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Department of Criminal Justice

Humphreys Building 300
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4950


Criminal Justice Graduate Program



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University of Central Missouri’s Online Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Program Ranked Top 15 in the U.S. for 2016


University of Central Missouri was recently recognized by Affordable Colleges Online, a leading

education and industry resource for online education information, for having one of the best online criminal justice

programs in the nation.

There are over one million careers in the United States that revolve around keeping peace and order in society.

Those who pursue a career in criminal justice help shape our country.



Master of Science Degree

Dr. Melissa Petkovsek, Graduate Program Coordinator

Department of Criminal Justice

Humphreys 301C-1

Warrensburg, MO 64093




It is the mission of the Department of Criminal Justice to ensure that all our graduates master a comprehensive curriculum in criminal justice which is dynamic, rigorous, and that prepares them to excel and become leaders in their profession and contribute to the betterment of society.


The graduate with a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice will use the knowledge and skill obtained in the program to:

  • Articulate knowledge of the major issues facing the criminal justice system in the nation and world.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the multidisciplinary CJ theories and their implications for policy.
  • Understand how to access research, conduct original research, and apply research findings to problems with crime or the criminal justice system.
  • Communicate in a knowledgeable and professional manner for a variety of academic and criminal justice settings.
  • Demonstrate an advanced writing capacity with the ability to use and reference literature properly.


This program is designed for those students who wish to enter and/or progress in the criminal justice fields of law enforcement, corrections, and juvenile justice, or who plan to seek positions in criminal justice leadership.

The program consists of 36 total required hours and the student may choose either a thesis or non-thesis track. There are seven* core classes as shown below:

  1. CJ5000 Criminal Justice Philosophy and Policy
  2. CJ5003 Causes of Crime
  3. CJ5102 Administration in Criminal Justice
  4. CJ5610 Statistics for Criminal Justice
  5. CJ5006 Comparative and International Criminal Justice Systems
  6. CJ5301 Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice
  7. CJ5620 Research Methods

All students must complete the seven core classes (21 credit hours) in order to graduate. It is strongly recommended that students take CJ 5000 within the first 9 - 12 credit hours.

In addition, students wanting to do the thesis track must take CJ6600 Thesis class plus three elective classes (9 credit hours). Any CJ4000 level or above course will serve as an elective course, provided the course is not part of the undergraduate core curriculum. Students wishing to do the non-thesis track must also take CJ5600 Individual Research plus four elective courses (12 credit hours). (See the table below for this information in table form along with what semesters these courses are offered in the classroom and online.)

Consent to enroll in additional arranged courses must be obtained from the department graduate coordinator. These include CJ5600 or CJ5602.

* CJ 5625 is no longer a required course for those students entering the M.S. program under the 2013-2014 Graduate Catalog and beyond. For those students under earlier catalogs, CJ 5625 is a required course. The course continues to be offered on a regular schedule in order to accommodate those students for whom CJ 5625 is a required course. It will count as elective credit for those students under the 2013-2014 or future Graduate Catalogs.


To be considered for admission into the program of studies for the Criminal Justice M.S. degree, the applicant must have earned an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a related field prior to enrollment at UCM in the coursework for the program, submitted a complete graduate program application, and earned a minimum grade point average of 3.00 on all undergraduate course work and 3.0 on all graduate course work. A student without a criminal justice degree may be required to complete up to 15 hours of background courses in criminal justice prior to taking graduate level courses. The requirement to take background courses may be waived by the Criminal Justice Graduate Coordinator based on previous courses taken.

Students with a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.75 to below 3.00 may be considered for admission by the Criminal Justice Graduate Committee upon taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and submitting a minimal combined score on the General Test (Quantitative & Verbal Reasoning) of 300 points, and a minimal score of 4.0 on the Analytic Writing Test. Additionally, applicants should send the Graduate Coordinator a cover letter explaining any circumstances contributing to their low grade point average, as well as a writing sample, responding to one of the provided prompts (please see form below). Any application deviating from these admission criteria will be considered at the discretion of the Criminal Justice Graduate Committee.

Instructions for writing sample form


Instructions for writing sample form



To be considered for admission into the Criminal Justice M.S. degree program and to ensure available capacity, early submission of application materials is recommended. Students desiring to begin graduate work in the summer or fall semester should submit all application materials to the Graduate School by March 1. Students desiring to begin graduate work in the summer or fall semester should submit all application materials to the Graduate School by March 1. Students desiring to begin graduate work in the spring semester should submit all application materials to the Graduate School by October 1.  Priority consideration will be given to students who meet these deadlines. Beyond the priority consideration dates the Criminal Justice Graduate Committee will meet monthly to review completed applications. All applicants will be notified of their admission status via an official letter. Admission decisions will be based upon the merit of the application and the available space in the program for the student.


Graduate students in the M.S. in Criminal Justice program are expected to familiarize themselves with the policies of the Graduate School and abide by them. Please note, for those students that have earned a bachelor’s degree from UCM, there are some differences between graduate and undergraduate policies. For clarification of any graduate policy, please contact the Department of Criminal Justice graduate coordinator. Students can find the graduate school policies in the UCM Graduate Catalog.

Check out what our students have to say about our Master in Criminal Justice Program with this video!



Prior to completion of the program, a student must select either the thesis or non-thesis option. It is highly recommended that this selection take place in the first semester of graduate work by completing the Program of Study form. The following documents will assist you in knowing what is required for the thesis and non-thesis tracks. If you have any questions after reading this material, don't hesitate to contact your Graduate Advisor or the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Thesis Track Information


The thesis option requires the student to complete six hours of thesis (CJ6600) as part of the 36-hour degree program. You should determine whether or not you will complete a thesis within the first semester of the program. Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator with any questions.


