Criminal Justice

Other Information

Graduate Catalog: CJS

  • Admission requirements
  • Program details
  • Course descriptions

Application Deadlines

Department: Criminal Justice Studies

Graduate Director:
Dr. Mary Clifford

Program Location

This program is offered on-campus and is also available for 100% completion on-line. One on-campus visit for thesis defense or comprehensive examination is required. For more information related to our online offered programs, please see The Center For Continuing Studies.

Program Overview

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice is designed to serve the needs of several types of students:

  1. Persons with no prior criminal justice employment experience or with no undergraduate degree in the field of criminal justice who wish to prepare for careers in law enforcement, corrections, administration of justice, or an allied area.
  2. Persons who currently are employed full- or part-time in criminal justice careers at the local, county, state, or federal level.
  3. Persons with career experience in the criminal justice system who have secured leaves of absence and/or wish to acquire new competencies before returning to their careers.
  4. Persons who have an interest in increasing their general knowledge and understanding of criminal justice, criminal justice research methods and resources, and microcomputing as tools for professional advancement.
  5. Persons pursing related graduate degrees who wish to complement their primary area of specialization with selected graduate course work in criminal justice.
  6. Persons seeking scholarly preparation to teach or to do research themselves in criminal justice programs, perhaps moving directly from the master's degree to doctoral study.
  7. Persons without a related undergraduate degree in criminal justice who wish to prepare to teach, consult, or do research in the field of criminal justice.

The curriculum is course-centered and traditional. Central to the Master of Science in Criminal Justice are the research courses, core courses and seminar courses required for all students. The specialization courses provide a solid base of knowledge in a specific sub-system of criminal justice, and enhance each student's opportunity to develop unique competencies.

Criminal justice master's degrees may be completed with a thesis (Plan A), or a professional portfolio of projects and papers (Plan C). Each plan requires a preliminary conference and a final oral examination.

Students enrolled in 500-level courses for which they receive the same number of credits as those students enrolled in the 400-level counterparts should expect to complete extra advanced level work. Such work includes, but is not limited to, additional required textbooks or readings, extra papers, class presentations, additional examinations, or extra examination questions. 

Admission Information

  • Undergraduate GPA is closely reviewed. An emphasis is placed on scholarship within the undergraduate education core and the GPA in the major.
  • The GRE is not required for admission.
  • Admission decisions are made as completed application files are received. 

Length of Program — Measured by Semesters

  • Part-time student: six semesters taking six credits per semester.
  • Full-time student: three semesters taking 12 credits per semester.

Graduate Assistantship Overview

  • Four graduate assistantship positions are generally sponsored each year, and are available both fall and spring semesters.
  • Criminal justice graduate assistants will find challenging assistantships in a variety of settings including assisting professors in teaching and research duties.


Each student has the option of choosing one of three specializations. The courses within the criminal justice administration and criminal justice counseling tracks are specified. Within the elective track, direct student involvement in course selection is considered.

  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Criminal Justice Counseling (The counseling specialization courses are not offered online.)
  • Elective Track — developed by the student and the graduate advisor 

Online Eligibility

International students may be part of an online program while in their home country. International students on the F-1 or J-1 visas and in the U.S. are not eligible for online academic programs at St. Cloud State University due to the requirements set by the Department of Homeland Security.