Master of Criminal Justice (MSCJ): Law Degree Overview

Oct 21, 2019

A master's degree program in criminal justice may be available in either a Master of Science or Master of Arts format. Students may require courtroom training and internships in order to complete their degree.

Essential Information

When the Juris Doctor (JD) degree is completed alongside a Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ), students can gain a background in both legal practices and law enforcement. In some cases, students can complete both degree programs at an accelerated pace. In addition to didactic courses, students may participate in hands-on courtroom training, internships, or other practical experiences. This degree may require courtroom training and internships.

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

A JD/MSCJ program is commonly composed of criminal justice courses and law school courses. Curriculum is mainly centered on law, the legal system, legal processes, and legal research. Students may study topics that include:

  • Contract, criminal, civil, constitutional, and juvenile law
  • Criminal procedure
  • Evidence handling
  • Correction methods
  • Drug policies
  • Victim advocacy

Popular Career Options

Upon completing a JD/MSCJ degree program, graduates may enter into a number of legal careers either with government agencies, local law enforcement agencies, community programs, private legal practices, law firms, or other for-profit and non-profit organizations. Graduates may work as lawyers or they may choose to assume leadership roles working in areas like:

  • Victim advocacy
  • Corrections
  • Investigation
  • Policy making
  • Court services

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Lawyers earned an average annual salary of $144,230 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top wages at that time were earned by those working in industrial machinery manufacturing, other information services, other pipeline transportation, semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing, and securities and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage. The BLS predicted 6% employment growth for lawyers, from 2018-2028, which was about as fast as the average for all occupations at that time.

Certification Information

Graduates who wish to work as lawyers must pass their state's bar exam to become licensed. Passing a bar examination is necessary in all U.S. states in order to practice law. States may have their own exam or use the Multistate Bar Examination.

Beyond the master's degree level, students have the option to complete doctoral programs in criminal justice. This could appeal to individuals who are interested in research opportunities in areas like criminology or criminal justice policy, or who want to enter academic positions. A dissertation based on original research in the field of criminal justice is typically necessary.

Students who earn a Master of Criminal Justice (MSCJ) gain experience in legal practices and law enforcement through courses such as drug policies, victim advocacy and criminal procedure. Students who graduate and are interested in becoming lawyers must pass their state's bar exam in order to be licensed.

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