The fields of public administration and criminal justice are closely connected. The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is a professional degree designed to prepare students for a variety of positions in public and nonprofit management and policy analysis, while the Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ) prepares graduates to work in organizations within the substantive policy area. The dual degree program prepares graduates for overlapping careers in public, nonprofit, and private organizations that require both criminal justice and management knowledge. Graduates may also pursue 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 credit hours versus the 72 credit hours it would take to complete each degree separately.
MPA Core Competencies
Graduates of the MPA program will have the following competencies, as enumerated by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), the program’s accrediting body. The ability to:
- Lead and manage in the public interest;
- Participate effectively in and contribute to the policy process;
- Analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make evidence-informed decisions in a complex and dynamic environment;
- Articulate, apply, and advance a public service perspective; and
- Communicate and interact productively and in culturally responsive ways with a diverse and changing workforce and society at large.
MCJ Program Student Learning Outcomes
- PSLO 1: Students are able to draw on multiple disciplines, perspectives, and research traditions to identify and comprehend the psychological, biological, interpersonal, social, and societal contributors to criminal offending and victimization.
- PSLO 2: Students are able to apply research and policy analysis to understanding victim services, police administration, judicial administration, and/or correctional administration across the public and private sectors.
- PSLO 3: Students are able to analyze, synthesize, and solve problems in the application of Criminology/Criminal Justice.
- PSLO 4: Students are able to translate the academic skills learned in the classroom to the real-world criminal justice and/or public service fields.
- PSLO 5: Students are able to articulate and apply a Public Service perspective.
Policies and Procedures
Refer to the College of Public Service General Information section of this academic catalog for the eligibility criteria, policies, and procedures relevant to this program.
- A minimum of 54 credit hours of graduate coursework with a total grade point average of B (3.0 on a 4-point scale) or better;
- Grades of B- or better in all courses counted towards the degree; and
- No more than 9 credit hours of independent study.
MCJ Core Courses (9 credit hours)
MPA Core Courses (15 credit hours)
Students are expected to complete PAD 5001 within their first two semesters of enrollment.
Research Methods (3 credit hours)
CJ 5003 should not be taken in the first semester.
Elective Courses (21-24 credit hours)
Students complete 21-24 credit hours of electives (number of hours depends on the student’s selection of Capstone or Thesis for their culminating experience; students work with their faculty advisor to develop an individualized plan). A minimum of 6 elective credit hours must be in Criminal Justice, with the remaining hours chosen from CJ and/or PAD elective courses. Electives 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 UCCS departments, with prior written approval of the program director. Any of the courses included in graduate certificates offered by the College of Public Service may be applied to the MPA degree as electives.
Internship / Field Study requirement for pre-service students
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 , which replaces one elective course. The student’s need for an internship / field study is determined by the MPA and MCJ program directors at the time of admission; each student is notified of this decision in their admission letter. Students for whom an internship is required by either or both programs should work with their advisor to find a placement that satisfies all requirements. 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 internship / field study.
Culminating Experience: 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 (3 credit hours)
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 3 hours of credit and should be taken after all core courses have been completed with a grade of B- or better, preferably during the final semester in the Dual MPA/MCJ program. Capstone Seminar is offered ONLY in the fall and spring semesters.
Students choosing to complete the Capstone Seminar should complete the capstone checklist and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org for review and approval. Upon approval, the student will be issued a permission number allowing them to register for the course. The capstone checklist includes completion of the following steps no later than the semester prior to enrolling in PAD 5361 / CJ 5361 Capstone Seminar:
- Attend a Capstone Orientation hosted by the College of Public Service (online orientations are available).
- Identify a partner agency for the Capstone project.
- Obtain agreement from a CPS 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.
Master’s Thesis (6 credit hours)
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 6 hours of credit that span 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 CPS courses or elsewhere.
- Preliminary identification of a thesis topic or area of interest.
- Agreement from a CPS 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 email@example.com for review and approval. Upon approval, the student will be issued a permission number allowing them to register for the course.