2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
    Jun 12, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Criminal Justice, M.S.

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Program Description

The graduate program in Criminal Justice focuses on theoretical and applied issues in law enforcement, corrections, administration, and public law. Its goal is to further critical thinking about significant issues in crime and criminal justice. Judges, lawyers, managers, and criminal justice researchers supplement the faculty, bringing many practical considerations to the study of the discipline.

Program Objectives

The primary purpose of this Master’s Degree program is to further develop the following:

  • Theoretical thinking- the ability to interpret problems and solutions using comprehensive theoretical knowledge
  • Productive thinking-analysis and application of management and administrative techniques related to criminal justice
  • Analytical thinking-the ability to critically thing in terms of research and evaluation.
  • Practical thinking- to consider what should be done and to synthesize ideas to generate different solutions to criminal justice issues.
  • Comprehension- the ability to understand and evaluate the interrelationship of research, ideas, and theories presented in throughout their coursework and to apply their knowledge to unique situations and settings.

Graduate students are required to complete 33 graduate credit hours and a comprehensive examination, or 30 credits and a capstone, or 27 graduate credit hours and a six-hour thesis. For all three tracks, there are four required courses: Criminological Theory I , Research Methods , Administrative Theory of Criminal Justice , and Statistics . Each student is assigned an advisor who will assist in selecting courses and, if undertaking a thesis, a thesis advisor. Thesis advisors are members of the graduate faculty.

Admissions Requirements

In order to be considered for admission to the program, a complete application must be presented for review, including:

  1. Bachelor’s degree with a major or minor in any of the social sciences with a 2.7 GPA or a 3.0 for the last two years of undergraduate studies, class ranking will also be considered;
  2. Three professional or academic letters of reference;
  3. An official GRE with a combined score of 950 on two sections or a MAT score of 45 or better; For WSU students with a GPA of 3.3 or higher this requirement is waived.
  4. A narrative statement about your professional goals, academic experience, factors which support your future endeavors.

BS/MS option for high achieving students

Students must meet all three criteria listed below:

  1. Westfield State University students with a GPA of 3.3 entering into their final semester or after completing their undergraduate degree would be considered for the program.
  2. Students who are entering into their final semester at Westfield State University may be eligible to take two courses from graduate credit, assuming the 120 credits needed to complete their BS will be fulfilled independently of the MS coursework.
  3. All students will be required to complete the entire graduate application packet, WITH THE EXCEPTION of the standardized test requirement.

Program Requirements

Matriculation Requirements:

Matriculated students are those who have been admitted to a graduate program at Westfield State University. If you intend to work toward a degree, you must apply as soon as possible. A maximum of six (6) Westfield State University credits taken prior to acceptance may be applied toward your degree program. Advising is recommended.

Once matriculated, students must see the graduate advisor and work out a Program of Study in accordance with the requirements for a degree in their major program. The Program of Study will include the following:

  1. prerequisites in the area of concentration;
  2. a planned program of courses necessary for competency in the field of concentration;
  3. elective courses.

The Program of Study form must be signed by the student and approved by the graduate advisor, the chair of the department, and the Dean. A copy of this form will be sent to the student and to the graduate advisor. The original will be kept in the student’s file.

Specific Degree Requirements

Elective Courses - 21 Credits

Completion of 21 recommended graduate semester hours in Criminal Justice

Requirements for Master’s Degree - 33 Credits

Program Completion Options: MS in Criminal Justice

A. Comprehensive Examination Option

This option is intended for individuals seeking a terminal degree or wishing to continue their education beyond the master’s degree. In this option, candidates must complete a total of 33 credit hours of coursework. Students are also required to successfully complete a comprehensive exam to demonstrate knowledge gained in coursework and to relate concepts across the curriculum. The exam may be taken only after completing all required courses and a minimum of 27 credits within the Master’s program.

B. Capstone Experience Option

The capstone experience option is intended for individuals seeking a terminal degree. After completed 30 credit hours, the student will enroll in a three credit capstone experience. The capstone experience is a focused study and applied research under the direction of a faculty advisor. The student must submit an abstract for approval to the faculty advisor before undertaking the project. The Capstone must demonstrate a student’s ability to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in their academic program to real world issues and problems. The work will include an abstract of approximately 150 words and an annotated bibliography. It is expected that the paper will be approximately twenty-five pages in length. The final work is evaluated by the faculty advisor and the graduate coordinator or department chairperson. Students are required to present their Capstone in a public forum. Students completing the Homeland Security Certificate concurrently with their Masters of Criminal Justice must complete a Homeland Security related capstone.

C. Master’s Thesis Option

This option is intended for students who wish to continue their education beyond the master’s degree. The student is required to complete 27 hours in addition to the six credit hour thesis. However, the student may register for the thesis after completing 24 credits of graduate program coursework with a B or better GPA. With the approval of a thesis advisor, the student develops a significant problem for research and study. The work is to be of publishable quality and is evaluated by a thesis committee. After the work is complete, it is to be defended in a public forum. The student is also required to provide bound copies of the thesis to the Department of Criminal Justice, Westfield State University Library, and the Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education.

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