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Our Online Graduate Option
The field of criminal justice is increasingly reliant on innovative and data-driven strategies to address crime, its causes, and the treatment of offenders. The online M.A. in Criminal Justice and Criminology is designed to provide both current practitioners and those seeking to enter the field with the tools and knowledge necessary to understand, develop, and implement these strategies through applied coursework and mentorship by an experienced and supportive faculty. Flexible scheduling and the ability to satisfy all requirements via distance learning allows individuals to complete the degree on their own timeline and effectively balance educational, professional and personal commitments.
The first cohort of online students will begin classes in the Fall of 2019! Applications will be accepted beginning in December of 2018.
Please note that the online and on-campus graduate programs are considered to be separate offerings. Students are not permitted to take on-campus classes if enrolled in the online program.
Our program strives to meet the needs of working professionals and those seeking to enter the field who are unable (due to geography or other commitments) to attend classes in a campus setting. It is applied in focus, with all courses highlighting the tools and knowledge that you need to become leaders in fields such as policing, corrections, and legal services. It is structured so that you can complete coursework at a pace that works best for you, with both full-time and part-time options available.
- All courses and requirements completed 100% online
- Full-time and part-time options available, with full-time students being able to complete the program in as few as 20 months
- No GRE or thesis required
- Total cost (including all required materials) less than $20,000
We have designed the program to overcome many of the limitations associated with other online options in the field. Please explore the following to learn more about what sets us apart.
No On-Campus Requirements
Several programs require students to complete a portion of the requirements on their main campus or at satellite facilities in the surrounding region. This means that many working professionals—specifically those that work evening shifts, when most of the courses are taught—may find completion difficult. Our program is designed so that all requirements can be completed online, eliminating this obstacle.
No Combined Sections
Some online programs combine on-ground and online students in order to ease faculty workload. This means that both groups of students are placed in the same course, with instructors either recording on-ground class meetings or requiring online students to log in to these meetings at specific times. Our program is structured so that online students are grouped into their own cohorts, with all courses being conducted wholly online. Furthermore, they provide students with flexibility in terms of when they log in to the course site and complete assigned work.
No Thesis Required
Students completing our online program are not required to complete a thesis. Instead, they take a comprehensive examination that is applied in focus. Hypothetical real-world scenarios are presented, with responses being based upon the material covered in our coursework. The exam is administered in take-home format and students are provided ample time to complete it.
A Unique Program of Study
Online graduate degrees in criminal justice tend to take one of two approaches: Offering traditional coursework in an online setting, or focusing solely on practice. Traditional coursework tends to be geared toward individuals seeking to pursue doctoral-level education or interested in working for research organizations. Practice-based coursework focuses solely on issues associated with human resources, administration, and organizational leadership. Our faculty believe that a single-orientation fails to provide students with the knowledge and tools that they need to succeed. We have taken steps to ensure that our curriculum provides the best of both worlds. Core courses in criminological theory, research methodology and quantitative analysis will be offered with an emphasis on their utility to practitioners and the role that each plays in developing evidence-based practices. Elective courses will focus on topics such as crime analysis, organizational leadership, and criminal justice administration, all topics common to practice-based programs.
Courses Instructed by Full-Time Faculty
Several online programs utilize adjunct faculty to instruct courses in order to reduce the cost of delivery. We have structured our program so that only full-time tenured or tenure-track graduate faculty members teach courses. These individuals are experts in their respective topical areas and provide a high-quality education for our students.
A History of Success
Our Department has offered an on-campus version of the M.A. program for over three decades. Graduates have gone on to feature great success in their respective career paths. The online option is built upon this model and designed to allow students the same opportunities for success.
Admission decisions are based upon the following requirements:
- Completion of an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a related field from an accredited college or university
- A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher for all completed undergraduate coursework
- Submission of three letters of recommendation from individuals able to speak to the applicant's strengths and potential for graduate-level study
- A 3-5 page (double-spaced) narrative statement discussing the applicant's academic/career experiences, motivation for pursuing a graduate degree, and how the degree will aid in achieving their professional goals.
Students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements are still encouraged to apply, as all decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Our admissions committee will take into account performance over the last two years of undergraduate study and work history when making these decisions.
Applications will be received beginning in December 2018. Please contact our Graduate Program Coordinator for additional details.
All students will complete a series of six core courses:
- CJCR 5000: Criminological Theory
- CJCR 5020: American Policing
- CJCR 5031: American Corrections
- CJCR 5040: Seminar in Courts
- CJCR 5850: Research Design in Criminology
- CJCR 5950: Quantitative Methods in Criminology
Additional information regarding the Program of Study can be found by reviewing the current Graduate Catalog. Please note that the 2018-2019 catalog is not reflective of the requirements for 2019-2020 and beyond (it will be updated this Summer).
