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M.A. Criminal Justice

MA in Criminal Justice curriculum overview:

Provides students with an academic foundation for managerial and other advanced professional roles in criminal justice. The program is also designed to prepare individuals to teach at the community college level or to prepare those interested in furthering their education at the doctoral level. Students complete five professional core classes, six electives, and complete an exit requirement consisting of a thesis, professional project, or comprehensive exams.

Your plan of study:

Once admitted to MA in Criminal Justice , you will work with an advisor to plan the courses you will take and how you will complete the academic requirements of the program. By filing this Program Plan (PDF form), you have a road map for completing your degree and clarity on what to expect.

Courses for the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice:

CJ 608 Graduate Studies Workshop

CJ 612 Research in Criminal Justice

CJ 617 Criminal Justice Administration/Organizational Behavior

CJ 619 Ethics and Leadership in Criminal Justice

CJ 660 Theory and Research in Crime and Delinquency

  • Electives:

Choose six from below and/or 500 level CJ courses. Courses may not be taken for credit if student has completed course as an undergraduate student.

CJ 616 Community Based Organizations

CJ 618 Theory of Criminal Law

CJ 620 Offender Treatment

CJ 621 Human Resources Management and Criminal Justice

CJ 622 Strategic Planning in Criminal Justice

CJ 656 Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice

  • Exit Requirements:
    • Thesis/Professional Project (4 credits)-no comprehensive exams
    • Special Individual Study (4 credits)-requires comprehensive exams

Course Descriptions

CJ 608 Graduate Studies Workshop (1 credit)

Students must take CJ-608, “Graduate Studies Workshop,” during their first term. This one-unit course (which is offered each term) introduces students to the methods, theories, and strategies of graduate study, to the online resources available at Hamersly Library, and to our online delivery platform-Mood le. It also serves as a point of initial academic advising wherein students will decide on an exit strategy, write a preliminary exit proposal, and begin the process of selecting a graduate advisor/committee.

CJ 612 Research in Criminal Justice (4 credits)

Course examines research techniques and methods necessary for a comprehensive understanding of crime, criminal justice, and their relationship to policy construction and implementation. Course will explore quantitative and qualitative social research methodologies, and examine their application in the study of crime and criminal justice in a variety of geographic environments (e.g. rural and/or urban settings).

CJ 616 Community-Based Corrections (4 credits)

Inventory, assessment and impact of community based programs implemented for treatment and care of the juvenile and adult offenders.

CJ 617 Criminal Justice Administration and Organizational Behavior (4 credits)

Review of theories of organization and administration, the application of these theories to criminal justice system organizations; review of research on criminal justice administration and organization.

CJ 618 Theory of Criminal Law (4 credits)

Development and application of criminal law in America. Focus on a variety of issues germane to the history and implementation of criminal law. Course will address philosophical, sociological, psychological and biological contributions to criminal law, and the implications of these contributions on social policies will be explored.

CJ 619 Ethics and Leadership in Criminal Justice Organizations (4 credits)

Course examines major theories of leadership and ethics relevant to criminal justice and social service institutions. Emphasis is placed on leadership and its relationship to ethics. Various models of leadership and research relevant to the criminal justice setting are discussed.

CJ 620 Offender Treatment (4 credits)

Exploration of various offender treatment programs. Students will examine the theoretical foundation for those programs, as well as the social, economic and political implications associated with adult and juvenile offender treatment programs.

CJ 621 Human Resource Management in Criminal Justice (4 credits)

Students will explore the recruiting, selection, training, assignment, discipline and promotion of personnel in criminal justice. Emphasis is on the philosophy, theory and practice of human resource management in the contemporary public safety agency.

CJ 622 Strategic Planning in Criminal Justice (4 credits)

Students will explore the development and design of strategic planning to provide the competence to develop a strategic plan for a criminal justice agency. Strategic planning will be contrasted to tactical planning and intuitive planning. The strategies for future thinking, visioning, organizational values, environmental concerns, stakeholders and forecasting will be studied. Study and research will focus on the philosophy, theory and application of strategic planning in criminal justice agencies.

CJ 656 Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice (4 credits)

A study of contemporary issues in criminal justice.

CJ 660 Advanced Theories and Research in Crime and Delinquency (4 credits)

Graduate students will have an opportunity to explore advanced applications of theory and social research methodologies. Students will be required to develop and apply critical analysis of a variety of theoretical and methodological applications within the realm of criminal justice and the broader study of crime. Students will be required to demonstrate an understanding of the relationships between theory, methods and social policy.

500 Level Courses:

CJ 523 Management of Law Enforcement Organizations (4 credits)

Managerial concepts, administrative principles and supervisory practices for the middle command officer. Law enforcement leadership, policy formulation and application of sound management practices.

