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The Master of Criminal Justice 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.
- 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.
Students must complete 9-15 credit hours of electives, depending on internship requirements and Capstone or Thesis selection. 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, students may include specialized courses offered by other departments and schools of the University, with prior written approval of the MCJ Program Director.
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 hours of coursework to enroll in Field Study.
Capstone Requirements: Capstone or Thesis
All MCJ students, except those pursuing the thesis option, are required to complete CJ 5361, Capstone Seminar, in which they conduct, write, and present a public service oriented client-based project. The Capstone Seminar should be taken after all core courses have been completed with a grade of B- or better, and is ideally taken the last semester in the MCJ program. Students are advised to complete CJ 5003 Research Methods the semester prior to completing the Capstone Seminar, ideally using the Research Methods course to formulate a project proposal, contact a second reader, and begin an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application. Capstone Seminar is offered ONLY in the fall and spring semesters.
In 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.
Students should complete the following steps the semester prior to enrolling in CJ 5361 Capstone Seminar:
- Attend a Capstone Seminar workshop hosted by the School of Public Affairs
- Identify a partner agency for the Capstone project
- Obtain an agreement from a MCJ faculty member to serve as a second reader on the Capstone project
- Draft a proposal and IRB application for the Capstone project (may be completed in CJ 5003 Research Methods)
- 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
The thesis option is available for MCJ students who are interested in undertaking a research project, pursuing careers in research, or entering a Ph.D. program. Students must select a thesis advisor from the faculty to oversee their work. The thesis requires six 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
- Overall GPA of 3.5 or higher
- Demonstrated ability to pursue empirically-based work, as evidenced by research conducted in MCJ core 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 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 faculty 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.
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