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The department offers a Master of Arts degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, which provides students with advanced theoretical and methodological training for research and management careers in criminal justice.

Expected Learning Outcomes

Develop a comprehensive understanding of the theories, methods and substance of issues in criminology and criminal justice and demonstrate an ability to synthesize knowledge in these areas.

Develop a comprehensive understanding of interdisciplinary underpinnings (e.g., from sociology, psychology, political science, economics) of criminology and criminal justice issues and policies.

Develop critical thinking and communication skills through the application of criminological theory and social science research methods.

Develop a comprehensive understanding of the structure and functioning of the fundamental institutions (e.g., legislatures, police, punishment, supervisory) that are part of criminal justice systems.

Develop comprehensive understanding of the role of research and its application for informing policies about criminal justice issues.

Application Requirements Graduate Assistantships

The Master's program is designed to provide students with a command of criminological knowledge and analytical skills. The proficiency of students and their ability to work independently are assessed through course grades.

The MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice requires the completion of 30 credit hours, at least 21 of which are required to be in courses housed in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Twelve of these hours represent the core of the curriculum. Students may choose between a thesis and non-thesis course of study. Students whose cumulative GPAs fall below 3.0 after 9 or more hours of will be placed on probation and given one semester to raise their cumulative GPAs to at least the 3.0 threshold.

Required Coursework (18 hours)

5415, Foundations of Criminological Theory (3; core)
6405, Methods (3; core)
6410, Statistical Applications in Criminology & Criminal Justice (3; core)
Three additional Criminology and Criminal Justice courses at the 6000 level (9; non-core)

Electives (12 hours)

Twelve elective hours of coursework are required; some or all of these credits may be earned in Criminology and Criminal Justice 6000 level seminars not counted toward the 21 hour requirement. Students may take a maximum of two 4000-level courses in partial fulfillment of this requirement but they must have the prior approval of the Graduate Committee. All electives taken outside the College of Arts and Sciences also must receive prior approval of the Graduate Committee.

See the MA course worksheet

Course Descriptions

A student selecting the thesis option must complete the 12 hours of required coursework and 9 hours of seminar coursework. Six of the remaining 9 credit hours may be granted for thesis research. The six thesis research hours are normally taken in three hour increments over the two successive semesters, immediately preceding graduation, and after course requirements are completed. A student selecting the thesis option should outline the thesis option early in his/her studies in consultation withthe MA Graduate Program Director.

MA Thesis Expectations

Students who wish to pursue the MA without a thesis must complete 30 hours of coursework, including 12 hours of required coursework, 9 hours of seminar coursework, and 9 hours of elective coursework.


What is the application deadline?

For the MA program, we have a priority deadline of April 1st for enrollment the following Fall. We have rolling admissions after that deadline. Therefore, we review applications and make admission decisions throughout the year. Due to sequencing of courses, however, we encourage students to start the MA program in the Fall semester.

What are the GPA requirements for the Master’s Program?

A 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework is a minimum requirement. However, the GPA is only one of several components of the application that we evaluate when making admissions decisions. 

Is the GRE required for admission to the MA program?

The GRE is not required for admission to the MA program in CCJ.

Are both letters of recommendation meant to come from academic sources, or can one be a professional source? 

The letters of recommendation can come from academic or non-academic sources.  The letters of recommendation are intended to convey a student's potential for success in the MA program. Because coursework is a large part of the program, the letters tend to come from academic sources. However, independent thought, work ethic, and motivation for the degree, for example, are also important indicators for success. Supervisors or other professionals may be able to speak to an applicant's potential for success in the program in these ways.

Is it possible to submit unofficial transcripts for application purposes?

You can submit unofficial transcripts for the application process, but if admitted you would need to provide official transcripts within one semester.

Can you waive the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) requirement?

There are several situations where international admissions will waive the requirement of the TOEFL. For a complete list, please see the International Admissions website.

What if I am an International Student?

Questions on international admissions go through UMSL Global. You may email them at intadmission@umsl.edu

Can you waive the application fee?

Unfortunately, we are not in a position to grant application fee waivers.


How many applicants typically apply and how many are admitted?

We typically receive 45 to 60 applications to the MA program each year and admit approximately 50% of the applicants, although this varies based on the applicant pool.

Does the department send out a decision via mail or will it be an email?

For the MA program, we email those whom we are admitting to the program and the graduate school sends a letter to those who are not admitted to the program. We typically make decisions within a month of the April 1st deadline or, during rolling admissions, within a month after receiving the application throughout the year.


When are classes offered?

Our MA program offers all required classes, as well as the majority of electives, from 5:30-8:10 pm with one course per night (M-Th).  We occasionally offer some electives during the day and students can take up to two upper level undergraduate courses, some of which are offered during the day and some online. Course offerings vary by semester.

Can I complete the MA program online?

At this time, we only offer our required classes in a traditional in-person format. Students can take up to two upper level undergraduate courses, some of which are offered online. Course offerings vary by semester.

I have a full time job, is the MA program something I could successfully complete while working full time? 

Yes, most of our MA students work full time. Full time students can take up to 3 courses per semester and part-time students take 1 or 2 courses per semester. Both part time and full time students have 6 years to complete the degree.


Do you offer assistantship positions to MA students in this department?

We traditionally do not offer funded positions to MA students at the time of application. We do occasionally have funding opportunities that become available during the semester and several students have taken jobs on campus and/or have participated in work-study programs.


What careers would one pursue with a master's degree in criminal justice? Do you help with job placement after graduation?

UMSL has an excellent career services program that offers many services for students on the job market. In addition, many CCJ faculty members are involved in the St. Louis community and have connections to job opportunities. We also offer an internship course where students can gain experience in a criminal justice agency (e.g., police departments, family court, prosecutor or public defenders, probation and parole, victim advocacy agencies, etc.).  These experiences have proven beneficial to students in giving them experience with potential positions in the criminal justice field.

For additional information, please email ccjgraduate@umsl.edu, or Dr. Lee Slocum, Director of Graduate Studies at slocuml@umsl.edu