The fields of public administration and criminal justice are closely connected. The MPA is a professional degree designed to prepare students for a variety of positions in public and nonprofit management and policy analysis, while criminal justice studies prepare graduates to work in organizations within the substantive policy area. The joint degree program prepares its graduates for overlapping careers in public, nonprofit, and private organizations that require both criminal justice and management knowledge. The dual degree also prepares students for research careers or advanced graduate studies. Students take the cores of both programs and choose electives that best suit their career and personal goals, completing both degrees in 54 hours versus the 72 hours it would take to complete each degree separately.
- A minimum of 54 credit hours of appropriate graduate study, including a minimum of 9 core hours in criminal justice, 15 core hours in public administration, and 3 hours of research methods. The remaining courses for the degree may be under the criminal justice or public administration heading or under another discipline, with prior written approval of the 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.
MCJ Core Courses (15 credit hours)
- CJ 5001 - Criminal Justice Systems, Policy and Practice
- CJ 5002 - Criminological Theory
- CJ 5007 - Violence
- CJ 5008 - Gender, Race, Ethnicity, & Social Class: Implications for Criminology, CJ, & Public Service
- CJ 5009 - Crime and Violence Prevention and Intervention
MPA Core Courses (15 credit hours)
- PAD 5001 - Introduction to Public Administration and Public Service
- PAD 5002 - Organizational Management and Behavior
- PAD 5004 - Economics and Public Finance
- PAD 5005 - The Policy Process and Democracy
- PAD 5006 - Ethics and Leadership
Research Methods (3 credit hours)
Note: PAD 5003 / CJ 5003 should be taken the semester before Capstone/Thesis.
Students must complete 12-18 credit hours of electives. Elective courses include a mixture of specialized criminal justice and/or public administration 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 program director.
Field Study in Public Administration or Criminal Justice
Students who have not had at least one year of professional experience in a criminal justice or public service organization are required to complete either PAD 6910 Field Study in Public Administration or CJ 6910 Field Study in Criminal Justice. A minimum of 240 hours of supervised work is required to earn three hours of credit. Students must have completed at least nine hours of coursework to enroll in Field Study.
Capstone Requirements: Capstone or Thesis
All Dual MPA/MCJ students, except those pursuing the thesis option, are required to complete PAD 5361 Capstone Seminar or 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 Dual MPA/MCJ program. Students are advised to complete PAD 5003 Research and Analytic Methods or 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 or public service/nonprofit 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 PAD 5361 Capstone Seminar or 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 form from a MPA or 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 PAD 5003 Research and Analytic Methods or 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 Dual MPA/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 Dual MPA/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 two submitted research papers developed in MPA or MCJ courses.
- Preliminary identification of a thesis topic or area of interest.
- Agreement of at least two MPA or 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 MPA or 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 PAD 6950 Master’s Thesis or CJ 6950 Master’s Thesis.