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.