FAQs | MS in Criminal Justice

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General Questions

How is the program structured?

Our program is comprised of 12 courses that are two credits each. The courses are taught in 8-week modules. A semester at USC is 16 weeks, so two modules fit into this semester period. Students enrolled in the 1-year track take two courses per module, or four classes per semester. Students enrolled in the 2-year track take one course per module, or two classes per semester. 

How many students do you accept into the program each semester?

As this is an online program, we do not have a set cap on the number of available seats. That being said, we are mindful of the student experience and committed to maintaining small class sizes whenever possible. We have multiple start dates each year and encourage all who are interested to submit their application. We review all applications thoroughly, on a rolling basis, and will accept students that meet our criteria.

Do students in this online program have access to campus resources?

Absolutely. Students enrolled in our online MSCJ program have the same access to campus resources as on-ground students. In fact, we encourage you to make the most of your student experience at USC, whether it’s attending a campus event, visiting the bookstore or cheering for the Trojans at a football game. Enrolled students will receive a USCard (your student ID) which will allow you access to these resources.

What should I include in my statement of purpose?

The Statement of Purpose should address why you are pursuing the MS in Criminal Justice degree, why the program at the University of Southern California is the best program for you, and how this program will help you reach your academic and professional goals.

What types of financial aid are available?
Federal Financial Aid is available for those who qualify. Additional funding options include:

  • Private loans and USC payment plans
  • Employer Sponsored Tuition Reimbursement
  • Military & Veterans Benefits

For more information, please see our Tuition and Financial Aid page.

How will students engage and interact in the online classroom environment?

Our classrooms will be interactive with discussion boards and weekly live classroom sessions. Several assignments will encourage group work. The goal of the program is to give you a sense of community, the same that you would experience in a classroom, and maybe even more so, in that you will be able to engage with everyone, not just those you sit next to.

Is there an Orientation for new students? Is it on-campus?

Our Academic department hosts an online Orientation for each incoming class. Orientation is 100% online and self-paced. It provides students an opportunity to test-drive the learning management platform that they will utilize for coursework and engage with their peers through discussion forums and optional live online sessions via Zoom.

Are your live (online) sessions recorded?

Yes, the live, online sessions are recorded. Recorded sessions are added to each course for later viewing. Lecture notes are also provided to support the live session.

Since this is an online program, is there a graduation ceremony?

Yes! All graduating students are encouraged to participate in Commencement, which takes place once a year in May. There will be a university-wide ceremony, followed by a ceremony for Bovard College graduates.

Questions about the Criminal Justice program

How is this program different from other CJ programs?

The MSCJ program at USC is rooted in the latest research in the field, with critical attention to issues criminal justice leaders are facing today. Students learn to evaluate research and use statistical data to assess the efficacy of policies and practices in criminal justice, corrections and community supervision – including criminal investigations, trauma-informed practice and the use of technology. With courses in leadership development and organizational change, our program ensures that students become well-informed, highly skilled and effective leaders. It also provides access to exceptional faculty who are leading experts in their fields. Read more about our Learning Outcomes and Curriculum.

Is there a thesis component to the program and is this program suitable for someone wanting to pursue a PhD in Criminal Justice?

There is not a thesis to this program. Rather, our final course “Making a Difference in Criminal Justice” serves as the culmination of all previous courses.  Additionally, our program was designed as an applied program, so that students can take what they learn and apply it immediately on the job. That is not to say that one couldn’t take our master’s program and move on to pursue their PhD in Criminal Justice. However, it was not designed for that purpose.

Still have questions or want to speak to Admissions directly?

You can reach the Bovard College Admissions Office by phone at 877-4-BOVARD or by email.

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