Program Requirements

Criminal Justice, Master of Arts

Program Director: Professor Valerie West

The John Jay Criminal Justice Master of Arts Program has a large, diverse, and celebrated faculty who provide students with an advanced understanding of research and practice in the US criminal justice system and related issues. Core classes provide a mastery of the major works and theories of criminology, policing, corrections, judicial studies, quantitative research methods and policy analysis. 

Students are able to select from numerous electives to build a specialization in Criminology and Deviance, Criminal Law and Procedure, Police or Corrections Administration, and Terrorism Studies. Among the many available electives are courses such as Crime Mapping, Cybercrime, Crime Scene Investigation, Social Aspects of Alcohol and Drug Use, Homeland Security and Terrorism, and Criminal Law. Students are also able to select electives to earn Advanced Certificates in Terrorism Studies, Crime Prevention and Analysis, Criminal Investigation, and Race and Criminal Justice. Additionally, the program allows interested students to participate in faculty research or undertake internships with criminal justice employers for credit.

The program is designed for:

  • Those who wish to obtain a credential for entry into criminal justice professions.
  • Those already employed in the criminal justice system, who wish to learn about job-related research and further their criminal justice careers.
  • Those interested in an academic career in higher education, who wish to obtain a master’s degree before entering a doctoral program.

This program may also be completed fully online.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice requires 36 credits consisting of five required core courses, three courses in a specialization, and four elective courses. Students must also pass a qualifying examination. Students meeting certain conditions may complete the degree in 30 credits plus a thesis.

Core Requirements
CRJ 710 Issues in Criminal Justice I 3
CRJ 711 Issues in Criminal Justice II: Policing and Corrections 3
CRJ 715 Research Design and Methods 3
CRJ 716 Statistical Software in Criminal Justice 3
Qualifying Exam
CRJ 730 Policy Analysis in Criminal Justice 3
Total Credit Hours: 15

Qualifying Exam Prerequisites:

The Qualifying Exam must be taken after CRJ 715 and CRJ 716, before taking CRJ 730, and before completing 24 credits of coursework.

A student must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher to be eligible to take the Qualifying Exam.

All students are required to register for the Qualifying Exam.

A student who is not registered for the Qualifying Exam prior to the exam date will not be allowed to take the exam.

A student must pass the Qualifying Exam before entering the final required core class, CRJ 730.

A student is allowed a second attempt at passing the Qualifying Exam. Any student who fails the Qualifying Exam twice may be dismissed from the program. However, in unusual circumstances and at the discretion of the program director, a student may be permitted to take the examination a third time, provided that a plan of study has been approved by the CRJ program director. Students taking the Qualifying Exam in a semester in which they are not registered for classes must register for Maintenance of Matriculation (MAM) in order to sit for the exam.


Students must take three classes (9 credits) in one of five specialization areas listed. The specialization lists provided are not intended to be exhaustive. The program director has discretion to substitute other courses, including courses in the 800-level series, to satisfy the specialization requirement. Students should consult with the program director before taking a course for specialization credit when that course is not on the specialization list. Dual specializations are permissible if the student has fulfilled the requirements of both specializations, but the same electives may not be used for two specializations.

Total Credit Hours: 9

Thesis Option

Students who complete CRJ 715 and CRJ 716 with an A- average or better may choose to write a thesis instead of taking four elective courses. Students choosing the thesis option must first take CRJ 717 Reading in Research and receive an A- or better. Students must obtain permission from the program director to pursue the thesis option after completing CRJ 717. If permission is granted, they must take CRJ 791 Thesis Prospectus as an Independent Study with their thesis advisor who must be a member of the graduate faculty. Finally, students must submit a thesis approved by their advisor and a second reader within no more than one year after completing CRJ 791. Students choosing the thesis option will complete a total of 30 credits for the master’s degree, six fewer credits than those students who do not write a thesis. However, writing a thesis is a substantial undertaking usually requiring more work than that required by two additional courses.

Total Credit Hours: 6

CRJ Specializations Degree Requirements

Criminology and Deviance
CRJ 701 Sociology of Crime 3
CRJ 712 Sex Crimes 3
CRJ 713 White-Collar Crime 3
CRJ 714 Social Aspects of Alcohol and Drug Use 3
CRJ 727 /FCM 727 Cybercriminology 3
CRJ 729 Drugs, Crime and the Criminal Justice System 3
CRJ 738 Perspectives on Race and Crime in America 3
CRJ 739 Crime Mapping 3
CRJ 761 Youth Crime and Delinquency Control 3
CRJ 765 Social Movements, Revolution, and Terrorism 3
CRJ 766 Sociology of Delinquency 3
CRJ 767 Gangs in American Society 3
CRJ 769 Deviant Behavior 3
CRJ 770 Advanced Criminology 3
CRJ 771 Special Topics in Criminal Justice 3
CRJ 778 Victimology 3
CRJ 779 The Female Offender in Western Society 3
CRJ 783 Crime and the Media 3
CRJ 784 Organized Crime 3
CRJ 796 The History of Crime 3
Criminal Law and Procedure
CRJ 708 Law, Evidence and Ethics 3
CRJ 725 Capital Punishment 3
CRJ 789 Violence Across the Globe 3
CRJ 733 The Constitution and Criminal Justice 3
CRJ 734 Criminal Law 3
CRJ 735 Prosecuting Crime 3
CRJ 736 Seminar in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 3
CRJ 752 /FCM 752 The Law and High Technology Crime 3
CRJ 768 Law and Society 3
CRJ 785 The American Jury 3
PAD 741 Administrative Law and Regulation 3
PAD 760 Court Administration 3
Police Administration
CRJ 738 Perspectives on Race and Crime in America 3
CRJ 739 Crime Mapping 3
CRJ 742 Police Ethics 3
CRJ 745 Legal Aspects of Undercover Activity 3
CRJ 751 Crime Scene Investigation 3
CRJ 754/PAD 754 Investigative Techniques 3
CRJ 756 Critical Issues in Policing 3
CRJ 757 Police and the Community 3
CRJ 759 Comparative Police Administration 3
CRJ 760 History of Police Administration 3
CRJ 761 Youth Crime and Delinquency Control 3
CRJ 762 Investigation of Violent Crime 3
CRJ 771 Special Topics in Criminal Justice 3
CRJ 783 Crime and the Media 3
CRJ 786 Problem-Oriented Policing 3
CRJ 787 Seminar in Crime Analysis and Crime Prevention 3
Correction Administration
CRJ 703 Critical Issues in Punishment 3
CRJ 704 Probation and Parole: Theory and Practice 3
CRJ 728 Critical Issues in Corrections 3
CRJ 729 Drugs, Crime and the Criminal Justice System 3
CRJ 737 Race, Punishment & Prisons in US 3
CRJ 738 Perspectives on Race and Crime in America 3
CRJ 739 Crime Mapping 3
CRJ 749 Ethics of Punishment 3
CRJ 758 Public Health Challenges in Criminal Justice: An Epidemiological Approach 3
Terrorism Studies
CRJ 744 Terrorism and Politics 3
CRJ 746 Terrorism and Apocalyptic Violence 3
CRJ 748 Counter Terrorism Policy for Law Enforcement 3
CRJ 765 Social Movements, Revolution, and Terrorism 3
CRJ 772 Seminar in Terrorism Studies 1.5
CRJ 776 Intensive Seminar in Terrorism Studies 3
CRJ 784 Organized Crime 3
CRJ 797 Homeland Security and International Relations 3
CRJ 798 Homeland Security and Terrorism 3
PSY 729 Terrorism 3