skip to main content columnskip to left navigationskip to horizontal navigation

Criminal Justice & Criminology

College of Arts & Sciences

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology offers the master of arts degree (MA), which is designed to enhance student understanding of crime, societal reaction to crime, and efforts to control it. It prepares the student for advancement in criminal justice professions, teaching at the community college level, and study at the doctoral level.

The Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology also offers a Graduate Certificate in Forensic Document Examination:
 More information about this certificate here.

For more information contact:
Dr. Dustin Osborne - Graduate Coordinator
423.439.5604 /


Program Admission Requirements*:

Admission decisions are based on the applicant's combined verbal and quantitative scores on the GRE and the applicant's undergraduate grade point average. The applicant's grade point average during the last two years of undergraduate study will be taken into consideration.

Thesis Program

Non-Thesis Program

Department Funding:
In order to be considered for a Graduate Assistant/Tuition Scholar Position in the Criminal Justice Department a separate department application must be completed and received no later than February 28th for Fall consideration and September 30th for Spring consideration. Please come by the Criminal Justice Office (Rogers-Stout 201) to pick up an application from Christine Ketelaar. You can also email Christine Ketelaar at for an application. Please also provide a cover letter and curriculum vitae (resume) with the application. Preference will be given to CJCR MA candidates.

Grad Student sin Dr. Prior TeachingApplication for GA/TSComp Test- Comprehensive Reading List


Application for GA/TS 
Comp Test - Comprehensive Reading List
(For a copy of these two forms contact Christine Ketelaar at )
Application Materials
Graduate Catalog 
Program Materials (including Program of Study, Candidacy, and Advisory Committee Forms)

Frequently Asked Questions

1.   What can I do with an M.A. in Criminal Justice and Criminology?

Graduates of our program have gone on to pursue a variety of careers.  Some are employed with federal and state agencies, such as the Secret Service, Tennessee Highway Patrol and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  Others have pursued opportunities in local agencies.  Many of our students continue their studies at the doctoral level, and serve as faculty members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

2.   What skills will I gain as a result of completing the program?

The M.A. in Criminal Justice and Criminology is designed to provide students with an advanced understanding of the causes of crime and operations of the criminal justice system.  Our primary focus is developing your ability to recognize the role of research in the field.  You will leave the program with the tools required to conduct and evaluate research, as well as the ability to translate research into practice.

3.   Can students pursue the degree via distance learning?

Our program does not currently allow for students to complete the degree online.  However, we do attempt to schedule our courses in the evening hours to make enrollment possible for working professionals.  Most courses meet for approximately three hours once per week.

4.   What types of courses will I be taking?

All students are required to take a series of six core courses that cover topics such as criminological theory, research methodology and statistical analysis.  You are given some freedom in the courses that you will take to satisfy the elective requirements.  We attempt to offer classes on a variety of topics so that each student can gear the program toward their interests and career goals.

5.  How long will it take to complete the program?

Most full-time students complete the program in two years.  Timelines vary for those pursuing part-time study.  Depending upon the track selected (thesis or comprehensive exam), you will be required to complete 33-36 hours of graduate coursework.

6.  Will I have to write a thesis?

The M.A. in Criminal Justice and Criminology allows students to select from one of two tracks.  The thesis track requires that students conceptualize and conduct a research project that culminates in a written manuscript detailing their work.  This track is ideal for individuals seeking to continue their studies at the doctoral level or whom wish to gain valuable experience in the research process.  The comprehensive examination track does not require a thesis project.  Students pursuing this track will take additional elective courses and must successfully pass a comprehensive examination toward the end of their program.

7.  What is a comprehensive examination?

The comprehensive examination covers topics that have been discussed in all of the courses that the student has taken while enrolled in the program.  It includes three separate sections:  (1) general knowledge, (2) research methods and quantitative analysis, and (3) criminological theory.  The examination is designed to test student comprehension of these areas and requires those taking it to show sufficient depth/breadth of knowledge.

