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Degree Overview

Master of Science in Criminal Justice

South University 2018 Graduation
The South University Austin Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program is designed for individuals employed in the criminal justice system, as well as those in other careers, both public and private, who wish to acquire further education in criminal justice. Prerequisites are limited so that qualified students with bachelor’s degrees in related fields such as criminology, psychology, business or public administration, anthropology, political science, sociology or related social sciences may enroll along with students who have undergraduate degrees in criminal justice. The program is primarily designed to foster a learning community of criminal justice professionals who will use their knowledge within law enforcement, correctional, political, and legal arenas.

Admission Requirements

Please see the South University academic catalog for program specific admissions requirements.

Course Requirements

Master of Science in Criminal Justice: 48 credits
Foundation: 28 Credits
MCJ5001 Foundations in Criminal Justice, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ5003 Ethics and Moral Behavior in the Criminal Justice System, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ5100 Advanced Research Methods and Analysis I, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6001 Criminal Justice Administration, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6003 Criminological Theory, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6004 Criminal Justice Planning & Innovation, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6405 Organizational Leadership, 4 Credit Hours
Program Elective (choose four): 16 Credits
MCJ6002 Juvenile Justice Administration, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6401 Critical/Controversial Issues: Law Enforcement, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6404 Political Terrorism, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6410 Legal Issues in Criminal Justice Administration, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6505 Management of Critical Incidents, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6601 Resource and Agency Coordination, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6620 Special Topics in Homeland Security, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6701 Theory and Practice of Community Corrections and Re-entry Programs, 4 Credit Hours
MCJ6705 Theory and Practice of Institutional Corrections, 4 Credit Hours

The student will choose four courses (16 credits) from the remaining graduate level criminal justice curriculum listed below or from other graduate offerings with the guidance and approval of the Program Director in Criminal Justice or appropriate Program Chair and with the advice of the related Program Director if courses from other programs are desired. The student should plan to take at least 50% of this part of the degree program in criminal justice courses. Students may construct an area of emphasis with the guidance of the Program Director or Chair or pursue a more general set of elective course courses. Students may emphasize a traditional area of the field such as Corrections or Homeland Security, but elective choices may also reflect the particular professional goals and aspirations of the student. Thus, courses in areas such as Public Administration, Business, or Clinical Mental Health Counseling may be included as desired and approved and if the student completes the required prerequisites for such courses. Please note that Financial Aid may not cover prerequisite courses. Please see the Coursework Taken Outside a Student's Degree Program Policy found in the Academic Affairs section of this catalog.

Capstone: 4 Credits
MCJ6985 Applied Professional Project, 4 Credit Hours

Acceptance into a South University Criminal Justice program or its completion does not imply or guarantee that a student will be able to obtain employment in law enforcement, corrections, probation/parole, or related fields. The student should contact the national, state, or local agency/institution in which he or she intends to gain employment for specific requirements and the application process.

South University, Online Program offerings may not be available to residents of all states.  Please contact an admissions representative for further information.


Graduates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate mastery of skills in the areas of theoretical and applied criminal justice as well as in managerial principles and practices to effectively solve a variety of real-life problems within a complex organization.  
  • Understand the relationship between crime theory, crime policy, and professional practice.
  • Demonstrate interactive skills and learn behavioral strategies for improving systemic communication within and between criminal justice agencies.
  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively interpret and make use of research methodology by completing a final research project prospectus on a topic related to professional practice in an actual criminal justice agency.

Career Outlook

Graduates of the MS in Criminal Justice program are prepared to seek management, administrative, research, and teaching positions primarily within law enforcement, correctional, political, and legal arenas. Program graduates will also be prepared for admission to doctoral programs in criminal justice, criminology and other related fields as well as for promotions within existing law enforcement, correctional, local and state government, and legal institutions.
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Success STories

Outstanding Education for Remarkable Careers

We're committed to helping our graduates make an impact in their professional and personal lives. We applaud our alumni and the difference they make. Check out what some of our Criminal Justice & Legal Studies graduates have to say.

Vicki Tucci 1997
Vicki Tucci Grad Alumni
Class of '96
Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies

“Ultimately, I would like to use my experience and law degree to become a judge. As a young, single mom still fleshing out a career, I felt so clueless about many things. It was that hunger for knowledge that led me to South University’s program in paralegal studies. I got so much more than a classroom education. I found friends, professional contacts, and a world of inspiration from being around people who wanted to see me at my best.”

Alicia Parler 2010
Alicia Parler Grad Alumni
Class of '10
Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies

“The comradery among service men and women exists due to hardships and discipline soldiers confront together on a regular basis. More than anything, military life has taught me to appreciate my freedom as an American, something I took for granted before I joined. I learned self-discipline, which made me a better student, and ultimately, helped me realize my career aspirations. As soon as I stepped foot onto campus, and started contacting professors like Carolyn Horner, the whole experience from start-to-finish has been welcoming and encouraging. ”

Linda Hunter 2010
Linda Hunter Grad Alumni
Class of '10
Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies

“I can go just about anywhere and say I have a bachelor's degree in Legal Studies from a university whose program is approved by the ABA, and professionals know what that means. I know my hard work and the degree will be noticed.”

blue cap and gown graduate icon
Peter Gross Grad Alumni
Class of '10
Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies

“My classes at South University were inspiring, not just informative; a thorough curriculum absolutely gave me the background I needed to be hired immediately at my law office.”

Steve Knafelc 2013
Steve Knafelc Grad Alumni
Class of '13
Master of Science in Criminal Justice

“All of my classes were conducted online, and with my work schedule at the sheriff's office this was the best move for me to make.”