Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Program Director

Dr. Christopher M. Bellas
1420 Cushwa Hall
(330) 941-2167

Program Description

The Master of Science in criminal justice at YSU provides professional education for criminal justice students. Criminal Justice faculty members are currently involved in research in police management theory, applied police management, correctional organization and treatment, crime statistics, and criminological theory. Students are encouraged to participate in this ongoing re­search.

Students considering a career in the field of criminal justice should be aware that many em­ployers and agencies may require applicants to meet certain preemployment qualifications. These may include, but are not limited to,

  • lack of a criminal record,
  • satisfactory background checks,
  • physical standards and conditions, and
  • emotional stability.

Combined Bachelor's/Master's Program

The 4 plus 1 accelerated program in Criminal Justice allows admitted Criminal Justice students to complete both their Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in a total of five years instead of six. Students can take a maximum of nine graduate credit hours and apply them to both degrees, once admitted into the program. The goal of the program is to allow students to enter the competitive job market sooner rather than completing two separate programs.

Admission Requirements

While an undergraduate degree in this discipline is not required for admission, a substan­tial background in the social sciences is preferred. Students lacking such preparation will, at the discretion of the department, be required to make up deficiencies. Each student must have com­pleted:

  • the equivalent of CRJS 1500 Introduction to Criminal Justice,
  • a course in criminology and/or crime and delinquency,
  • an introductory course in statistics, and
  • a research methodology course.

Students admitted with deficiencies in any of these requirements must remove them by completion of the second semester of graduate coursework.

Regular Admission

To obtain regular admission, students must have a cumulative grade point average in undergraduate work of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) or a satisfactory standardized test score (30th percentile or higher on the GRE overall, or MAT group overall score) and undergraduate GPA of 2.7 or higher. If students meet these criteria but have undergraduate coursework deficiencies, they may be granted provisional admission.

Provisional Admission

A student with a cumulative GPA in undergraduate work below a 3.0 must have either of the following two criteria in order to obtain provisional admission:

  1. a satisfactory standardized test score (30th percentile or higher on the MAT, GRE, or GMAT)
  2. an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 30-40 hours of coursework. 

Upon admission to the criminal justice graduate program and selection of emphasis area, each student is guided by a committee of three faculty members. The student selects a graduate advisor in the area of concentration from the Criminal Justice faculty. This advisor serves as the chair of the student’s graduate committee. The student and advisor select the other two members of the committee, both of whom must be members of the graduate faculty and one of whom may come from a program other than Criminal Justice. This committee will assist the student as appropriate with the planning of the program, preparation and oral defense of the thesis, or the graduate paper and its defense in the case of the nonthesis option.

Academy Training and Life Experience

Opportunities are available through the Department of Criminal Justice and Consumer Sciences for students who do not have life experience or police academy training.

Combined Bachelor's/Master's Program

Admission to take part in the 4 plus 1 program includes: 78 hours completed as an undergraduate student majoring with a BSAS in Criminal Justice; an undergraduate GPA of 3.0; and admission into the YSU College of Graduate Studies. Students must complete an "intent to enroll in the accelerated program" by their junior year, so that they can begin taking courses that would apply to the graduate program. Students who have taken "swing courses" cannot retroactively apply them to the accelerated program.

Graduate Faculty

Christopher M. Bellas, Ph.D., Professor
Capital punishment; court process; law; jury decision-making; criminology victimization.

John M. Hazy, Ph.D., Professor, Chair
Community/behavioral health (drugs and crime); methodology and assessment; life course and cultural issues; teaching effectiveness

Monica Merrill, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Criminology; victimization; inequalities

Christian C. Onwudiwe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Comparative criminal justice systems; international relations; corrections; restorative justice

Richard Lee Rogers, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Social problems and criminology; organizational and economic sociology; statistics and research methods; social history; Anglo-American religious movements; ecological analysis

Patricia Bergum Wagner, J.D., Associate Professor
Substantive criminal law; court structure; appellate practice

The graduate program in criminal justice adheres to the position that the administration of criminal justice is a continuous, integrated process from prevention of crime through completion of all legal intervention. The program is designed to provide society with individuals who have both a substantial awareness of the overall system and the essential competencies required to perform professional roles within it. To achieve this objective, the program broadens the student’s knowledge of the total criminal justice process and provides professional education so that its graduates may assume positions of leadership within the criminal justice system. The program also prepares students for doctoral studies in criminal justice or criminology.

Students seeking the M.S. degree in criminal justice may elect either a thesis or non-thesis op­tion. The Criminal Justice program will accept courses from other departments offering 5000- or 6000-level courses. Students should see the graduate coordinator when selecting these courses.

Core Courses (12-15 hours)
Applied Police Correction Management
Law and Criminal Justice
Criminal Justice Public Policy Seminar
Criminal Justice Studies, Practices, and Theories
Advanced Criminology
Research and Statistics in Health and Human Services *CRJS 6942 or both CRJS 6940 and 6945
Statistical Techniques in Health and Human Services
Graduate Paper/Project (2 hours) or Thesis (6 hours)
Graduate Capstone Project
Research and Thesis
Electives (21-12 hours)

Thesis Option

A minimum of 30 semester hours is required in this option, of which up to six hours may be thesis. No more than nine semester hours may be below the 6900 level.

Non-Thesis Option

A minimum of 35 semester hours is required of which no more than 12 semester hours may be below the 6900 level. The non-thesis option will require a major graduate research paper or graduate project worth two credits and an oral exam (defense) upon its completion.

Combined Bachelor's/Master's Program

Nine hours from a special menu of courses can be applied to the graduate program from a student’s undergraduate program. Of these 9 hours, 2 courses (6 hours) must be core courses. The special menu includes the selection of one CRJS swing (5800-level) course or CRJS 6925 and 2 out of these 9 6900-level courses (CRJS 6910, CRJS 6915, CRJS 6920, CRJS 6942, CRJS 6940, CRJS 6945, CRJS 6950, CRJS 6975, and CRJS 6990). After completing the required 120-124 hours of the undergraduate program, 4+1 students then choose a completion path involving either a thesis or a graduate project in the same manner as a non-accelerated student except the 4+1 students get to carry over 9 of the their graduate hours earned in their 4th year.

For the thesis path, students need 21 more hours given they are starting with 9 hours and therefore should take the following courses:

1-6 hours of CRJS 6999 Thesis

3 hours of law/policy core CRJS 6910 or CRJS 6990

3 hours of theory/core CRJS 6915 or CRJS 6920

3-6 hours of methods/core CRJS 6942 or both CRJS 6940 and CRJS 6945

3 hours of management/core CRJS 6975 or CRJS 6950

0-8 hours of electives.

Students can use only 9 hours of 5800 level courses for those who choose the thesis option.

For the non-thesis option (i.e. the Graduate Project path), students need 26 hours to accompany the 9 hours of carry over from the 4th year in the form of these guidelines:

2 hours of CRJS 6998 Graduate Project

3 hours of law/policy core CRJS 6910 or CRJS 6990

3 hours of theory/core CRJS 6915 or CRJS 6920

3-6 hours of methods/core CRJS 6942 or both CRJS 6940 and CRJS 6945

3 hours of management/core CRJS 6975* or CRJS 6950 and

9-12 hours of electives.

Students can use only 12 hours of 5800 level courses if they choose the non-thesis (Graduate Project) option.

Learning Outcomes

SLO1: Students will demonstrate knowledge on how to evaluate programs, policies, theories, and research related to the Criminal Justice system.

SLO2: Students will demonstrate knowledge on how to use key Criminal Justice concepts to administrate programs and lead others.

SLO3: Students will demonstrate knowledge on how to perform their own research related to the Criminal Justice system.

Graduate Courses

CRJS 5802    Corrections Law and Liability    3 s.h.

Analysis and examination of legal mandates and restrictions affecting the field of corrections. History of the development of offender rights, current issues surrounding offender rights, and future concerns in this area. Jail and prison standards, accreditation standards, case law, and liability concerns.
Prereq.: CRJS 3719 or graduate student standing.

CRJS 5825    Criminal Procedures and Constitutional Issues    3 s.h.

Constitutional foundations of the American criminal justice process with special emphasis on recent Supreme Court decisions. Legal and practical applications of the laws of arrest, criminal procedure, search and seizure, court structures, and federal civil rights.
Prereq.: CRJS 3719 and must be a criminal justice major or have permission of chairperson.

CRJS 5831    Violence in America    3 s.h.

Analysis of violence in America including official and unofficial statistics, types and levels of violence, research findings, and profiles of offenders. Case analysis of domestic violence, juvenile violence, gangs, and other forms of violence.
Prereq.: CRJS 3735.

CRJS 5840    Critical Incidents and Homeland Security    3 s.h.

This course provides an overview of emergency planning at all stages from the initial development of an emergency plan to the management of crisis situations to the evaluation of the response. The course culminates in the creation of an emergency preparedness plan for jurisdiction or agency of the student’s choosing, and the student is encouraged to select a situation consist with present work or long-term career plans.
Prereq.: CRJS 1500, PHLT 1531, OR graduate student status.

CRJS 5841    Terrorism and Countersurveillance    3 s.h.

The course provides an introduction to terrorism and counter-terrorism techniques. Generally, the course material is divided into two parts. First, the course offers a description of terrorist and anti-government groups. Topics covered include the background and history of terrorist and anti-government groups as well as the tactics of these groups. Second, the course takes the perspective of homeland security and law enforcement agencies proactively counteracting the threats to public safety that they groups may pose.
Prereq.: CRJS 1500, PHLT 1531, OR graduate student status.

CRJS 5865    Gathering and Using Information in Criminal Justice    3 s.h.

Specialized communication skills to prepare criminal justice practitioners in information-gathering techniques, written presentation techniques, verbal and nonverbal communication skills within constitutional guidelines.
Prereq.: CRJS 2601 or graduate student standing.

CRJS 5872    Drugs and Crime    3 s.h.