8.  What are the requirements for admission?

Students applying to the program must meet all of the requirements for admission established by the School of Graduate Studies.  These include holding a bachelors degree from a regionally accredited university, a minimum GPA of 2.5 on all undergraduate coursework (3.0 for international applicants), a personal essay detailing their interest in pursuing a graduate degree, and the submission of official transcripts from all colleges attended.  In addition, our Department requires the following for consideration:  (1) A GPA of 3.0 or higher in undergraduate coursework, (2) a minimum score of 290 on the Graduate Record Examination, and (3) successful completion of undergraduate courses in statistics and research methods.

9.  What if I do not meet the minimum requirements established by the Department?

Individuals who do not meet the minimum requirements may still be admitted to the program.  Each application is reviewed by our admissions committee on a case-by-case basis.

10.  Does my undergraduate degree have to be in criminal justice or a related field to be considered for admission?

We welcome applicants from a variety of academic backgrounds.  The majority of our students do hold undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and/or criminology.  However, others have come to us from disciplines such as sociology, political science, psychology and the natural sciences.  Though the learning curve may be steep initially, these students tend to feature similar rates of success.  Accepted students who lack undergraduate coursework in criminological theory, research methods and/or quantitative analysis may be required to take one or more undergraduate courses prior to enrolling in graduate classes that cover similar topics.  This decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

11.  Does the program only allow students to begin in the fall semester?

Students may apply to begin the M.A. in either the fall or spring semesters.  Unfortunately, the structure of our program does not allow for summer starting dates.

12.  Can students pursue the degree through part-time study?

Our program allows for both full-time and part-time study.  Full-time students take a minimum of three courses per semester.  Please be aware that all requirements for the degree must be completed within six years of the date that you enroll in your first graduate course if you are considering the part-time option.

13.  What are the deadlines for applying?

The School of Graduate Studies has established deadlines for international applicants.  Individuals interested in beginning the program in the fall semester must submit the application and all required materials by April 29th.  For spring admissions, the deadline is September 29th.  Domestic applicants should adhere to the following suggestions:  June 1st for fall admission and October 15th for spring admission.

14.  How do I apply?

Please visit the following link to begin the application process:

15.  Does the Department offer funding for admitted students?

We are pleased to offer funding in the form of graduate assistantships (GA) and tuition scholar (TS) positions.  These spots are limited and availability varies.  Tuition is waived for students who hold a GA or TS position, though they are still required to pay University fees.  In addition, those employed in a GA position are provided with a stipend (paid in eight monthly installments) to assist with living expenses.  The amount of this stipend is set each year by the University (currently $6400).

16.  Can part-time students receive funding?

Both GA and TS positions are restricted to students enrolled in full-time study (a minimum of nine credit hours per semester).

17.  Is there a limit on how long I can receive funding?

Students who secure a GA or TS position may receive funding for a total of four semesters (two years) of study.  Those who do not complete the degree within this time frame will be responsible for the costs of tuition for all coursework remaining to be completed.

18.  Do GA and TS positions include a tuition waiver for courses taken during summer or winter sessions?

Unfortunately, the tuition waiver applies only to courses taken in the fall and spring academic terms.

19.  What are the job responsibilities associated with GA and TS positions?

GAs typically work with a faculty member and are tasked with assisting them in course instruction and/or research projects. TSs are primarily involved in academic advising for undergraduate students, though they may also be asked to assist faculty members from time to time.  GAs are required to work 20 hours per week and TSs work eight (8) hours.

20.  Where can I find additional information on the requirements and policies associated with GA and/or TS positions?

Please refer to the GA/TS Handbook provided by the School of Graduate Studies.  You can access this Handbook at the following site:

21.  How do I apply for funding?

Applicants interested in securing funding through the Department should contact Christine Ketelaar () for additional information and an application.  This application is separate from the requirements for admission to the program.  We advise that those wishing to receive funding complete both the application for admission and the application for funding by the following deadlines:  February 15th for fall admission and September 30th for spring admission.

22.  How are funding decisions made?

Both GA and TS spots are competitive, with decisions being based upon undergraduate GPA, scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and other relevant factors.

23.  What if I do not receive funding through the Department?

Students who do not receive funding through the Department are encouraged to seek out opportunities in other departments across campus.  An updated list of available GA/TS positions can be found by visiting the following website:

24.  What should I do if I have additional questions about the program, application process or funding opportunities?

We are happy to answer any questions that you have.  Please contact the graduate program coordinator (Dr. Dustin Osborne, ).

icon for left menu icon for right menu