Apr 14, 2024  
2013-2014 CU Denver Catalog 
2013-2014 CU Denver Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Criminal Justice MCJ

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►  Graduate School Rules  apply to this program

Program Director: Mary Dodge, 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
Paul Stretesky, PhD, Florida State University

Associate Professors:

Callie Rennison, PhD University of Houston

Assistant Professor:

Lonnie Schaible, PhD, Washingon State University


Senior Instructor:

Lucy Dwight, PhD, Pennsylvania State University

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 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.

Semester Preferred Application Deadline Final Deadline*
Fall March 15 August 1
Spring October 15 December 1
Summer March 15 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:

  ,   or  . MCJ students may select two of the following:  CRJU 5001, 5002 or 5005.  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 normal course load for a full-time student is 9 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 15 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 significant public, nonprofit or private-sector experience. The purpose of the internship is to continue the linkage between theory and practice that is the philosophical basis of SPA. The internships generally involve part-time work. A maximum of three semester hours will be awarded for internship service. Great care is taken by the SPA to ensure that the internship experience meets the intellectual needs of the student. 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 C 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 Experience

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. All required core courses must be completed before taking CRJU 6910.

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.


  • 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

Domestic Violence Concentration/Graduate Certificate

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

For more information, contact Barbara Paradiso at barbara.paradiso@ucdenver.edu

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.  For more information, contact Brian Gerber at brian.gerber@ucdenver.edu.



Students take two of three required courses as well as three elective courses approved by their advisor. The emergency management and homeland security concentration/certificate allows students to choose electives organized in the following tracks: policy and management, spatial analysis and quantitative assessment, public safety, homeland security and justice or public and environmental health. Students may choose courses in one track to create a more focused concentration or pick from among the tracks to fulfill their elective course requirements.

Total: 15 Hours

The emergency management and homeland security certificate requires the completion of three electives chosen from a preapproved, multidisciplinary list of courses relevant to emergency management. Students may choose electives in one of three tracks: policy and management; spatial analysis, planning and quantitative assessment; or public safety, homeland security and justice.

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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