Master of Science in Criminal Justice (M.S.C.J.) Major in Criminal Justice (Research Concentration Thesis Option)

Program Overview

The School of Criminal Justice and Criminology offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice (M.S.C.J.) degree with a major in Criminal Justice. The curriculum provides for the development of skills in criminal justice program planning, implementation, and evaluation to ensure a meaningful contribution to this important area of community and human services.

Application Requirements

The items listed below are required for admission consideration for applicable semesters of entry during the current academic year. Submission instructions, additional details, and changes to admission requirements for semesters other than the current academic year can be found on The Graduate College's website. International students should review the International Admission Documents webpage for additional requirements.

  • completed online application
  • $55 nonrefundable application fee

          or

  • $90 nonrefundable application fee for applications with international credentials
  • baccalaureate degree in criminal justice or related field from a regionally accredited university
  • official transcripts from each institution where course credit was granted
  • Fall 2020: minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 hours of undergraduate course work (plus any completed graduate courses)
  • Spring 2021: minimum 3.25 GPA in the last 60 hours of undergraduate course work (plus any completed graduate courses)
  • official GRE (general test only) with competitive scores in the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections
  • statement of purpose indicating research interests and career aspirations
  • Effective Spring 2021: two letters of recommendation from persons best able to assess your ability to succeed in graduate school

TOEFL or IELTS Scores

Non-native English speakers who do not qualify for an English proficiency waiver:

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 6.0

This program does not offer admission if the scores above are not met.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice (M.S.C.J.) degree with a major in Criminal Justice (Research Concentration) requires 30 semester credit hours, including a thesis. Any student accepted into the M.S.C.J. program may be required to take undergraduate course work in criminal justice as a prerequisite to graduate course work.

Students will be required to complete a thesis; a committee composed of three graduate faculty must approve the thesis.

Course Requirements

Required Courses
CJ 5310Administration of Justice3
CJ 5315Advanced Research Methods in Criminal Justice3
CJ 5316Quantitative Data Analysis3
CJ 5325Statistics for Criminal Justice3
CJ 5335Advanced Crime Theory3
Prescribed Electives
Choose 9 hours of advisor-approved electives from the following:9
Administrative Law in Criminal Justice
Crime Analysis
History and Philosophy of Justice
Current Legal Issues in Criminal Justice
Police in Society
Special Operation Units
Investigations
Management Principles in Criminal Justice
Race, Class, and Crime
Sex Offenders and the Criminal Justice System
Personnel Practices in Criminal Justice
Intelligence Gathering and Operational Issues As Applied to Terrorism and Counterterrorism Operation
Current Issues in Criminal Justice
Independent Studies in Criminal Justice
Ethics and the Criminal Justice System
Drugs in Society
Geospatial Intelligence and Geographic Profiling
Applied Research Practicum
Qualitative Research Methods and Data Analysis
Criminal Justice Policy
Criminal Justice Leadership
Thesis
CJ 5399AThesis3
Choose a minimum of 3 hours from the following:3
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Thesis
Total Hours30

Comprehensive Examination Requirement

All students must pass an oral comprehensive examination to show they have mastered the main concepts covered in the program. Immediately following their thesis oral defense, MSCJ Research Concentration students will undertake an oral examination where they will be asked to discuss basic concepts relating to research methods and the administration of justiceStudents must see the graduate advisor for a detailed description of the comprehensive examination procedures. If a student fails the comprehensive examination, they will be allowed to retake it at the next regularly scheduled examination date. If a student fails a second time, they may petition the MSCJ Steering Committee for permission to take the examination a third time. Students will not be allowed to take an examination more than three times.

Students who do not successfully complete the requirements for the degree within the timelines specified will be dismissed from the program.

If a student elects to follow the thesis option for the degree, a committee to direct the written thesis will be established. The thesis must demonstrate the student’s capability for research and independent thought. Preparation of the thesis must be in conformity with the Graduate College Guide to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis or Dissertation.