Non-Thesis Track Information


Students in the non-thesis option must take three hours of (CJ5600) Individual Research as part of their program of study, and successfully complete a Final Comprehensive Analysis Project (FCAP).


CJ 5600: Individual Research Sample Syllabus



The following forms used to update your contact information, submit your Program of Study, and to formally apply for your thesis project, if you are on the thesis track. Please be aware of each of these forms and use them when they apply to you at the appropriate times as explained.

Update Personal Information Form

Use this form to update/change your personal information. It is critical that we have your current address, telephone number, and e-mail information. Please be sure to update if any of these pieces of information change. Otherwise, you may miss out on important information that is provided periodically. Click the link below to access this online form.

Update Personal Information Form

Program of Study Form

Use this form to file your Program of Study. If you have any questions about which track to take or have other questions before submitting your Program of Study, feel free to discuss with your Faculty Advisor or Graduate Program Coordinator. Click the link below to access the Program of Study Form.

Program of Study Form

Thesis Manuals and Forms

Use the following forms to apply for your thesis committee and declare your prospectus and final defenses. Please be advised that a thesis typically takes two semesters to complete.


Graduate School Thesis Manual and Formatting Guide
CJ Department Thesis Manual

Thesis Committee Form

Application for External Thesis Committee Member

Thesis Defense Declaration Form

Publication Agreement Form

Transmittal Form






Criminal Justice Graduate Program and Courses

Criminal Justice Master of Science Requirements

Course Number

Course Name

Credit Hours



CJ 5006 Comparative and International Criminal Justice Systems
Spring Fall
CJ 5102 Administration in Criminal Justice
Fall Spring
CJ 5301 Legal Aspects of the Criminal Justice System
Spring Fall
CJ 5610 Statistics for Criminal Justice
Fall Spring
CJ 5620 Methods of Criminal Justice Research
Spring Fall

Choose one of the following tracks:

CJ 5600* Individual Research
N/A Fall & Spring
CJ 6600** Thesis
All semesters
*Requires 9 credit hours of approved electives if thesis option is chosen.
**Requires 12 credit hours of approved electives if non-thesis option is chosen.

***Only required for students under catalogs prior to 2013-2014.

A total of 36 hours is required for the program for both the thesis and non-thesis tracks.


Expected Offerings

Course Number

Course Title

Fall 2017

Spring 2018

CJ 5000 Criminal Justice Philosophy and Policy F2F  
CJ 5003 Causes of Crime F2F  
CJ 5006 Comparative & International CJ Systems ONL  
CJ 5102 Administration in CJ   ONL
CJ 5301 Legal Aspects of CJ System   F2F
CJ 5610 Statistics for CJ   ONL
CJ 5620 Methods of CJ Research ONL F2F
CJ 5600 Individual Research ONL ONL
CJ 6600 Thesis (as requested) ONL ONL


CJ 5000 Criminal Justice Philosophy and Policy

Historical development and present structure and function of the American criminal justice system.

CJ 5003 Causes of Crime

The dynamics of interpersonal, group, and societal relationships as they impinge on the criminal justice mission.

CJ 5006 Comparative and International Criminal Justice Systems

Criminal justice systems worldwide and means of establishing cooperation toward mutual goals despite structural, historical and ideological differences.

CJ 5102 Administration in Criminal Justice

An intensive, in-depth analysis of criminal justice agencies (law enforcement, corrections, and court administration), organizational structures, and management techniques.

CJ 5301 Legal Aspects of the Criminal Justice System

Current legal issues affecting the various areas of criminal justice.

CJ 5600 Individual Research

Individual study and research of pertinent criminal justice administration issues. Completion of this course fulfills the non-thesis option in the program. Prerequisites: Instructor consent (contact Graduate Program Coordinator for assistance in obtaining consent for course). Must have completed core classes: CJ5000, CJ5003, CJ 5006, CJ5102, CJ5301, CJ5610, and CJ5620. The only exception that may be made for this is if a student is concurrently taking one of these required courses and wishes to take CJ5600 at the same time in the same semester. Then, consent may be given.

CJ 5610 Statistics for Criminal Justice

Graduate introduction to statistical techniques in criminal justice. The course provides an understanding of the relationship between statistical analysis and research methodology. It is basic a basic graduate course in statistics and presumes minimal mathematical or statistical background. Stress is placed on the assumptions, restrictions and uses of various statistical techniques rather than on mathematical derivation of formulas or detailed examination of theoretical systems.

CJ 5620 Methods in Criminal Justice Research

A comprehensive examination of the basic concepts of research, causal order of variables, sampling techniques, research designs, techniques of data collection and analysis that will enable the student to critically evaluate crime and delinquency research as well as design and implement his/her own research.

CJ 5625 Crime Analysis

The patterns of crime, the analysis of such patterns and applications of crime analysis. Focus is on temporal and spatial distributions of crime, crime analysis charting and visual investigative analysis. Prerequisite: Admission to  the M. S. in Criminal Justice program.

CJ 6600 Thesis

Special investigation into a specific areas of criminal justice administration. It is recommended that the student should have completed the major courses in his/her program before enrolling in this course. Prerequisite: CJ5620.

Please see the current UCM Course Catalog for information on other Criminal Justice courses.