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CCJ Master of Science


CCJ Master of Science


The Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a Master of Science degree. The program offers a unique opportunity to study crime and justice in an urban setting and through a flexible and tailored program designed to mold to a student’s career and academic goals. For example, students are offered the option of three different culminating experiences and an opportunity to develop a specialization that is student driven and unique to their personal learning objectives.
The degree is designed for students to complete all requirements in six terms over two academic years, but the program is flexible and the requirements can be spread over additional terms if needed. The program is solely a campus based program and students will be expected to attend class on the Portland campus. Classes are often taught two days a week, but students should expect to be available to meet on campus Monday-Friday. Students with funding will especially be required to be available during the traditional work week.

Master's Program Goals and Objectives

The Criminology & Criminal Justice Graduate program seeks to create a meaningful learning experience and foster professional development for its students based on the following principles: 

  1. Community of Learners: Graduate students and faculty are involved in a community based on collegial and collaborative relationships evidenced by co-learning and critical dialogue in the classroom and student-faculty partnerships outside of the classroom on writing, research, and community engagement projects.
  2. Initiative and Original Thinking: Graduate students are encouraged and given opportunities to participate in the management of their own education experiences and develop new understandings of knowledge and professional practice.
  3. Synthesis and Evaluation: Students practice the integration of theory and empirical literature on given criminology and criminal justice topics in order to develop sound theoretical and practical evaluations and to present findings through oral and written reports.
  4. Methodological and Analytical Experiences: Graduate students are afforded opportunities to practice the development and implementation of research methodologies and execution of basic statistical analyses of empirical data.
  5. Self-Assessment:  Graduate students are expected to articulate their career goals and develop evidence of their professional growth related to theory, research, policy, communication, justice, diversity, and community engagement.  

Students graduating from our program should be able to demonstrate proficiency in the following areas: 

  • Advanced knowledge of and ability to evaluate criminal justice and criminological theories. 
  • Understanding of organizational, political, economic, and cultural processes that shape criminal justice policies and practices. 
  • Knowledge of the history, philosophy, and values that shape the use of criminal justice and responses to crime and deviance. 
  • Committed efforts to examine principles and perceptions of justice informing ethical and equitable standards addressing crime, disorder, and professional behavior. 
  • Advanced knowledge of the ways cultural, demographic, environmental, political, religious, sexual, economic and social factors influence the uses of criminal justice and experiences with crime. 
  • Analyze and interpret patterns in criminology and criminal justice data. 
  • Communicate findings from empirical research effectively through written reports and oral presentations. 
  • Develop and conduct original research or other academic products synthesizing information on criminology and criminal justice topics, to provide benefits to agencies or advancement in knowledge. 
  • Partner with faculty and community agencies on research projects.  
  • Articulate career goals and show evidence of potential for professional growth. 

Funding and Financial Assistance:

The department offers a variety of internal funding options to students. While the number of available positions varies from year-to-year, a large number of our applicants will be offered assistance to help offset the costs of graduate school. For more information regarding cost estimates of attending graduate schoolds, visit

Graduate students who are residents of participating states (listed below), admitted to our program, and are in good academic standing are eligible for WICHE/WRGP-related in-state tuition program. Substantively this means that students from a participating state pay in-state tuition at the same rate as Oregon residents. More information about the WICHE program can be found at: Students must apply for this benefit and be approved by the PSU Office of Graduate Studies Completed application forms must be submitted to Graduate Studies a minimum of four weeks before the beginning of the term the benefit is to start.