CJ 524 Law Enforcement Planning (4 credits)

Planning techniques, development of criminal justice planning, identification of problem areas, causative factors, solutions and alternative strategies, using resources to effect change.

CJ 526 Fundamentals of Crime Analysis (4 credits)

Introduction to the fundamental theories, techniques, and software used in the analysis of crime. Includes terms and concepts of crime analysis, how it is used in America’s police agencies; how to perform basic analytical techniques on raw data; how tactics and strategies for crime reduction are developed and employed; and tools, techniques, and products of crime analysis.

CJ 528 Crime Problem Analysis (4 credits)

Builds on CJ 526, introduces students to advanced techniques and software used in the general analysis of crime. Using an actual problem in criminal justice (e.g. drug trafficking, white-collar crime, sexual exploitation of children, etc.), students will collect, evaluate, correlate, and describe data related to the problem.

CJ 529 Tactical Crime Analysis (4 credits)

Builds on CJ 528, introduces students to tactical crime analysis. Using advanced software and qualitative and/or quantitative models to analyze their data, students will develop a tactical plan to address an immediate crime pattern or series of crimes with the goal of devising quick response tactics (actions that could be employed in a field setting) to deter or apprehend an offender.

CJ 533 Criminal Justice and Popular Cultures (4 credits)

Focuses on evaluating printed and electronically mass-produced works of fiction, non-fiction, and other entertainment & infotainment media as they relate to crime and criminal justice in America. Will explore the mass media’s fascination with crime and punishment. Will concentrate on developing a better theoretical understanding of the impact mass-media has on criminal justice discourse and policy.

CJ 535 Gender, Crime, and Justice (4 credits)

Course examines the differences in the commission of offenses and victimization by gender and addresses gender specific differences in criminality, societal reactions and criminal justice responses by gender. Course also addresses the relationships of gender, race, social class, crime and social control.

CJ 536 Minorities, Crime, Social Policy, and Social Control (4 credits)

The involvement of minorities, especially African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans, in crime and the criminal justice system.

CJ 540 Community Crime Prevention (4 credits)

Multidisciplinary approach to theoretical foundations of issues related to crimes committed in the community and theoretical orientations of various community crime prevention strategies and the implications associated with social policies.

CJ 550 Criminology (4 credits)

A description and analysis of types of crimes, types of criminals and the major theories of crime causation. An examination of past and present incidence rates of crimes; the socioeconomic, cultural and psychological variables related to criminal behavioral and a review of possible solutions to the crime problem.

CJ 551 Youth, Crime and Society (4 credits)

Offers a review of the nature, distribution and explanations of youth crime, with particular attention given to the historical context of youth, crime and the topic of youth gangs. Gender, race, political and official responses to youth crime will be emphasized.

CJ 552 Criminal Procedure (4 credits)

The concepts of due process and application of the Bill of Rights in criminal law are examined in the light of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. State and federal procedural law is reviewed as well as relevant new legislation.

CJ 553 Corrections (4 credits)

Considers the evolution of punishment, corrections theories, survey of prison development and administration; education, labor and rehabilitation processes; social groups in the prison community.

CJ 554 Parole and Probation (4 credits)

History of parole and probation; review of contemporary parole and probation theories, practices, processes and research; the future of parole and probation.

CJ 555 Correctional Casework and Counseling (4 credits)

History, development and contemporary practices, theories, and techniques of juvenile and adult correctional casework, counseling and treatment.

CJ 563 Topics on Juvenile Issues (4 credits)

Focuses on contemporary juvenile issues (such as child abuse) and other current issues and trends that involve the juvenile, family, school, social agencies and the court.


You can rely on the professionals behind the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program to help you grow in your career and take on leadership in the field of criminal justice. We are committed to developing long-lasting relationships with our online students. Ask us questions-about the process, about the field, or about your career. We look forward to your contributions to the field of criminal justice.  

Ready to get to know us better? Request more information or start the application process.



If you haven’t found the information you need or are still not sure where to direct your question, contact Jennifer Willard at willardj@wou.edu or 503-838-8733 Fax: 503-838-9707

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Jill recently finished her 16 week course for DPSST and works for the Independence Police Department. "Getting my Criminal Justice MA from WOU has been one of the best decisions of my life. It has allowed me to pursue and succeed in a number of diverse roles within the criminal justice system. My degree, and the knowledge I gained from the program has given me great confidence and the flexibility to map out my own career path. I have recommended the program to many colleagues and will continue to do so."

Jill Thissel-Alumni

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

"I do not fear failure. I only fear the slowing up of the engine inside of me which is pounding, saying, keep going, someone must be on top, why not you? –General George S. Patton My motivation to keep pushing forward are the men and women veterans who have signed a blank check in order to protect the rights and freedoms we so often take for granted. Western Oregon University has given me the opportunity through the Criminal Justice program to give back to those men and women who need the support of the community."

Gerrad McElroy-Current Student

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice