MS in Criminal Justice

Total units required for MS: 30

Program Description

The Master of Science program in Criminal Justice is designed to provide broad knowledge and understanding of the field of criminal justice, law enforcement, legal processes, and rehabilitation of offenders. It also provides an extensive academic foundation for a growing variety of professional opportunities and facilitates professional development in preparation for positions of increasing responsibility. Curriculum objectives are based on the philosophy that the function of the professional criminal justice practitioner and educator is to aid the orderly development of society, to contribute significantly to the improvement of the quality of services, and to advance the criminal justice system. Students who anticipate pursuing graduate studies should prepare themselves for work on this level by selecting undergraduate courses which provide competence in the following areas: statistical analysis, behavioral science methodology, independent library research, and the writing of research papers.

The University's location in the state capital provides direct access to many local, federal, and state agencies through internship and fieldwork opportunities. All graduate students should consult the Criminal Justice Graduate Coordinator when planning their program of courses for each upcoming semester.

All work toward the degree must be completed within a seven-year period. The general University requirements for graduate degrees are explained in the "Graduate Studies" section of this Catalog.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student in Criminal Justice requires:

  • a baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting association;
  • a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 units attempted and a 3.0 GPA in the major field;
  • a score of 4 or more in the Analytical Writing Section of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test;
  • a letter outlining in some detail the applicant's interests, goals, and expectations in pursuing the MS in Criminal Justice; and
  • three letters of recommendation from individuals who can evaluate the applicant's potential for graduate study.

In addition, applicants are expected to have an undergraduate major in Criminal Justice or its equivalent. Whatever the applicant's undergraduate major, however, it is essential that each student have adequate preparation for graduate study. For this reason, some applicants (regardless of their undergraduate program) may be asked to remove deficiencies in their education by taking courses from the undergraduate curriculum before being admitted as a classified graduate student. In such cases, conditionally classified graduate status may be granted subject to completion of these courses with grade "B" or better. The number of units required to remove deficiencies will total no more than 15 and these must be taken in addition to the 30 units required for the MS. Any deficiencies will be noted on a written response to the admission application.

Admission Procedures

Applications are accepted as long as space for new students is available. If applications for graduate admissions exceed the capacity of the Department, the Department will limit admissions. Applicants will be rank ordered for admission based on an evaluation of the academic record, GRE scores, professional and life experience, references, proposed academic plan and potential for diversifying, and enriching the Criminal Justice graduate program. For more admissions information and application deadlines, please visit

All prospective graduate students, including Sacramento State graduates, must provide the following:

  • an online application for admission;
  • two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State; and
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores.
  • a letter outlining in some detail the applicant's interests, goals, and expectations in pursuing the MS in Criminal Justice; and
  • three letters of recommendation from individuals who can evaluate the applicant's potential for graduate study.

Approximately six weeks after receipt of all items listed above, a decision regarding admission will be emailed by the University to the applicant.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MS:  30

Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy for the master's degree indicating the proposed program of graduate study. This procedure should begin as soon as the classified graduate student has:

  • removed any deficiencies in admissions requirements;
  • completed at least 12 units in the graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA; and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.

Students may not enroll in CRJ 502 before they are advanced to candidacy.

Advancement to Candidacy forms are available on the Office of Graduate Studies website. The student fills out the form after planning a degree program in consultation with the Criminal Justice Graduate Coordinator. The completed form should then be returned to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.

Program Requirements

Required Courses (18 Units)18
CRJ 201Advanced Research Design and Data in Criminal Justice3
CRJ 200Research Methods in Criminal Justice 3
CRJ 255Crime, Criminology and Criminal Justice3
CRJ 260Management of Complex Justice Organizations3
Select two of the following:6
Critical Examination of Law and Justice
Graduate Seminar in Corrections
Contemporary Issues in Policing
Administration of Juvenile Justice
Electives (6-9 Units)
Select six units for the thesis/project option and nine units for the comprehensive exam option:6 - 9
Criminal Justice Policy Analysis
Criminal Justice Research and Program Evaluation
Critical Examination of Law and Justice
Politics of Crime Legislation
The Prison
Graduate Seminar in Corrections
Psychodynamics of Confinement
Contemporary Issues in Policing
Comparative Analysis of the Criminal Justice System
White-Collar Crime
Violence and Victims
Historical Analysis of the American Criminal Justice System
The Nature Of Terrorism
Administration of Juvenile Justice
Personnel Administration in Justice Organizations
Criminal Justice Issues in Collective Bargaining and Arbitration
Criminal Justice Systems of the Future
CRJ 296 series course
Special Problems
Culminating Experience (3-6 Units) 1
CRJ 500Culminating Experience3 - 6
or CRJ 501
CRJ 502
Culminating Experience: Thesis/Project Development
Culminating Experience: Thesis or Project
Total Units30-33