Thesis Proposal

The student must submit an official Thesis Proposal Form and proposal to his or her thesis committee. Thesis proposals vary by department and discipline. Please see your department for proposal guidelines and requirements. After signing the form and obtaining committee members’ signatures, the graduate advisor’s signature if required by the program and the department chair’s signature, the student must submit the Thesis Proposal Form with one copy of the proposal attached to the dean of The Graduate College for approval before proceeding with research on the thesis. If the thesis research involves human subjects, the student must obtain exemption or approval from the Texas State Institutional Review Board prior to submitting the proposal form to The Graduate College. The IRB approval letter should be included with the proposal form. If the thesis research involves vertebrate animals, the proposal form must include the Texas State IACUC approval code. It is recommended that the thesis proposal form be submitted to the dean of The Graduate College by the end of the student’s enrollment in 5399A. Failure to submit the thesis proposal in a timely fashion may result in delayed graduation.

Thesis Committee

The thesis committee must be composed of a minimum of three approved graduate faculty members.

Thesis Enrollment and Credit

The completion of a minimum of six hours of thesis enrollment is required. For a student's initial thesis course enrollment, the student will need to register for thesis course number 5399A.  After that, the student will enroll in thesis B courses, in each subsequent semester until the thesis is defended with the department and approved by The Graduate College. Preliminary discussions regarding the selection of a topic and assignment to a research supervisor will not require enrollment for the thesis course.

Students must be enrolled in thesis credits if they are receiving supervision and/or are using university resources related to their thesis work.  The number of thesis credit hours students enroll in must reflect the amount of work being done on the thesis that semester.  It is the responsibility of the committee chair to ensure that students are making adequate progress toward their degree throughout the thesis process.  Failure to register for the thesis course during a term in which supervision is received may result in postponement of graduation. After initial enrollment in 5399A, the student will continue to enroll in a thesis B course as long as it takes to complete the thesis. Thesis projects are by definition original and individualized projects.  As such, depending on the topic, methodology, and other factors, some projects may take longer than others to complete.  If the thesis requires work beyond the minimum number of thesis credits needed for the degree, the student may enroll in additional thesis credits at the committee chair's discretion. In the rare case when a student has not previously enrolled in thesis and plans to work on and complete the thesis in one term, the student will enroll in both 5399A and 5399B.

The only grades assigned for thesis courses are PR (progress), CR (credit), W (withdrew), and F (failing). If acceptable progress is not being made in a thesis course, the instructor may issue a grade of F. If the student is making acceptable progress, a grade of PR is assigned until the thesis is completed. The minimum number of hours of thesis credit (“CR”) will be awarded only after the thesis has been both approved by The Graduate College and released to Alkek Library.

A student who has selected the thesis option must be registered for the thesis course during the term or Summer I (during the summer, the thesis course runs ten weeks for both sessions) in which the degree will be conferred.

Thesis Deadlines and Approval Process

Thesis deadlines are posted on The Graduate College website under "Current Students." The completed thesis must be submitted to the chair of the thesis committee on or before the deadlines listed on The Graduate College website.

The following must be submitted to The Graduate College by the thesis deadline listed on The Graduate College website:

  1. The Thesis Submission Approval Form bearing original (wet) and/or electronic signatures of the student and all committee members.
  2. One (1) PDF of the thesis in final form, approved by all committee members, uploaded in the online Vireo submission system.  

After the dean of The Graduate College approves the thesis, Alkek Library will harvest the document from the Vireo submission system for publishing in the Digital Collections database (according to the student's embargo selection). NOTE: MFA Creative Writing theses will have a permanent embargo and will never be published to Digital Collections. 

While original (wet) signatures are preferred, there may be situations as determined by the chair of the committee in which obtaining original signatures is inefficient or has the potential to delay the student's progress. In those situations, the following methods of signing are acceptable:

  • signing and faxing the form
  • signing, scanning, and emailing the form
  • notifying the department in an email from their university's or institution's email account that the committee chair can sign the form on their behalf
  • electronically signing the form using the university's licensed signature platform.

If this process results in more than one document with signatures, all documents need to be submitted to The Graduate College together.

No copies are required to be submitted to Alkek Library. However, the library will bind copies submitted that the student wants bound for personal use. Personal copies are not required to be printed on archival quality paper. The student will take the personal copies to Alkek Library and pay the binding fee for personal copies.

Master's level courses in Criminal Justice: CJ

Courses Offered

CJ 5101. Graduate Assistant Supervision.

