(Effective Fall 2008)

The graduate program in Criminal Justice includes non-thesis and thesis options. Under both options, the student has considerable latitude to design a program to fit particular needs. All entering students are encouraged to specify one of the two options during the second semester of academic work. Both options have core courses, including criminological theory, research in the criminal justice process, and application of statistics in criminal justice.

M.S. in Criminal Justice: Non-Thesis Option

CJ 581: Application of Statistics in Criminal Justice 3 hours
CJ 584: Seminar in Criminological Theory 3 hours
CJ 586: Research in the Criminal Justice Process 3 hours
Elective Courses 24 hours
Comprehensive Examination 0 hours
Total Hours 33 hours

Non-thesis students must pass a written comprehensive examination based on the content of the degree program (ordinarily done after the completion of 18 hours of coursework).

M.S. in Criminal Justice: Thesis Option

CJ 581: Application of Statistics in Criminal Justice 3 hours
CJ 584: Seminar in Criminological Theory 3 hours
CJ 586: Research in the Criminal Justice Process 3 hours
Elective Courses 15 hours
CJ 599: Thesis Research in Criminal Justice 6 hours
Thesis Defense (Oral Examination) 0 hours
Total Hours 30 hours

CJ 599 (thesis hours) should be taken after a total of 18 hours coursework has been completed, including all core requirements. Thesis students must also pass an oral examination during the thesis defense.

1.  Core Requirements

All graduate students complete three required core courses: CJ 581 Application of Statistics in Criminal Justice, CJ 584 Seminar in Criminological Theory, and CJ 586 Research Methods in Criminal Justice.  All incoming graduate students must take the required courses (i.e., CJ 581, CJ 584, and CJ 586) during their first year of residence.  If they do not, they will need to work this out with the Graduate Director.

2.  Independent Study

The student may enroll in CJ 592 Independent Study in Criminal Justice with a graduate faculty member’s permission.  No more than 3 credit hours of CJ 592 may be applied toward the degree.  Independent study is an opportunity for advanced study not related to the thesis topic.  Students should discuss independent study requirements with a faculty member with whom they want to study.

3.  External Graduate Courses at The University of Alabama

A maximum of 6 semester hours of credit for external graduate courses at The University of Alabama (non-criminal justice courses) may be applied toward the degree.  The student must obtain permission from the Graduate Director prior to enrolling in non-criminal justice graduate courses. Past graduate students have taken external graduate courses in a wide range of departments at UA, including anthropology, history, political science, psychology, and social work.

4.  400-Level Coursework

All coursework for the Master of Science in Criminal Justice must be earned at the graduate level, thus, 400 level coursework cannot be applied to the degree.

5.  Transfer of Credit

Six semester hours of full graduate-level credit earned in an accredited institution where a student was enrolled in the graduate school may be submitted for review for the master’s degree.  Evaluation of credit will not be made until the student has enrolled in the Graduate School of The University of Alabama.  Acceptance of credit requires the approval of the Graduate Director in Criminal Justice and the Dean of the Graduate School.  Credit will not be accepted for transfer from any institution at which the student failed to achieve a “B” average on all graduate work attempted.

A student initiates the request for evaluation of graduate credit obtained at another institution at the office of the Graduate School. It is also the student’s responsibility to ensure that an official transcript of the credit concerned is received by the office of the Graduate School.

6.  Internships

No internship credit hours may be applied toward the master’s degree. Please see the Graduate Director if further clarification is needed.

7. Course Planning for Degree Completion in 3 or 4 Semesters

Below are some examples of course plans that past students have used to complete their degrees. It should be noted that 9 credit hours is considered full-time for graduate students.

Planning to complete M.S. in Criminal Justice in 4 Semesters

(Reminder: graduate assistantships are never guaranteed for future semesters. Part-time students in their fourth semester of coursework may be less likely to receive an assistantship offer).

Non-thesis option
  • First semester: 9 credit hours (core courses in Criminological Theory and Research Methods, plus 1 elective)
  • Second semester: 9 credit hours (core course in Statistics, plus 2 electives)
  • Third semester: 9 credits (3 electives)
  • Fourth semester: 6 credits (2 electives) and Comprehensive Exam
Thesis option
  • First semester: 9 credit hours (core courses in Criminological Theory and Research Methods, plus 1 elective)
  • Second semester: 9 credit hours (core course in Statistics, plus 2 electives) and Thesis Prospectus
  • Third semester: 11 credits (2 electives, plus 5 hours thesis credit)
  • Fourth semester: 1 credit (1 hour thesis credit) and Thesis Defense

Planning to complete M.S. in Criminal Justice in 3 Semesters

Non-thesis option
  • First semester: 9 credit hours (core courses in Criminological Theory and Research Methods, plus 1 elective)
  • Second semester: 12 credit hours (core course in Statistics, plus 3 electives)
  • Third semester: 12 credits (4 electives) and Comprehensive Exam

Thesis option

(Note: it is very unusual for students to complete the thesis option in 3 semesters, and requires significant student work during the summer, holidays, and other university breaks).

  • First semester: 12 credit hours (core courses in Criminological Theory and Research Methods, plus 2 electives)
  • Second semester: 9 credit hours (core course in Statistics, plus 2 electives) and Thesis Prospectus
  • Third semester: 9 credits (1 elective, plus 6 hours thesis credit) and Thesis Defense

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