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Master's Degree in Criminal Justice Administration: Description & Courses

Students interested in working in the criminal justice system may pursue a master's degree in criminal justice administration. Learn about the graduation and admission requirements for this degree, as well as some available concentrations.

Master's degree programs in criminal justice and administration are usually offered as Master of Science (MS) degrees and may require around 31 to 36 credits. These programs are often available online and may offer additional areas of concentration, like law enforcement, family services, homeland security, corrections or investigations. Learn more about these degree programs and their coursework below.

Information for Master's Degree Programs in Criminal Justice Administration

Coursework for MS in Criminal Justice Administration programs usually consist of core coursework, electives for students to pursue their concentration or areas of interest and may conclude with a capstone course or professional paper. Here, we discuss some of the common course topics for these programs in more detail.

Theory of Crime

Students in these programs usually take a course that explores the historical theories of crime and criminal behavior. Most of these courses place an emphasis on sociological and psychological factors of criminal behavior, but other courses may even explore biological, environmental and economic perspectives. These courses may also discuss how crime affects society, theories for prevention and research of current issues in the field.

Research Methods

Most of these programs include at least one course that discusses research methods specific to criminal justice. These courses typically cover quantitative and qualitative methods, research design theories, research analysis and methodologies. Specific topics in these courses may include sampling, surveys, quasi-experimental design, reliability and errors in reasoning.

Ethics

Students usually take a course that addresses the various ethical issues and challenges a criminal justice professional may face. Students explore these dilemmas in detail and discuss how to handle the results of different issues. These courses may look specifically at issues of gender or race discrimination, use of force, corruption, evidence collection and ethical codes.

Applied Statistics

In addition to a course in research methods, some programs may include a course in statistics that examines its direct applications in criminal justice. Students study these applications and learn how to interpret and present various statistics. Courses may even discuss how to use these results to affect agency planning and typically include the use of computer systems for statistical analysis.

Legal Issues/Aspects

Students may take a course that focuses on the laws and principles that criminal justice agencies must adhere to, as well as legal issues for criminal justice management. These courses explore current policies and issues in the field, in addition to judicial decisions. Some of these courses may specifically discuss the legal process of hiring, placing and firing employees in the criminal justice system.

Common Entrance Requirements

It is fairly common for master's degree programs in criminal justice administration to require students to have a bachelor's degree and a minimum GPA around a 3.0. Although not as common, some programs may require students to meet specific GRE test scores as well. Applicants are likely to be required to include their official transcripts, letters of reference and personal essay or answers to various application questions with their application documents. Some programs may also have students complete an interview process with the program's director.

Students can earn an MS in Criminal Justice Administration online to pursue a variety of careers within the criminal justice system. These degree programs may require a culminating experience and cover a wide range of criminal justice topics through coursework.


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