University General Course Catalog 2015-2016 
    Jun 02, 2020  

Criminal Justice, M.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs in the College of Liberal Arts

I. Contact Information

Monica Miller, Director Graduate Studies
Office Phone: (775) 784-6021

II. Brief Introduction

The Master of Arts degree program in Criminal Justice will provide students with skills necessary to examine and analyze the major areas of the field, focusing on the nature of crime, law and social control, and as well as the process of planning change in a complex system, and planning change in a system as complex as the criminal justice system. The program emphasizes the understanding of the ways in which theory, research, and social policy interact, and the utilization of critical thinking skills to better understand this information. Students will thus be expected to acquire knowledge of the theories and research methods necessary for analysis of issues relevant to the field. Within this general framework, students will have an opportunity to pursue special interests in criminal justice which are consistent with the philosophy of the program. Applicants to the M.A. program must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year college or university, with a major or minor in criminal justice or a closely related discipline (acceptable fields outside criminal justice to be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Graduate Admissions Committee of the Department of Criminal Justice; additional coursework in Criminological Theory may be required of students from outside the field of criminal justice.)

III. Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

Program Objectives:

  1. To educate students about their responsibilities as scholars and practitioners of criminal justice, and as citizens in a pluralistic society;
  2. To maintain an academic environment where all graduate students are encouraged to develop themselves personally and intellectually and where graduate students feel free to engage in teaching, research and community service in the spirit of academic and personal freedom;
  3. To build a graduate student cohort that is an example of cooperation, teamwork and dedication to university and community needs; and
  4. To expose students to current research and theories and to teach students the skills needed to understand and evaluate the quality of research and its methodologies.
  5. To teach students how to critically analyze problems related to crime and criminal justice by emphasizing theory, research, ethics, problem-solving, and policy analysis.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will learn about criminal justice from both academic and professional perspectives in order to prepare for careers as scholars and /or practitioners.
  2. Students will demonstrate a high level of understanding of criminal justice theories statistics, professional writing, and research methodologies.
  3. Students will learn how to address critical issues in criminal justice and administration by developing analytical, problem-solving, and leadership skills.
  4. Students will learn how to analyze and apply research to a variety of justice issues and settings.
  5. Students will learn how criminal justice interacts with other fields of study including, but not limited to addiction, mental health, community well being, and family.
  6. Students will successfully complete their theses or comprehensive exams.
  7. Students will progress and graduate in a “reasonable” time frame.

IV. Admissions Requirements

Candidates for the Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice must satisfy both the general requirements of the Graduate School and specific departmental requirements listed below. Applicants must submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and must file an application for admission with the Graduate School. International applicants must also satisfy the medical examination and financial responsibility requirements and submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language and must apply through the Office of International Students.

  1. An undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice or related social or behavioral science with an overall grade point average of 3.0 and completion of undergraduate classes in Statistics and Research Methods is required for admission to the program. Students should also provide a transcript showing their grade point average for the most recent four semesters.
  2. Satisfactory performance on the three components (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) of the Graduate Record Examination will be required for admission. If the prospective student has completed another post-baccalaureate standardized examination (such as the Miller Analogies Test or the Law School Admittance Test) this score may be considered acceptable if submitted with other evidence of academic excellence.
  3. A Statement of Purpose for pursuing the Master of Arts degree, addressing the student’s particular interests in the field of Criminal Justice and his or her future academic and/or professional goals, must be included with the student’s application.
  4. A supplemental admissions questionnaire, available on the criminal justice website or from the program director, is also required.
  5. Three letters of recommendation will be required. These letters should be from former instructors or other professionals able to evaluate the applicant’s ability to do graduate level work in Criminal Justice.

Graduate Committee: Departmental decisions regarding graduate admissions, student retention, and the award of the master’s degree will be the responsibility of the Graduate Faculty in Criminal Justice. A Graduate Admissions Committee will be comprised of at least three members, three  will be members of the faculty of the Department of Criminal Justice, and the fourth will be a graduate student in Criminal Justice, if there is a graduating student who is available and willing. The admissions committee will be chaired by the Graduate Director of the Department of Criminal Justice. The committee will review and recommend action on applications for admissions to the program, recommend the award of graduate assistantships, conduct semi-annual reviews of the student’s progress, and recommend their continuation or termination based on this progress. Termination will only occur if the student has failed to achieve acceptable levels of academic progress, and has been allowed two semesters to bring that progress back in line with the desires of the graduate committee.