Students are given freedom to choose remaining coursework based upon their interests and career goals. Elective offerings vary, but include options such as:
- Organizational Theory and Leadership
- Criminal Justice Policy
- Criminal Justice Administration
- Crime Analysis
- Crime Prevention and Environmental Design
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Juvenile Justice
- Sex Offenders
Students are required to complete a total of six elective courses (in addition to the required core courses).
We have designed our course offering schedule to allow students to complete the degree in as few as 20 months if enrolled full-time. Our tentative schedule is below.
CJCR 5020-901: American Policing
CJCR 5031-901: American Corrections
CJCR 5047-901: Sex Crimes
CJCR 5010: Seminar in Courts
CJCR 5850: Research Design in Criminology
Elective: Juvenile Corrections
Elective: Crime and Public Policy
Elective: Program Planning and Evaluation
CJCR 5950: Quantitative Methods in Criminology
CJCR 5000: Criminological Theory
Elective: Criminal Justice Administration
Elective: Crime Prevention and Environmental Design
CJCR 5020: American Policing
CJCR 5021: American Corrections
Elective: Organizational Theory and Leadership
Elective: Crime Analysis
Elective: Program Planning and Evaluation
In addition to core and elective courses, students complete a comprehensive examination in order to fulfill requirements for a culminating experience. The exam is designed to allow students to apply the knowledge and skills that they have gained from the covered coursework.
The comprehensive examination is designed to allow students to apply the knowledge and skills that they have gained from coursework to address hypothetical real-world scenarios.
Students are eligible to take the exam following completion of 27 credit hours (9 classes) and all core course requirements. Typically, this means taking the exam during the last semester of study.
The exam is administered in take-home format, with students being provided ample time to respond to the questions presented to them.
Students register for the exam during the first week of the semester in which they wish to take it, with exam packets (containing questions and instructions) being delivered approximately two weeks after the registration period ends.
Exams are graded by a committee of faculty members who assess responses based upon content, organization and other relevant criteria. Submitted exams are assigned to this committee by the Graduate Coordinator, who will take steps to remove all identifying information in order to ensure a "blind review" process.
Once all members of the committee have submitted their evaluation, the Graduate Coordinator will contact the student to discuss their results.
Our program is the most affordable graduate degree offered by the University. Tuition is $550 per credit hour*, allowing individuals to complete the degree (36 hours in total) for less than $20,000. All students (including out-of-state and international) are eligible for this rate. No additional fees are required.
In addition, the tuition rate is guaranteed for a period of three years. This means that any university-wide tuition increases will not apply to students in our program for their first three years of study.
*Please note that the $550 per hour rate is the final cost after tuition waivers have been applied to your account. All admitted students will receive these waivers. Applicants should also be aware that recent changes to federal regulations require students to be registered for at least two courses (6 hours) per term in order to be eiligible to receive federal financial aid (including direct student loans). Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator if you have any questions about this policy.
Unlike most other graduate programs in the field, we do not require students to pay out of pocket for course materials. All books and software are provided by the University at no additional cost.
Students are mailed the required textbook(s) prior to the beginning of each course. Software licenses are sent via an email link (with instructions).
You will find answers to our most frequently asked questions below.
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- Why should I pursue a graduate degree in criminal justice and criminology?Answer
- What separates ETSU’s program from other options?Answer
- What are the requirements for admission?Answer
- What if I do not meet the minimum requirements established by the Department?Answer
- Does my undergraduate degree have to be in criminal justice?Answer
- How long will it take to complete the program?Answer
- When can I begin the program?Answer
- What are the deadlines for applying?Answer
- How do I start my application?Answer
- What types of courses will I be taking?Answer
- How will courses be delivered?Answer
- Will it be difficult to balance coursework with my other obligations (e.g., employment)?Answer
- What computer and technology requirements are required?Answer
- Will I have to write a thesis?Answer
- What is the structure of the comprehensive examination?Answer
- Will my diploma state that I earned the degree online?Answer
- Do I need to travel to ETSU’s campus at any point during the program?Answer
- Are any scholarships available?Answer
- Are online students allowed to apply for GA and TS position?Answer
- Does the Department accept transfer credits?Answer
- What should I do if I have additional questions about the program and application process?Answer
Why should I pursue a graduate degree in criminal justice and criminology?
A graduate degree in criminal justice and criminology will provide you with the tools and knowledge necessary to address the latest issues in the field. In addition, it can assist you in pursuing your desired career or seeking promotion or advancement.
What separates ETSU’s program from other options?
Our Department has offered an on-campus M.A. program for many years and is proud of the fact that our graduates have gone on to feature great success in their chosen career fields. The online option is modeled after this program and strives to provide you with the same high-quality education that our on-campus students receive. Our faculty are all full-time (which is not always the case in many online programs) and have extensive experience in both practice and teaching.
