About the Program

The Department offers a Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminal Justice.  The M.S. has an 18-hour core and 12 hours of electives, with six of those electives taken within the department and nine either inside or outside of the department, depending on the student's interest.   The student selects either the thesis option (6 hours), or the internship option (3 hours internship, 3 hours of electives, and non-credit comprehensive examination) or additional coursework & comprehensive written exam.

The purpose of the Master of Science in Criminal Justice is to provide a high-quality graduate program that prepares competent individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the criminal justice needs of the region, including such aspects of criminal justice as law enforcement, courts, corrections, and crime prevention.  The goals of the program are to prepare graduates who are able to:

  • Assess and understand criminal justice problems and issues.
  • Conduct basic and applied research in criminal justice, particularly evaluation research.
  • Use computer technology to locate information and use statistics and software to analyze problems, particularly with respect to criminal justice agencies.
  • Understand legal issues which affect criminal justice professionals.
  • Integrate the findings concerning the psychological, sociological, economic and cultural roots of crime.

Program Structure

Every graduate student is required to fill out an Initial Study Plan (ISP) with his/her advisor prior to or during the first semester of graduate study.

Total Credits required for graduation: 36

Major Requirements

Core Courses: 18 Hours

CJ600 - Overview of the Criminal Justice System (3)
CJ626 - Statistical Analysis in Criminal Justice (3)
CJ601 - Research Methodology in Criminal Justice (3)
CJ615 - Criminal Justice Theory (3)
CJ635 - Civil Law and Liability (3)
CJ640 - Ethics in Criminal Justice (3)

Elective Credits

Electives in Criminal Justice

12 hours to be chosing from the following:

CJ510 - Comparative Criminal Justice Systems (3)
CJ525 - Crime and Criminal Justice Policy (3)
CJ610 - Seminar in Law Enforcement (3)
CJ625 - Adult Correctional Organization and Administration (3)
CJ630 - Contemporary Juvenile Justice (3)
CJ650 - Seminar in Criminal Justice Leadership & Practice (capstone option) (3)
CJ693 - Independent Study in Criminal Justice (3)
CJ641 - Death Penalty in America (3)

Up to 6 hours outside of criminal justice may be applied with the approval of the department chair.

Requirements for Thesis, Internship or other Capstone Experience

All students must complete a capstone experience. Completing one of the following four options may satisfy this requirement: Internship, Capstone Seminar, Comprehensive Exam or Thesis.  The options are described as follows:

(a) Internship Option

The internship (CJ699 Criminal Justice Internship) will consist of 240-hour field placement and a paper describing the objectives and outcomes of the experience (6 hours). The internship paper will be prepared under the supervision of a committee that is organized and created in the same manner as a thesis committee. The student will also be required to enroll in GR699 Master's Oral Examination in the semester the student anticipates completing the internship.

(b) The Capstone Seminar Option

The capstone seminar (CJ650 Seminar in Criminal Justice Leadership & Practice) will include analysis of current issues and trends in criminal justice, and a practical program or policy review and a writing component (3 hours). The student will also be required to enroll in GR699 Master's Oral Examination in the semester the student anticipates completing the capstone seminar. The professor supervising the seminar and the Department Graduate Coordinator, or designee, who will serve as a second reader, must approve the writings prepared by the student. This option requires an additional three hours of electives.

(c) Comprehensive Exam Option

Students selecting the additional coursework option will be required to take a comprehensive essay examination over their coursework. This option requires an additional six hours of electives.

(d) Thesis Option

CJ694 and CJ695 Thesis in Criminal Justice (6 hours).

For students who want to pursue a research interest, the thesis (CJ694 and CJ695 Thesis in Criminal Justice, each 3 hours) may be selected. The student will also be required to enroll in GR699 Master's Oral Examination in the semester the student anticipates completing the thesis.

Application Forms

Individuals seeking admission to the program must do so through the School of Graduate Studies at Southeast Missouri State University.

Admission Criteria

In addition to the criteria established for general admission to graduate studies, applicants must have the following:

  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.000 on a 4.00 scale.
  • 18 total credits in the social sciences, including criminal justice, criminology, sociology, psychology, social work, political science or relevant university studies courses. These credits must include the following: introduction to criminal justice (3 hours), criminal law (3 hours) and statistics (3 hours).
  • In addition, applicants must submit a letter of intent addressing preparation for graduate study, ability to succeed at the graduate level and professional goals and objectives. The letter should be typed, a maximum of 750 words in length, and be addressed to the Director of Admissions.

All documents should be submitted directly to the Office of Admissions. Probationary Admission Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 to 2.999 may be admitted on probation with a GRE score of 300 or above (combined quantitative and verbal scores). Applicants must complete 9 hours of graduate-level course work in the core area of study with a grade of “B” or better to continue in the program.

Applicants must have all documents submitted to the Office of Admissions by the following semester deadlines:
Fall – July 15
Spring – December 15
Summer – May 15

The Application for Graduate Admission may be submitted online or by mail.

More Information

More information on the Graduate Program is available from the School of Graduate Studies.


Dr. Michelle Kilburn
Email: mkilburn@semo.edu
Phone: (573) 986-6414
Office: Brandt 328
MS 7950

Guidelines for a Thesis Proposal for the Department of Criminal Justice

Graduate Internship Approval Form

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Human Subjects Form

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Initial Study Plan Form

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School of Graduate Studies


Department of Criminal Justice
One University Plaza, MS 7950
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701