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2014-2015 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Master of Science in Criminal Justice


The 36-credit Master of Science degree in criminal justice at Grand Valley State University is designed to prepare graduate students to be criminal justice leaders, planners, practitioners and academicians. The program's mission is to improve the criminal justice profession by producing exemplary graduates who are ethical, capable leaders and managers with a high level of knowledge, skills, and organizational wisdom. Our program also seeks to create a dynamic community of criminal justice professionals and scholars who will work in concert to critique, challenge, and advance the study and practice of criminal justice. Our faculty believes that professional education is best reinforced by concrete application of theoretical concepts. Graduate courses will provide students the opportunity to apply to their agencies or professional endeavors the skills, concepts, and knowledge acquired in the program. The result of this applied process is a bridge between theory and practice and between the classroom and the professional field.

The criminal justice curriculum encompasses applied concepts of ethics, political and social justice, historical analysis of institutions and policy, leadership and management, theories and research. The curriculum also prepares students who plan to apply to a doctoral program with appropriate theoretical, research, analytical and critical interpretation skills.

School of Criminal Justice Mission Statement

The mission of Grand Valley's School of Criminal Justice is to teach, prepare, advise, and assist students to make positive contributions in their chosen vocation within the criminal justice or legal system at the local, regional, national, and international level.

Graduates will possess a solid foundation of knowledge and performance skills in the criminal justice field and legal system and will also have the ability to make ethically sound and appropriate decisions in response to the challenges presented to them in their professional and personal lives.

Faculty and staff of the School of Criminal Justice will demonstrate, model, and promote a respect for diversity and commitments to integrity, intellectual and moral virtues, and lifelong learning through effective teaching, active scholarship, and service.

Admission to Master of Science in Criminal Justice Program

  • Undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale calculated from the last 60 hours of undergraduate work.
  • Three letters of recommendation (at least two are 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 coordinator. Approved courses such as, introduction to criminal justice, criminology, research methods, and statistics are highly recommended.
  • Applications for fall admission should be received by May 1 (applications received by March 1 will be given priority); winter admission applications should be received by November 1 (applications received by September 1 will be given priority).

Transfer Credit

Up to 9 hours of transfer credit may be applied to the degree program. Such credit must meet the requirements specified in the "Transfer of Credit" section of this catalog, be recommended as applicable to the degree program by a graduate faculty advisor, and be approved for transfer application by the MCJ graduate program coordinator.

Dual Credit

In accordance with Grand Valley State University policy, undergraduates may enroll in some graduate courses (see prerequisites) but must have at least a 3.0 GPA, have completed 85 semester hours, and obtain permission from the MCJ graduate program coordinator. Credit earned can be used as part of an undergraduate program or as part of a future graduate program but cannot be used for both purposes.

Program Location

Pew Campus, DeVos Center

Requirements for the M.S. in Criminal Justice

Students must complete a minimum of 36 graduate courses: 18-hours of core courses, 12-15 of criminal justice electives, and a three-credit project or a thesis requirement of six credits.


Core of required courses consists of 18 credit hours as follows:


Choose from the following courses (15 credits if completing CJ 693 or 12 credits if completing CJ 695):

Students may also choose up to 3 credits of electives outside of the criminal justice curricula. These credits must be pre-approved by the MCJ Graduate Program Coordinator.

Project or Thesis

Prerequisites: Admission to CJ graduate program, 18 credits of graduate coursework completed, approved project or thesis committee, approved project or thesis proposal, and permission of MCJ graduate program coordinator (completion of core curriculum may be concurrent).

Criminal Justice Program Description

Click here for the program description.

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