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If you have decided to study for your Master's degree in criminal justice or forensic science, then you are already lightyears ahead of your undergraduate self. After all, while high school seniors and other incoming undergraduates are still trying to decided what they want to study, you have already made the difficult decision to continue that process of self-improvement. Congratulations are in order, but so, too, are more difficult decisions. Students who want to pursue graduate programs in criminal justice and forensic science can easily find hundreds, or even thousands, of schools offering Master's programs and it can doubtless seem overwhelming to try and chose the one that is right for you. Fortunately, with our help you can focus on the fundamentals and find your perfect program.

Focus on the Finish

For most people interested in a career in law enforcement a Master's degree is the last step in higher education. So now is the time to starting planning the next step: gainful employment. That means that when you select a graduate program it is more important to consider how that program will help you accomplish your career goals than its overall reputation. Does the forensic science school you are looking at offer career guidance or have strong ties to a local or regional law enforcement agency? If not, you might want to look elsewhere. Even the best training a school can offer will be of little help if you can't find work in the industry. Learn more about working in the US.

Dig Deeper

Similarly, don't put too much attention on rankings. All things being equal, overall college rankings are important but it is important to dig deeper and try to examine academic prestige on a smaller scale. Low-ranking schools can become diamonds in the rough - and great-value-for-money - if their individual departments outshine the school over all. Better still, seek out individual faculty members who have specialties that interest you. A professor who focuses on forensic accounting could serve as a mentor or put you in touch with employers - and can therefore be worth their weight in gold.

Did you know that John Jay College of Criminal Justice has 1,100 full-time and part-time faculty, which includes 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, 7 Distinguished Professors, and 3 Presidential Scholars? See John Jay College’s profile for more.


A graduate degree from a highly regarded criminal justice school can open doors in many ways but alumni networks are an often overlooked factor in graduate success. A strong alumni network, which consists of actively engaged successful graduates, can be invaluable when you are first starting your career. Being able to build strong relationships with successful alumni in your chosen criminal justice career field can mean gaining useful insight and mentoring opportunities. Alumni connections also can mean potential career opportunities when you graduate from your criminal justice program

Consider the Costs

Be sure to do the math and consider all the factors involved with pursuing a graduate degree. A solid degree from a state university or smaller private university that will help you get where you want in the world of criminal justice may be just as valuable as a degree from an Ivy League university or other prestigious college when you consider financial aid, cost-of-living, and career prospects.

In the end, though, the final decision is yours. These guidelines are just suggestions and each person must make their own choices and decide which mix of factors is right for them. Choose wisely and you will be on your way to a rewarding career in no time!

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