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

Public Administration, MPA/Criminal Justice, MCJ Dual Degree

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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.

General Requirements

  • A minimum of 54 credit hours of appropriate graduate study, including a minimum of 15 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 9 credit hours of independent study.

Course Requirements

Core Courses

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)

  • PAD 5003  - Research and Analytic Methods / CJ 5003  - Research Methods

           Note: PAD 5003 / CJ 5003 should be taken the semester before Capstone/Thesis.

Elective Courses 

Students complete 12-18 credit hours of electives (number of hours depends on internship/field study requirement and Capstone or Thesis selection). 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.

Internship in Public Administration / Field Study in 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 Internship 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 internship/field study.

Capstone Requirements: Capstone or Thesis

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

Capstone Seminar

In PAD 5361 / CJ 5361 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 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 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 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 PAD 5361 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 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 PAD 5003 Research and Analytic Methods / 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 PAD 6950 / 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 Dual MPA/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 Dual MPA/MCJ program.

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 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 PAD 6950 or 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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