Jul 01, 2022  

Criminal Justice, MSCJ

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Rebecca Pfeffer, Ph.D., MSCJ Coordinator
C330F, 713-15072


The degree is designed to prepare graduate students to provide leadership, critical thinking, and knowledge in the areas of criminological theory, program evaluation, and criminal justice administration. The curriculum provides for the development of skills in criminal justice planning, implementation, and evaluation in order to ensure that the management and administration of the criminal justice system is effective, efficient, and responsive to the needs of the community. The degree is particularly beneficial for students already working in a criminal justice occupation and who wish to:

  • increase their professional knowledge and skills or obtain employment in a criminal justice agency
  • teach at the community college level, and
  • pursue a doctoral degree.

Admission is competitive and selective and is designed to identify applicants who have the ability, interest, and qualities necessary to successfully complete the program and the potential to contribute to the field of criminal justice. MSCJ applicants must indicate whether they intend to complete the program through traditional face-to-face courses or fully online. Students must take their coursework in the format they have chosen. Students will be allowed to take up to six hours of credit in the alternative format; exceptions or waivers for additional hours in the alternative format may be granted upon student petition to the MSCJ Coordinator and the Department Chair.

Program Outcomes

Graduates who earn a MS in Criminal Justice will be able to:

  1. Interpret and apply techniques of statistical analysis to the study of crime and justice.
  2. Apply theoretical concepts to the study of crime and justice.
  3. Identify, describe, and communicate current issues in the criminal justice system.
  4. Apply knowledge of the operations of the criminal justice system to develop solutions to the specific problems of criminal justice agencies.
  5. Design a research plan to evaluate criminal justice programs, policies, or issues in the study of crime and justice.

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for admission, an applicant will be required to present the following:

  • Any baccalaureate degree conferred by a regionally-accredited institution;
  • Official transcripts, submitted to the Office of Admissions, of all academic work previously undertaken; Transcripts must contain documentation of the completion of the following three upper division undergraduate courses:
    • Criminology/Criminological Theory,
    • Criminal Justice Statistics, and
    • Criminal Justice Research Methods.
    • If an applicant does not have these required prerequisites, they will be required to complete them in stem work prior to prior to full admission.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals acquainted with applicant’s academic work and academic potential; If applicant has been enrolled at a university within the past 5 years, it is recommended that at least two of the three letters are from former/current professors;
  • Completion of MSCJ admission essay; and
  • For graduates of universities where English is not the native language: minimum TOEFL scores of 550 with section scores of 50 or higher.


  • Major or minor in criminal justice or a related field from accredited university. Otherwise, additional preparatory course work will be needed.*
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0, or higher, on a 4-point scale for the final 60 semester hours of study.*
  • Admission essay demonstrates strong writing skills, a commitment to completing the degree, and a strong rationale for wanting this specific degree.
  • Completion of a previous master’s degree in any field, from an accredited institution.
  • Authoring of publication(s) - technical, professional or academic.
  • Research experience.
  • Grant-writing experience.
    *Primary attention is paid to these preferences.

Any student accepted into the Master of Science Criminal Justice program may be required to take undergraduate course work in Criminal Justice. Applicants who have earned a graduate degree in a field other than criminal justice at an accredited institution, and who meet all other admission requirements are required to submit all graduate transcripts.

Degree Requirements (36 hours)

The degree requires a minimum of 36 semester hours for either thesis or non-thesis options. Thirty of these hours must be taken at UH-Downtown. Both thesis and non-thesis options require completion of the following core for a total of 18 hours:


A minimum GPA of 3.0 for all course work is required.

Thesis Option

In addition to the core, thesis option candidates are required to complete 12 hours of electives, 3 hours of Thesis I, and continuous enrollment in Thesis II until completion of the thesis.

Non-Thesis Option

In addition to the core, non-thesis option candidates are required to complete 15 hours of electives and the following course (3 hours):

Non-thesis option candidates will be required to address a criminal justice agency problem or criminal justice system issue and prepare a written document on their topic. MSCJ students may receive only one “In Progress” grade from CJ 6301 . Students must complete the project in the subsequent term.

Additional Requirements

MSCJ Online

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice Degree Online is designed to prepare students to become future leaders in the criminal justice system. It integrates the theoretical and practical aspects of crime control as they relate to the adult and juvenile justice systems. The MSCJ Degree prepares students for careers in policing, courts, corrections, and a variety of other agencies related to the field. For students already working in the criminal justice field, the degree is designed to lead to career advancement.

Admission and degree requirements are the same as those listed above with the exception that all online students must complete 15 hours of electives and CJ 6301 - Criminal Justice Project . Thesis is not an option for online students.

Transfer of Graduate Credits

A maximum of six units of equivalent graduate course work may be transferred from other accredited universities. A minimum grade of B is required in any such courses. Transfer credit is granted by petition to, and approval by, the Graduate Committee. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate the petition and justify the acceptance of the courses. The Graduate Committee will determine whether the courses are equivalent. Please keep in mind that transfer credit is by permission only and is not a right of the student.

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