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Estimated Completion

Thesis - 36 credit hours (18+ months)

Non-thesis - 30 credit hours (12+ months)

Application Process

  1. Admission to Tarleton State University – Graduate Studies
  2. Additional Program Application Requirements


Locations Available


Master of Criminal Justice

Gain the knowledge, insight and skills to be more effective in your jobs with a criminal justice master's degree from Tarleton. Emphasizing criminal justice administration, our MCJ, offered face to face in Fort Worth or entirely online, challenges you to think from different points of view for a well-rounded, relevant and high-quality graduate education. With a mix of broad academic knowledge and practical experience, you'll develop management and leadership skills, so you can continue to make an impact in your community and advance your career. Our criminal justice master's degree can be completed in 18 to 24 months, depending on whether you choose the thesis or non-thesis track and how many hours you take each semester.

Designed for working professionals who want to change career paths or are seeking job promotions within the field, the master's degree in criminal justice is affordable, flexible and attainable. We don't require a GRE for admission, and we do offer several options to help you meet your career goals and aspirations.

  • The face-to-face program in Fort Worth is an accelerated cohort format with evening classes and some optional online classes. Students learn in a group setting to develop interactive, team-based skills and connect with criminal justice practitioners from a variety of agencies and fields within the criminal justice system.
  • The online degree program allows you to work from anywhere at your own pace to fit your busy schedule.
  • Integrated with the curriculum is the option to earn a graduate certificate in crime analysis and grant writing with elective courses. Our master's program also prepares you to teach undergraduate-level criminal justice courses, which many of our graduate students choose to do.

If you're ready to take a leap of faith — for you, for your family, for your community — join us in the criminal justice master's degree program at Tarleton.

What is Criminal Justice?

In our complex, diverse and global world, the United States is experiencing a growing trend of criminal justice professionals seeking academic credentials and educational development. The criminal justice system is becoming increasingly data driven, and a criminal justice master’s degree can provide you with skills to analyze and interpret research and data. Many employers in the criminal justice system require a master’s degree for administration and leadership roles. An MCJ can lead to job promotions and career changes, as well as higher salaries, for criminal justice professionals.

Our criminal justice master’s degree program focuses on addressing challenges associated with protecting the community, as well as the growing complexities of the criminal justice system. We respond to the changing field to help meet our students’ needs — and the needs of your communities.

What Can You Do With Your MCJ Degree in Criminal Justice

With practical skills, our students have a variety of opportunities for MCJ degree jobs and promotions with local, state, and federal agencies all over Texas. You could work for administration in any field of the criminal justice system, such as:

  • Law enforcement and policing
  • Corrections or probation
  • Judicial systems
  • Private or corporate security
  • Crime analysis
  • Decision and policymaking

Our master's degree in criminal justice also prepares graduate students to teach criminal justice courses at the undergraduate level or continue their education in law school or doctoral degree programs such as Tarleton's PhD in criminal justice.

How Much Do Criminal Justice Graduates Make?

The majority of Tarleton MCJ graduates earn between $100,000 and $150,000.

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Why Study Criminal Justice?

We are dedicated to providing quality instruction, ongoing research and dedicated service to the university, our discipline and the community.

student talking to a professor

Gain academic and applicable knowledge in your field

Our criminal justice master's degree program curriculum includes field experiences, internship opportunities, capstone research projects and an optional thesis track.

three professionals reviewing paperwork

Connect with active professionals in the criminal justice system

Graduate students in criminal justice may work with a criminal justice agency of your choice to apply your classroom learning and gain real-world experience.

professor working with female student

Evaluate and solve problems that impact our local communities

Applied research is integrated with the curriculum, and faculty welcome graduate student involvement in their own research. An additional opportunity to design your own research project is available in the optional thesis track. Recent examples of research that involved graduate students include studies in officer stress levels, illegal markets on the dark web and strangulation in family violence incidents.

student speaking with a police officer

Explore criminal justice systems outside the United States

You may be interested in studying abroad while earning your master’s degree. Each year, the Department of Criminal Justice sponsors a summer program to Prague for graduate students to gain a comparative example of a criminal justice system being created in a young democracy.

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Get help paying for college

A limited number of graduate assistantships in criminal justice are available. The College of Graduate Studies and the university also offer scholarships that criminal justice graduate students may qualify for, and you may qualify for federal financial aid.




What Classes Will You Take as a Criminal Justice Graduate Student?

Our career-focused curriculum is professionally designed in collaboration with criminal justice field experts, with an emphasis on theoretical foundations, research methods, principles of administration, innovative thinking and analysis of the major elements of the criminal justice system as a whole. Study topics such as forensic science, media and crime, victimology, gender and crime, global cybersecurity, domestic and international terrorism, crime mapping, grant writing and more.

The optional thesis track is recommended if you're considering a doctorate, such as our PhD in criminal justice, in the future. Thesis students will conduct an original research project as the capstone to their master's degree, which can help you be more competitive and prepared for additional graduate studies.

View all required classes for the criminal justice master's degree.


Top Schools for Criminal Justice

Tarleton’s School of Criminal Justice, Criminology and Strategic Studies encompasses the departments of Leadership and Strategic Studies, Military Science and Criminal Justice. We offer five undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as four institutes dedicated to fields in the criminal justice system.

professor at a book signing

Learn From Nationally Recognized Faculty with Practical Experience

We blend theory and knowledge in various components of the criminal justice system with industry and innovation to help our students succeed. Our teaching personnel include police chiefs, judges and attorneys who provide students with a wealth of personal experiences and opportunities to build their network with outstanding connections. Our areas of expertise include family violence, human trafficking, cybersecurity, crime analysis, racial profiling and comparative criminal justice.

student group

Student Activities

Get involved outside the classroom for additional networking, professional development and engagement opportunities. As a graduate student in the criminal justice master’s degree program, you can join Alpha Phi Sigma, Tarleton Criminal Justice Association, Texan Corp of Cadets and more.


student and professor pose in front of a board

Research Institutes

One of the features that sets us apart from other schools and colleges of criminal justice is our research institutes dedicated to specific fields in the criminal justice system.

  • Institute for Criminal Justice Leadership and Public Policy
  • Institute for Predictive and Analytical Policing Science
  • Institute for Homeland Security, Cybercrime and International Criminal Justice Studies
  • Institute for Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking


What Master's Degree Programs are Related to Criminal Justice?