Criminal Justice, M.S.

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This page covers information related to a successful experience in the Master of Science in Criminal Justice program. To skip around the page, click the blue buttons below.

Program Overview

Roadmap to Success

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions


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.

Formats: Hybrid, Online

Credits: 36

Individual Course Length: 15 weeks

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.



 Apply and get accepted into the program Be sure to have met the requirements for admission into the program

Check out GVSU's Graduate School New Student Orientation webpage - Here, you can find resources you need to get an accurate read on what's expected of you as an admitted graduate student at GVSU

Review your Financial Aid package in Banner - Be sure to know what funds are available to you before you decide whether you'd like to study full time or part time at GVSU

Research any Graduate Assistantship opportunities - These positions on campus are limited and may be program specific. Check them out and see if any are a good fit for you

Review the video library at the Registrar's Office - These video tutorials cover topics related to class registration, myPath, and student information

Log into Handshake to browse on-campus employment opportunities

Check out the course catalogue to know what classes to take and in what recommended order!

Register for your classes through Banner

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Review all the steps along the Graduate Student Checklist

Review syllabi and information about contacting your professors

Check out buying options at the Laker Store for books, supplies, and more

Make final tuition payment by the deadline

Purchase your parking permit and review campus maps/parking options and bus routes.

Attend your first week of classes -- Want to switch things up? Be sure to use Banner to add/drop any classes before the deadline

Get familiar with advising options available to you

Get to know your academic support services! LibraryKnowledge MarketStatistical Consulting CenterDisability Support Resources

Check out the Graduate Student Association for information about becoming a member, finding resources on campus, and ways students advocate for each other

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Check out the CECI Fellows, where CECI students mentor other CECI students along their educational journeys

Make connections with classmates! Set up study groups, social hours, or just find ways to stay connected in between classes

Review other community building opportunities for graduate students

Finalize your FAFSA filing by the deadline for financial aid next year

Check in on your midterm grades and/or schedule a check-in with your professors

Meet up with your Subject Librarian, who can help you find information and resources related to your field of study

Check in with your favorite academic support service to help recover your grades or to stay on track with your current success

Make an appointment with the University Counseling Center - you get free sessions with a trained therapist

Prepare for final exams and projects

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Below are some excellent resources for your graduate studies.

Frequently Asked Questions

In addition to advancing your understanding and knowledge in criminal justice and criminology, an M.C.J. degree will keep you current in the field. Given the ever-changing climate of crime and justice, careers in criminal justice increasingly require an advanced degree. An M.C.J. degree will help you obtain a variety of positions in the field, including (but not limited to): federal agency (FBI, DEA, DHS), probation officer (juvenile, state and federal), careers in criminal research/analysis and investigation, security and private security management positions, advanced law enforcement positions, correctional programming, and leadership and management positions across all sectors of public safety.

  • 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.

The M.C.J. program requires 36 credit hours, which includes the culminating experience (Thesis, OR Capstone Course). For students who attend full-time (nine credits per semester), the degree takes four semesters/two years; for students who attend part-time (six credits per semester) the program takes six semesters/three years for completion. If students choose to also take courses over the summer, the degree can be completed in under two years (full-time) or two and a half years (part-time).

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

All students who have been accepted into the M.C.J. program are eligible to apply for a Graduate Assistantship. Applications are distributed (via the GVSU email system) every January and are due in February (be sure to check your GVSU email for information and deadlines). Graduate Assistantship awards are announced in March for the following academic year.

If you have completed courses in another, related graduate program, it is possible for these credits to be counted towards your M.C.J. degree. You will need to submit a written request and provide a syllabus from the course(s) you wish to have transferred; the M.C.J. graduate committee will review your request and make the decision. No more than (9) credits can be transferred into your degree program.

You are not assigned an academic advisor once admitted to the graduate school at GVSU. There are folks, however, who are here to help you along your journey! Feel free to contact any of the following people:

Program Director

School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Legal Studies

  • 289C Richard M. DeVos Center
  • (616) 331-7130

Graduate Admissions Office

Academic Resources and Retention Specialist, CECI Undergraduate Advising


Page last modified March 8, 2024