Are you ready to take on the challenges of criminal justice—and make a difference?
Ever-evolving and often misunderstood, crime and justice are central to the moral fabric and social cohesion of society. If you serve justice, you face fierce challenges—both tangible and intangible. Digital crimes are on the rise and agencies are struggling to outsmart the perpetrators. Access to massive amounts of crime and intelligence data, much of it generated in real time, requires expert analysis skills for the entire chain of command. And law enforcement agencies demand fresh vision and skilled leadership to develop accountability systems, build public trust, and ensure evidence-based practices.
The Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) at Boston University’s Metropolitan College (MET) will prepare you to take on these challenges in the service of equal justice.
Program at a Glance
- Top 4 Online Programs since 2015
- Online and On Campus
- Full-Time or Part-Time Study
- 32 Credits
- 8—16 Months to Completion
- 4 Full-Time Faculty Members
- No GRE/GMAT
Advance Your Career with a Master’s in Criminal Justice
BU MET’s MS in Criminal Justice gives you the tools to establish evidence-based policies and institute best practices in degree concentration areas such as Crime Analysis, Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity, and Strategic Management. Most importantly, the BU MET master’s degree in Criminal Justice equips you with the critical-thinking skills to approach your work with a well-rounded, informed perspective—opening the door to promotion and specialized career tracks.
Criminal Justice Concentration Options
BU MET’s Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program offers concentrations in:
“The Research and Evaluation Methods (MET CJ 590) and Applied Analytical Methods (MET CJ 591) courses helped me hone my skills in those areas so that I could better serve my office and department. I am up for a promotion with a different department because I have been able to demonstrate my ability to dissect incoming reports, analyze data, identify trends, and make predictions regarding future activity.”—Madeleine Nay (MET’18), Gang Intelligence Technician, Gang Intelligence Operations, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Explore Careers in Criminal Justice
Use the Career Insights tool to explore jobs that are the right fit for you. Filter by career area and job title or by industry sector to explore employment demand and average salaries. Select “Learn More” for a downloadable career report, or “Explore Other Options” to find the BU MET degree or certificate program that will prepare you for the job you want.
Why BU’s Criminal Justice Master’s Has Been Top 4 since 2015
- Active Learning Environment: Benefit from a criminal justice master’s that employs case studies, simulations using real data, and hands-on problem solving to develop practical skills you can immediately apply on the job.
- Engaged Faculty: Collaborate with faculty who have subject-matter expertise, research-based insight, and extensive field experience in law enforcement, corrections, cybercrime investigation and digital forensics, research and policy, forensic mental health, the judicial system, strategic management, and many other areas.
- Extensive Network: Study alongside classmates whose diversity of criminal justice experience inspires discussion and debate, along with the opportunity to form valuable, long-lasting connections in the field.
- 15:1 Class Ratio: Enjoy an exceptional student-to-instructor ratio, ensuring close interaction with faculty and access to support.
- Valuable Resources: Make use of Boston University’s extensive resources, including the Center for Career Development, Fitness & Recreation Center, IT Help Centers, Mugar Memorial Library, the George Sherman Union, and many others.
- Flexible Options: Study at the pace that works for you, evenings on campus or fully online. Courses begin fall, spring, and summer; online courses have two starts per term.
- Track Record: Learn from the best—BU MET has offered criminal justice education since 1973, introducing the master’s degree in criminal justice in 1980, which became BU’s first fully online program in 2002.
- Merit Scholarships: All applicants are automatically considered, and admitted students are nominated based on eligibility.
- Fee Waiver: Current members of the American Jail Association (AJA) are eligible for a Graduate Application fee waiver ($85 for applications to the master’s program).
Prepare for the Future of Criminal Justice
The master’s in Criminal Justice at BU MET is designed for professionals who want to enter or advance in the field of criminal justice—or simply gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating discipline and how it intersects with careers in mental health, public health, journalism, and law. Emphasizing practical, insightful, and adaptable knowledge, BU MET’s criminal justice courses develop practical skills that can be immediately applied on the job while informing your career growth for years to come.
In this program, you will learn to analyze criminal behavior, apply principles of leadership in organizational settings, examine theories of social control, and gain an informed perspective of law enforcement, the judicial system, and corrections. BU MET’s Criminal Justice master’s degree will give you a competitive edge whether you plan to enhance your career, teach, apply to law school, or pursue a doctorate.
