Jun 20, 2024  
2012-2013 CU Denver Catalog 
2012-2013 CU Denver Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Criminal Justice MCJ

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►  Graduate School Rules  apply to this program

Program Director: Mary Dodge, PhD



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

Associate Professors:

Angela Gover, PhD, University of Maryland
Callie Rennison, PhD University of Houston
Paul Stretesky, PhD Florida State University

Assistant Professor:

Lonnie, Schaible, PhD, Washingon 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. 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. 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 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.
  5. International students whose first language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS. A score of 550 or higher on the paper-based exam or 213 or higher on the computer-based exam is required for the MPA or 525/197 for the MCJ.

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 process applications as they come in. 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 Admissions for deadline information.

Provisional Admission

Under special circumstances, a student may be admitted on provisional status for one semester. Students admitted on a provisional basis take two courses in their first semester. MPA students may select two of the following:

  ,   or   . They may take no other courses during that semester. Based on their performance in these courses, a decision will be made concerning their admission into the program.

Nondegree Admissions

Students may register as nondegree students while developing their application packet. However, students are discouraged from taking many courses as a nondegree student if they hope to pursue a degree. 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 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

The completion of the following core courses is required with a grade of B- or better: CRJU 5001 CJ Systems, Policies, and Practices; CRJU 5002 Criminological Theory; 5003 Research Methods; 5004 Statistics; 5005 Law and Society.

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. Advanced Seminar

All MCJ students, except those pursing the thesis option, must complete the advanced seminar during the last semester of their degree program. All core classes must be completed before taking the advanced seminar.  Students admitted before spring 2009 may opt to take a written comprehensive exam in lieu of CRJU 5561.


  • 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. 

Elective Courses

The courses listed below may be taken as electives for the MCJ degree:

MCJ Options

Domestic Violence Concentration/Graduate Certificate

A student may choose to complete a concentration in domestic violence as part of the MCJ degree, or the domestic violence program can be completed as a standalone 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.

Total: 15 Hours

Emergency Management and Homeland Security Concentration/Graduate Certificate


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

SPA launched an online option for the master of criminal justice degree in 2010. 

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.  For both in-state and out-of-state online students, tuition is comparable to the rate charged to in-state students for courses that meet in the classroom.

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