Criminal Justice (MS)

Master of Science in Criminal Justice (JA MS)
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences (GA)
Department: Criminal Justice
Program Webpage: louisville.edu/justice

Program Information

This program can be completed in a traditional classroom format or entirely online.

The goals of the Department of Criminal Justice are for students to achieve a sound liberal arts education and a specialized understanding of the criminal justice system, criminal behavior, legal processes and the relationship of these phenomena to society.

Graduate studies in the Department of Criminal Justice provide students with advanced social and behavioral science skills as well as a detailed and thorough understanding of crime, criminal justice and related processes. Graduates of this program are prepared to continue advanced studies in criminal justice or other social sciences and to assume mid and upper-level leadership positions within criminal justice programs and agencies.

The interdisciplinary nature of the program maintains the dynamic posture that allowed this crime-related discipline to emerge and to mature quickly and successfully. Graduate students are given latitude in choosing elective courses in the Master of Science in Criminal Justice. Elective courses related to the student's program of study are selected from the resources of the entire University. Courses in social work, public administration, law, business, and the various departments of the College of Arts and Sciences are possible electives that the student and his or her advisor may consider. With proper selection, the electives can complement the core criminal justice courses and produce a balanced, interdisciplinary program which is tailored to meet specific professional and career goals.

The combination of the degree programs and the Southern Police Institute makes the program in Criminal Justice a unique blend of theory and practice. The Southern Police Institute is one of the oldest, most respected police management and administration educational programs in the United States.

Our programs are offered in two formats:

  • evening courses on campus, and
  • on-line via the internet

General Requirements

The general requirements for the Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice are the completion of at least 36 graduate credit hours. The completion of these credit hours may include either thesis or non-thesis option. The thesis option requires the completion of 30 semester hours of graduate level courses and a thesis for a total of 36 credit hours. The non-thesis professional paper option requires the completion of 33 semester hours of graduate courses plus a professional paper for a total of 36 credit hours. A cumulative 3.0 grade point average must be maintained for all graduate coursework, grades of "D" must be repeated. Students are advised to complete the Criminal Justice core courses prior to electives. Core or specific courses required for graduation total 15 credit hours with the remaining courses being electives. The composition of the list of elective courses will vary from student to student depending on the student's undergraduate major, aspirations and background. Electives outside of our department must have approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

The degree is offered in two formats, our traditional on-campus classes and also online. Students interested in either format should see the department website for more information at: louisville.edu/justice/degree-programs

Students may choose either format or a combination of both methods of delivery.


Accelerated BS-MS in Criminal Justice

The Accelerated BS-MS degree program in Criminal Justice is designed to allow an undergraduate student to earn graduate hours in Criminal Justice during Senior year.  Students will be allowed to earn up to 9 hours that can be applied to both their undergraduate degree (BS) and their graduate degree (MS) in Criminal Justice.

These students could enroll in a combination of the following core courses from the MS program in Criminal Justice:

  • CJ 621 The Criminal Justice System
  • CJ 643 Theories of Crime and Delinquency
  • CJ 649 Applied Statistics in Criminal Justice 
  • CJ 650 Research Methods

Students in the Accelerated BS-MS program in Criminal Justice may only apply their graduate credits earned as an undergraduate at UofL toward the degree program.

Students must apply during the first or second semester of the Junior year (usually when they have earned between 70-80 hours). Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA at the time of application.

Admission Requirements

Anyone seeking admission to the Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program must submit an application to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies that includes the following:

  • Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work completed. The minimum requirement for admission is the Baccalaureate degree or its equivalent.
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to the applicant's academic or professional capabilities.
  • Scores on the General Test Section of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • An original essay identifying the applicant's background, professional interests and goals. The essay should be 300-500 words and should allow the faculty to better understand the applicant's motivation and the potential for graduate work.
  • Completed application to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, Graduate Admissions, the University of Louisville at louisville.edu/graduate/apply/.
  • Those applicants whose native language is not English and who do not hold a degree from a university where the language of instruction is English must also submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), with a minimum score of 80 on the Internet-based test (iBT) or 213 paper based test (PBT) or 550 (old test).

The Department of Criminal Justice is committed to providing an opportunity to a diverse range of students. The Department of Criminal Justice has adopted the Council of Graduate Schools recommendation for a holistic approach to our admission criteria.  Successful applicants will typically have strong scores on the standardized tests, a strong undergraduate record, and excellent letters of recommendation that speak to the nominee's scholarly ability and potential to succeed in a doctoral program.  However, candidates may have other documented strengths that speak to the potential for success as evidenced by: prior research experience; exceptional community engagement or service; leadership experience; evidence of creativity or resilience; unique experiences or background that will contribute to our program.

The holistic review of applications allows our faculty to select the best students who fit the research areas offered within the department. Application information that highly influences the decision to offer admission includes the previous institution attended, research interests, grade point average, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, personal statements and resumes, and the experience, background or qualities that make the applicant eligible for admission.

Degree Requirements

A cumulative 3.0 grade point average must be maintained for all graduate coursework, grades of "D" must be repeated.

Students are advised to complete the Criminal Justice core courses prior to electives. Core or specific courses required for graduation total 15 credit hours with the remaining courses being electives or research.

Thesis Option

CJ 621The Criminal Justice System3
CJ 625Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice Management3
CJ 643Theories of Crime and Delinquency3
CJ 649Applied Statistics in Criminal Justice3
CJ 650Research Methods3
Criminal Justice Electives - see list below15
CJ 699Thesis6
Minimum Total Hours36

Professional Paper Option

CJ 621The Criminal Justice System3
CJ 625Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice Management3
CJ 643Theories of Crime and Delinquency3
CJ 649Applied Statistics in Criminal Justice3
CJ 650Research Methods3
Criminal Justice Electives - see list below18
CJ 698Professional Paper3
Minimum Total Hours36

List of Approved Criminal Justice Electives - A minimum of 3 hours must be 600+ level

CJ 500Crime and Criminal Justice in the Cinema3
CJ 505International Terrorism3
CJ 507Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design3
CJ 509Crime Analysis3
CJ 516Juvenile Justice Issues3
CJ 517Gangs in America3
CJ 519Domestic and Family Violence3
CJ 520Capital Punishment - WR3
CJ 521White Collar Crime - WR3
CJ 522Serial Murder3
CJ 523Race and Gender Issues in Criminal Justice - WR3
CJ 530Intro to Homeland Security3
CJ 531Covert Operations in Policing3
CJ 576Managing Organizational Performance3
CJ 578Criminal Justice Leadership - WR3
CJ 580International Service Learning: Criminal Justice Seminar3
CJ 596Seminar in Criminal Justice3
CJ 597Ethics in Criminal Justice - WR3
CJ 602Criminal Justice History3
CJ 605Police and Society3
CJ 606Personnel Management in the Criminal Justice System3
CJ 607Seminar in Law and Justice3
CJ 609Economic Analysis of Crime3
CJ 610Theoretical Foundation of Corrections3
CJ 611Critical Issues in Corrections3
CJ 612Criminal Justice Administration: Police3
CJ 613Advanced Comparative Criminal Justice3
CJ 614Seminar in Policing3
CJ 626Emergency Management3
CJ 627Computer and Cyber Crime3
CJ 630Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience3
CJ 644Seminar in Juvenile Justice3
CJ 652Constitutional Issues in Criminal Justice3
CJ 653Communities and Crime3
CJ 655International Perspectives on Violence3
CJ 656Crime Mapping3
CJ 665Special Topics in Justice and Criminology3
CJ 670Directed Studies/Readings3
CJ 690Practicum1-6