Graduate with Expertise
Metropolitan College’s Criminal Justice master’s degree will equip you with:
- Advanced knowledge of, and ability to evaluate, criminological and criminal justice theories and their implications for public policy and practice.
- Proficiency in research design and quantitative and qualitative analysis related to the evaluation of criminal justice practices, programs, and policies, and to the etiology of crime in applied settings.
- Competence sufficient to evaluate and resolve the ethical issues in criminal justice practice and implement, manage, and lead organizational changes to prevent or respond effectively to them.
- An ability to synthesize, evaluate, recognize implications, and communicate effectively using scholarly sources of information connected to crime theory and policy.
- An understanding of leadership theories and skills as they pertain to managing and leading criminal justice organizations.
BU MET graduate certificate programs can serve as building blocks to a master’s degree. Each certificate shares specific courses with the master’s in Criminal Justice program and its concentrations, giving you the option to take one or two certificates on your path to a master’s degree. To be eligible for the degree, you must apply for admission and be accepted into the degree program. Consult with a graduate admissions advisor to learn more about these options.
The following graduate certificate programs can be applied to the master’s degree: Crime Analysis; Criminal Justice; Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity; and Strategic Management in Criminal Justice.
Master’s in Criminal Justice Requirements
A total of 32 credits is required.
(Four courses/16 credits)
Criminology and Crime Policy
o This course explores potential answers to complex and important questions about criminal behavior by drawing on the social science of criminology. Criminology is the interdisciplinary study of the development of law, criminal phenomena and societal responses to crime. The course has two primary focuses: 1) to explore and evaluate major explanations or theories of crime and 2) understand and evaluate the policy implications of major crime problems. Because criminology is interdisciplinary, students will examine theories that are grounded in a range of academic perspectives, including sociological, biological, political, psychological and economic explanations for crime. These theories will be centered on important public policy debates about a host of contemporary problems, including: firearm violence, high post- incarceration recidivism, opioid use disorder crisis and human trafficking. Course lectures and discussions focus on the historical development of the theories, their major assumptions and propositions, their relevance for public policy and practice. As the course progresses through each explanation for crime, students will have the opportunity to critically evaluate the validity of different explanations for crime as well as criminal justice policies and practices that they support.
Criminal Justice Administration and Ethics
o This course will introduce students to the concepts of criminal justice administration and ethics. Students will learn about: the management of justice organizations in the United States, and the various debates as to how best to carry out crime control. Topics covered include: organizational theory and structure, professional ethics, leadership and management styles, organizational deviance and socialization, employee motivation, and management responses to stress and burnout. The course is designed to help students understand the characteristics of effective leadership and policy implementation in the field of criminal justice. Students will also have the opportunity to analyze ethical dilemmas commonly confronted in criminal justice work.
Research and Evaluation Methods
o The skills used in research method have become central to many positions within criminal justice administration and related areas. Not only are professionals required to understand and critically evaluate the program and policy science in their field to make decisions, they often employ methodological skills in program and policy development, implementation, management and assessment. This course takes students through the research process from question development to administration and reporting. It emphasizes applied research situations and settings and specifically program evaluation and assessment. After examining various research design models, the course focuses on specific techniques that inform both quantitative and qualitative evaluation studies. These include sampling procedures, survey design, interview techniques, participant observation and case studies and process evaluations.
Applied Analytical Methods
o Evidence-based and data-driven approaches to crime problems are the industry standard among criminal justice agencies and non-governmental organizations. This course will cover a variety of statistical "tools" from three broad areas: (1) descriptive statistics, (2) inferential statistics and hypothesis testing, and (3) measures of association. Students will learn how to develop research questions, describe and draw conclusions from quantitative data, and interpret statistical research findings, and be able to present these findings to a variety of audiences in a clear and accurate way -- to be able to "tell a story" with numbers. In addition, students will develop a proficiency working with large data sets and conducting analysis with a critical lens, using the analytical software -- Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) -- commonly used in criminal justice and related fields.
(Four courses/16 credits)
Students who are not choosing a concentration must select four courses from the following list:
Rehabilitation and Re-Integration
Community re-integration following imprisonment has long been recognized as a significant problem. Longer sentences and rapid changes have created new problems for both returning inmates and those who provide services both inside and outside the criminal justice system. This course will examine rehabilitation philosophy in theory and practice. Lectures and seminars will address such issues as: the special problems in providing rehabilitation and education in the correctional system, the effect of inmate subculture on rehabilitation, and balancing demands for custody and rehabilitation.