This course will cover the drug-crime connection. In doing so, a wide variety of topics will be highlighted from a history of criminal justice policies on various drugs to ways to prevent and treat substance abuse. The three learning objectives (LO) that will be pursued in this course are: 1) explain the context of the criminal justice approaches to specific types of drugs; 2) apply criminal justice (CJ) theories on drug use and abuse; and 3) analyze and assess drug-control policies and criminal justice intervention/management strategies. These three course objectives relate to the overall CJ degree learning outcomes in fostering critical thinking relative to CJ policies, literature review development, and the inter-relationships within the CJ system.

CRJS 5875    Juvenile Justice System    3 s.h.

In-depth analysis of the specialized agencies and procedures developed to deal with problems of juveniles from a historical and philosophical perspective. Consideration of the juvenile court, community-based programs, institutionalization.
Prereq.: Graduate student standing or CRJS 2602 and CRJS 2603.

CRJS 6910    Law and Criminal Justice    3 s.h.

An historical analysis of criminal law as a social control. An overview of substantive criminal law and criminal procedural law in the United States.

CRJS 6915    Advanced Criminology    3 s.h.

A comprehensive analysis of the causes of crime from an interdisciplinary perspective. Major criminological theories are considered in light of contemporary empirical research.
Prereq.: CRJS 3735 or equivalent or permission of the Graduate Coordinator.

CRJS 6920    Criminal Justice Studies, Practices, and Theories    3 s.h.

A critical analysis of the field of criminal justice studies including crime statistics, crime causation, the criminal justice process, and the agencies involved.
Prereq.: CRJS 1500.

CRJS 6925    Administration and Management Theory    3 s.h.

Administration and management theory as applied to criminal justice agencies. Includes the functions of the executive, the nature of authority and leadership, organizational communication, and theories of employee motivation.

CRJS 6940    Statistical Techniques in Health and Human Services    3 s.h.

A consideration of the courses of statistical information in the human resource systems and the limits of such data, with primary emphasis upon multivariate statistics and their application to the field.

CRJS 6942    Research and Statistics in Health and Human Services    3 s.h.

A consolidated statistical and research course in human services to design and use qualitative and quantitative research, use and interpret descriptive and inferential statistics, and evaluate the research of others.

CRJS 6945    Research Methods in Health and Human Services    3 s.h.

An analysis of the design and execution of both quantitative and qualitative research in the human services, and the development of research designs most useful to human services research problems.

CRJS 6950    Selected Topics in Criminal Justice    3 s.h.

Addresses specific topics relating to the crime problem and the criminal justice process. The topics may vary from semester to semester and will be announced prior to enrollment. This course is repeatable provided it is on different topics.

CRJS 6950X    Special Topics: Sex Crimes    3 s.h.

It will cover different types of sex crimes including but not limited to prostitution, pornography (adult and child), human trafficking, sexual assault, and rape. Legislation, offender typologies, and treatments will also be covered.
Prereq.: Junior standing or permission of the Chair.

CRJS 6955    Independent Study    3 s.h.

Study under the personal supervision of a faculty member with the approval of the graduate coordinator. May be repeated once.

CRJS 6957    Readings in Criminal Justice    1-4 s.h.

Extensive reading assignments in the student's interest area under the supervision of a graduate faculty member. May be repeated for no more than a total of six semester hours.
Prereq.: Approval of graduate coordinator.

CRJS 6960    Program Planning and Evaluation    3 s.h.

A systematic review and evaluation of human services programs with special attention to the posting of questions in context; questions relating to the selections of design, method, and process of summative evaluation; and assessing the effectiveness of programs.

CRJS 6975    Applied Police Correction Management    3 s.h.

Systematic examinations of the principles and practices of criminal justice organizations and the historical contexts of their implementation. Readings emphasize best practices, legal standards, and interdisciplinary cooperation affecting law enforcement and corrections, especially as they affect financial management, human resources, community relations, homeland security, and the treatment of vulnerable populations.

CRJS 6985    Grant Writing    3 s.h.

Insight into the methods, strategies, and techniques of grant writing, with emphasis on the proposal components and exploration of funding sources. Each student will exhibit competence in planning, developing, and evaluating a proposal as well as creating a draft of a grant proposal based on an actual Request for Proposals.

CRJS 6990    Criminal Justice Public Policy Seminar    3 s.h.

Types of policy and how policies are formulated are covered. The evaluation of policy, with attention to what constitutes good public policy. Special attention is given to the impact of crime control policies, particularly crime legislation and current laws.

CRJS 6995    Criminal Justice Practicum    3-6 s.h.

Supervised experience in an applied criminal justice setting.
Prereq.: Approval by graduate director; Permit required.

CRJS 6998    Graduate Capstone Project    2 s.h.

Under the direction of a graduate committee, led by the committee advisor, this course will provide the student with the structure and support to develop a scholarly project or paper related to the field of Criminal Justice. The course will allow students to search, review, critique, and appraise current research and evidence in the field of Criminal Justice and to develop a project or paper making a significant contribution to the discipline. Permission of the Graduate Coordinator.
Prereq.: Permission of the Graduate Coordinator.

CRJS 6999    Research and Thesis    1-6 s.h.

A research project under the supervision of a full-time faculty member of the department in CRJS with graduate faculty status. Permission of the Graduate Coordinator. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 semester hours.