May 27, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog Archived Catalog

Criminal Justice, M.S.C.J.

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Dr. Tammy Garland, Acting Head, Program Coordinator
(423) 425-5245 or email at


The Department is committed to excellence in teaching, research, and service. The general purpose of the Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice is to prepare graduates for leadership, education, and research roles in the field of criminal justice. We are committed to coursework that is grounded in theory, research, and community engagement. We are committed to preparing students to become ethically informed, culturally sensitive, engaged scholars and practitioners. This goal is achieved by an inclusive curriculum that includes common core areas of study, while allowing for flexibility in electives which allows students to tailor their degree in ways that are most reflective of their career and academic goals. Graduates from this program will emerge with a thorough knowledge of the major substantive areas of the criminal justice system with refined analytic, critical, evaluative and empirical skills. The degree prepares graduates for leadership in management positions in criminal justice and social service agencies, or entry into doctoral study. The program facilitates collaboration with faculty in terms of research, involvement in community service projects, and teaching.

Learning Objectives:
  • Analyze the major historical and contemporary issues facing the criminal justice system in order to evaluate the nature, extent, causation, and prevention of crime.
  • Apply and critique the major theories relevant to crime and identify how they affect policy decisions.
  • Explain the inter-dependent operations of the major components of the criminal justice system (i.e., police, courts, correctional agencies) and the political, legal, ethical, and socioeconomic environments in which they operate, as well as the implications of these relationships for victims, offenders, justice professionals, and society.
  • Illustrate how gender, race, ethnicity, age, social class, and sexual orientation function at both the macro and micro level in the criminal justice system.
  • Apply the skills and methods in criminal justice research, including how to acquire, analyze, interpret, and disseminate both quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, and demonstrate basic knowledge of information technology as applied to criminal justice research and practice.

The M.S. program consists of 36 semester hours—12 semester hours of generic core, a minimum of 18 semester hours of electives, and 6 hours of thesis (or 6 additional hours of approved electives and a comprehensive essay exam). Students electing to take the thesis option are exempt from the comprehensive exam.


Students from any undergraduate major are welcome to apply. In addition to meeting requirements for admission to the Graduate Division, an applicant must submit an official score report for the MAT or GRE. Applicants also must submit a supplemental data form, a brief essay to demonstrate writing proficiency, and two letters of recommendation. The graduate program is designed for those students who have a serious interest in criminal justice. Upper level foundation courses may be required for students who lack adequate preparation in criminal justice.

Program of Study

Students must submit a Program of Study during the first semester of graduate coursework. The Program of Study consist of all core courses and any electives and establishes the courses the student must take for partial fulfillment of the degree requirements. The Program of Study form must include all core courses and electives, if known at the time, the student will take. The Program of Study form is located at

Admission to Candidacy

The application for admission to candidacy is typically filed in the semester prior to a student’s anticipated graduation semester and should list all courses not listed on the Program of Study and any changes in coursework. Please refer to Application for Admission to Candidacy section. The appropriate form may be obtained from the Graduate School Web site at

Continuation Standard

As required by the University, students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to successfully complete the graduate program. However, receiving a third final grade of “C” or below on any graduate credit course will be cause for immediate program dismissal.

Comprehensive Examination

To be eligible to take the comprehensive examination, students must meet three conditions:

  1. Have the appropriate grade point average of 3.0.
  2. Have completed all required course work or are completing all required course work during the semester in which the exam will be taken.
  3. Have a candidacy form on file with The Graduate School.

Comprehensive examinations will be given each fall and spring semester; summer comprehensive examinations may be given at the discretion of the program coordinator. Students who do not successfully pass the comprehensive examination will be allowed to retake the exam the following semester upon approval of the graduate coordinator. Students must petition to be allowed to retake the examination on a second attempt.


For thesis requirements see “Thesis” section under “Academic Policies for Graduate Students.”

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