Violence and Trauma
Violence and Trauma examines the psychological impact of crime, terror and disasters on society and the individuals who are members of it. The class is geared toward students in the social sciences including Psychology, Urban Affairs, Criminal Justice, and Sociology. A variety of traumas will be examined (e.g., childhood abuse, domestic violence and crime, war combat, terrorism, and natural disasters). The course examines the social, cultural and political environments in which trauma, trauma research and treatment occur. This course provides an introduction and overview of the field of traumatic stress studies including the nature of trauma, responses to trauma and treatment for disorders of traumatic stress.
History of Criminal Justice
This course examines the evolution of the criminal justice system in America, emphasizing the period from the 18th century to contemporary forms of social control. An appreciation of the historical antecedents of crime and justice will deepen students' understanding of the modern-day institutions of law enforcement, courts, and corrections.
This course is designed to help students understand and apply the nature of computer crime in the criminal justice field. Several theories (both micro-level and macro-level) will be presented and will be analyzed in depth and applied to computer crime cases both past and present. Students will see how major theories have been re-developed to be applied to computer crime, and by using these theories, students will both develop and explore different strategies for future law enforcement. Students will be presented with common types of fraudulent schemes, as well as several laws that have been enacted and developed specifically for computer crime. In addition, causes, victimization, legal issues, control strategies, and societal costs regarding the "computer-crime" problem will be explored and evaluated.
Crime and Intelligence Analysis
o Contemporary law enforcement agencies regularly employ crime and intelligence analysis to develop and inform effective responses to crime. This course provides an in-depth examination of crime and intelligence analysis techniques. It also explores the role of the crime and intelligence analyst within law enforcement organizations and processes, the historical evolution of this approach, key legal and policy issues, and challenges to implementation. Students have the opportunity to apply these skills to case study simulations involving an array of common crime problems and cases using real-world examples and sources of information.
The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to the discipline of victimology, an emerging area of specialization in the field of criminology. Emphasis will focus on crime victims and their plight, the relationships between crime victims and other social groups and institutions, such as the media, business, politicians, special interest groups, and social movements. The issues of Justice and Redress from the perspective of the victim as well as general society will be stressed. An overview of victim prevention programs and victim assistance programs will be presented. Topics such as the Restorative Justice Model, Victim Repayment, and Victim/Offender Mediation will be included in the course content. While the course follows an interdisciplinary approach and is designed for general interest and appeal, it has particular relevance for students drawn from disciplinary interests in the fields of criminal justice, psychology, sociology, education, health care administration, and political science.
Youth Crime Problems
Throughout this course, students will analyze the policy issues concerning juvenile justice and youth crime. Emphasis will be put on the scope and nature of youth crime and the young offender, as well as juvenile justice procedures, programs and institutional roles. Over the semester, students will also be asked to consider delinquency prevention programs, violent offenders, dispositional alternatives, and crimes against youth.
The purpose of this course is to examine the nature and extent of corporate and white-collar crime, including detection, deterrence, and criminal liability sanctions, as well as, the social and legal changes related to corporate illegality. Students will use case materials which address securities fraud, money "laundering", professional deviance, and political corruption, in addition to other topics. Students will also analyze policy responses including RICO and other laws, regulations and court processing.
This course will include a general introduction to the overt as well as underlying ideology, history, reasons and causes of terrorism. Both domestic and international terrorism will be discussed. Domestic hate groups will also receive particular attention. The roles of politics and the media will be discussed. Students will be exposed to the philosophies of terrorists and terrorism. Counter terrorism will also be discussed at length. Students are expected to participate actively in the course. There will be written assignments, a midterm, a class presentation, and a final paper.
Forensic Criminal Investigation
Forensic Criminal Investigation is an examination of the strategies, techniques, and procedures implicated in the process of conducting forensic criminal investigations, i.e. cases that will seek adjudication in the criminal court. Students will examine cold cases, concluded successful investigations, ongoing investigations as well as the perspective and worldview of the perpetrators and victims of violent crimes in an effort to deconstruct and disassemble crimes, crime scenes and the criminal mind.
Gender and Justice
This course examines the role of gender in both criminal behavior and the societal response to crime. Gender affects criminal behavior, structures our responses to crime, and presents unique challenges for the criminal justice system. While the course examines the role of gender in these ways for both men and women, the course focuses on the limitations of research, policy and practice that has focused traditionally on male offenders. The course also examines the role of gender in criminal justice organizations and processes.
