Master of Criminal Justice


Provides students interested in a comprehensive professional graduate education in criminology and criminal justice with an in-depth understanding of existing structures, practices, and challenges.

The Program at a Glance

School: School of Public Affairs Campus: CU Denver Classroom: Online and on campus classes Recommended completion time: 2 Years Credits required for completion: 36 Maximum transfer credits: 9 Maximum credits per year: In most cases, students wishing to take more than 18 credit hours per semester (12 in the summer session) must have the overload approved by the dean. Application deadline: Fall: August 1; Spring: December 1; Summer: May 1

The Details

Part of an academic and professional field of study, the MCJ program prepares students to administer, analyze, evaluate and facilitate improvements in the rationality and responsiveness of the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Research design capability is emphasized alongside skills required for analyzing empirical data and innovating in crime control and prevention. Students who advance through the program acquire strategies and skills necessary for promoting individual, organizational and social change.

General Requirements

Review CU Denver's Graduate Academic Policies.

Program Requirements

  • The Master of Criminal Justice degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework.
  • A maximum of 9 transfer credit hours may be applied to the degree requirements.
  • No more than 6 credit hours of independent study can be applied toward the degree.
  • Students at the University are expected to maintain progress in their degree program, as defined by being in "good academic standing." Good academic standing requires minimally a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on all University of Colorado course work.

Required Courses

Students must complete the five required courses below, for a total of 15 credit hours. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

  • CRJU 5001 - Criminal Justice Systems, Policies, and Practice (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 5002 - Criminological Theory (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 5003 - Research Methods (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 5004 - Statistics for Criminal Justice (3 credit hours)
  • CRJU 5005 - Law & Society (3 credit hours)

Elective Courses

In addition to the required courses, students must complete 18 credit hours of elective courses. All course descriptions can be found in the Graduate Academic Catalog.

  • CRJU 5220 - The American Jury System
  • CRJU 5250 - Criminal Offenders
  • CRJU 5260 - Crime and Literature
  • CRJU 5270 - Case Studies in Criminal Justice
  • CRJU 5301 - Crime and the Media
  • CRJU 5320 - Police Administration
  • CRJU 5331 - Crime Analysis and GIS
  • CRJU 5391 - Sex Offenders and Offenses
  • CRJU 5410 - Victimology
  • CRJU 5420 - Violence in Society
  • CRJU 5430 - Drugs, Alcohol, and Crime
  • CRJU 5510 - Contemporary Issues in Law Enforcement
  • CRJU 5520 - Corrections
  • CRJU 5530 - Community Corrections
  • CRJU 5540 - Juvenile Justice
  • CRJU 5550 - Criminal Justice Policy and Planning
  • CRJU 5551 - Courts, Law & Justice
  • CRJU 5552 - Criminal Justice Ethics
  • CRJU 5553 - Women, Crime and Justice
  • CRJU 5555 - Profiling Criminal Behavior
  • CRJU 5571 - The Social Organization of Crime
  • CRJU 5572 - Race, Crime, and Justice
  • CRJU 5574 - White Collar Crime
  • CRJU 5575 - The Mentally Disordered Offender
  • CRJU 5576 - Social Science in the Criminal Justice System
  • CRJU 6600 - Special Topics in Criminal Justice


Students who have not had one year of criminal justice experience following the awarding of their bachelor's degree are required to complete a three-credit internship. A minimum of 240 hours of supervised work is required to earn 3 hours of credit. Students must have completed 18 credit hours with a GPA of 3.0 prior to enrolling in the internship course.

  • CRJU 6910 - Internship (3 credit hours)

Capstone Option

With the exception of those pursuing the thesis option, all MCJ students must complete the capstone course during the last semester of their degree program. All core classes must be completed before taking the capstone. The capstone cannot be taken during the summer semester.

  • CRJU 5361 - Capstone Seminar (3 credit hours)

Thesis Option

With the exception of those pursuing the capstone option, all MCJ students must complete a thesis. 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 CRJU 5361 - Capstone Seminar. Also, students must complete all core courses and at least 30 credit hours before becoming eligible to register for the thesis.

  • CRJU 6950 - Master's Thesis (3 - 6 credit hours)

Areas of Concentration

Admissions Requirements

View the admissions requirements for the School of Public Affairs.

Learning Objectives

Students will become innovative thinkers and skilled professionals in the field of criminology and criminal justice by mastering five main competencies.

Fourth in the nation

MCJ ranked fourth in the nation by College Consensus

Our Master of Criminal Justice program has been ranked fourth in the nation, according to College Consensus’ rankings for Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice for 2020. Learn more.

24th in the nation


Our Master of Criminal Justice program has been ranked 24th in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report's Best Online Master’s in Criminal Justice Programs rankings for 2021. Learn more.

Events for prospective graduate students

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