Criminal Justice

Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Accelerated Online

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MS) is an intensive graduate‐level program that is designed for students who want to pursue further studies beyond the bachelor degree and prepare candidates for the doctoral degree.

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Admission Requirements & Courses

Program Details

Next Start Date
Fall I Module
Application Deadline
Estimated Program Length
Credit Hours
Course Length
Cost Per Credit

About the Program

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MS) program is designed to accomplish the following educational objectives:

  • Enhance the student's competence in the content, theories, principles, and methods of criminal justice.
  • Prepare students for administrative and management positions in federal, state and local criminal justice agencies.
  • Prepare students for entry‐level positions requiring graduate degrees, such as federal probation, parole and law enforcement agencies.
  • Prepare students for academic study beyond the master's degree.
  • Develop, through faculty and graduate research, a criminal justice knowledge base concerning issues unique to the region, including Mexico, and Central and South America.
  • Provide a resource for federal, state and local criminal justice agencies in need of administrative assistance in policy analysis, development and program evaluation.

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Historical overview of the philosophies and theories of justice that have impacted the American mind, the Constitution, and criminal law; federal and state criminal justice systems, and the processing of the accused and the convicted leading to correctional placement and punishment; critical examination of the criminal justice system in the context of justice needs and reforms.
A comprehensive overview of the classical and contemporary theories in criminology; theory construction and testing; the nature of criminological research; the impact of ideology, politics and social structure on criminological thought; extent, volume, distribution, types and trends of crime in America.
The democratic foundation of law enforcement in America with focus on issues and challenges confronting federal, state and local police; social resistance to police authority; the course will cover such police issues as legitimacy; lawfulness; role conflict; interagency and international relationships.
Functions and powers of the courts and court- related entities at the federal state and local level; case disposition by plea bargaining and trial; criminal trial and post-conviction procedures; federal and state constitutional rights and liberties in the criminal context including landmark court decisions; how the US judicial system is impacted by international law and conventions.
Theories and purposes of correction, punishment, and rehabilitation; seriousness of crime, punishment, and sentencing; issues and challenges confronting the federal, state, and local institutions; making corrections work; planning and reorganizing the correctional system for the 21st century.
Dynamics and politics of public policymaking and policy analysis, application, evaluation, and improvement in criminal justice; defining criminal justice issues for policy-making; the policy-making process; understanding and becoming sensitive to political and sectional interests, and justice needs; examination of current issues in criminal justice, with a focus on policy-making and application.
Organizational theories that apply to the management of criminal justice organizations; current management practices in law enforcement agencies, courts and correctional institutions; introducing innovations in criminal justice organizations by creating appropriate management and leadership styles, and organizational cultures.
Basic qualitative and quantitative research methods and techniques; research ethics; identifying variables; research design, structuring criminal justice inquiry; participant observation/ethnography; overview of basic statistics; introduction to SPSS; writing the research paper. Should be taken in sequence, before CRIJ 6309.
Advanced criminal justice research and statistics; probability sampling and hypothesis testing; parametric and non-parametric statistical techniques; multivariate statistics; experiment and quasi-experiment; survey research; survey research project and paper involving data collections, entry, and analysis using SPSS; use of data from documentary and historical records; evaluative and predictive research.
The incidence, volume, extent, distribution, types, trends in juvenile crime; theories that explain individual and group forms of juvenile delinquency as they relate to individual, family, school, community, and societal causes; an overview of juvenile cases and matters; victimization of juveniles and protective services available for them; correctional institutions, punishment, and rehabilitation programs for juveniles; critical evaluation of current practices in juvenile corrections; needed changes in the juvenile correctional system to rehabilitate offenders and help prevent juvenile delinquency.
Historical evolution of the major world legal systems; their social foundations and philosophies; overview of the four major legal systems of the world and their hybrids; evolving convergences and divergences in the legal systems; social change and emerging justice views; international crimes including terrorism, organized crime; genocide; civil wars and refugees; the global drug problems, smuggling; human trafficking and human rights issues; the Interpol, Europol; the UNO, international courts – the World Court and other International Courts; Amnesty International and other human rights watchdog groups, NGO’s.