In addition, we have structured our program and courses in a way that overcomes many of the concerns that online students have. Courses are equivalent to what you would experience in an on-campus setting, our faculty provide quality communication and feedback, and we have taken every step to ensure that you are able to work through the program at a pace that fits your schedule.
What are the requirements for admission?
The requirements for consideration are as follows: (1)Completion of an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a related field from an accredited college or university, (2) A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher for all completed undergraduate coursework, (3) Submission of three letters of recommendation from individuals able to speak to the applicant's strengths and potential for graduate-level study, and (4) A 3-5 page (double-spaced) narrative statement discussing the applicant's academic/career experiences, motivation for pursuing a graduate degree, and how the degree will aid in achieving their professional goals.
What if I do not meet the minimum requirements established by the Department?
All applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. We will review applications on a case-by-case basis if GPA requirements are not met. Letters of recommendation, performance over the last two years of undergraduate study, and work history will be taken into account.
Does my undergraduate degree have to be in criminal justice?
No, your undergraduate degree does not have to be in criminal justice, criminology or justice administration. We have had several students over the years who held degrees in fields such as biology, a foreign language, or business administration. A degree in criminal justice or a related field will make the transition easier, but our program is designed in a way that allows individuals from all backgrounds to succeed.
How long will it take to complete the program?
Our program is structured in a way that allows you to proceed at your own pace. Full-time students can complete it in as little as four semesters. Part-time student’s completion times will depend upon the number of classes that they take each semester. Our only requirement is that you complete the degree within six years of the semester that you start taking classes.
When can I begin the program?
You can apply to begin the program in either the spring (with classes starting in January) or fall (classes starting in August). Unfortunately, we do not allow summer start dates at this time.
What are the deadlines for applying?
Those interested in beginning courses in the fall should submit all of their application materials by August 1st. Those interested in a spring start date should have all materials submitted by December 1st.
How do I start my application?
You can complete your application online by visiting https://etsuapply.force.com/app/.
The page also contains a link to a step-by-step guide for navigating the application process. Please do not hesitate to contact our graduate program coordinator (Dr. Dustin Osborne, email@example.com, (423) 439-5604) if you have any questions or issues.
What types of courses will I be taking?
You will be taking courses designed to provide you with the tools and knowledge that you need to succeed in the field. All students are required to take a series of six core courses that focus on topics such as policing, corrections, and research. The remaining courses are electives, and you have the ability to tailor studies to your interests and career goals.
How will courses be delivered?
All courses are conducted wholly online, and you will never be required to visit the ETSU campus. We use D2L, ETSU’s virtual learning environment, to teach our courses.
Will it be difficult to balance coursework with my other obligations (e.g., employment)?
We have structured the program so that you can effectively balance your education with other obligations. Classes are conducted online and allow you to work on coursework at a time that works best for you. In addition, you can enroll full-time or part-time depending upon your schedule.
What computer and technology requirements are required?
All students should have access to a home computer or laptop, a reliable internet connection, and Microsoft Office Suite. In addition, several of our courses require that you have the ability to login and speak with the instructor. This means that you will need an adequate microphone and webcam.
Will I have to write a thesis?
No, you will not have to write a thesis as part of the program. All students will be required to take a comprehensive exam near the end of their program (after you have taken nine (9) courses and completed all core requirements) that allows them to apply what they have learned.
What is the structure of the comprehensive examination?
The comprehensive exam is in take-home format and contains a series of questions designed to assess the knowledge/tools that you have gained in the program. It is administered after you have completed most of the coursework. You will be provided a series of questions and given several weeks to answer them. These questions are applied in nature, meaning that you will be responding to prompts designed to mimic real-world situations and how you would address them.
Will my diploma state that I earned the degree online?
No, you will receive the same degree as someone who completed the program on-campus.
Do I need to travel to ETSU’s campus at any point during the program?
No, we have structured the program in a way that allows you to complete all requirements via distance learning.
Are any scholarships available?
Our Department does not currently offer scholarships for online students, but options may be available through the University. Please visit https://www.etsu.edu/scholarships/ for more information.
Are online students allowed to apply for GA and TS position?
Unfortunately, online students are not eligible for GA or TS positions.
Does the Department accept transfer credits?
Yes, we can accept up to six hours of transfer credit (courses taken in a relevant graduate program at another regionally-accredited university). Please contact our graduate program coordinator for more information.
What should I do if I have additional questions about the program and application process?
Please do not hesitate to contact our graduate program coordinator, Dr. Dustin Osborne, if you have any questions about the program or application process. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (423) 439-5604.
We are happy that you are considering our program! Please contact our Graduate Program Coordinator for more information.
Dr. Dustin Osborne