Aug 10, 2020  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Criminal Justice MCJ

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►  Graduate School Rules  apply to this program

Program Director: Callie Rennison, PhD



Mary Dodge, PhD, University of California Irvine
Angela Gover, PhD, University of Maryland
Mark Pogrebin, PhD, University of Iowa
Eric Poole, PhD, Washington State University

Associate Professors: 

Callie Rennison, PhD, University of Houston
Lori Hughes, PhD, Washington State University

Assistant Professor:

Lonnie Schaible, PhD, Washington State University

Senior Instructor:

Lucy Dwight, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Sheila Huss, PhD, University of Colorado Denver

The master of criminal justice (MCJ) program is designed for students interested in comprehensive professional graduate education in the field of criminal justice. It is intended to develop in the student an in-depth understanding of the fields within criminal justice and criminology and of background material from supporting disciplines, which enables the student to adapt to many operational specializations.

As an academic and professional field of study, this program is dedicated to preparing men and women not only to administer the system as it presently exists-but also to evaluate, to analyze and to change-to become pioneers in accelerating the shaping of a rational and responsive criminal justice system.

To deal with this system effectively, research design capability must be developed along with the skills required for the ordering and analysis of empirical data. This course of study prepares the student to be an innovator in crime control and prevention through course work dealing with strategies and skills for promoting individual, organizational and social change.

MPA AND MCJ-General Information

Admission Requirements

  1. Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from a college or university of accredited standing, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Two sets of official transcripts are required from all higher education institutions attended.
  2. Applicants must provide three recommendations from qualified references. Recommendations may be from professors, employers and/or others acquainted with the prospective student’s professional and/or academic work.
  3. Applicants are required to take the GRE, the GMAT or the LSAT unless they meet the requirements for waiver. Standard graduate admission test scores are normally waived when the candidate already has a graduate degree in another field from an accredited institution. Other applicants may have test scores waived if they have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better and they have significant post-baccalaureate professional employment in management or policymaking positions for a minimum of 10 years or the equivalent.
  4. A current resume highlighting professional accomplishments and community involvement, a short essay stating educational and career goals, a declaration of program form, and an application fee are also required.
  5. International applicants may have different admission requirements and should check with the Office of International Affairs.  In particular, international students whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS. A composite score of 6.5 on the IELTS, or a composite score of 80 on the TOEFL, with accompanying minimum IELTS or TOEFL subscore results, is required.

All application material and test scores should be sent to SPA, University of Colorado Denver, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364.

SPA will review applications as soon as they are complete. Master-level applicants generally receive notification of their admission status three weeks after all materials have been received in the office. The preferred deadlines listed below allow students to receive best consideration for scholarships, financial aid and course selection. Students who do not meet the preferred deadline may still submit application materials until approximately one month before the start of classes and will be considered on a space-available basis.

Preferred Application Deadline

Fall - March 1
Spring - October 15
Summer - March 1

Final Deadline*

Fall - August 1
Spring - December 1
Summer - May 1

*Final deadline does not apply to international students who should contact the Office of International Affairs for deadline information.

Provisional Admission

In exceptional cases, a student who does not otherwise meet the minimum requirements for admission may be admitted on provisional status if elements of their application suggest they may be able to succeed in the program.  Students admitted on a provisional basis take two core courses in their first semester, and must earn at least a B in each course.  MPA students may select two of the following:

MCJ students may select two of the following: 

Based on their performance in these courses, a formal decision will be made concerning their admission into the program.  Provisionally-admitted students may not take any other courses at SPA until they have been formally admitted to the program.

Nondegree Admissions

Students may register as nondegree students while developing their application packet. However, students are discouraged from taking multiple courses as a nondegree student if they hope to pursue a degree. No more than nine semester hours taken in the program as a nondegree student may be applied to the master’s degree programs, with approval of an advisor. Nondegree student application forms are available in the Office of Admissions or online.

Transfer of Credit to SPA

Up to 9 semester hours of appropriate graduate work from an accredited college or university may transfer, if such credit was not applied to a completed degree.

Limitation of Course Load

The minimum course load for a full-time student is 5 semester hours. A student who is employed full time may not carry more than 9 hours unless an excess load has been approved in advance by the faculty advisor.

Financial Assistance

Students in the master’s degree programs are eligible for several types of financial assistance. Educational loans require application to the CU Denver Office of Financial Aid and completion of the FAFSA. A number of students secure internships or other part-time positions with local, state and federal agencies in the Denver metropolitan area. Scholarship assistance is available on a limited basis.

The school receives announcements for fellowships from various government organizations and actively seeks additional funding for student support in the form of internship positions and research assistantships.

Persons interested in applying for financial assistance should inquire in the SPA office. The deadline for current students is March 1 for the fall term. Prospective students seeking scholarship funds should have complete scholarship applications on file at the SPA office by the preferred application deadline for the semester they are requesting funds.

The Internship Program

An internship for the MPA and MCJ programs is required for students who have not had the equivalent of at least one year of professional full-time experience in the field. The purpose of the internship is to continue the linkage between theory and practice that is the philosophical basis of SPA. Internships generally involve substantive part-time work undertaken during the course of one semester. A maximum of three semester hours will be awarded for internship service. Placements have included the Governor’s Office, Colorado General Assembly, Denver Mayor’s Office, City of Denver, Denver Police Department, Boulder Crime Lab, Western Governor’s Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

Time Limit for Master’s Degree

Master’s degree students must complete all course work and degree requirements within six years of registration in their first course.

Degree Requirements

1. Graduate Study

The program leading to the MCJ degree requires a minimum of 36 semester hours of appropriate graduate study with an average of B (3.0) or better. No grade below B- will be accepted for graduate credit. No more than 6 semester hours of independent study can be applied toward the degree.

2. Core Courses

Total: 15 Hours

3. Course Work

Students must complete a minimum of 27 semester hours of course work in criminal justice.

4. Criminal Justice Internship

Students who have not had criminal justice experience are required to complete CRJU 6910 (field study). A minimum of 240 hours of supervised work is required to earn 3 hours of credit.  Students must have completed 18 credit hours with a GPA of 3.0 prior to enrolling in the internship course.

5. Capstone

All MCJ students, except those pursing the thesis option, must complete the capstone course (CRJU 5361) during the last semester of their degree program. All core classes must be completed before taking the capstone.  Students admitted before spring 2009 may opt to take a written comprehensive exam in lieu of CRJU 5361.  The capstone cannot be taken during the summer semester.


  • Students must receive the approval of both a faculty advisor and the director of the criminal justice program to complete a thesis for 3–6 semester hours in lieu of the advanced seminar. 

MCJ Options

Gender-Based Violence Concentration/Graduate Certificate

A student may choose to complete a concentration in gender-based violence studies as part of the MCJ or MPA degree, or the gender-based violence program can be completed by non-degree students as a stand-alone graduate certificate. The program on gender-based violence provides an interdisciplinary perspective on crime, the formulation of laws and codes, the criminal legal system and its intersection with gender and violence.  Students seeking a gender-based violence concentration must complete 15 semester hours related to gender-based violence, which are completed via intensive in-person and online hybrid courses that meet periodically throughout a two-year period.

Emergency Management and Homeland Security Concentration/Graduate Certificate

The graduate concentration in Emergency Management and Homeland Security is available as a concentration within the MPA and MCJ programs, or as a stand-alone certificate for non-degree students.  This concentration, which requires 15 credit hours (5 courses), provides advanced education in the management of emergencies, hazards, disasters, and homeland security.  Students completing this sequence will have the knowledge and skills necessary to assess and manage a broad range of hazards and disasters, and to understand the policy environment in which emergency management occurs. 


Students take two of the following three required courses as well as three elective courses approved by their advisor. The three elective courses may be drawn from the student’s  particular area of interest, such as policy and management, spatial analysis and quantitative assessment, or public safety.

Online Option

The master of criminal justice degree may be earned in the online format.  Designed to serve students who are looking for a high-quality education, but who need an alternative to traditional classroom instruction, students may elect to do one or all of their courses online.  This option allows students to complete the entire degree at a distance or to choose to come to campus for some courses while using an interactive online format for others.  

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