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Best Criminal Justice Schools in Massachusetts

Driven to make the world a better, safer place? You’ll find many criminal justice schools in Massachusetts that can help you begin or advance your career in law enforcement, corrections, and other fields. Discover the best online and on-campus programs in this guide.

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Shannon Lee
Written By

Shannon Lee

Updated

11/29/2023

Are you fascinated by anything concerning the legal system? Do you binge watch cold-case shows and enjoy watching trials? Or perhaps you’re intrigued by police procedurals and all things public safety. If this describes you, working in the criminal justice system might be a great career move.

You can take several paths to fulfilling careers in law enforcement, corrections, or the court system. One of the most popular avenues is to earn a degree in criminal justice, and there are many criminal justice programs in Massachusetts to choose from at the undergraduate and graduate levels. And because many students wish to continue working or taking care of their families while in school, you’ll also find fully-online criminal justice degrees in Massachusetts.

But which programs provide the quality, accreditation and affordability you’re looking for? In this guide, we highlight the best overall criminal justice schools in Massachusetts and provide other helpful information to help you narrow your options. Get started with our list of top-ranked schools below.

Spotlighting the Best Massachusetts Colleges for Criminal Justice in 2024

Your first step is researching criminal justice schools in Massachusetts. But how do you decide which program is best for you? One way to begin your search is to take a look at several top-notch schools and see how they stand out in terms of affordability, accreditation, student services, and learning options. Below, we’ve spotlighted three fully accredited programs that excel in these areas, providing you with a good starting point in your search. This is just a preview of our full college rankings, coming soon — so bookmark this page and check back for the complete guide.

Northern Essex Community College

At Northern Essex Community College, students seeking a general education in criminal justice can enroll in the Associate of Science in Criminal Justice program. The curriculum includes courses on topics such as law enforcement and the criminal court system, with both classroom and experiential learning components.

There’s also the MassTransfer Pathways program to help students earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a similar field like psychology, behavioral sciences, or social sciences.

For students who know they want to work in law enforcement, there’s the Law Enforcement Certificate program. Taking as little as 10 months to complete, this program was created with the help of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and provides the skills and knowledge students need to begin working as a police or security officer. The credits earned with this certificate can also be used towards an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at nearby universities and colleges.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 62-65
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $254.00 per credit in-state | $495.00 per credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Specializations: None
  • Credits: 27
  • Length: About 1 year
  • Cost: $254 per credit in-state | $495 per credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Specializations: None

Boston College

The Bachelor of Arts in Criminal and Social Justicefrom Boston College is a little different from other programs because it not only covers topics in criminal justice, but also examines how social issues affect crime and how society treats individuals who break the law. Even though the program requires 120 credits, up to 60 of those credits can come from another accredited school.

Because Boston College is a liberal arts institution, in addition to major-related coursework, students will take many general education courses in subjects such as arts, religion, writing, philosophy, and cultural diversity. Specific to their major, students will take eight core courses, but they can customize their degree by choosing six electives.

To help students succeed and make the most of their time at Boston College, the BC Career Center provides assistance to students applying to graduate school or finds relevant internships and post-graduate positions in the social justice and criminal legal system fields.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: About 4 years
  • Cost: $602 per credit
  • Delivery: On-Campus; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Specializations: None

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

Of all the criminal justice schools in Massachusetts , the University of Massachusetts – Lowellis one of the few with a full slate of undergraduate and graduate degree options in the criminal justice field.

First up, there’s the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Students have flexibility in the speed in which they progress through this program, as well as how they complete their coursework (online, on-campus, or both). There’s also the accelerated BS to MS in Criminal Justice and Criminology pathway, offering a faster, less costly path to a graduate degree.

