Sep 25, 2020
The Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ) program provides an interdisciplinary perspective on the study of crime and the criminal justice system. It focuses on criminal offending and victimization, law enforcement, the judiciary, correctional systems, juvenile justice, and the formulation of laws and codes. Individual courses explore the dynamic of criminality and victimization, systems analysis, policy analysis, organizational theory and behavior, and program development within the criminal justice system. Students pursuing professional careers will gain an understanding of theory and its applications in practices. Students aspiring to research careers or doctoral work will acquire a strong foundation in criminology and criminal justice research.
Policies and Procedures
Refer to the School of Public Affairs General Information section of this academic catalog for the eligibility criteria, policies, and procedures relevant to this program.
- A minimum of 36 credit hours of appropriate graduate study, including a minimum of 27 credit hours in criminal justice. The remaining courses for the degree may be under the criminal justice heading or under another discipline, with prior written approval of the MCJ Program Director.
- A grade point average of B (3.0 on a 4-point scale) or better is required for degree candidacy.
- Grades of B- or better in all courses counted towards the degree.
- No more than 6 credit hours of independent study.
CJ 5003 should not be taken in the first semester.
Students must complete 15-21 credit hours of electives, depending on need for field study and choice of Capstone or Thesis. Elective courses include a mixture of specialized courses, workshops, and other formats. Students may choose to focus these elective hours around a particular area based on their interests and career goals. Where appropriate, and with prior written approval of the MCJ Program Director, students may include specialized courses offered by other departments and schools of the University. MCJ Program Director approval is required to count more than nine credit hours from another discipline (i.e., courses with a prefix other than CJ) toward the degree.
Field Study in Criminal Justice
Students who have not had at least one year of professional experience in a criminal justice organization are required to complete CJ 6910 Field Study in Criminal Justice. A minimum of 240 hours of supervised work is required to earn 3 hours of credit. Students must have completed at least 9 credit hours of coursework to enroll in Field Study.
Culminating Experience Requirement: Capstone or Thesis
MCJ students are required to complete either the Capstone Seminar or Master’s Thesis as their culminating experience.
In CJ 5361 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 Capstone Seminar requires three hours of credit and should be taken after all core courses have been completed with a grade of B- or better, and preferably during the final semester in the MCJ program. Capstone Seminar is offered ONLY in the fall and spring semesters.
Students should complete the following steps no later than the semester prior to enrolling in CJ 5361 Capstone Seminar:
- Attend a Capstone Orientation hosted by the School of Public Affairs (online orientations are available).
- Identify a partner agency for the Capstone project.
- Obtain an agreement from a UCCS faculty member to serve as a second reader on the Capstone project.
- Work with the faculty member serving as the Capstone second reader to draft a proposal and assess the need for IRB approval.
- Submit evidence of CITI training completion.
- If IRB approval is required, work with the Capstone Seminar instructor to submit an IRB proposal for review prior to the start of the semester in which they will enroll in the Capstone Seminar.
In CJ 6950 Master’s 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. The thesis requires 6 hours of credit that normally spans two semesters. The thesis option is available to MCJ students who have achieved an exceptional academic record and who wish to pursue independent research in greater depth than would normally be possible in Capstone Seminar. It is suited for students who intend to pursue a PhD degree or to enter a research or policy environment upon completion of the MCJ degree.
Minimum eligibility requirements for pursuing a thesis include:
- Matriculation in the MCJ program
- Successful completion of all core courses
- Overall GPA of 3.5 or higher
- Demonstrated ability to pursue research work, as evidenced by two submitted research papers developed in SPA courses or elsewhere
- Preliminary identification of a thesis topic or area of interest
- Agreement from a SPA faculty member to serve as the thesis committee chair along with two additional faculty members to serve on the thesis committee
Minor exceptions to the above criteria may be made in exceptional circumstances.
A student desiring to pursue the thesis option should meet with their faculty advisor to establish eligibility under the above criteria. After establishing eligibility, the student should recruit three faculty members to serve on the student’s thesis committee – one to serve as the committee chair and two to serve on the committee – and then complete the thesis application form. Once complete, the thesis application form should be submitted to the MCJ Program Director for approval.