Advance you career in law enforcement: You'll do that here.

Southeast’s master’s degree in criminal justice is delivered  100% online through a fully integrated, cooperative program with Missouri Southern State University.  

You can customize your degree experience with three capstone options: writing a thesis, participating in an internship, or taking higher level leadership courses and developing a portfolio. The flexibility to choose your capstone means your education aligns with your career goals. 

What to Expect

As a criminal justice graduate student, you’ll be learning from industry professionals through interactive coursework. More specifically, you’ll have the opportunity to: 

  • Learn about the many facets of the criminal justice system including policies and external influences. 
  • Choose your capstone project to focus on academic research, in field experience, or leadership study. 
  • Start with no prior criminal justice experience and graduate with robust knowledge of the field.  

Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology

"I believe education is a collaborative effort between the instructor and the student. Each must do their part but it is imperative the instructor give every student the tools they need to succeed. We all have different learning styles so I try to present information in various formats to accommodate each learning style, to ensure every student can be successful. "

Bobby Bollinger, M.S.

Headshot of Bobby Bollinger

College of Humanities and Social Sciences 

This degree is housed within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The College prepares students for lifelong careers. We boast programs that train students in problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, organization, and adaptability. Skills employers value, so we prepare you for basically any career field.

Online Learning at Southeast

When it comes to your success, we do whatever it takes. Online learning at Southeast takes the same reputable college courses taught by Southeast faculty and makes them available anytime, anywhere.

Graduating from the criminal justice program has helped shape me into the state trooper I am today. Even now, coming up on three years as a state trooper, I am constantly going back to my time as a graduate student and dissecting and learning from everyday situations.

Jose (J.J.) Sanchez, '13, M.S. in Criminal Justice, Missouri State Highway Patrol

Criminal Justice Curriculum

The M.S. in Criminal Justice Program admits students throughout the year with deadlines on April 30 for fall semester, November 21 for spring semester & April 30 for summer semester.

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

  • Undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice, Criminology, or a related field prior to enrollment.
    • A student without a criminal justice degree may be required to complete up to 12 hours of background courses in criminal justice prior to taking graduate level courses including but not limited to: Introduction to Criminal Justice, Methods of Research, Criminological Theory and Statistics. Based on previous courses taken, the requirement to take background courses may be waived by the Criminal Justice Graduate Coordinator.
  • Minimum grade point average of 3.00 on all undergraduate course work and 3.00 on all graduate course work.
    • Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 to 2.99 may be admitted on probation with a personal statement outlining an explanation for the lower academic performance and evidence of commitment to graduate education in criminal justice. Applicants must complete 9 hours of graduate-level coursework in the core area of study with a 3.0 GPA in those 9 hours to continue in the program.
  • Letter of intent
    • In 750 words or less discuss: (a) preparation for graduate study, (b) ability to succeed at the graduate level, (c) explanation of any special circumstances/considerations and (d) professional goals. The letter should be well-written, typed, and addressed to the Director of Admissions.
  • Apply Online @ semo.edu/grad/apply.html
    • Admission Deadlines: April 30 for Fall Semester, November 21 for Spring Semester & April 30 for Summer Semester

Each course three (3) hours unless otherwise specified:

  • CJ505 - Social Inequality  
  • CJ520 - Law & Social Control  
  • CJ601 - Research Methodology in Criminal Justice
  • CJ615 - Theories of Crime 
  • CJ626 - Statistical Analysis in Criminal Justice 

  • CJ510 - Comparative Criminal Justice Systems 
  • CJ519 - Restorative Justice  
  • CJ525 - Crime & Criminal Justice Policy 
  • CJ530 - Crime, Media, & Pop Culture
  • CJ540 - Ethics in Criminal Justice 
    CJ610 - Seminar in Law Enforcement 
  • CJ625 - Seminar in Corrections
  • CJ630 - Seminar in Juvenile Justice
  • CJ635 - Civil Law & Liability
  • CJ641 - Death Penalty in America
  • CJ645 - Policy Analysis & Evaluation
  • CJ650 - Seminar in Criminal Justice Leadership & Practice
  • CJ693 - Independent Study in Criminal Justice 
  • CJ699 Criminal Justice Internship (3 or 6 credits)
  • CJ6xx - Special Topics in Criminal Justice
  • CJ6xx - Seminar in Criminal Courts
  • CJ6xx - Justice Administration
  • CJ834 - Field Experience in Correctional Institutions 

Up to 6 hours of criminal justice may be applied with the approval of the department graduate coordinator.