Prospective students thinking about a graduate program can choose from a master’s degree, certificate, or doctoral degree. The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Graduate Certificate in Forensic Criminology are available in online formats. UMass Lowell’s criminal justice doctoral program is one of the few offered in the Commonwealth, and although it’s only available on campus, students can select either the general option or the Terrorism specialization.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: About 4 years
  • Cost: $1,320.83 per credit in-state | $2,889.67 per credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus, Online, and Hybrid; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Specializations: Crime and Mental Health; Homeland Security; Police
  • Credits: 12
  • Length: About 1 year
  • Cost: $1,703.33 per credit in-state | $3,078.44 per credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Online; Part-Time
  • Credits: 33
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $844.99 per credit in-state and on-campus | $1,499.44 per credit out-of-state and on-campus | $575 per credit online
  • Delivery: On-Campus and Online; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Credits: 60
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $1,703.33 per credit in-state | $3,078.44 per credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: On-Campus; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Specializations: Terrorism

Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs in Massachusetts

If you have a busy life with personal, educational, and professional obligations that need balance, you’ll find many online criminal justice degrees in Massachusetts available for busy students. These programs allow students to complete academic requirements in an online or hybrid format, making it easier to take classes from anywhere and usually at any time during the day. Depending on the school, your degree, and area of focus, you can often earn your degree 100% online, with no on-campus or in-person learning requirements needed.

If you’re interested in learning more, we’re spotlighting three programs that use an online learning format to provide flexible options tailored to your specific professional and academic needs. Additional information about online criminal justice programs can also be found on our main guide to online criminal justice programs.

Boston University

When it comes to having a wide selection of online criminal justice degrees programs to choose from in Massachusetts, Boston University is a stand-out school. At the graduate levels, students can choose from a Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Graduate Certificates in Crime Analysis, Criminal Justice, Cybercrime Investigation and Cybersecurity, and Strategic Management in Criminal Justice. These certificates are also available as concentrations in the Master of Science program. All of the graduate programs in criminal justice at Boston University are available in either a full-time and part-time format, with classes available on campus and online. Additionally, the graduate certificates and master’s degree online pathways are fully online, with no in-person learning requirements.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 32
  • Length: 8-16 months
  • Cost: $752.50 per credit
  • Delivery: On-Campus or Online; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Specializations: Crime Analysis; Cybercrime Investigation and Cybersecurity; and Strategic Management
  • Credits: 16
  • Length: 8-12 months
  • Cost: $857.50 per credit
  • Delivery: On-Campus or Online; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Credits: 16
  • Length: 8-12 months
  • Cost: $962.50 per credit
  • Delivery: On-Campus or Online; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Credits: 16
  • Length: 8-12 months
  • Cost: $857.50 per credit
  • Delivery: On-Campus or Online; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Credits: 16
  • Length: 8-12 months
  • Cost: $636.25 per credit
  • Delivery: On-Campus or Online; Full-Time and Part-Time

Holyoke Community College

The Associate of Science in Criminal Justice program from Holyoke Community Collegeprovides one of the most convenient and quickest ways to start a career in criminal justice. The advanced curriculum offers an academic starting point for future court officials, law enforcement officers, and even social workers. Because this is an associate-level program, students can typically graduate in just two years of full-time study. And depending on the choice of electives, it’s possible to complete all program requirements 100% online.

To help make the most of their academic journey, each student will have access to an academic advisor, as well as other school resources, such as wellness programs, academic support center, and a writing clinic. For students who want to continue their college education, Holyoke Community College has articulation agreements with several area colleges and universities, so a seamless transfer process is possible.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 62
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $395 per credit in-state | $601 per credit out-of-state
  • Delivery: Online; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Specializations: None

Fitchburg State University

At Fitchburg State University, students interested in criminal justice can opt for the Master of Science in Criminal Justice. Available fully online, students can earn their master’s degree in as little as one year while choosing from two concentrations. The Municipal Police Training Committee concentration is tailored to students who want to become full-time municipal police officers. The Professional Studies concentration focuses on leadership skills for individuals who want management responsibilities within the criminal justice system. This program takes 30-36 credits to complete, which can be done in as little as one year for a full-time, motivated student.

Program Highlights:

  • Credits: 30-36
  • Length: About 1-2 years
  • Cost: $347 per credit
  • Delivery: Online; Full-Time and Part-Time
  • Specializations: Municipal Police Training Committee; Professional Studies

Types of Criminal Justice Programs in Massachusetts

One of the great things about the various criminal justice programs in Massachusetts is that they can be found at almost any level in colleges and universities. Because of this, criminal justice schools in Massachusetts offer programs that will meet your academic needs, whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time or have decades of experience. The next few sections provide an overview of what you can expect at the various undergraduate and graduate criminal justice program levels.