Masters Degree in Criminal Justice Online

In 1998, the School of Criminal Justice began offering its Masters of Science in Criminal Justice program on the internet – the first online degree program offered by MSU.

The program is designed to add new dimensions to the skills of career people in various areas of criminal justice and security. A number of online support services are available to assist students as they progress through the program.

Students enrolled in the program may choose to follow the general requirements for the Masters in Criminal Justice, specialize in Security Management or Judicial Administration, or follow an international focus. Please see Program Requirements for more information.

Courses are offered entirely online, and are taught by the same faculty members who are involved in the on-campus program. Many students complete the program within a year and a half to two years; however, it is also common for students to take three years to complete the program due to work and personal commitments.

Application Information

Applications for the Criminal Justice online masters program are screened for summer, fall, and spring semester entry. All application material must be received before February 1 for consideration for the following summer or fall semester and by September 1 for consideration for the following spring semester. Applicants are typically notified of admission decisions within 6-8 weeks of the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Application materials that may be uploaded include:

  • Application for Graduate Study at Michigan State University. May be submitted online here. The major code for the Criminal Justice Masters program is 4702.  After you begin your application, you will receive an email with a login and password.  Before paying your application fee, go to Grad Portal and log in.  You will be prompted to upload the following documents and request Letters of Recommendation.  Please note: If the application fee is paid before you visit the Grad Portal, you will be unable to upload supporting documents or request letters of recommendation.
  • A statement of your academic and professional goals. This should include information about your motivation to study criminal justice, a description of relevant research and/or work experience, and any other information that you would like the admissions committee to know. The Application for Graduate Study has fields for an academic statement and a personal statement, and you may either submit statements there or upload a single combined essay to the Grad Portal.
  • Three letters of recommendation from tenure-track faculty who can comment on your ability to perform graduate work. Please request letters of recommendation through the Grad Portal. You will click on Letters of Recommendation (right side of screen) and then Register Recommender (bottom left side of screen). After you submit the names and email addresses, an email will be automatically generated and sent to them, requesting a letter of recommendation on your behalf and including instructions on uploading the letter.

Additional required materials include:

  • ONE set of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. A transcript of work at MSU is not required. International students must submit official transcripts in both the original language and English translation of transcript and diploma. Please have transcripts mailed directly from the institutions attended to:
    • Criminal Justice Online Masters Program
      Michigan State University
      Baker Hall
      655 Auditorium Road Room 560
      East Lansing, MI 48824
    • Note for applicants submitting transcripts from Chinese institutions: Certified copies (sealed and stamped by institutions) of all post-secondary transcripts, graduation certificates and degrees must be mailed to our department. MSU requires these documents in the original language (Chinese) as well as an official English translation. Effective Spring 2015, Michigan State University will require all incoming ADMITTED students pursuing degrees or who have earned degrees from universities in China to submit a verification report (English version) through the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) for their final bachelor degree transcripts and bachelor degree. All verification reports need to be sent to the MSU Office of Admissions directly by CDGDC. If you are admitted to the Criminal Justice program while completing your last semester of study, you will need to repeat the process and resubmit the materials once your degree has been conferred.
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general scores from an exam taken within the last five years. The GRE exam is waived for candidates with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.2 or higher or for applicants with a completed graduate degree. Please note that your overall GPA will be determined by combining the credits and quality points earned throughout your undergraduate studies. Test preparation material and information about test dates can be found at www.ets.org/gre. Please note when scheduling your exam that it may take 4-6 weeks for your scores to be forwarded to the university and this department. The institution code for MSU is 1465. Admission requires scores at or above the 50th percentile.
  • International students must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam scores from a test taken within the past two years. MSU's score requirement is a minimum average score of 80, with no subscores below 19 for Reading, Listening and Speaking, and no subscore below 22 for Writing. The institution code for MSU is 1465. Students from countries where the primary language is English may have the TOEFL requirement waived with the approval of the department, college, and Graduate School. Please contact the graduate secretary at burrier@msu.edu to determine whether the requirement may be waived.

Please note: While a criminal justice undergraduate major is not required for admission to the program, the applicant must have a background of education and occupational experience appropriate to the successful pursuit of graduate work. Applicants insufficiently prepared for graduate studies in criminal justice may be required to complete collateral coursework or pursue individualized study.

Applicants must have at least 12 credits of undergraduate coursework in political science, economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, social work, or any combination of such courses. At least six of these credits must be in sociology, psychology, social work or any combination of such courses.

A limited number of applicants who do not satisfy the school's regular admission requirements may be admitted on a provisional basis. The decision to grant provisional admission is based on the student's potential contributions to the field of criminal justice, and is offered at the discretion of the department. A student may be enrolled on a provisional basis for only two semesters and must be admitted on a regular basis to be considered a degree candidate.

Questions? Please contact graduate secretary Melissa Christle at burrier@msu.edu or 517-353-7133.

Program Requirements

To obtain a Master of Science in Criminal Justice, a student must complete a minimum of 30 credits of coursework as follows.

Frequently Asked Questions

The tuition rate can be found here. Click on Resident or Non-Resident, then scroll to Online Programs in the Graduate Students section.

Online courses are very similar to the on-campus program except for the method of delivery. Students get a syllabus outlining course requirements, are assigned weekly readings and required to post their evaluation of the readings in discussion rooms. Classmates then comment on the input of other students. Case problems may be required and the class may be broken into small groups, with a team leader who is required to post the each group’s solution to the case. Research papers may be required, with an executive summary posted for review by students and a complete paper submitted to the professor. If the topic appears of interest to other students, they may request a copy by contacting the author.

Some students express concern about the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and, their scores since they may have been out of college for a number of years. Remember this is only one area considered by the graduate review committee when making admissions decisions. Letters of reference, personal statement, prior grades, and success on the job are other factors considered. GRE practice exams, a list of testing centers. and other information may be found at www.ets.org/gre.

Volumes of written material on the Internet become difficult for students to manage. When supplemented with reading packs or books, students are able to do reading away from the computer. It is also important for students to acquire a professional library.

Library access, a writing center, financial aid, bookstore, and other university resources are available to online students. For example, students may order course books via e-mail from campus bookstores. Books and documents needed for course projects can be obtained from library via e-mail at no cost.

Since most students are working, they may not qualify for financial aid. Students are eligible for loans if they are taking at least six credits. Loans are also available for computer equipment required for the program. For more information, contact the financial aid office at 517.353.5940 or finaid@msu.edu.

Since this is a degree-granting program, veterans benefits may be applicable. Students eligible for veterans benefits must submit the required certificate to the VA Office on campus. Contact the Veterans Certification Office at 517-355-5032.

You may transfer up to nine graduate level credits from an accredited institution into the program. You must have received at least a 3.0 in each of the courses, and we will need to review course descriptions and syllabi to determine if the courses meet the requirements of this program. Transfer credits are most often applied toward elective requirements. The department chair or dean has final approval.

Student grades may be obtained at www.stuinfo.msu.edu, along with other academic, personal and financial aid information.

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