could benefit from enrolling in a Master of Science in Criminal Justice (M.S.C.J.) program. The emphasis of these programs is on criminal justice theory, research, and law enforcement administration. Lawyers, law enforcement professionals, and paralegals with a bachelor’s degree are common in this program.

Criminal justice students learn about tracking and analyzing statistical patterns in law enforcement and using this knowledge to gain a grasp of causal relationships in criminology. They also learn about the application of this knowledge in formulating public policies.

Concentrations in counseling or public administration are available in some programs. The counseling option is available to students who seek a career in rehabilitation or corrections. Students currently employed in law enforcement and those seeking career enhancement as attorneys may choose the public administration option. Students who pursue either option and seek continuing education through a doctoral degree should opt for a graduate degree with a thesis track.


Program coursework incorporates interdisciplinary aspects of criminal law, including corrections, nonprofit management, and public policy. Research skills and critical thinking are also developed with core coursework that covers subject areas such as:

•Criminal procedure
•Law enforcement
•Juvenile Justice
•Statistical research
•Police investigations
•Constitutional law

Job and Wage Outlook

Two-year or four-year degree programs accredited by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the American Bar Association (ABA) are usually completed by paralegals before they enter their field.

In 2012, paralegals and legal assistants brought in an average annual wage of $46,990 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, these professionals are expected to see a job growth of 17%. The growth is due to the increasing trend among employers to use paralegals to complete more tasks that lawyers had traditionally handled in the past.

In 2012, lawyers earned $113,530 per annum, on average (BLS). Nearly every state has made earning a 4-year undergraduate degree, completing an ABA-accredited 3-year law school program and passage of the bar exam in the state mandatory for aspiring lawyers who wish to become practicing attorneys. In a few states, such as California, graduates of a state-approved law school without ABA-accreditation are allowed to sit for the bar. Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, lawyers are expected to see a 10% job growth (BLS).

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