Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Massachusetts

Rich with history and beauty, Massachusetts is the most populous state in New England. Massachusetts boasts the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree and advanced degree holders in the nation, and due to the region’s rapidly developing economy, the state has a bright economic future. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Massachusetts’ GDP growth from 2017 is only surpassed by eight states nationwide, seven of which are on the West Coast. Over the last three years, Massachusetts ranked 11th nationwide in GDP growth, increasing its contributions up to 2.7% of the total U.S. economy during that time.

Massachusetts’ GDP growth from 2017 is only surpassed by eight states nationwide, seven of which are on the West Coast Bureau of Economic Analysis

In addition to rapid growth in state wages of 5.8%, more than double the national growth rate, Massachusetts also boasts a lower unemployment rate than the national average. In the protective services field, the outlook is even better. Across all states, Massachusetts provides the sixth-highest wages for protective service positions. The state also employs more than 80,000 protective service professionals, which ranks 12th nationally.

Earning an Online Criminal Justice Degree in Massachusetts

While students pursuing criminal justice degrees in Massachusetts benefit from a high number of on-campus higher education programs near them, online learning transformed the educational landscape. A student in an online criminal justice degree in Massachusetts no longer chooses between school and work because asynchronous online learning allows students to study at their convenience.

Perhaps the most significant benefit to earning a criminal justice degree online in Massachusetts is the affordability. Tuition may be lower in an online program (particularly for out-of-state students), and many distance learners also pay less in travel, housing, and material costs. Combined with the ability to work while they study, online programming truly is one of the most feasible options available to students.

Accredited Criminal Justice Programs in Massachusetts

In the search for the best online criminal justice degree in Massachusetts, ensure that the schools you are considering received proper accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education designates regional authorities to oversee the accreditation of higher learning institutions. In Massachusetts, the regional accrediting agency is the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

Students who are unsure about their school’s accreditation status should check the U.S. Department of Education’s database

Accreditation is also important when it comes to financial aid and transfer credits. Federal funding and most scholarships are only granted to students enrolled in accredited programs. Similarly, schools typically only grant transfer credits to students from accredited schools. Students who are unsure about their school’s accreditation status should check the U.S. Department of Education’s database.

Other forms of accreditation, such as national accreditation, which typically comes from national industry authorities, are rare in criminal justice. This is because laws and regulations vary by state. Still, some federal agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, recognize specific programs as centers of excellence.

Education and Training Requirements for Criminal Justice Professionals in Massachusetts

The criminal justice field offers opportunities to students from many different education levels. Since many professions feature specific training courses, licenses, and regulations, even students directly out of high school can find employment in the field. One of the most common routes for aspiring criminal justice professionals is an associate degree in criminal justice. By taking one of these criminal justice degrees in Massachusetts, students gain a solid law foundation as well as eligibility for more specialized training should they pursue it. In addition to an entry-level position, associate degree graduates can pursue further education, such as a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. A four-year degree is typically the minimum requirement for positions in federal agencies and for probation officers.

From there, bachelor’s degree graduates may choose to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice. Advanced degrees are typically required for positions that require science backgrounds, such as forensic science technicians or cyber science specialists. Advanced degree holders also tend to earn more money and reach executive positions within the protective services industry.

With such a diverse field, additional and specialized training is incredibly important within protective services. In Massachusetts, the Municipal Police Training Committee runs full- and part-time police academies. Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections offers training and testing programs for aspiring correction officers, and the State Police run various investigator and specialized training programs.

Licensing, Registration, and Certification Requirements in Massachusetts

The criminal justice offers a range of professions and, because of the importance of these positions, many of the careers require licenses or certificates. To complicate matters a bit, the requirements for many professions and positions vary by state. In Massachusetts, professions that require employees to be trained and armed need to be licensed and registered with the state. For example, security guards and private detectives are licensed and governed by the Massachusetts State Police Certification Unit. Proper registration and licensing allows Massachusetts officials to effectively track and manage professionals who have obtained specialized training and authorizations.

Out-of-state law enforcement professionals seeking transfer into Massachusetts, for example, are eligible for training waivers if they are full-time candidates with more experience and training than a candidate from Massachusetts.

In Massachusetts, obtaining the proper licensing for each profession requires candidates to complete all mandatory training programs. The Municipal Police Training Committee, for example, runs law enforcement training programs, while the Department of Corrections spearheads its own training. Both agencies reward graduates with certificates of completion which lead to proper licensing. Within each profession, additional and specialized training programs are typically available as well. These programs, such as the specialized training programs offered by the Massachusetts State Police, provide advanced training for officers in specific areas. Upon completion of these programs, the State Police grants graduates with certificates as proof of their new expertise.

Massachusetts only guarantees license and registration recognition within the state. Renewals, additional training, or waivers may be required when moving or transferring to another state. Out-of-state law enforcement professionals seeking transfer into Massachusetts, for example, are eligible for training waivers if they are full-time candidates with more experience and training than a candidate from Massachusetts. All criminal justice professionals should verify individual state laws before moving or pursuing a transfer.