Crime and Punishment
Police officers, corrections officers, probation and parole officers, youth service officers, federal law enforcement agents, and court professionals are all called upon on a daily basis to make critical decisions that significantly affect the lives of those entrusted to them. Students in this course will consider applications of ethical actions as they pertain to issues of social justice. Toward that end, we will forge a strong notion of our definition of just what constitutes social justice.
Applied Digital Forensic Investigation
This course is designed to engage students for conducting successful forensic examinations of digital devices and computer networks with hands-on-experience within the Virtual Security Lab. The course introduces EnCase forensic software, which has received the high acceptance rate in a court of law as an expert witness. The course aims to cover various cybercrime topics and digital forensic investigation practices using digital evidence samples. In the process of learning, students will explore the nature of specific cybercrime and be able to successfully analyze and document the digital evidence related to the crime.
Criminal Justice Policy and Planning
This course will introduce you to the concepts of criminal justice policy and planning. You will be introduced to two major theories of planning and apply them to criminal justice settings. Additionally, you will learn the techniques for analyzing problems, developing programs and policies resulting from problem analysis, along with program and policy monitoring and evaluation.
Trauma and Crisis Intervention
Trauma and Crisis Intervention examines the psychological impact of trauma on individuals and society. This course will address the important role trauma plays in criminal justice settings, providing a practical understanding of trauma and trauma informed care. This understanding will serve to benefit practitioners in this field. The course will cover key issues in trauma and crisis intervention, addressing both theory and practice. The course examines the social, cultural and political environments in which trauma, trauma research and treatment occur. This course provides an introduction and overview of the field of traumatic stress studies including the nature of trauma, responses to trauma and treatment for disorders of traumatic stress. A variety of traumas will be examined (childhood abuse and neglect, ongoing and complex trauma, interpersonal trauma, international trauma, etc.) In addition, trauma will be explored in a variety of contexts. Students will gain an understanding of the impact of trauma and crisis intervention both within the United States as well as globally. The capacity to foster resilience in survivors as well as the importance of self-care in reducing vicarious trauma will be stressed.
This course is designed to provide an understanding of trauma and crisis response for students who may work in a variety of criminal justice settings. The course will be geared toward and benefit both mental health practitioners as well as those working in law enforcement and correctional settings. The field of criminal justice more generally is clearly moving toward recognition of the importance of trauma informed care and services. The course will address trauma theory and practice in a practical way. The course will be interactive in nature and derive course work and material from real world examples.
Forensic Behavior Analysis
This course will examine the fascinating world of forensic psychology. It will examine the way in which the law and mental health intersect and forensic psychologists help the court in addressing a variety of cases and issues. The course will explore how expert opinions are formed and provided on a variety of issues including; not guilty by reason of mental illness pleas, competency to stand trial, prediction of future violence, sexual predators; psychopaths, the forcible medication of mentally ill patients, and civil commitment. The difference between sound and "junk" science will be discussed.
Policing in a Democratic Society
Police agencies play a critical role in a democratic society. While seeking to maintain order, enforce the law and deliver services effectively, police agencies are held accountable to a wide-variety of values by a number of powerful stakeholders. Police leaders, managers, and other personnel must understand the complexities of the police role in society, the political and legal constraints placed on them in addition to being experts in effective, evidence-based approaches to dealing with crime problems in the community. By applying theory, policy, and evaluation literature to the cutting-edge practices in the field, this course provides students with an advanced understanding in the field of police leadership, management, strategy, and accountability within a democratic society. 4 cr.
Seminar in the Law and Criminal Procedure
This course examines the origins and evolution of contemporary criminal procedure. Case law governing criminal justice functions such as stops, interrogations, arrests, warrants, identification practices, the use of informants, and searches and seizures will be explored through the prism of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Special Project in Criminal Justice
Individual faculty supervision of an independent student project demonstrating application of previous program coursework to a selected topic, issue, or theme in criminal justice.
Law and Justice in the City
Operation of the criminal justice system in the urban setting. Special attention is paid to the problems of safeguarding individual rights. Examines relationship between social and economic structure of cities and workings of the system of justice.
See concentration pages for related curricula:
Criminal Justice Faculty
Tuition & Financial Assistance
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Current members of the American Jail Association (AJA) are eligible for a Graduate Application fee waiver ($85 for applications to the master’s program), and should email email@example.com with information confirming AJA membership.
What to Read Next: MET Criminal Justice Knowledge Center