The School of Social Welfare offers a master’s program of study in criminal justice and criminology. The program is designed to educate students for leadership positions in the field of criminal justice. The program also provides a strong foundation for students anticipating advanced study at the doctoral level. The curriculum is also designed to prepare Criminal Justice professionals to understand all aspects of criminal justice policy. Legal, organizational, political and behavioral frameworks are used to analyze the operation of the criminal justice system. Students are introduced to advanced knowledge on the nature and causes of crime, the justification and means of social control, the administration of the justice system, and the evaluation of criminal justice programs.


Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


An applicant must meet all Graduate School requirements plus these program-specific requirements to be considered for admission:

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited university in criminal justice, a related social science, or other relevant educational background. 
  • Undergraduate cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00.  
  • In addition, applicants with an undergraduate cumulative GPA between 2.75-2.99 may be considered for admission, but should address their lower cumulative GPA within their reason statement.
  • Two letters of recommendation from persons who are familiar with the applicant’s academic record and suitability for graduate work.  
  • It is recommended that applicants have completed a research methods course and a statistics course at the undergraduate level prior to beginning the program.
  • Applicants must also submit a brief narrative statement indicating reasons for interest in graduate study.  


Application must be made to the Graduate School. Applicants may be admitted to the program for Fall, Spring or Summer (note graduate course offerings are currently limited in the summer session). For further information regarding the application process, please contact the Criminal Justice & Criminology Department office at (414) 229-2392.

Credits and Courses

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice consists of a minimum of 33 graduate credits:

Courses taken within the Criminal Justice program (27 credits)
Must include 15 credits of:
CRM JST 713Measuring Crime & Analyzing Crime Data3
CRM JST 743Proseminar: Administration of Criminal Justice Systems3
CRM JST 756Proseminar: Analysis of Criminal Justice Research3
CRM JST 773Criminological Perspectives3
CRM JST 920Criminal Justice Masters Capstone Seminar3
Select an additional 12 credits of Criminal Justice Electives (4 courses)12
Select an additional 6 credit hours taken elsewhere in the School of Social Welfare or in other UWM departments with the prior consent of advisor.6
Total Credits33

The student must pursue either Option A: Essay Option, or Capstone Option B: Non-Essay Option described below.

Option A: Essay Option

Students must complete the required proseminars and, as part of the 33 graduate credits required, must complete 3 credits of research and a graduate-level statistics course approved by the student’s faculty advisor. Students planning to go into doctoral programs are strongly encouraged to pursue the essay option.


An acceptable essay must be written on the student’s area of concentration.

Comprehensive Examination

The student must pass a final oral examination in defense of the essay.

Option B: Non-Essay Option

Students must complete the 33 graduate credits required, including the three proseminars and the criminal justice capstone seminar course.

Additional Requirements

Major Professor as Advisor

The student must have a faculty advisor to advise and supervise the student’s studies as specified in Graduate School regulations. At the time of admission, the Graduate Program Director will assign each student to a faculty advisor. Students who begin to work closely with a particular faculty member with expertise in their area of interest may request that this faculty member serve as their advisor. Students who pursue the Essay Option must choose a faculty member to serve as their major professor.

Time Limit

The student must complete all degree requirements within seven years of initial enrollment.

Accelerated Program Option

This program is offered as part of an accelerated graduate program. For more information, see Accelerated Graduate Degrees.