Learn from Leading Experts in Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Administration
The graduate program in Criminal Justice, housed in our Criminal Justice Department, 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.
- Criminal Justice Administration
- Criminal Justice Research
- Criminal Justice Policy
Schedule of Coursework
Three to four semesters of coursework followed by either a Capstone Project, Thesis, or Comprehensive Examination
On campus and online program options available
We are a certified Massachusetts Quinn Bill (PCIPP) program
Options for capstone, thesis, or
Flexible Program Options to Fit Your Schedule and Career Goals
Our program is offered at night to accommodate our working students, who can complete the program at their own pace. We offer the following program options:
On-Campus Program at Westfield State
Students attend evening classes in person at Westfield State along with coursework online (Hybrid model). Some courses are fully asynchronous and online.
Students attend evening classes on Zoom, along with asynchronous coursework. Some courses are fully asynchronous and online.
Westfield State is ranked among the best universities in the northern U.S. and has 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 for up-to-date costs.
Ranked one of the best universities in the northern U.S.
2 years is the average length of program
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.
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 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. 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.
In order to be considered for admission to the program, a complete application must be presented for review, including:
- Official transcripts indicating a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.
- 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;
- While not required, GRE or MAT scores can strengthen a candidate's application.
- A narrative statement about your professional goals, academic experience, factors which support your future endeavors.
Criminal Justice 4+1
Westfield State University offers our undergraduate criminal justice students an accelerated pathway to complete their bachelor's and master's degrees in just 5 years. These students will have the opportunity to enroll in graduate-level criminal justice courses in their senior year and 6-credits will count towards both the bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice. This 4+1 program allows students enrolled in this option to obtain their bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice in less time than it would be to take them separately.
Matriculated students are those who have been admitted to a graduate program at Westfield State University. If you intend to work toward a degree, you must apply as soon as possible. A maximum of six (6) Westfield State University credits taken prior to acceptance may be applied toward your degree program. Advising is recommended.
Once matriculated, students must see the graduate advisor and work out a Program of Study in accordance with the requirements for a degree in their major program. The Program of Study will include the following:
- prerequisites in the area of concentration;
- a planned program of courses necessary for competency in the field of concentration;
- elective courses.
The Program of Study form must be signed by the student and approved by the graduate advisor, the chair of the department, and the Dean. A copy of this form will be sent to the student and to the graduate advisor. The original will be kept in the student’s file.
Specific Degree 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
Requirements for Master’s Degree - 33 Credits
Program Completion Options: MS 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.