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Master's in Criminal Justice

UMass Lowell's Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Criminology has a long history of producing dedicated, well-rounded students who are in top demand by federal, state and local agencies.

Full time | Part time | Online

UMass Lowell's flexible program allows for full- or part-time study in a range of specialized fields, and is available on campus, online or a combination of the two. This permits many of our students to continue full time jobs while attaining their Master's degree. Requirements are the same for all course formats. Once the majority of required courses have been completed, students are free to choose the remaining courses in their program of study. Students should meet with their adviser to develop an individualized course of study that best meets their interests and needs. Selected specialty courses will be taken during the second or subsequent year. 

With the approval of the academic adviser, students may select up to nine credits of graduate-level courses in other programs at the university. Students will be assigned an academic adviser, usually the graduate coordinator, when entering the program. 

For the latest admission requirements, course of study and course information please visit the UMass Lowell Online Graduate Academic Catalog.  


This program is suitable for a variety of applicants: 
  • Applicants seeking a terminal master's degree as a prerequisite for entry into the criminal justice field.
  • Applicants currently in the criminal justice system who seek to broaden their skills and obtain job-related knowledge and expertise, or specialize and/or work in some other area of the system.
  • Applicants currently in the justice system or pre-service who wish to obtain the education and expertise necessary to meet the growing need for teaching criminal justice at the community college level.
  • Applicants preparing for doctoral work in criminal justice or related fields.


Students may choose to complete a Master's Thesis. The decision to complete a thesis should be made before the completion of 24 credits. Full time students will enroll in thesis during the second year of study. The thesis will be completed under the direction of a mutually acceptable thesis adviser. The thesis proposal must be approved by a thesis committee, composed of the thesis adviser (chair) and two other committee members chosen by the student and approved by the graduate coordinator. An approved copy of the proposal will be filed with the graduate coordinator. The thesis will represent the student’s ability to formulate, carry out, and present a significant research project. A “defense of thesis” will be conducted before the thesis committee and other interested faculty and students. Thesis forms and guidelines are available. 

  • To meet the needs of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for criminal justice graduates to fill positions in teaching, research and management in criminal justice and related agencies. 
  • To prepare students for leadership positions in the administration of criminal justice agencies at the local, state, and federal levels as well as in the private sector. 
  • To apply theory and research to real-world problems in criminal justice. 
  • To conduct quality research on crime measurement, causation, impact, and the effect of state and local policies on crime. 
  • To provide knowledge about methods of crime control in public and private settings. 
  • To provide a thorough knowledge of the development of current issues in criminal justice and the relationship of criminal justice to other social and behavioral sciences. 
  • To apply computer technology to decision-making in the criminal justice system. 
  • To apply advanced skills in research, technology, management and intervention.  

Juniors and seniors at UMass Lowell who have a 3.0 GPA or better and have earned a B or better in Criminal Justice Statistics are eligible to apply for the B.S/M.A. program. The B.S./M.A. program allows for completion of both degrees in five years, if desired. As part of the program, three graduate classes may be counted toward both the 120 credit hours required for the B.S. degree and the 33 credit hours required for the M.A. degree.

Please note once the student graduates with their bachelor's degree and enters the master's program, the student must transfer the credits from the graduate courses taken while they were pursuing their bachelor's degree by completing an academic petition asking for the credits to be transferred into the master's program.

For additional information, please contact the Criminal Justice Graduate Adviser via

Why Study Criminal Justice at UMass Lowell?

Jason Rydberg, Assistant Professor in the School of Criminology and Justice Studies with a graduate student
U.S. News and World Report has ranked UMass Lowell as the 14th best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program in the nation!
A woman pinning a Lowell police officer at the MLK Awards Dinner in 2018 at UMass Lowell

Police Career Incentive Pay Program (PCIPP)

UMass Lowell's Master's Degree in Criminal Justice is Quinn Bill-certified by the Board of Higher Education. Massachusetts law enforcement professionals find out more...

Learn about pay incentives