Master in Criminal Justice

The MCJ offers both in-person and online program options to give students the best path to earn their master's degree.

Master in Criminal Justice Students discuss topics in a criminal justice classroom.

About this Program

The Criminal Justice Master's program offers both an in-person program with an emphasis in Criminal Justice Policy and Practice, and an online option with emphases in either Homeland Security and Emergency Management or Criminal Justice Leadership.

Whether in-person or online, the MCJ offers many opportunities to work closely with faculty. The program curriculum allows flexibility to tailor your education to your own research and policy interests.

Our in-person criminal justice degree program is designed as a 30-credit, two-year program to provide students essential skills in research, writing, and critical thinking. There are two admission options for the in-person MCJ, including a 4+1 accelerated option.

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    Program Information

    Program Type

    Master's Program

    Area of Study

    Social Sciences, Law, and Policy


    1-2 Years


    Master of Criminal Justice

    Program Location




    Policy and Practice;
    Homeland Security & Emergency Management

    Required Credit Hours


    Program Emphases

    With three different emphases to choose from, graduate students can specialize in in areas that align with their career goals.

    For those interested in advocating for systemic change, reforming criminal justice policies, and implementing evidence-based practices to address issues within the legal system.

    View Catalog

    For those aspiring to work in emergency response, disaster preparedness, and national security sectors who are driven by a commitment to safeguarding communities and managing crises effectively.

    Learn more

    For those seeking to advance into managerial or executive roles within law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities, or legal organizations with an interest in developing strong leadership skills and strategic decision-making abilities.

    Learn more

    Program Requirements and Application Process

    Find the program requirements for the Master in Criminal Justice below. For more information, please see the graduate course catalog or download the MCJ Graduate Student Handbook.

    The MCJ Policy & Practice program option is a 30-credit degree program providing students with the foundations needed to master applied methodological and theoretical knowledge to engage in policy analysis and decision-making.

    All students must take 12-credits of core classes, one additional research/statistics elective, 4 elective courses, and have three options for program completion (practicum, capstone course, or thesis).

    All students in the Policy & Practice program option must complete the following degree requirements:

    1. Complete all four (4) core classes with grades of B- or above
    2. Complete four (4) elective courses in Criminal Justice Policy & Practice track.
    3. Complete one (1) additional research- or statistics-based elective
    4. Six (6) credit hours to fulfill degree culmination requirements: either thesis, capstone, or
      practicum option (capstone option requires completion of one additional elective course)
    5. Students can take up to six (6) credit hours of online 8-week classes

    All students are required to take the following 16-week courses. Students cannot take the online version of these courses:

    Students must complete one (1) research or statistics elective course. The following list of
    courses meet this requirement.** Each course is 3 credit hours. Students may take a research or statistics course outside of these options (including courses outside the department) with department approval.

    *May be taken 2 times with a different topic.
    **Some courses may be taken for either the Policy & Practice elective or to fulfill the research/statistics elective.

    Criminal justice master's students must complete one of the following options to complete their degree:

    • CJ 693: Capstone Course (3 credit hours)
      • Students review, research, and evaluate a criminal justice, emergency management, or homeland security policy or issue resulting in a systematic review paper. Students must complete this course with a grade of B- or above. Students must take one (1) additional elective if choosing this option.
    • CJ 690: Practicum (6 credit hours)
      • In partnership with the agency, student must fulfill a tangible and specific project. Examples may include, policy analysis/evaluation, creating a database for the agency, building a website, written report, etc. Students must submit proposal for project, approved by graduate committee. Project must demonstrate application of graduate-level skills and knowledge. After project is completed, student will present report to graduate committee.
    • CJ 697: Thesis (6 credit hours)
      • Research thesis in criminal justice, emergency management, and homeland security.


    The criminal justice online program at UM offers students two program options:

    1. Homeland Security & Emergency Management and
    2. Criminal Justice Leadership

    Core Classes:

    All students are required to take the following courses (8-week online):

    Homeland Security and Emergency Management Emphasis Classes:

    Students choose a minimum of three (3) of the following courses for the Homeland Security and Emergency Management program option. Each course is 3 credit hours.

    *May be taken 2 times with a different topic.

    Degree Culmination: Criminal Justice Capstone

    All students must complete the CJ 693: Capstone Course (3 credit hours).

    Students review, research, and evaluate a criminal justice, emergency management, or homeland security policy or issue resulting in a systematic review paper. Students must complete this course with a grade of B- or above.

    1. Academic Transcripts. Evidence of an awarded Baccalaureate Degree from an accredited college or university. Transcripts must also show a gradepoint of least a 3.0 or equivalent grade point average on the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework or at least a 3.0 or equivalent grade point average on master’s coursework.
    2. Three (3) letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation preferably come from professors familiar with your academic qualifications and/or skills who are able to comment on your potential to be successful in a master's program.
    3. Statement of Interest. A 400- to 500-word statement of interest that describes your interest in pursuing the Master of Criminal Justice degree, your chosen emphasis in 1) Policy & Practice (in-person), 2) Homeland Security & Emergency Management (fully online), or 3) Criminal Justice Leadership (fully online), your future career goals, and why you believe you will be successful in graduate school.
    4. Writing Sample. Submit a sample of your recent written work that best showcases your skills as a writer and critical thinker. Writing samples should be in English and be no less than 10 double-spaced pages and no more than 35 pages double-spaced pages in length. There are no specific formatting requirements. This could be a term paper from a previous course, a thesis, a lead author academic publication (i.e., peer-reviewed journal article, encyclopedia/book chapter), professional report, policy brief, or any other document that demonstrates your writing and analytic skills.
    5. Curriculum vitae or resume.

    Please note that the Department of Criminal Justice & Legal Studies does NOT require the submission of GRE scores for the Master of Criminal Justice program.

    The MCJ online program options accept rolling admissions. We ask that applicants submit their completed applications (including all letters of recommendation received) at least 4-6 weeks before the start of the term seeking admissions.

    International students must demonstrate compliance with the University of Mississippi’s English Language Proficiency Score Requirements and Exemptions policy.

    What does Criminal Justice look like in the job market?


    Average base salary for Intelligence Analysts and Crime Reduction Managers in 2023.


    Average base salary for Senior Fraud Investigator in 2023.


    Average base salary for Forensic Analysts in 2023.


    Average base salary of Cyber Crime Investigators in 2023.

    What jobs can you get with a Masters in Criminal Justice?

    • Senior Corrections Officer
    • Detective
    • Criminal Investigator
    • Warden
    • FBI agent
    • DEA agent
    • US Marshal
    • Security Director

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    We're here for you!

    If you have any questions about the Master in Criminal Justice, don't hesitate to get in touch!

    Kimberly Kaiser

    Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, Graduate Program Director

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