Grand Valley State University's Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice is offered through the School of Criminal Justice in the College of Community and Public Service. The program prepares graduate students to become highly capable additions to the justice system, and is designed to prepare those students who are planning to pursue doctoral degrees.

The Master of Criminal Justice degree program includes 18 hours of required courses, 15-18 hours of guided electives, and an option to choose between a comprehensive exam and a six-hour thesis requirement. In addition, those without work experience in criminal justice or private security are strongly encouraged to take a three-hour graduate internship course.

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Michigan Job Growth by 2024
GVSU Ranking as West Michigan Talent Provider
Median Annual Wage

Source: EMSI, 2020


According to 2020 EMSI data, criminal justice jobs are expected to grow 4% in both Michigan and in the U.S. by 2024. The median annual wage for criminal justice graduates is between $55,785 and $108,700 but varies per region and by job title. The following are jobs often held by criminal justice graduates:

  • Special Agents
  • Police Chiefs
  • Law Enforcement Officers
  • Private Investigators
  • Investigative Analysts
  • Fraud Analysts
  • Intelligence Analysts
  • Probation Officers
  • First Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Source: EMSI, 2020

The Skills Employers Want

The M.S. in Criminal Justice degree at GVSU will develop the skills you need to land the job you want. Whether the skills are advanced or general, you will build a resume of qualifications that are sure to attract employers. The following skills correlate with those pulled from actual job postings in the criminal justice field.

Advanced Skills

  • Law Enforcement
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Search Warrant
  • Auditing
  • Community Policing
  • Public Administration
  • Case Management
  • Enforcement

Common Skills

  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Investigation
  • Operations
  • Problem Solving
  • Coordinating
  • Communications
  • Writing
  • Computer Literacy

Source: EMSI, 2020

Other Reasons to Study Criminal Justice at GVSU

Leaders. Graduates are prepared as highly capable criminal justice leaders, planners, activists, and academicians who continuously improve the criminal justice system and profession.

Interdisciplinary. Courses are designed to meet the needs of scholars, managers and administrators in law enforcement, adult corrections, juvenile justice, and private security.

Comprehensive. The curriculum encompasses applied concepts of ethics, political and social justice, historical analysis of institutions and policy, leadership and management, theories, and research.

Small Class Sizes. Class sizes are small, students in the program come from various backgrounds, and there are numerous opportunities for students to work one-on-one with professors through graduate assistantships.


The Criminal Justice, M.S. program is a minimum of 33-36 credits. Students study a variety of criminal justice topics, including:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal justice leadership
  • Criminal justice policy
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Research methodology and statistics

Visit the online catalog for course offerings and degree requirements.

Course Offerings


The Criminal Justice M.S. application deadlines are May 1 for the Fall semester and November 1 for the Winter semester. The $30 application fee is waived if you’ve already applied to Grand Valley. Visit the online catalog for admission requirements for this program.

Admission Requirements


When you became a Laker, you opened up a lifetime of learning, and now alumni like you can use your Laker Lifetime Learning (L3) account for classes that provide greater knowledge and new skills. Your account is waiting for you to use for future classes at GVSU. All you have to do is click on the button below to find out more.

Find Out More About Your Laker Lifetime Learning Account (L3)


For more information on tuition and fees, please visit the costs portion of the GVSU Financial Aid website. For financial support, scholarship search, and filing for FAFSA, please visit the GVSU Financial Support website.

Note: Grand Valley does not charge a higher tuition rate based on residency. Tuition is based on the program in which you chose to enroll. 


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