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2016-2017 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Master of Science in Criminal Justice


The 33-36 credit hour 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 Vision and Mission Statement

VISION: The School of Criminal Justice educates students to become knowledgeable, competent, and ethical leaders in the criminal justice and legal professions.

MISSION: To promote the growth of students through teaching, mentoring, creative scholarship and community engagement.

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; winter admission applications should be received by November 1.

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 33-36 graduate courses: 18-hours of core courses, and 18 hours of electives with a comprehensive examination or nine- hours of electives with a six-credit hour thesis.


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


Choose from the following courses (18 credits if completing the comprehensive examination or 12 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.

Comprehensive Examination or Thesis

Prerequisites: The comprehensive examination option requires students to complete 36 hours of course work. The non-credit comprehensive examination serves as a culminating experience within the graduate program in lieu of the 6 credit hour thesis option.

The comprehensive examination is a two-part examination. Part A (written section) of the examination can be completed after 18 credits of coursework, to include: CJ 601 (Leadership), CJ 606 (Research Methods), and CJ 607 (Criminology). Part B of the examination (oral section) can be completed in the last semester or second to last semester of the degree program.

Criminal Justice Program Description

Click here for the program description.

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