Prepares graduate student teaching and instructional assistants to perform effectively in diverse instructional settings and in their assigned instructional support roles. The course provides for regular and planned opportunities for continuing evaluation of instructional and assistive responsibilities. This course does not earn graduate degree credit. Repeatable with different emphasis.

1 Credit Hour. 1 Lecture Contact Hour. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Graduate Assistantship|Exclude from Graduate GPA
Grade Mode: Leveling/Assistantships

CJ 5199B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

1 Credit Hour. 1 Lecture Contact Hour. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

CJ 5299B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

2 Credit Hours. 2 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

CJ 5300. Foundation Studies in Criminal Justice.

This course is designed for students who do not have a sufficient background in the foundations of criminal justice studies. Coursework will vary depending on the student’s prior academic history. This course does not earn graduate degree credit. Repeatable with different emphasis.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Exclude from Graduate GPA|Leveling
Grade Mode: Leveling/Assistantships

CJ 5310. Administration of Justice.

Introduction to the study of crime; explanations of criminal behavior; typologies of criminal behavior; the criminal justice system; and social reaction to crime and the criminal justice system.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5311. Administrative Law in Criminal Justice.

Legal principles and doctrines applicable to state and federal criminal justice agencies delegated quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial authority by legislatures are studied and evaluated in this course.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5315. Advanced Research Methods in Criminal Justice.

The study of scientific research methods as used in the criminal justice system to include a review and critique of research on crime causation, law enforcement, courts, and corrections.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5316. Quantitative Data Analysis.

This course provides an introduction to quantitative data analysis in criminal justice and makes extensive use of statistical software via command line interface. For the purposes of research and exploratory data analysis in criminal justice, topics include data construction and cleaning, variable coding, descriptive and inferential statistics, summary measures, and visual presentations of data.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5319. Crime Analysis.

This course focuses on the evaluation, synthesis and dissemination of crime data to multiple audiences. Topics include the identification of local crime trends, the development of usable crime maps, and the assessment of practical police responses.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5320. History and Philosophy of Justice.

An exploration of historical approaches to social control of nonconforming behavior. The principal contributions of architects and theorists of systems of social justice are examined with emphasis on major Western European schools of thought. Special emphasis given to the development of the scientific method and its role in the contemporary system of justice.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5321. Current Legal Issues in Criminal Justice.

Case law and legislation, both state and federal, which have contemporary impact on practices and policies of criminal justice agencies will be examined in this course. Topics may vary to include such matters as civil rights liability, substance abuse and the law, juvenile crime, organized crime, tactics of enforcement, unionization, and other legal issues.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5322. Police in Society.

This course provides an in-depth assessment of policing and the various types of community crime control. Core topics include the history of police, organizational and individual police discretion, police culture, use of force, minorities and the police, community oriented policing, and police problem-solving.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5323. Special Operation Units.

A course designed to acquaint students with basic principles of Special Operation Units (SOUs) within law enforcement, including the necessity for such units in the changing nature of policing communities. The principles of crisis management, the development of SOUs, selection/training/operationalizing of personnel and other strategic planning issues are emphasized.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5324. Investigations.

This course explores issues related to investigations. Topics covered include the history and state of investigations, investigative theory, interviewing, interrogation, polygraph, geographic profiling, serial crimes, and investigative failures.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5325. Statistics for Criminal Justice.

The study of basic and advanced descriptive and inferential statistics, with an emphasis on applications in the criminal justice system will be taught. Focus will be given to various multivariate statistical procedures.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5330. Management Principles in Criminal Justice.

The study of behavior in complex bureaucratic or administrative organizations with an emphasis on organizational behavior, group processes, and the managerial function. Concepts and practices of managing criminal justice agencies within the United States will be stressed.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5333. Race, Class, and Crime.

This course addresses issues related to racial/ethnic minorities, socioeconomic status, crime trends, perceptions of crime and criminal behaviors. The social/historical constructions of race and class are covered as well as their intersectionality within the criminal justice system. Topics include racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in offending, victimization, law enforcement and sentencing.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5334. Sex Offenders and the Criminal Justice System.

This course explores sex offenders and the criminal justice system, and the issues faced by criminal justice professionals. Recent trends in assessment tools, sex offender treatment approaches, and legal responses to sex offenders are emphasized.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5335. Advanced Crime Theory.