Patterns of crime and victimization, especially as they relate to homicide, assault, rape, robbery, and hate crimes. Crime and victimization in domestic, known, and stranger contexts. Distribution of crime and victimization in terms of demographic characteristics (age, gender, class, and ethnicity), and geographical areas (national, regional, city, and other community contexts). Offender-victim interaction; theories of victimization; prevention of victimization.
Examines environmental problems, crimes, and justice; bodily and property harms and crimes from local, regional, and global environmental problems; point source and non-point source pollution; structural violence; environmental victimology; governmental and non- governmental responses; environmental laws and regulations; environmental justice and racism, at risk populations (poor, minorities, women, working men); anti-environmental backlash to regulations and laws.
Differing conceptions of law and justice; law as a cultural institution reflecting the cultural values and ideals of society; law as an instrument of social change; law as an oppressive and liberating instrument; the cultural foundations of law and their operation in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, capitalistic, socialistic, and simple, emerging and modern societies; examination of how laws function in societies and their consequence for conformity and violation.
An overview of laws of subordination and liberation in American history; patriarchy and gender inequality; legal and social barriers to justice and equality of women; overcoming gender inequalities through changes in law, social attitudes, and incorporation of males to women’s progress; enabling males and females to respect each other by creating a nonviolent ethos
Causes and forms of terrorism at the domestic and international levels; political, economic, religious, social and national differences among people and their implications for terrorism; a review of major terrorist incidents and groups; their underpinning means and what can be done to contain terrorism.
An inquiry into the “criminal justice” and “social justice” nexus; creating a “good” and “just” society reducing crime and promoting justice, and social well-being; understanding of crime and justice issues in the context of political, economic, socio-cultural, and legal changes for creating a good and just society to guide social action to control crime and promote justice.
An inquiry into the “criminal justice” and “social justice” nexus; creating a “good” and “just” society reducing crime and promoting justice, and social well-being; understanding of crime and justice issues in the context of political, economic, socio-cultural, and legal changes for creating a good and just society to guide social action to control crime and promote justice.
Supervised intensive readings under the supervision of a graduate faculty member in the faculty members’ specialty and/or areas of interest related to the student’s program. Students may opt under this to study in-depth theoretical/empirical readings in a substantive area not normally covered in standard courses. Writing intensive assessment of the central issues and emerging trends in criminal justice provides an opportunity for students to pursue research and/or participate with graduate faculty in research for potential publication and presentation at professional conferences. May be repeated once if new topic.
Under the supervision of graduate faculty, the student will pursue a study of contemporary issues in crime and criminal justice, including, but not limited to the area(s) of faculty specialization. May be repeated twice if new topic.
The student is required to begin an individual research project under the direction and supervision of a graduate AMRP committee.
The student is required to complete and publicly defend the project under the direction and supervision of a graduate AMRP committee. Passing or failing will be by a majority of the AMRP committee members examining the candidate.

Calendar - Fall I Module

Course Start Date

Application Deadline

Payment Deadline

Registration Deadline

Course End Date

Tuition & Financial Aid

UT Rio Grande Valley's 100% online accelerated graduate programs offer affordable tuition, and financial aid is available for those who qualify.

Total Program Cost

Per Credit Hour

Per 3-Credit-Course

*We estimate that tuition and fees will total no more than the rates shown above; however, rates are subject to change.


For more information on our Graduate Scholarships, please visit our Scholarships page.

Financial Aid

UTRGV is an equal opportunity institution in the administration of its financial aid programs. In keeping with this policy, financial aid is extended to students without regard to race, creed, sex, national origin, veteran status, religion, age or disability. For additional information regarding funding please visit our Financial Aid for Accelerated Online Programs page.

Additional Fees

No Application Fee
Graduation Fee: $50


Please review all the admission requirements for the Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Accelerated Online degree program. For specific questions or more details, contact an enrollment specialist at 1-833-887-4842.

Admissions Criteria

Online Application

Submit your application online.

Official Transcript

Submit transcripts from all colleges/universities


3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)


3 names of individuals who may be contacted for personal or professional recommendation.