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Degree Overview: Master of Criminal Justice (M.C.J.) Degree Program in Policing

Majors Overview September 27, 2015

This article talks about Master of Criminal Justice (M.C.J.) degree programs in Policing and their educational requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master of Criminal Justice (M.C.J.) Degree Program in Policing

A Master of Science in Criminal Justice (M.S.C.J.) program with a concentration option or elective courses in policing is devised to meet the needs of students keen on learning about policing at the graduate level. A master’s degree program with policing as a standalone area of study is available at a few schools. Law enforcement professionals seeking to advance their skills and training would benefit most from these programs.

Students may learn about parole, practices, and probation systems related to criminal justice systems. The program may require participation by students in internships in law enforcement and judicial settings and completion of a thesis project. An option for undergraduates to enter a 5-year program is available at some schools. The option facilitates the direct transfer of students from a bachelor’s degree program to a master’s degree program whereby they can complete their graduate studies faster than usual.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited undergraduate school. In some programs, students are expected to complete prerequisite courses in statistics and introductory criminology.


Program coursework seeks to introduce techniques in data analysis and research. The program also addresses contemporary policing challenges such as occupational hazards, racial profiling, use of force, and counter-terrorism methods. It also involves exploration of research methods in the field, in addition to topic areas such as data, criminology, and statistics. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Policing and youth
•Crime prevention and community safety
•Operational procedures and practice
•Ethics in Policing
•Corrections systems
•Race, gender, and justice

Career Choices

Master’s degree programs in criminal justice and policing enable program graduates to seek career advancement within the field of law enforcement. They can aim for possible career choices such as federal agent, victims’ advocate, caseworker, law enforcement officer and administrator. They can aim for advanced positions at the local, state and federal levels. They may aspire for possible job titles such as:

•Probation officer
•Case Manager
•Police administrator
•Correctional Counselor

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a job growth of 5% has been predicted for first-line supervisors of police and detectives (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2014, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $84,260, with the federal executive branch proving to have the highest pay (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates may seek continuing education by earning Ph.D. degrees that may also include the study of criminology, and could lead to careers in academia and research. Coursework may cover topic areas such as ethics, criminal justice policy, and issues in law enforcement, and a dissertation is required to be completed by enrollees before they graduate.

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