Master of Science in Criminal Justice

The Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice provides students with advanced theoretical, legal, and methodological training for research, teaching, and management careers in criminal justice. The program serves to educate criminal justice professionals and prepare students for further advanced graduate work, legal studies, and scholarship. Beginning Fall 2017, the Master of Science program in Criminal Justice will be offered online with four synchronous sessions. Unlike other programs, our program will not only be online, but it will offer students the opportunity to interact with faculty in an online setting – at least four times in each course. Overall, the program provides students with advanced theoretical, legal, and methodological training for research, teaching, and management careers in criminal justice.

Program Admission

Applications to the program are due by July 1 for the fall semester and by November 1 for the spring semester. However, students are strongly encouraged to apply early. Applications submitted after the due dates will be considered, but no later than three weeks from the start of classes for the fall semester and four weeks for the spring semester. Application for admission does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

To apply, all students must first complete and return the Graduate Application for Admission to the Graduate Admissions Office. Moreover, students are encouraged to review the Graduate Catalog for complete information on the graduate application process and university policies. To be considered for admission to the M.S. program, all applicants must provide a complete application file that contains the following items (all materials submitted to the Graduate Admissions Office):

  • a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university (preference will be given to applicants with undergraduate majors in criminal justice or closely related social science discipline);
  • an undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale for all previously completed undergraduate university work;
  • GRE scores (will be evaluated in combination with the undergraduate GPA);
  • a score of 550 or higher on the TOEFL (for international students only);
  • a C or better in an undergraduate research methods course or equivalent (documentation of course content may be required);
  • two letters of recommendation (college instructors strongly preferred); and
  • a personal statement (1-2 page essay regarding the student’s interest in criminal justice and how the M.S. in Criminal Justice degree will benefit him or her).

Students may be considered for provisional admission or conditional enrollment. All prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact the Criminal Justice Graduate Director before applying to the Master of Science in Criminal Justice program to discuss the application process and requirements.

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology is housed on the Huntington campus, and all classes take place in Smith Hall. However, all application material (including letters of reference) must be sent directly to the graduate admission’s office in South Charleston at the following address:

Marshall University
Graduate Records and Admissions
100 Angus E. Peyton Drive
South Charleston, WV 25303-1600

For questions regarding application status, please contact our admissions counselor, Erin Mishoe, at 304-746-2066 (toll free 800-642-9842).

International Students: Please contact the Center for International Programs, Marshall University, One John Marshall Drive, Huntington, West Virginia 25755-1054 U.S.A. Send email to or visit the CIP website. Marshall University is approved for attendance of non-immigrant students under the Federal Immigration and Naturalization Act.

Core Curriculum

The Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice requires the completion of 30 credits of coursework. In total, students take 15 credits of core courses, 12 credits of electives, plus students choose the non-thesis (3 credits) or thesis (3 credits) option. The curriculum is structured around a set of core requirements that provide a broad foundation in criminological theory, research and statistics, criminal law as well as aspects of criminal justice policy and practice.

Core Requirements
All students are required to complete 15 credits of core courses:

  • CJ 601: Seminar in Criminal Justice (3 cr.)
  • CJ 604: Advanced Theory in Criminal Justice (3 cr.)
  • CJ 621: Advanced Criminal Law and Procedure (3 cr.)
  • CJ 655: Research Methods in Criminal Justice (3 cr.)
  • CJ 656: Applied Statistics in Criminal Justice (3 cr.)
  • The research methods and statistics sequence must be completed by all students during the first academic year in the graduate program (within the first 12 graduate credit credits for part-time students). Exceptions are made for students who must take prerequisite courses before enrolling in this sequence.

Students can choose from a variety of electives. A total of 12 hours of electives are required. Courses outside of the discipline in related fields may be taken with approval from the Graduate Director.

Non-Thesis or Thesis Option
Students can choose either the non-thesis (3 cr.) or thesis option (3 cr.) as their culminating experience. Students will enroll in one of these options after they have completed the majority of their coursework.

Non-Thesis Option

For students who work in the field or anticipate a career in the criminal justice system. The requirements are:

  • Complete the core courses and register for CJ 699: Capstone Experience (3 credits).
  • Design and execute an applied research project related to a current issue or problem faced by a criminal justice organization.
  • Demonstrate written abilities and oral presentation skills, which is part of the student’s comprehensive assessment.
  • Pass the capstone project with a B or higher.

Thesis Option

For students planning to continue graduate studies in a doctoral program. The requirements are:

  • Complete the core courses and register for CJ 679: Problem Report (3 credits), which can count as an elective.
  • Form a thesis committee and determine the graduate faculty member of the department who will serve as chair of the committee. The thesis committee assists in selecting and developing the research problem and evaluates the student’s work.
  • Create the prospectus and have it approved by the thesis committee prior to enrolling for CJ 681: Thesis.
  • Enroll in CJ 681: Thesis, for a minimum of 3 credits.
  • Pass an oral defense of the thesis.

Two C Rule

A student who earns more than two grades of C or lower in any graduate courses will be withdrawn from the program.

Plan of Study

Before registration for the 12th graduate credit hour, all graduate students must complete an official Plan of Study form to be approved by the Graduate Director and/or Department Chair and submitted to the Graduate College Office.

Choosing Classes

All curriculum choices should be made in consultation with the Graduate Director. Students should keep in mind that they cannot retake undergraduate/graduate classes they took as an undergraduate student at Marshall University (if applicable).

Program Graduate Director

All new graduate students must meet with the Graduate Director before their first semester as a graduate student. The Graduate Director is Dr. Kimberly DeTardo-Bora (304-696-3084 — Once admitted to the program, students should contact her immediately to set up an initial appointment.

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