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Information on Master of Science Degree Program in Criminal Justice

Majors Overview September 29, 2015

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

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

Students enrolled in an MS in Criminal Justice program can be trained in crime analysis, police administration and judicial system policies. Students usually take two years to complete the program, and applicants are required to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related major.

Legal, social, and ethical issues within the judicial system are explored by courses, in addition to policies in crime research methods, criminal justice, cultural awareness and juvenile criminal behavior. Students also learn about identifying and analyzing the effects of economics and inequality on crime within communities. Graduates can aspire for leadership positions in crime prevention, law enforcement, forensics or crime research.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. In some programs, students may also be expected to complete prerequisite coursework, such as criminal theory or criminal research.


Program coursework covers subject areas such as psychology, sociology, leadership and research. Among the areas examined are crime theory, public administration, serial crimes, drug abuse, corrections, forensics, and the judicial system. Coursework features completion of independent studies and theses to augment it. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Criminal justice statistics
•Criminal investigations
•Juvenile delinquency
•Research methodology in criminal justice
•Justice Administration
•Substance abuse

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek leadership roles in administrative justice or law enforcement, working with probation facilities, police departments, correctional facilities, courthouses or law firms. They can choose from possible job positions such as:

•Law enforcement administrator
•Substance abuse specialist
•Criminal investigator
•Crime prevention liaison
•Juvenile justice case manager

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, an eleven percent job growth rate has been predicted for criminal investigators and detectives (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $45,740, with the federal government emerging as the highest paymaster (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates who seek continuing education can earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Criminal Justice. They can choose from specializations, such as administration or forensics. Graduates can seek teaching jobs at universities, have their research findings published in professional journals and make advances in criminal theories.

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