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Q&A - Masters Degrees in Criminology

Can I work while studying for my masters degree in criminology?

Many students earning a master degree in criminology already hold jobs in criminology, which is 1 reason why so many universities have begun offering a criminology masters online in addition to a traditional program.

Graduate students typically choose an MS criminology program that allows them to focus on a specific field within criminology like forensic science, cybersecurity or counterterrorism. Because masters programs require you to perform scholarly research, working in a related field while you study can be a great place to get ideas and gather practical information for your academic work. Be aware, however, that although it is often encouraged by employers and schools, working while you study will mean that you have to budget your time well.

Some graduate students are able to find part-time jobs with federal agencies like the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or the CIA as well as with city or state law enforcement agencies. With 1 of the best criminology masters degree programs available, Florida State University and others like it emphasize the role of scientific research in shaping public policy and encourage graduate students to team up with government agencies in paid part-time research positions.

Are there any scholarships for traditional or online masters students in criminology?

There are numerous scholarships available for students at brick-and-mortar schools as well as distance learners. The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, for example, awards more than 10 fellowships and scholarships of varying amounts each year for accredited master in criminology students who demonstrate strong academic performance.

The Lint Center for National Security offers several great scholarship opportunities for criminology graduate students, such as the Army Staff Sgt. Richard S. Eaton Jr., Scholarship which provides a 1-time $1,000 scholarship in honor of this U. S. Army counterintelligence special agent. Recipients must be pursuing collegiate-level studies in fields related to counterintelligence or national security, and the scholarship is open to students pursuing a traditional or online masters degree in criminology as well as students in other disciplines.

There are also special field-related scholarships like the Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program offered by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). These scholarships are available to accounting, business, finance and criminal justice students and include numerous 1-time awards of $10,000, $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 that are paid out directly to the school.

While these are just a few of the scholarship opportunities available online, you should also be sure to ask your university’s or department’s student advisor office about any school-specific financial awards.

Are there any notable people who have earned masters degrees in criminology?

Marisela Morales Ibáñez, Mexico’s top prosecutor fighting powerful drug cartels, first earned a law degree and then completed a masters degree in criminology from the National Institute of Criminal Sciences. Last year, she received the 2011 International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State.

James Q. Wilson is the former chair of the White House Task Force on Crime. Although trained as a professor of political science, his theories highlight the relationship between public policy and crime, and he became famous for his role in policy development in the public sphere. His work has included theories on the prevention of child delinquency as well as on the relationship between social mores and crime.

Actress Pauley Perette, who plays a lab technician on the crime drama NCIS, actually holds an MS in criminology from Valdosta State University in southern Georgia. She claims that she had intended to work in criminology before she started taking acting jobs in New York City and eventually landed a role as an eccentric forensic scientist in a hit television drama.

Are there any brick-and-mortar colleges that offer an online criminology masters degree program?

If you need the flexibility of distance learning, you will pleased to know that there are a number of traditional schools that also offer an online masters in criminology. A leading member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Regis University in Colorado offers both a classroom-based and online masters of science in criminology. At $550 per credit hour, their online courses are a little more expensive than classroom courses. But for career-minded professionals who do not want to give up working to go to school, it may be worth the premium price.

One of the top online criminology masters degree programs is at Florida State University which offers an almost identical version of its curriculum in an online format. This rigorous 36-credit hour graduate degree is provided by 1 of the highest ranking masters in criminology programs in the country.

Boston University’s on-campus masters of criminal justice is renowned for its focus on digital security, cybercrime prevention, public safety and fraud detection. The program is also accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., 1 of only 6 nationally recognized accrediting agencies.