Criminal Justice (M.S.)

Admission Requirements

Admission to this program is contingent upon admission to the Graduate School. Strong undergraduate social science preparation is recommended, and additional undergraduate course work may be specified in criminal justice or related areas where such preparation is inadequate.

Admission to the graduate program in Criminal Justice is based on:

  1. evidence of a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university,
  2. the quality of the applicant's undergraduate record,
  3. two letters of recommendation, and
  4. a personal statement.

In determining admission for the individual applicant, the Graduate Committee evaluates the student's undergraduate record (with special emphasis on upper division courses: junior/senior year), the level of difficulty of course work, as well as grade point average (g.p.a.) in the student's major, the strength of the recommendations, and the quality of the personal statement. The minimum standard for admission as a regular Master's student is a cumulative weighted undergraduate g.p.a. of 3.0 or better. Applicants with an undergraduate g.p.a. between 2.75 and 2.99 may be considered for admission, but are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and provide a written exception statement justifying why they are capable of graduate work and explaining why their undergraduate g.p.a. is below 3.0.

Applicants to the Master of Science program in Criminal Justice must:

  1. complete and submit the Graduate School's online application;
  2. have their official transcripts mailed directly from the applicant's undergraduate school/college (transcripts from all schools attended must be submitted) to the Office of Graduate Admissions, Wayne State University, 5057 Woodward, Suite 6000, Detroit, MI 48202 (student transcripts may not be transmitted via the applicant);
  3. have two (2) letters of recommendation, preferably from former professors or instructors, submitted online; and
  4. submit a personal statement.

Personal statements should answer the question why you wish to pursue a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice and be no longer than one single-spaced page. Statements must be submitted as part of the online application process.

Questions concerning the admission process should be directed to the Criminal Justice Department at 313-577-0772.


The Master of Science degree is awarded upon successful completion of thirty credits in selected course work, including required core courses (see below) and electives, as described in the student’s Plan of Work and the satisfactory completion of a master’s thesis, a master’s essay, or the master’s capstone seminar. All course work must be completed in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The degree is offered as Plan A (Thesis), Plan B (Master's Essay), or Plan C (Master's Capstone Seminar) option, as follows:

Plan A: Thirty credits in course work including a six-credit thesis (CRJ 8999).

This plan is designed for students who intend to pursue doctoral work in the social sciences and who demonstrate exceptional ability in research methods. Consult the Graduate Director for further details.

Plan B: Thirty credits in course work, including a three credit essay demonstrating substantial research and mastery of a selected topic (CRJ 7999).

Plan C: Thirty credits in course work, including the three credit capstone course (CRJ 7870).

Core Courses
CRJ 7010Contemporary Criminal Justice3
CRJ 7020The Nature of Crime3
CRJ 7860Research Methods in Criminal Justice3
Select one of the following:3-4
Data Management and Analysis for Criminal Justice
Statistics and Data Analysis in Political Science I
Social Statistics
Area A
Select at least two of the following:6
Public Policy and Criminal Justice
Delinquency and Justice
Policing and Society
Area B
Select 5 to 9 credits in electives. At least 3 elective credits in CRJ courses:5-9
Students electing a master's thesis (Plan A) take approved electives totaling at least 5 to 6 credits
Students electing a master's essay (Plan B) take approved electives totaling at least 8 to 9 credits
Students electing a master's capstone class (Plan C) take approved electives totaling at least 8 to 9 credits
Area C
Select one of the following:3-6
Master's Capstone Seminar in Criminal Justice
Master's Essay Direction
Master's Thesis Research and Direction

Elective Courses: The elective courses are to be chosen after a conference with the Graduate Director to determine the plan which is most consistent with the student's educational and career goals. These courses will be specified in the student Plan of Work. Some elective credit may have to be used to satisfy the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requirement that at least six credits in course work be at the 7000 level or higher, and that at least six credits (excluding core courses) be taken in the major area. With the exception of one 5000-level elective course, all remaining courses toward the degree must be taken at the 6000 level or higher.

Transfer Credits: The maximum number of credits that may be transferred in from other accredited colleges and universities is between six and eight semester credits for two courses. Transfer courses must be taken at the graduate level with a passing grade of ‘B’ or higher; the student must have had graduate status at the time the courses were taken.

Online M.S. in Criminal Justice Program

Beginning Fall 2014, students may complete the Master of Science in Criminal Justice online. Online sections of the core courses and various electives will be consistently offered. In the application for graduate admission, students  must indicate whether they will be completing the M.S. in Criminal Justice in

  1. the traditional/hybrid program, or
  2. the completely online program.

While students admitted to the online program will be  expected to complete almost all of their courses online, they can seek permission from the Graduate Director to take selected classes on campus.

The online program is identical to the traditional classroom-based program and focuses on a broad range of criminal justice issues, emphasizing both the problem of crime and the criminal justice system's response to it. Students learn the latest evidence-based practices for crime control, how to understand and interpret data and how to find resources to implement innovative methods.