The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program epitomizes Governors State University's mission to promote social and ethical responsibility in our community through real-world applications of problem-solving and leadership. The program provides you with the tools to apply innovative techniques, current research and community collaboration for justice system assessment and improvement. The curriculum includes classes, seminars and workshops that impart specific skills in the in the areas of research, evaluation, data analysis, crime control and prevention and organizational leadership. 

"The Criminal Justice M.A. Program at Governors State University is practical and academically rigorous." Kenneth O'Keefe, criminal justice program coordinator, Prairie State College.

"This program provides criminal justice professionals a great opportunity to give something back to their communities…It's an excellent program." Daniel Martin, Chief, New Lenox police department. 


Criminal justice system innovation requires strong leadership. The GSU master's program in criminal justice develops your abilities through a curriculum focusing on leadership theory and methods, self-assessment of leadership strengths, improvement in leadership skills and planning and system change management. 

Creative Problem-Solving

The program provides you with alternative paradigms from which to assess the current system. Courses focus on problem-solving at various stages of the criminal justice process, with community collaboration as a foundation to problem-solving techniques. Networking with a diverse and experienced student body, criminal justice students come from diverse career and educational backgrounds. You will have ample opportunities to network and exchange ideas not provided in other educational settings. 


GSU faculty has an extensive history of applied and theoretical experience in the criminal and juvenile justice fields, and has developed a broad array of networks to provide extensive hands-on experiences for our students. Faculty experience in leadership, community involvement and research provides a rich, dynamic background to this innovative program.

Program Fact Sheet

Required Preparation

Special Admission Requirements 

Admissions Requirements and Recommended Preparation

In addition to the university admissions requirements, students applying to the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program must:

  • have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 (out of a possible 4.0)
  • submit a letter of application explaining a statement of personal interest in pursuing a master's degree in criminal justice
  • submit three professional or academic letters of reference
  • submit completed applications by May 15 for a fall, Sept. 15 for spring, and Jan. 15 for summer session admission

Students seeking admission to the GSU Criminal Justice M.A. program with a GPA lower than 2.75 may petition to the graduate program admissions committee for admission. 

As criminal justice is an interdisciplinary field of study, students may apply for the M.A. in Criminal Justice at Governors State University with a baccalaureate degree in any field from an accredited university. We recommend undergraduate courses in the following areas: criminal or juvenile justice, general social science or criminal justice research methods, introductory statistical analysis, survey courses in the criminal justice system, juvenile justice, policing, court and judicial systems, race and gender studies, policy issues and policy analysis.

Strongly recommended undergraduate courses include theories of deviance and criminal or delinquent behavior, international criminal justice systems, restorative justice, community-based justice, research methods, criminology, the criminal justice system and constitutional issues pertaining to the justice system. The criminal justice master's program will admit students conditionally if they do not meet the undergraduate prerequisites for the graduate core courses, pending successful completion of 12 criminal justice master's program credits.

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

Students must meet all university requirements for a master's degree.

I.  Required Courses (16 hours)

CJUS 6010  M.A. Seminar (1)

CJUS 7020  Leadership Theory  (1)

CJUS 7030  Assessing Leadership (1)

CJUS 7040  Building Leadership (1)

CJUS 8100  Theories of Crime and Deviance (3)

CJUS 8200  Research Applications (3)

CJUS 8300  Criminal Justice System Organization, Finances and Administration (3)

CJUS 8400  Justice and the Community (3) 

II.  Electives (15 credits)

Students must also complete 15 hours of electives in any of the following areas. Students may also take courses in the different areas with program coordinator's approval. 

understanding crime and deviance

policy and crime

administration, planning and system change management

digital forensics and computer security

Additional courses from other disciplines may be substituted for the selective courses with approval of the program coordinator.

III.  Thesis/Directed Readings/Practicum (6 hours)

Select one of the following options: 

A.  Master's Thesis Option (3 Hours):

CJUS 8990    Master's Thesis (3) 

B.  Directed Readings Option (6 Hours)

CJUS 8891   Directed Readings In:...

(6, two 3-credit directed readings courses) 

C.  Problem-Solving Practicum (6 hours)

CJUS 8880   Problem-Solving Practicum (6)

IV.  Total with Thesis/Project - 37 Hours

Graduation Requirements

Students must meet the university requirements for a master's degree found in the GSU Catalog. Please meet with your faculty advisor during the first semester to complete your study plan.

Advisor Information

Brian Vivona
Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice
Academic Program Coordinator