This course will develop and apply analytical skills surrounding a wide range of theoretical concepts, assumptions, propositions, and variables aimed at explaining crime-related outcomes. In the process, students will learn how social scientists empirically (i.e., quantitatively and qualitatively) access theory and how theory influences public policy.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5340. Personnel Practices in Criminal Justice.

The study of personnel decisionmaking within the criminal justice agency. Topics emphasized will include recruitment and selection, promotion, training, performance evaluation, and human resource allocation.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5350. Current Issues in Criminal Justice.

An in-depth presentation and discussion of vital contemporary issues in criminal justice, including research, process, procedure, and substance. General issues addressed remain constant and specific emphasis will vary depending on changes in contemporary issues.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5355. Intelligence Gathering and Operational Issues As Applied to Terrorism and Counterterrorism Operation.

This course provides an overview of the importance of intelligence gathering in the global and domestic war of terrorism, and critically examines issues involved with the gathering of intelligence, techniques for the gathering of intelligence, methods of collecting, collating, analyzing and disseminating intelligence, and a review of current terrorist threats.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5360. Independent Studies in Criminal Justice.

Student will work directly with a faculty member and develop in-depth knowledge in a specific topic area of Criminal Justice. Repeatable for credit.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

CJ 5370. Professional Paper.

Students in the non-thesis option will complete their professional paper while enrolled in this course.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5380A. Ethics and the Criminal Justice System.

This special topics course will explore ethical issues that are faced by criminal justice professionals, basic ethical systems, and applications to dilemmas of criminal justice professionals.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5380C. Drugs in Society.

This special topics course will explore issues related to the “War on Drugs.” Topics covered include theories of addiction, legal and philosophical issues of government response to drug use, and treatment strategies.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5380F. Police Problem-Solving Practicum.

This course applies contemporary police problem-solving tools and techniques (including SARA, COMPSTAT, crime mapping, intelligence led policing and computer enhanced problem solving) to real world problems with practicum problems derived from situations commonly facing police practitioners such as common law enforcement “problems” such as noise abatement, property offenses and traffic violations.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5380H. Police Problem Solving Methodologies.

This course addresses police problem solving methodologies. The course covers the history, state, and theory of police problem solving. Emphasis is placed on using problem solving methodologies to address real issues facing the community.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5380L. Geospatial Intelligence and Geographic Profiling.

This course addresses the use of geospatial intelligence and geographic profiling in the military and intelligence environments. The course covers the theory, concepts, methods, and analysis of human geographic information. Emphasis is placed on understanding how geospatial knowledge can inform decision making and action plans.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5380N. Applied Research Practicum.

This course provides structured assistance to students who are preparing for significant independent research projects (i.e. Thesis, Professional Paper) by exposing them to the organizational tools, processes and techniques used by productive scholars. Ideally, students should expect to complete a viable research prospectus by the end of the semester.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Topics
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

CJ 5380Q. Qualitative Research Methods and Data Analysis.

This course provides students with a detailed and participatory introduction to the principles and use of common qualitative methods and data analysis used in social science research with a particular focus on the field of criminal justice.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5380R. Criminal Justice Policy.

This course covers contemporary public policies designed to prevent and reduce crime and criminal offending. There is also an emphasis on different levels of evaluation that should be used to address specific criminal justice issues.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5380S. Criminal Justice Leadership.

This course provides an examination and critical analysis of the important theories, concepts, and current issues relevant to the field of public leadership in general, and criminal justice agency leadership in particular.

3 Credit Hours. 3 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Course Attribute(s): Exclude from 3-peat Processing|Topics
Grade Mode: Standard Letter

CJ 5399A. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s initial thesis enrollment. Credit is not awarded until student has completed the thesis in Criminal Justice 5399B.

3 Credit Hours. 2 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

CJ 5399B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

3 Credit Hours. 2 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

CJ 5599B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

5 Credit Hours. 5 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit

CJ 5999B. Thesis.

This course represents a student’s continuing thesis enrollment. The student continues to enroll in this course until the thesis is submitted for binding.

9 Credit Hours. 9 Lecture Contact Hours. 0 Lab Contact Hours.
Grade Mode: Credit/No Credit