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Criminal Justice

College of Health and Human Services

A CSULB Student works on the grass

Criminal Justice - Graduate Programs

Master of Science in Criminal Justice (code CRIMMS01)

Graduate study in criminal justice provides the requisite knowledge and opportunity for individuals to (1) be competitive for administrative positions in the courts, corrections, law enforcement, security, probation and parole; (2) fill research positions in criminal justice agencies; (3) pursue advanced degrees (J.D. or Ph.D.); and (4) fill community college teaching positions in criminal justice.

The Master of Science degree in criminal justice will expand and increase individual competency, develop and mature thought processes, aid in gaining insights into professional leadership and knowledge, permit an exchange between students and faculty, and further the spirit of research and scholarship to enhance professional and personal development.


Students seeking admission to the Department of Criminal Justice Graduate Program should have an undergraduate degree and a desire for graduate study. Applicants must apply for admission to the Criminal Justice Department in addition to being admitted by Enrollment Services. Students must be accepted for admission by the Department before their program for a master's degree can be formulated. Students are not allowed to take graduate course work in criminal justice before being accepted to the program. The following items must be submitted:

  1. Two copies of the CSULB graduate application. The original must be sent to Enrollment Services and a copy must be sent to the Department of Criminal Justice.
  2. Official test scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test. While no specific cut-off scores are required on either the verbal or the quantitative sections, applicants must score a “4” or higher on the analytic writing section of the GRE.
  3. Official transcripts of all undergraduate course work, including work done at all community colleges attended. Each applicant must request that official transcripts be sent to both the Graduate Advisor in the Criminal Justice Department and Enrollment Services.
  4. A résumé and a letter of intent that includes a summary of the applicant’s reasons for seek a master’s degree in criminal justice. Both documents must be sent to the Department's Graduate Advisor.
  5. Three letters of recommendation from persons able to testify to the student's academic ability, preferably from former professors. These letters must be sent to the Department of Criminal Justice Graduate Advisor.


  1. A bachelor’s degree with a major or minor in criminal justice or a related discipline. The acceptability of other undergraduate preparation shall be determined by the Department Graduate Committee;
  2. A student must have an overall undergraduate average (GPA) and average in their major of 3.0 or better. A student whose overall grade point average is less than 3.0, but who presents acceptable evidence of professional potential either through recent academic performance and/or experiential background, may be admitted by special action of the Department’s Graduate Committee.

Advancement to Candidacy

  1. Students must satisfy the general University requirements for advancement to candidacy, as specified in this catalogue.
  2. Before advancing to candidacy, students must successfully complete fifteen (15) graduate units within the core (CRJU 504, 520, 525, 530, and PPA 500) with a minimum grade of "B" in each of the courses.
  3. Before advancing to candidacy, students must have fulfilled the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) and have successfully passed the departmental qualifying examination.
  4. Each student’s graduate program must be approved by the Department Graduate Advisor, the Department Chair, and the Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services.


  1. Completion of eighteen (18) units of required core classes: CRJU 504, 520, 525, 530, 551, and PPA 500.
  2. Successful passage of the departmental qualifying examination testing graduate-level competency in statistics, research methods, and criminological theory.
  3. Completion of eighteen (18) additional graduate units in one of two ways:
  • A. Thesis Option: Twelve (12) units of advisor-approved electives and CRJU 694 and 698.
  • B. Comprehensive Examination Option: Eighteen (18) units of advisor-approved electives and successful completion of the comprehensive master's essay examination in either policing, corrections, law and social control, or other authorized subject area.

Note: Masters students who were admitted under a prior catalog year need to complete the course requirements specified in the catalog in effect at the time they advance to candidacy. All graduate students have the option of taking comprehensive examinations even if such exams were not listed as an option in the catalog at the time the student matriculated.

In addition to the core classes, students are required to complete 12 units of electives. These courses are to be selected after consultation with the graduate advisor. A maximum of 6 units may be taken from 300 or 400-level courses in Criminal Justice. Up to six units of graduate work may be transferred from another accredited university or another department in CSULB. Transfer credit must be a “B” or better. All students must earn a grade of “A” or “B” for each required course. Students may not have more than 6 units of “C” grades apply toward the master’s degree. Advancement to candidacy is necessary before Thesis I, Thesis II, or comprehensive exams can be taken.


The thesis is a supervised experience in the application of theory and analytical tools to an issue in criminology or criminal justice. The thesis should prepare students for further graduate work or research in the field. The project should provide an experience that is directly applicable to an occupation in the criminal justice field.

The thesis is a written product of the systematic study of a significant problem. It clearly identifies the problem, states the major assumptions, explains the significance of the undertaking, sets forth the sources for and methods of gathering information, analyzes the data, and offers a conclusion or recommendations. The finished product evidences originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate organization and format, and thorough documentation. The coursework is supervised by a committee of three, including the Thesis Chair, who must be a full-time tenure-track or tenured faculty member in the Criminal Justice Department and two other faculty members.