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Master's in Criminal Justice

The Master of Science degree program in Criminal Justice is designed to build your individual, agency and community capacity to understand, prevent, intervene and respond innovatively to juvenile delinquency and crime, using evidence-based practices and policies, in ways that ensure justice.

The Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the only master’s program in the state emphasizing juvenile justice. From the legacy of Talullah Prison to the treatment of 17-year-old offenders as adults, Louisiana continues to grapple with issues of juvenile justice. Our program benefits students looking for the tools to understand the complexity of today’s youth and their entanglement within the criminal justice system.

Though our program focuses on juvenile justice, students do not necessarily need to be invested in juveniles as a main research trajectory. We also offer a variety of criminal justice courses that examine issues such as gender, restorative justice, poverty, education, and drug use and the ways in which these topics intersect with the criminal justice system. As a student in the master's in criminal justice program, you are encouraged to develop your own interests as your coursework progresses.

Through intensive study, you'll be prepared for a wide range of positions requiring an advanced degree. After graduation, you will be prepared to enter leadership positions as well as facilitate program development, implementation and analysis within various government, private, for-profit and non-profit agencies that comprise the complex justice system.

The program also provides advanced theoretical knowledge and research skills and experience necessary for entering instructor-level positions in criminal justice within institutions of higher education or for entering a doctoral program.

You will demonstrate mastery of your field of study in one of two ways: the Thesis or the Comprehensive Exam. This decision should be reached by the beginning of the third semester of study. In either case, after twelve hours of coursework has been completed, you must choose three committee members from the Criminal Justice graduate faculty to serve on your thesis committee or comprehensive examination committee.

Thesis Track

Students who opt for the thesis track will complete a paper appropriate for scholarly publication that showcases original, independent research. Choice of topic should be made in consultation with the student’s thesis chair and committee. The thesis should be begun in the third semester of study and completed by the fourth semester of the program. Students will also defend the thesis in the fourth semester upon completion.

Comprehensive Exam

Students who opt for the exam track will complete a written comprehensive exam in the fourth semester of coursework. The student’s committee will supply all questions for the exam. The comprehensive exam consists of a take-home test that must be completed in two weeks’ time. The student’s committee will evaluate the appropriateness and rigor of the exam through a defense that will also be held in the student’s fourth semester.

Successful defense of a completed thesis or comprehensive exam will fulfill the final requirements for the Master’s of Science in Criminal Justice.

To Apply

Visit the Graduate School's online application form to begin.