Students must complete 21 semester hours of electives. Elective courses include a mixture of specialized courses, workshops, and other formats. Students may choose to use these elective hours to build an area of concentration designed to meet individual needs. Where appropriate, students may include specialized courses offered by other departments and schools of the University, with prior written approval of the faculty advisor.
Capstone Requirements: Capstone or Thesis
All MCJ students, except those pursuing the thesis option, are required to complete CJ 5361, Capstone Seminar in Criminal Justice, in which they conduct, write, and present a client-based project. The Capstone Seminar is taken during the last semester of the student’s degree program. All core courses must be completed with a grade of B- or better before taking the capstone seminar.
In the capstone seminar, students work with a client in a criminal justice agency to identify a problem and then, using the knowledge and skills they have gained in the program, carry out a project and write a paper to address the problem. The principle of the course is that it provides students with an opportunity to integrate what they have learned and apply their knowledge and skills to a real-world problem. Further, it provides the faculty with an opportunity to judge the student’s ability to perform such work.
The thesis option is available for MCJ students who are interested in undertaking a research project, pursuing careers in research, or entering the Ph.D. program. Students must select a thesis advisor from the faculty to oversee their work. The thesis requires six semester hours of credit that normally spans two semesters. Thesis students conduct a comprehensive review of the theoretical and research literature in the subject area of their thesis and collect original data or analyze existing data in new ways.
Minimum eligibility requirements for pursuing a thesis include:
- Matriculation in the MCJ program
- Successful completion of all core courses and a minimum of 15 semester hours earned in approved criminal justice elective courses
- Overall GPA of 3.5 or higher
- Demonstrated ability to pursue empirically-based work, as evidenced by two submitted research papers developed in MCJ courses
- Preliminary identification of a thesis topic or area of interest
- Agreement of at least two MCJ faculty members to serve on a three-person thesis committee (one serving as thesis advisor)
- The submission of a thesis prospectus developed under the supervision of a faculty advisor and approval of this document by the thesis committee
A student wishing to undertake the thesis option applies formally through her/his faculty academic advisor, first, to establish eligibility with respect to the above criteria, and second, to identify appropriate faculty members to serve on the student’s three-person thesis committee. The thesis committee will consist of two full-time MCJ faculty members, one of whom will serve as the thesis advisor and chair. The third member of the committee may be selected from any full-time or part-time member of the SPA faculty. (NOTE: Although the formal procedures entail application through the academic advisor, the student is encouraged to make informal contacts with appropriate subject-matter faculty to determine interest and availability.) Before the student is allowed to enroll for thesis credit, the thesis committee must formally approve a written thesis prospectus or proposal, which includes a thesis plan, a preliminary literature review, problem statement, and a timetable for completion. Upon approval of the prospectus, the student will be allowed to enroll in CJ 6950 Master’s Thesis.