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Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ)

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​​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 Outco​mes

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 Standards

  • ​​Must have earned a baccalaureate degree conferred by a regionally accredited institution
    • ​Major or minor in criminal justice or related field is strongly preferred
  • ​Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4-point scale)
    • ​Emphasis is placed on the final 60 credit hours of study
    • Three (3) letters of recommendation that address the applicant's potential for success in graduate school, including written and oral communication skills, professionalism, leadership potential, and critical thinking skills.
    • ​Letters should be from former/current professors who can speak directly to the applicant's academic skills and potential
      • ​Applicants who have not been enrolled at a university in the past 5 years may submit letters from employers, but must make an effort to get a letter from at least one former professor
      • Applicants who do not meet the 3.0 minimum GPA requirement are expected to obtain all three letters of recommendation from professors
  • ​​​Completion of admission essay that demonstrates strong writing skills, rationale for seeking the MSCJ degree, and commitment to completion
  • For graduates of universities where English is not the native language: minimum TOEFL scores of 550 with section scores of 50 or higher.​

Required Application Materials:​

  • Official transcripts of all academic work previously undertaken, including graduate-level courses or degrees
    • Transcripts should show completion of the following:
      • Criminology, Sociology, or Psychology Theory course(s)
      • Statistics or Quantitative Data Analysis
      • Research Methods
      • If an applicant does not have these required prerequisites or functional equivalents, they may be required to complete them prior to full admission and/or may be granted admission on a conditional basis.
  • ​​​​​Essay
  • ​Three letters of recommendation
​Applications are completed through Apply Texas and required documentation is submitted to the Office of Admissions.​​

Fall 2022 Application Deadline  - July 3​1​st, 2022​

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 University of Houston​-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 an​d 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.


Last updated 5/20/2022 12:10 PM