Designed to fit your schedule

Earn your degree in one year from a top 25 university

No GRE required

Designed to fit your schedule

Earn your degree in as little as one year from a top 25 university

No GRE required

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

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The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program is designed to prepare professionals to advance their careers in the field of criminal justice. Our program emphasizes the skills and evidence-based principles that shape effective criminal justice leaders.

In addition to foundational theories of criminology and criminal justice, students explore policy design and implementation alongside emerging trends in the field. Students will learn to evaluate research and use statistical data to assess the efficacy of policies and practices in criminal justice. Vulnerable populations, organizational leadership and change, and technological advances in the field of criminal justice are also covered. The program will enable students to develop as ethical and skilled decision-makers in the various branches of criminal justice.

Learning Outcomes

Assess the merits of varying criminological and criminal justice theories in relation to crime prevention and control in criminal justice practice.

Demonstrate effective leadership within the increasingly diverse socio-cultural context of criminal justice.

Use an ethical theoretical framework in the practice of criminal justice that considers human rights, integrity, and accountability.

Evaluate the reliability, validity, and applicability of research studies and statistical data.

Evaluate current and emerging challenges, technologies, and trends in criminal justice.

Evaluate the impact of policy from different perspectives.

Design and plan the implementation of evidence-based policies to address criminal justice issues.


A Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice requires 24 units of coursework offered in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The program may be completed on a 1- or 2-year track. Students attending the program on the 1-year track can earn the degree within 12 months and those on the 2-year track can complete the program in less than two years.

Our curriculum was designed by an interdisciplinary team of top experts in the field of criminal justice, who set forth a theoretical framework that considers human rights, integrity, and accountability. Our knowledgeable faculty will prepare you to become decision-makers and effective leaders, giving you the skills to design and evaluate policy that will serve you as you grow throughout your career.

Criminology (2 units)

This course examines key theories and frameworks used to explain crime and inform responses to crime.

  • Distinguish the major tenets of criminological theories.
  • Evaluate the extent to which criminological theories are empirically supported.
  • Explain how, according to criminological theories, the potential for criminality varies among different types of individuals or groups of people.
  • Apply criminological theories to issues, programs, or policies in criminal justice.

Analysis of Criminal Justice Systems (2 units)

This course considers the criminal justice system’s response to crime through a theoretical and interdisciplinary lens.

  • Describe the evolution of criminal justice theory.
  • Determine what discretionary factors influence the criminal justice system’s response to criminality.
  • Explain how the criminal justice system response to violations of law varies among individuals and groups of people.
  • Describe the historical evolution of the criminal justice system response to law violations.
  • Assess the effectiveness of established criminal justice policies and practices.

Criminal Justice Leadership (2 units)

This course explains the theory and practice of traditional and contemporary approaches to leadership in the context of criminal justice

  • Evaluate contemporary leadership theories, styles, and principles both generally and specifically in the context of criminal justice.
  • Differentiate between leadership and management, including the purpose and importance of each role as it pertains to criminal justice practice.
  • Explain the issues that women and minority groups face in leadership positions in the criminal justice field.
  • Develop insights regarding the politics of leadership by which leaders influence others to achieve goals within the criminal justice field.
  • Assess personal leadership abilities using evidenced-based leadership styles and principles.
  • Create a leadership development plan to support students’ success as leaders in the criminal justice field.

Applied Research Methods for Criminal Justice (2 units)

This course examines the fundamental research methods and design commonly used to answer questions related to criminal justice.

  • Differentiate scientific reasoning from everyday observation in criminal justice settings and agencies.
  • Manage for ethical challenges inherent in social scientific research relevant to criminal justice inquiries.
  • Explain how different methodological approaches are appropriate for specific research questions in criminal justice.
  • Describe how research methodology relevant to criminal justice policy is incorporated in the concept of evidence-based practice.
  • Prepare a logically designed research proposal on a criminal justice topic which employs sound research principles.

Applied Statistics and Data Analysis in Criminal Justice (2 units)

This course explains the fundamentals of statistics and statistical analyses commonly used to interpret crime data for evaluation and performance.

