Jul 14, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 Previous Edition

Criminal Justice, M.S.

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The Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice degree program is designed to promote broad based study of the phenomenon of crime and to enhance career opportunities in the field of criminal justice. The program utilizes the social and behavioral sciences in an interdisciplinary approach to study law, crime, and social deviance, and to examine critically the systems created in response to deviance and crime. The objectives of the program are to: (1) provide present and future criminal justice personnel with the educational background necessary to function effectively in the dynamic field of criminal justice; (2) familiarize students with the nature, methods, and functions of research, and with the existing body of knowledge on criminal justice; (3) provide the criminal justice system with qualified candidates for careers in the field; and (4) prepare students for entrance into doctoral programs. Career opportunities available in the criminal justice system include law enforcement, corrections, administration, planning and analysis, juvenile justice, and college instruction. There are also private sector careers available, including private security and loss prevention. Students may enroll in the program on either a full-time or part-time basis. Many classes are scheduled in the evening to accommodate the part-time student. Full-time students can complete the program over a 12-month period.

Additional Admission Requirements

Admission to the Criminal Justice graduate program is open to students with bachelor’s degrees in any discipline who meet the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School. Preference is given to applicants who have a grade point average of at least 3.0, a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (above 300 on the combined verbal and quantitative sections), a personal statement describing their interest in attaining the degree, and three strong recommendation letters from those who are able to attest to your academic ability.

Early Entry Program

Exceptional undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte may apply for the Early Entry Program and begin work toward the graduate degree before completion of the baccalaureate degree.  See the Undergraduate Catalog for details and requirements.  Also see the Degree Requirements and Academic Policies  section of the Graduate Catalog for more information about Early Entry Programs.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 31 credit hours is required.  

Elective Courses (15 credit hours)

The elective credit hours may come from any 5000- or 6000-level course offered within the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology.  A maximum of 9 elective credit hours may be taken outside the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology (with approval of the Graduate Program Director).

  • CJUS 5XXX-6XXX - Criminal Justice and Criminology Elective (3)
  • CJUS 5XXX-6XXX - Criminal Justice and Criminology Elective (3)
  • CJUS 5XXX-6XXX - Criminal Justice and Criminology Elective (3)
  • CJUS 5XXX-6XXX - Criminal Justice and Criminology Elective (3)
  • CJUS 5XXX-6XXX - Criminal Justice and Criminology Elective (3)


Students who choose to write a thesis are required to complete 3 credit hours each of the following courses.  These credit hours become part of the 15 elective credit hours students must complete. 

Transfer Courses

A maximum of six elective credit hours with grades of B or above may be transferred from another institution.  Transfer courses must be consistent with the program and will be accepted at the discretion of the department.  At least 25 credit hours must be taken in residence.  To complete the program, students have the option of taking a comprehensive examination or writing a thesis.

Degree Total = 31 Credit Hours


The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology offers graduate assistantships which are awarded primarily on the basis of academic merit.

Financial Aid

In addition to the graduate assistantships, the department offers, as available, research assistantships and grant-funded opportunities for students. In addition, a few scholarships are available each year.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is offered each Fall and Spring semester, as well as in the Summer. The comprehensive examination may be taken no more than two times. Students who fail to pass the comprehensive examination on their second attempt will be terminated from the program.

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