V. Program Requirements

Students entering the Department of Criminal Justice’s Master’s degree program will be asked to choose from two degree options. Thesis Plan students will be expected to write a thesis as part of the required 33 units of graduate coursework. Non-Thesis students will pass a comprehensive examination in addition to their 33 credits of graduate coursework. Students should select the plan they expect to follow within the first semester of graduate studies. Students will indicate on the Program of Study whether they will be taking Thesis credits (Thesis Plan) or Comprehensive Exam (Non-Thesis Plan). In addition to these requirements, the following guidelines must be followed.

  1. Completion of the required graduate study units at the 700 and 600 levels. A maximum of 9 credits of 600 level coursework is allowed to count toward graduation. For Thesis Plan students, a maximum of 6 credits of Thesis (  CRJ 797 ) may be applied towards the credits required for graduation.  Non-Thesis Plan students are allowed to apply a maximum of 2 credits of Comprehensive Examination (CRJ 795R  ) toward graduation.
  2. Required courses are CRJ 740  , CRJ 750 CRJ 785  , and CRJ 788  , one graduate level course in Statistics and one graduate level course in Research Methods (these courses are to be selected from the departmental approved list). At least nine additional credit hours selected from courses numbered 700 and above are also required.
  3. Students may elect to pursue a maximum of 6 units of approved graduate study in other social and behavioral sciences or in graduate programs formally approved by the Graduate Director.
  4. For those students required to write a thesis, the thesis will be written under the direction of a committee of three graduate faculty members, approved by the department and chaired by a member of the faculty of the Department of Criminal Justice. Thesis Plan students must take 6 credits of Thesis ( CRJ 797  ) prior to completion. Non-Thesis Plan students are required to take 2 credits of Comprehensive Examination (CRJ 795R  ) prior to completion.
  5. Non-Thesis Plan students will be required to take a general Comprehensive Examination related to the field of criminal justice during the final.  The Comprehensive Examination will be administered and evaluated by a committee approved by the Graduate Director. Students must register for 2 credits of Comprehensive Examination ( CRJ 795R  ) the semester they take their comprehensive examinations. The Comprehensive Examination is based on the idea that quality graduate education requires that students be able to draw from a wide repertoire of knowledge, and to apply their knowledge to a particular area of study. Therefore, the comprehensive examination will assess: 1) the student’s competency in the defense of the substantive, theoretical, and methodological topics covered in their core coursework and thesis (if applicable); and 2) their more general knowledge, including the ability to integrate topics covered by core and elective criminal justice classes, and to apply core fundamentals to important issues. To pass the comprehensive examination, the student must demonstrate a satisfactory knowledge regarding both the general and thesis components of the examination. Any student unable to demonstrate a satisfactory level of knowledge within areas 1 and 2 listed above must retake that component the following semester. Any student receiving two unsatisfactory decisions will be dismissed from the program.
  6. Once a student chooses a Plan and indicates the proper courses on the Program of Study (e.g., Thesis credits (CRJ 797) or Comprehensive Examination (CRJ 795R), he or she cannot change their plan. For example, a Non-Thesis Plan student who fails the comprehensive exam cannot then change to the Thesis Plan.
  7. Consistent progress toward the degree and maintenance of a cumulative 3.0 average are required for continuation in and completion of the program.
  8. In addition to these requirements, graduate students must abide by the policies and regulations set by the Graduate School of the University of Nevada, Reno. These include, but are not limited to: continuous enrollment, residence, and timely filing of proper paperwork and forms. Graduate students in the Department of Criminal Justice are encouraged to become familiar with all of these requirements, and to follow them completely.

Thesis Plan - 33 units

A. Required courses - 24 units

B. Additional graduate coursework - 9 units

  • Electives (to be selected with the approval of student’s advisor or the Graduate Director) (9 units)


* To be selected from the department approved list.

Non-Thesis Plan - 33 units

A. Required Courses - 18 units

B. Additional graduate coursework - 15 units

Electives (to be selected with the approval of the student’s advisor or the Graduate Director) (15 units)


*To be selected from the department approved list.

VI. Program Total Hours (33 units)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs in the College of Liberal Arts