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Master of Science in Criminal Justice (M.S.)

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Interested in Pursuing a Career in Criminal Justice?

The graduate program in Criminal Justice focuses on theoretical and applied issues in law enforcement, corrections, administration, and public law. Its goal is to further critical thinking about significant issues in crime and criminal justice. Judges, lawyers, managers, and criminal justice researchers supplement the faculty, bringing many practical considerations to the study of the discipline.

Our program is offered at night to accommodate our working students, who can complete the program at their own pace

Why Westfield?

Westfield State is ranked among the best universities in the northern U.S. and one of the best criminal justice programs in Massachusetts. Our program has an average length of two years, allowing our students to complete their degrees and get started in their careers.

How much will it cost?

We offer affordable programs. Please visit our Tuition and Fees page with up to date costs.

In order to be considered for admission to the program, a complete application must be presented for review, including:

  • Bachelor’s degree with a major or minor in any of the social sciences with a 2.7 GPA or a 3.0 for the last two years of undergraduate studies, class ranking will also be considered;
  • Three professional or academic letters of reference;
  • An official GRE with a combined score of 950 on two sections or a MAT score of 45 or better; For WSU students with a GPA of 3.3 or higher this requirement is waived.
  • A narrative statement about your professional goals, academic experience, factors which support your future endeavors.
BS/MS Option:

Students must meet all three criteria listed below:

Westfield State University students with a GPA of 3.3 entering into their final semester or after completing their undergraduate degree would be considered for the program.
Students who are entering their final semester at Westfield State University may be eligible to take two courses from graduate credit, assuming the 120 credits needed to complete their BS will be fulfilled independently of the MS coursework.
All students will be required to complete the entire graduate application packet, WITH THE EXCEPTION of the standardized test requirement.

Deadlines and Notice of Decision:

Our Master of Science in Criminal Justice program is available to begin either in the Fall or Spring semesters. The deadline to apply for Fall is March 1st. The deadline to apply for Spring is November 1st.

 

The primary purpose of this Master’s Degree program is to further develop the following:

  • Theoretical thinking- the ability to interpret problems and solutions using comprehensive theoretical knowledge
  • Productive thinking-analysis and application of management and administrative techniques related to criminal justice
  • Analytical thinking-the ability to critically think in terms of research and evaluation.
  • Practical thinking- to consider what should be done and to synthesize ideas to generate different solutions to criminal justice issues.
  • Comprehension- the ability to understand and evaluate the interrelationship of research, ideas, and theories presented in throughout their coursework and to apply their knowledge to unique situations and settings.

Graduate students are required to complete 33 graduate credit hours and a comprehensive examination, or 30 credits and a capstone, or 27 graduate credit hours and a six-hour thesis. Some students may choose to satisfy the requirement for a culminating experience by completing the Addiction Studies Concentration, described below. For all three tracks, there are four required courses: Criminological Theory I, Research Methods, Administrative Theory of Criminal Justice, and Statistics. Each student is assigned an advisor who will assist in selecting courses and, if undertaking a thesis, a thesis advisor. Thesis advisors are members of the graduate faculty.

Program Requirements:

Required Courses - 12 Credits

  • CRJU 0603 - Research Methods
  • CRJU 0606 - Criminological Theory I
  • CRJU 0613 - Statistics
  • CRJU 0624 - Administrative Theory of Criminal Justice

Elective Courses - 21 Credits

  • Completion of 21 recommended graduate semester hours in Criminal Justice
A. Comprehensive Examination Option

This option is intended for individuals seeking a terminal degree or wishing to continue their education beyond the master’s degree. In this option, candidates must complete a total of 33 credit hours of coursework. Students are also required to successfully complete a comprehensive exam to demonstrate knowledge gained in coursework and to relate concepts across the curriculum. The exam may be taken only after completing all required courses and a minimum of 27 credits within the Master’s program.

B. Capstone Experience Option

The capstone experience option is intended for individuals seeking a terminal degree. After completing 30 credit hours, the student will enroll in a three credit capstone experience. The capstone experience is a focused study and applied research under the direction of a faculty advisor. The student must submit an abstract for approval to the faculty advisor before undertaking the project. The Capstone must demonstrate a student’s ability to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in their academic program to real world issues and problems. The work will include an abstract of approximately 150 words and an annotated bibliography. It is expected that the paper will be approximately twenty-five pages in length. The final work is evaluated by the faculty advisor and the graduate coordinator or department chairperson. Students are required to present their Capstone in a public forum. Students completing the Homeland Security Certificate concurrently with their Masters of Criminal Justice must complete a Homeland Security related capstone.

C. Master’s Thesis Option

This option is intended for students who wish to continue their education beyond the master’s degree. The student is required to complete 27 hours in addition to the six credit hour thesis. However, the student may register for the thesis after completing 24 credits of graduate program coursework with a B or better GPA. With the approval of a thesis advisor, the student develops a significant problem for research and study. The work is to be of publishable quality and is evaluated by a thesis committee. After the work is complete, it is to be defended in a public forum. The student is also required to provide bound copies of the thesis to the Department of Criminal Justice, Westfield State University Library, and the Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education.

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