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Criminal Justice alum working at the capital.

Criminal Justice, M.S.

GVSU criminal justice students focus on the criminal justice system (police, courts, corrections) as well as crime, its victims and responses to crime and violent behavior. Course curriculum is grounded in the traditional humanities and the social sciences, and includes a theoretical analysis of criminal behavior. Although they are schooled in the practical knowledge and skills they will need in the profession, students also receive thorough preparation in the arts and sciences.

Visit the program website for more information.

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Program Overview

The Master of Science in criminal justice (M.S.) degree is designed to prepare students to become highly ethical and capable leaders, specialists, and scholars, with an advanced and practical knowledge in criminology and criminal justice to prepare them for future work in their careers, classrooms, and/or communities.

The program is designed for both those looking to work in the criminal justice field, as well as those planning to pursue a Ph.D. in the social sciences.

Why Study Criminal Justice at Grand Valley?

  • Faculty members, who are nationally recognized for contributions in the discipline, have a unique combination of practical experience in the criminal justice system and an extensive record of scholarship.
  • The graduate program is more than just an extension of the undergraduate degree. Students will learn to be a master of the discipline and have opportunities to network with faculty and other professionals in the field.
  • Class sizes are small and there are many opportunities for students to work one-on-one with professors through graduate assistantships.
  • The innovative curriculum's blend of criminal justice theory and professional practice hones skills that can be applied right away.
  • The curriculum also prepares doctoral-seeking students with appropriate theoretical, research, analytical, and critical interpretation skills.

Career Insights

This tool shows an overview of potential career opportunities for this major. Actual salaries, employment opportunities, and job titles may change over time.

Location & Format

Classes for this program meet downtown on the Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Some courses available online.



Students study a variety of criminal justice topics, including:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal justice policy
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Research methodology and statistics
  • Victimology
  • Contemporary issues in criminal justice

Application Deadline

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The recommended deadline for fall semester start is June 1; recommended deadline for winter is November 1. Applications received past the deadline may still be reviewed in time for the start of the subsequent semester, but enrollment cannot be guaranteed. The $30 nonrefundable application fee is waived if the applicant has previously applied to GVSU.

Admission Requirements

To apply for the Master of Science degree in criminal justice, please note the following requirements:

  • Undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale calculated from the last 60 hours of undergraduate work. 
  • An official transcript from your baccalaureate degree granting institution.
  • If applying for student admission into the SCJ undergraduate/graduate combined degree program, an undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.25 on a 4.0 scale calculated from the last 60 hours of undergraduate work.
  • Three letters of recommendation (at least two from current or former professors).
  • A personal statement/essay detailing academic preparation, background experiences and professional, educational, and career goals for entry into a master's program in criminal justice, and any special topic areas that you would like to pursue at the master's level.
  • The Graduate Committee reserves the right to require additional information it deems appropriate, including GRE test scores and writing samples. The committee may also require applicants to appear for an oral interview. The decisions of the Graduate Committee are final.
  • Students who have not earned a degree in criminal justice or criminology may be required to take undergraduate criminal justice courses at the discretion of the MCJ graduate program director. Approved courses such as introduction to criminal justice, criminology, research methods, and statistics are highly recommended.

For More Information

School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies
289C Richard M. DeVos Center
(616) 331-7130

Graduate Admissions and Recruitment Office

Program Director


John Walsh, Ph.D.
(616) 331-7131