University News

University's Online Criminal Justice Master's Program Recognized Among Best in the Country

U.S. News and World report has ranked the University's online graduate program in criminal justice 6th in the nation, as well as third for faculty credentials and training. U.S. News also recognized the University's online program in criminal justice in the top 10 for veterans.

February 17, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Gehring Hall
The University's main campus in West Haven, Conn.

When Maya DeFazio '23 M.S. was researching criminal justice master's degree programs, she was initially interested in the University's program because it is offered classes both in-person and online. She was confident that flexibility would be a good fit for her.

DeFazio has enjoyed her time in the program, and she's been grateful to have been able to pursue her degree, in part, online. It has enabled her to remain committed to her studies while also working.

"I initially thought I wanted to be in a classroom environment, but I quickly realized that being online was the better option for me," she explains. "In addition to being a full-time student, I also work part-time. Having chosen the online program, my schedule allows me to be more flexible and balance a job outside of school."

It's one of many reasons why the program has been a good fit for DeFazio – and countless other Chargers. It was recently recognized by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked the University 6th out of 95 in online master's degree in criminal justice programs across the country, as well as 9th in its best programs for veterans category.

The program has experienced a significant increase in its ranking over the last couple years. Last year, U.S. News ranked the University 14th in best master's degree programs in criminal justice and criminology, up from 48th the year before that. The University also rose from its ranking of 13th last year in the best online criminal justice programs for veterans.

"Whether your goal is to advance in your job as a mid-career adult, or to pursue further studies, the master's degree in criminal justice at the University of New Haven is a great place to be," said John DeCarlo, Ph.D., director of the master's program in criminal justice. "It is rare to find any major criminal justice incident in the United States where there is not an alum of our program in attendance."

'Care about the success of their students'

The University earned especially high praise from U.S. News for its faculty, ranking third in the nation in the faculty credentials and training category. Faculty, such as Dr. DeCarlo – a retired police chief – are leading experts with extensive experience in the field. They are also committed to student excellence, a category in which U.S. News ranked the University fourth nationwide.

"The faculty is exemplary," said Dr. DeCarlo. "The hands-on interaction with every student is one of our hallmarks. As one of the top 10 universities in the country to study criminal justice at the master's level, we pride ourselves in excellence, a well curated curriculum, and a supportive place to study."

Maya DeFazio '23 M.S.
Maya DeFazio '23 M.S.

Adds DeFazio, "The professors are amazing, and most of them have had or still have successful careers in many areas within the field. This gives students like me an advantage, as we can ask them questions about their work and share with them our interest in the field. They all are helpful and care about the success of their students, only wanting the best for them inside and outside of graduate school."

'Allowed me to explore my options'

U.S. News ranked master's degree programs in criminal justice and criminology based on five categories: engagement, faculty credentials and training, peer assessment, services and technologies, and student excellence. It recognizes programs with strong academic foundations based on factors such as student-instructor access and graduation rates.

Michael Firmin, who is pursuing a certificate in criminal justice management, says the program has supported his professional development.

“The online classes offer flexibility when balancing shift work in a law enforcement career and time spent with family,” he said. “The Criminal Justice Management Certificate Program offers a strong academic approach on improving supervisory roles in law enforcement.”

For DeFazio, the support she's received from her professors has been an important part of her experience. She says the flexibility she's had – not just with course delivery, but with the courses she's had the opportunity to take – has contributed to her own success as a student.

"The best parts about the program are the classes and the professors who teach them," she said. "The student is only required to take four core classes, and the remainder of your credits are fulfilled by electives of your choice. Prior to attending the University of New Haven, I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue. Because the program gives more control to the student, it has allowed me to explore my options and discover courses that have sparked my interest."