Career and Salary Expectations

Massachusetts boasts some of the country’s most attractive career and salary expectations in criminal justice. As one of largest protective service employers offering some of the highest wages in the U.S., Massachusetts makes criminal justice professions attractive careers. Across all protective service professions, the state’s annual mean wage is $55,790 and the hourly mean wage is $26.82. These wages rank sixth compared to other states. While few of the state’s protective service professions project to grow faster than the national averages long term, Massachusetts already employs more criminal justice professionals per 1,000 employees than any other New England state.

In the legal field, Massachusetts boasts similar numbers. The state employs one of the largest fields of legal professionals in the country and pays them exceptionally well. In fact, Massachusetts ranks third in legal field wages, providing annual mean wages of $122,840 and hourly mean wages of $59.06. The table below provides more detail regarding specific careers within the criminal justice field, including wage information and employment numbers.

Protective Services Occupations in Massachusetts

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Wage
Fire Inspectors and Investigators180$36.93$76,820
Detectives and Criminal Investigators1,760$44.94$93,480
Fish and Game Wardens90$22.64$47,090
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers17,750$32.78$68,190
Private Detectives and Investigators780N/AN/A
Security Guards21,580$16.20$33,690
Transportation Security Screeners1,110$19.89$41,370
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Massachusetts

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Wage
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates7,720$27.39$56,970
Paralegals and Legal Assistants270$36.88$76,700
Correctional Officers and Jailers6,080$31.76$66,060
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Massachusetts

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians50$36.33$75,570
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers410N/A$72,500
Source: BLS, May 2017

Scholarships and Financial Aid

When applying for financial aid, students in an online criminal justice degree in Massachusetts benefit from different levels and categories of funding. First, federal funding is readily available to students attending accredited institutions. Students can also benefit from national scholarships available to everyone, state scholarships available to Massachusetts students, national scholarships for criminal justice students, and state-specific scholarships available to criminal justice students. Generally, the more specific the scholarship, the smaller the application pool.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

NASSLEO Past President Scholarship $2,000

Who Can Apply: In addition to some regional awards, the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials (NASSLEO) offers this national scholarship to aspiring security professionals. Applicants must be high school seniors with a 3.8 GPA and demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program $2,500 to $10,000

Who Can Apply: The Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program is presented to criminal justice students looking forward to a career in fraud examination (or a related field). Applicants must already be enrolled in a four-year program. View Scholarship

Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Award $6,500 to $8,500

Who Can Apply: This award is presented to an incoming college student enrolled in a criminal justice field. Applicants must demonstrate leadership, excellent academic achievement, and financial need. View Scholarship

Out to Protect Scholarship $500 to $1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is presented by Out to Protect to law enforcement students that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Applicants must demonstrate leadership and positivity in the community. View Scholarship

My Alarm Center Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: My Alarm Center presents this scholarship to high school seniors enrolling in a criminal justice field. Applicants must submit a personal essay that answers one of the scholarship application questions. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Massachusetts Residents

Agnes M. Lindsay Scholarship Program Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship program is open to rural Massachusetts residents who attend a state university or college. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and achieve satisfactory academic progress. View Scholarship

John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The John and Abigail Adams Scholarship is presented to college- or university-bound students from Massachusetts who scored high on the MCAS test (and other state assessment tests) and demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

The Christian A. Herter Memorial Scholarship Program Tuition Dependent

Who Can Apply: This program is open to students who overcome socioeconomic adversity, such as financial need, illness, or physical issues. Applicants must earn a 2.5 GPA. View Scholarship

One Family Scholarship Program Tuition Dependent

Who Can Apply: The One Family Scholarship Program is presented to a college- or university-bound student who is the head of their household with children under 18. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and be a participant in One Family, Inc. View Scholarship

Paul Tsongas Scholarship Full Tuition

Who Can Apply: The Paul Tsongas Scholarship is presented to Massachusetts students who score high on the SAT and post a 3.75 GPA. Applicants must maintain a 3.3 GPA to renew the scholarship annually. View Scholarship

Resources for Criminal Justice Students in Massachusetts

Law Enforcement Agencies in Massachusetts

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations allow aspiring professionals to interact with industry professionals. Membership in one of these associations benefits people from all levels, including students enrolled in criminal justice degrees in Massachusetts or veterans of the profession. At the student level, professional organizations provide scholarship opportunities, mentorship, and employment assistance. For experienced members, the organizations provide effective networking opportunities, access to industry resources, and training and professional development opportunities.

Correctional Association of Massachusetts

This association represents the state’s correctional officers and professionals. Members gain access to professional development programs, networking events, and community-based programs.

Massachusetts Police Association

This association is the voice of police officers in Massachusetts, advocating for and supporting members at every level. Members gain access to benefits, scholarship programs, and helpful resources.

Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association

This association focuses on the professional development of police leaders and police organizations in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Juvenile Police Officers Association

This association represents officers who work in juvenile centers. Members benefit from training programs, support and assistance, and community advocacy efforts.

Massachusetts Paralegal Association

This association works toward building a better environment for the state’s paralegals. The association provides members with support, development opportunities, and access to networking events.

National Guard Association of Massachusetts

This association supports the state’s National Guard members, providing helpful resources and advocating for the needs of its members.

Licensed Private Detectives Association of Massachusetts

The association provides its members with access to resources, training programs, and a network of the state’s private detectives.

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