A Master’s degree requires a culminating activity putting the skills into action. The Department offers three options for this culminating activity – called a capstone.

Option 1: Thesis

For students who want to pursue a research interest, the thesis may be selected. The student will work with a graduate faculty member to develop a research question and a data source to analyze (preferably before the semester starts) who will also help in selecting the other committee members (one outside of the department). This option is a recommended option for those students who are considering a doctorate degree; however, this option is not limited only to those students. The student must be approved by the Department Graduate Coordinator prior to enrolling in CJ 694.


  • CJ 694 Thesis in Criminal Justice (3 hours)
  • CJ 695 Thesis. Second Semester (3 hours)
  • GR 699 Master’s Oral Examination (0 hours)

Option 2: Internship Capstone

For students who want to apply what they have learned in their graduate studies in a particular agency, the internship capstone is a good option. The Internship Capstone requires 240 hour field placement in a criminal justice-related agency. If the student is currently employed in an agency, the Department requires the student work in a different agency. The student will work with a graduate faculty member to develop measurable objectives (before starting the internship) who will also help in selecting the other committee members (one outside of the department). The student will also be writing a significant paper outlining research in the field, findings on the objectives, and recommendations for the agency to consider.


  • CJ 696 Internship Capstone I (3 hours)
  • CJ 697 Internship Capstone II (3 hours)
  • GR 699 Master’s Oral Examination (0 hours)

Option 3: Leadership Capstone

For students who want to learn about leadership and policy, this capstone is a good option. The students are required to take specific courses beyond the 30 hours of coursework required. In this capstone the student will develop a portfolio, analyzing leadership theory and practices and policy analysis and evaluation. This portfolio will be created within CJ 650 using components in that course as well as in CJ 525 and/or CJ 645.


  • CJ 650 Seminar in Criminal Justice Leadership and Practice (3 hours)
  • Choose one course (3 hours)
    • CJ 525 Crime and Criminal Justice Policy
    • CJ 645 Criminal Justice Policy Analysis and Evaluation
  • GR 698 Master’s Comprehensive Examination (0 hours) (used for non-thesis/non-internship capstone students)

Become a Redhawk.

Do more than dream about the future. Take the first steps to make it all happen.

Getting the Job

Your education is just one piece to launching an extraordinary career. Once you’ve mastered the material, you still have to find the job you want, make the right connections, sell your knowledge and experience—and if all this is giving you anxiety, don’t panic. SEMO’s Career Services office is here to help you with the next step. They’ll provide the expertise and support you need, so you’re landing your dream job in no time.

Accelerated Master’s Degree

Southeast offers an accelerated master’s degree for current students. You can get both undergraduate and graduate credit for some 500 level courses, meaning you can graduate with an MBA sooner.

Online: Criminal Justice Degree Map

Explore the courses you'll need to complete your degree

What Can You Do with an M.S. in Criminal Justice?

Earning your master’s degree in criminal justice prepares you to take on many roles in the justice system. You’ll have the knowledge and skills to be in law enforcement, court, correctional, and crime prevention settings, or move on to earning your doctorate.  

You’ll be prepared to take on roles such as: 

  • Chief 
  • Correctional Officer Supervisor 
  • Emergency Management Director 
  • Criminal Profiler 
  • District Attorney or Attorney General Investigator 

Criminal Justice by the Numbers

  • 98%

    Successful Outcomes Rate

    Students graduating with degrees from the Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology report being employed or furthering their education six months after graduation.

  • $76K

    Emergency Management Directors

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary for emergency management directors is $76,250.

  • $67K

    First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary for first-line supervisors of correctional officers is $67,600.

  • $89K

    Detectives and Criminal Investigators

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual salary for detectives and criminal investigators is $89,300.

(573) 651-5184
Office Location
Kent Library 309
Mailing Address
One University Plaza, MS 4610
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

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