Masters Studies | Criminology & Criminal Justice| SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Kochel with grad student

Master's Studies

Curriculum and Degree Requirements

Core Courses

All candidates for the Master of Arts degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice are required to complete four core courses.

  • CCJ 500 - Foundations of Criminal Justice
  • CCJ 504 - Criminological Theory
  • CCJ 510A - Research in Criminal Justice: Methods and Concepts
  • CCJ 510B - Research in Criminal Justice: Data Analysis and Interpretation

Elective Courses

Students are encouraged to work with their advisors to choose electives in Criminology and Criminal Justice or other departments. No more than six credit hours at the 400-level may count towards the M.A. degree. Complete listing of course offerings.

Thesis Requirement

The word "thesis" refers to a formal research paper that defends an argument or proposition and, therefore, is first of all based on a question. The thesis usually contains description, analysis, and interpretation of a body of information collected by the student from documentary sources or through original data collection methods. It may be conceptual and theoretical in nature, or it may be empirical. It can employ deductive or inductive processes. The primary goal of the thesis is to generate contributions to the knowledge base in the field by use of acceptable scientific processes. The thesis should demonstrate the student's ability to complete the full cycle of problem formulation, method formulation, research and evaluation.

A total of 30 credit hours is required for the thesis track of the Master of Arts degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. A thesis is required. Students may take a total of 6 thesis credit hours (CCJ 599-1 to 6); however, only 3 hours are counted towards the degree requirements. An oral defense of the student's thesis is required.

The Non-thesis Option

A total of 33 credit hours, inclusive of the core courses, is required for the non-thesis track.

Students selecting the non-thesis option are required to complete a capstone project.  This is a research paper that exceeds the expectations in terms of rigor and quality for a graduate level term paper.  Papers submitted in prior courses are not, in and of themselves, sufficient to meet this requirement.  Prior work may, however, serve as the foundation of the research paper.  Students are expected to expand upon the depth of their literature review, and/or introduce or enhance their empirical evaluation, theoretical analysis, and/or consideration of policy significance.  This paper will be submitted to the Graduate School.


  1. The paper must be distinctive in subject matter (i.e., this is not the same paper submitted for a course).
  2. An advisory committee of three members, described below,  provides direction, oversight, and assesses the quality of the paper.
  3. A student may enroll in three hours of CCJ 519 to work on his/her paper.  No more than three credit hours will be awarded for project related work.  Students may, however, enroll in CCJ 519 to complete other projects unrelated to the non-thesis option.