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Criminal Justice (MS)

[Program Overview] [Program Outcomes] [Curriculum] [Admission Criteria] [Application Requirements] [Transfer Credits] [Time to Completion] [Academic Standing] [Reactivating] [Faculty] [Contact Information]

Program Overview

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice is designed to provide practitioners with the advanced knowledge and abilities needed for effective, ethical leadership in today's criminal justice organizations. The program is strongly focused on preparing graduates who can comprehensively analyze current issues in the field and identify and implement solutions to the problems facing the criminal justice system. The program seeks to include a diversity of students who have worked in a wide variety of criminal justice agencies in order to draw upon their experiences, learn about best practices, and apply them to important issues in the criminal justice field.

The program is structured as a hybrid (partially online and partially on campus) to best meet the needs of working adults. We believe adult learners are self-directed and mature, bringing a diversity of experience to the educational environment. The use of adult learning principles and multiple teaching strategies reflects the faculty's belief in students as unique persons with their own cognitive abilities, feelings, and values who have the potential for growth and self-directedness.

Program Outcomes

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the criminal justice system at an organizational, inter-organizational, and societal level;
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of criminological theory and the ability to apply appropriate theory to contemporary criminal justice problems and issues;
  • Understand the nature of the research process, formulate research questions, and conduct applied research projects designed to address criminal justice problems;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the issues related to culture and diversity in the criminal justice system;
  • Demonstrate ethical practices and critical thinking in a criminal justice leadership role;
  • Demonstrate the ability to assess programs and policies intended to solve criminal justice problems;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of best practices in the criminal justice field and how to apply them to current situations;
  • Demonstrate written and oral communication at a level appropriate for effective leadership.


Students admitted to the Master of Science in Criminal Justice will take 24 semester credit hours of required coursework and 8 semester hours of elective credits. Master's courses will provide for the development of advanced knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  • criminological theory
  • criminal justice administration and leadership
  • applied research, planning, and program evaluation
  • community building
  • diversity and cultural competence
  • ethics
  • critical thinking

Required Coursework

Students will attend classes weekly (alternating weeks for each course in a given semester) and the remaining course work will be completed through the online platform, Desire to Learn (D2L). Classes will be held on Metropolitan State's Brooklyn Park Campus. In the second year, students will work on a final project.

Elective Coursework

Students will choose graduate courses that align with their academic and professional objectives from available graduate courses (courses numbered 500 or higher) offered by various graduate programs at Metropolitan State University. Courses chosen may be fully or partially online or classroom-based on the Brooklyn Park, Minneapolis, St. Paul or Midway campus on dates specified in the class schedule.


The courses in the program include the following required courses:


  • 8 credits of approved electives

Admission Criteria

This is a competitive program that will admit students once each year (in the spring semester) for a start date the following fall semester. To be considered for admission, a student is expected to have completed a bachelor's degree by the end of the spring semester before beginning graduate coursework. Students graduating the summer before the program begins will need to wait until the following year to apply to the program. The Master of Science in Criminal Justice Admissions Committee will make admissions decisions on the basis of the following:

  • Earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university;
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the undergraduate degree-granting university or demonstrated competency on an assessment exam (program-specific assessment exam taken at Metropolitan State University, free of charge.) Students who have already completed the GRE and have scores of 450V, 550Q, and 4W, or higher can provide their official score in lieu of our assessment exam;
  • Two years of professional experience in a law enforcement or criminal justice agency, or in a social service or security agency that has significant interaction with the criminal justice system. Those without two full years of professional experience may be admitted, depending on quality of experience, at the discretion of the Graduate Admissions Committee;
  • Successful completion of the prerequisite course, Introduction to Criminal Justice.

Application Requirements

  • Graduate Application
  • Non-refundable application fee (waived for graduates of Metropolitan State University)
  • Official Transcripts
  • Proof of completion of Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Resume
  • Goals Essay
  • Two letters of recommendation

See Applying to the Program for application information, details on the requirements, deadlines and International Student application requirements.

Transfer Credits

Up to 12 credits may be transferred from other graduate programs; however, transfer credits can only be applied to one required course. The remaining credits may be applied to electives. A review of transfer eligibility will be made by the Graduate Program Director. The course work must have been taken from a regionally accredited university and an official transcript provided. The credits that are being requested for transfer must have been taken at the graduate level (a course number of at least 500 or higher). A course is eligible for transfer only if no degree was granted and a letter grade of B or better was earned in the course, and the course was taken within 5 years of admission. Students requesting transfer of non-criminal justice courses into the program must justify how they support career goals and supplement the core courses in the program.

Time to Completion

Students completing two required courses a semester, plus electives, will complete the program in two years (including summer semesters).

Students have seven years from their first semester of graduate study to complete the degree program requirements. Students may request an extension of the time limit by writing to the Graduate Program Director in the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. Such requests must be received prior to the expiration of the time limit. Requests for extensions should include reason(s) for requesting the extension, a summary plan to complete graduation requirements, and a specific date for the extension to expire. Extension decisions are made by the Graduate Program Director and are not automatic, nor can they be appealed.

Academic Standing

Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress to remain in the graduate program.

Only courses with a letter grade of C (2.0) or better count toward degree requirements; a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 is required for graduation.

If a student receives a letter grade of C+ or below in any graduate course, he/she will be placed on academic probation. If a student receives a letter grade of C+ or below in two courses, he/she will be dismissed from the graduate program.

If a student has been dismissed from the program for unsatisfactory academic progress, he/she may apply for readmission after one calendar year has passed. To reapply, students must submit an updated resume and a letter indicating what circumstances have changed and how he/she plans to successfully complete the program. The admissions committee reviews the request and responds in writing.

Only courses in which students receive a letter grade are applied toward the degree. The option of a competence/no competence grade with a narrative transcript is not available to graduate students.

Reactivating into the Program

If a student in good academic standing has not registered for courses for three or more consecutive semesters, he/she must apply to reactivate into the degree program. To reactivate, the student must submit an updated resume and a letter to the School of Law Enforcement Admissions Committee expressing a desire to reactivate into the program. The Admissions Committee reviews the request and responds in writing, specifying degree completion requirements and deadline for completion. Students may be required to satisfy degree requirements in force at the time of reactivation, even if those requirements differ from those in force at the time of original admission to the degree program.


Program faculty have extensive experience as criminal justice educators. They also have working experience in a variety of criminal justice areas, both as practitioners and researchers. Most hold a doctoral degree and are the resident faculty in the School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.

Contact Information

Academic program related questions can be directed to Dr. Deborah Eckberg at 763-657-3758 or Deborah.Eckberg@metrostate.edu.

Application process related questions can be directed to the Graduate Studies Office at graduate.studies@metrostate.edu or by calling to 612-659-7150.