2017-2018 Catalog 
    Jul 17, 2024  
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Criminal Justice, MCJ

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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.

General Requirements

  • 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.

Course Requirements

Elective Courses

Students must complete 9-15 credit hours of electives, depending on field study 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

MCJ students are required to complete either the Capstone Seminar or Master’s Thesis as their culminating experience.

Capstone Seminar

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. Students are advised to complete CJ 5003 Research Methods the semester prior to completing the Capstone Seminar, ideally using the 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.

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 UCCS 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.


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 six 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 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. Before the student is allowed to enroll in CJ 6950 Master’s Thesis, the thesis committee must formally approve a written thesis proposal, which includes a thesis plan, a preliminary literature review, problem statement, and a timetable for completion.


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