  • Explain the role statistics play in the production of social scientific knowledge, and, more specifically, within the field of criminal justice.
  • Relate elements of research design and data collection to the production of statistical outcomes that validly represent the social realities of crime and justice.
  • Interpret statistical analysis and apply the results to criminal justice organizational issues, strategies, or problems.
  • Design a statistical analysis strategy to research a criminal justice topic.

Ethical Decision-Making in Criminal Justice (2 units)

This course considers how societal expectations for ethical behavior and regulatory oversight affect both leaders and managers in the criminal justice setting.

  • Differentiate between ethics, morals, and the law, both generally and as they relate to issues in criminal justice.
  • Evaluate the importance of ethical leadership in effecting positive change in the criminal justice system.
  • Evaluate complex ethical issues in criminal justice.
  • Apply ethical decision-making to criminal justice scenarios.

Organizational Change in Criminal Justice (2 units)

This course explores the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary for organizational leadership and change management within the context of criminal justice systems.

  • Assess organizational culture in a criminal justice setting.
  • Analyze contemporary models used to facilitate organizational change.
  • Evaluate common factors that enable and inhibit change in bureaucratic organizations.
  • Appraise models and theories of human motivation within organizations.
  • Critique how criminal justice leaders influence organizational change.

Youthful Offenders (2 units)

This course examines key concepts and evidence-based interventions and responses to promote positive growth and reduced recidivism in the youthful offender population.

  • Explain how adolescent development impacts the thinking and behavior of the youthful offender.
  • Analyze trauma, mental health, disability, and adolescence as mitigating factors on the behavior of youthful offenders.
  • Describe particular issues with the over-representation of racial groups in all stages of juvenile and criminal processes.
  • Describe evidence-based criminal justice interventions and responses that reduce recidivism within the context of root causes of offending behaviors in youthful offenders.
  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate with youth in an age-aware manner.
  • Create a diversion program that adheres to the latest research in development to promote long-term success amongst youthful offenders.

Criminal Justice Policy and Program Development (2 units)

This course provides an in-depth analysis of all major stages of the criminal justice policymaking process.

  • Analyze criminal justice policy environments and their impact upon the policymaking process, including stakeholder impacts and external influences.
  • Debate which inputs, outputs, and outcomes are most appropriate for a given criminal justice policy, including ethical, legal, and sociological considerations.
  • Describe how scientific research informs policy and evaluate criminal justice policies with reference to established methodologies.
  • Evaluate policy implementation strategies that incorporate evaluative models and anticipate policy reform.
  • Prepare a criminal justice policy brief, to include policy recommendations, in formats most appropriate for relevant audiences.

Criminal Investigations (2 units)

This course explores criminal investigative techniques such as search and seizure, use of technology, and multi-jurisdictional and transnational crime investigations.

  • Assess the alignment of examples of complex and sensitive criminal investigations with theories of criminal behavior and interaction with the criminal justice system.
  • Use appropriate ethical practice in investigative operations.
  • Evaluate the mitigation of inherent bias in criminal justice practice, which impedes the detection, investigation, and prosecution of crime.
  • Apply empirical research in psychological trauma and limitations of human behavior and memory to criminal justice practice.
  • Critique the capacity of criminal justice systems to incorporate emerging technologies in accordance with procedural law.

Corrections and Community Supervision (2 units)

This course examines evidence-based corrections and community supervision practices including offender rehabilitation, bail, restorative justice, and victims’ issues.

  • Assess sentencing and diversion policies and reforms as they affect various populations.
  • Appraise the efficacy of innovative approaches to community supervision against evidence-based policies.
  • Evaluate the legal, ethical, and logistical implications of the adoption of emerging technologies and trends in corrections and community supervision.
  • Create a plan to implement evidence-based practices in a corrections or community supervision program.

Making a Difference in Criminal Justice (2 units)

This course prepares students for the critical role of leadership through policy evaluation and policy change initiatives.

  • Demonstrate leadership principles in criminal justice policy from development to implementation through evaluation.
  • Evaluate the achievement of outcomes for criminal justice policy from the perspective of varied stakeholders.
  • Assess the applicability, measurability, adaptability, and efficacy of criminal justice policy.
  • Evaluate the decision-making process in prior criminal justice policies.
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