We currently offer three types of funding within the program to help offset the costs of the program: 

  1. Dean’s Graduate Award (DA) comes with a $2,500 stipend that requires students to work roughly 7 hours a week assisting a faculty member. This position does not come with a tuition remission. This could involve grading, teaching, clerical work, and/or research. The position is a one-time 9-month appointment. Students in their second year may apply for funding again and may receive a DA for year two of the program or other funding in the program, though first-year students are given priority for DA positions. You are not required to be a full-time student to have a DA position. 
  3. Graduate Assistantship (GA) in our campus program is a .15 FTE position that requires students to work roughly 6 hours a week assisting a faculty member. This could involve grading, teaching, clerical work, and/or research. The position is renewable for one additional year contingent on available funding and satisfactory review of your work. GAs receive both a tuition remission and a salary. The remission covers $3,000 per term ($9,000 for the academic year) of your tuition and some fees. Salary figures based on FTE can be found at: All GA must register for and complete at least 9 credit-hours per term (i.e. be a full-time student).
  5. Graduate Assistantship (GA) in our online program as a Facilitator. This position is a .45 FTE, meaning you will work roughly 18 hours a week assisting a faculty member teach one of our online courses. GAs must receive both a tuition remission and a salary. The remission covers $4,500 per term ($13,500 for the academic year) of your tuition and some fees. Salary figures based on FTE can be found at: All GA must register for and complete at least 9 credit-hours per term (i.e. be a full-time student).    

In order to maintain eligibility, all GAs (regardless of funding source) must satisfactorily meet graduate school requirements. For more information on GA-eligibility requirements visit

Students wishing to be considered for funding must complete the following questions and submit them with their application.

  • Why are you interested in an assistantship with the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice?
  • Please describe any related work experience you have that may be applicable to the graduate program.
  • Describe any prior teaching experience, including subjects taught.
  • Describe any prior research experience and research skills. 

Applicants interested in federal financial aid should submit a FAFSA (Free Application for Student Financial Aid) after being admitted into the program. All universities require the FAFSA before determining eligibility for loans, scholarships, and grants. Information is available from PSU's Office of Financial Aid. Two types of student loans are most common for graduate students: Federal Subsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. Interest on subsidized loans is paid by the Federal Government as long as the student is enrolled at least half time. Interest on unsubsidized loans accrues from the time of disbursement and become part of the student's repayment obligation. International students are not eligible for these loans.

CCJ Graduate Studies Committee Review Criteria: 

The CCJ Graduate Studies Committee evaluates applications based on a combination of criteria including: past academic achievement as indicated by the applicants' transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation; potential for success and timely completion of degree requirements; extracurricular achievements and experiences; educational and career goals; and the availability of CCJ faculty who are well matched to help the applicant achieve their goals.

CCJ admits approximately 15-20 students to the Master of Science program per academic year. Admission is competitive and not all students who met the minimum requirements for the program will be admitted.

CCJ Master’s Program Requirements:

Degree Requirements: All candidates for a master's degree in CCJ must complete 50-54 graduate credits distributed as follows:

20 credit hours must be taken in the CCJ substantive core. 

Course #

Course Title

    Credit Hours

CCJ 515

Theories of Crime


CCJ 520

Analysis of Crime and Justice Data


CCJ 525

Criminal Justice Theory


CCJ 530

Criminal Justice Research


CCJ 535

Criminal Justice Policy


Total Hours


12 credits of elective courses.

This requirement may be fill by any number of 500 or 600 level courses (Half of the elective credits must be completed in the CCJ Division).

A minimum of four classes totaling 12-16 credit hours in a specialization field.

The CCJ program provides students with a high degree of flexibility and allows them to tailor the program to match their own educational and career interests. In addition to the core and elective coursework, students develop and complete a specialization consisting of a minimum of four classes (12-16 credits). Courses may be selected from several academic units so long as they comprise a coherent field of study that contributes to the academic development of the student. Students may also pursue a graduate certificate as part of their specialization. Students should consult the Graduate Coordinator or their faculty advisor for help developing a specialization. Students are encouraged to think about it early in the second term of their study. Organizing the specialization courses often requires planning ahead to obtain permissions, determine when courses are offered, and meet prerequisites.

6 credit hours of thesis, field project, or portfolio project work.

3 of these credits will be completed as part of three 1-credit-hour “writing in the profession” courses taught each of the first three terms in the program.   

Successful submission and defense of a thesis or final project.

Portfolio, Field Project, and Thesis 

Students must complete one of three options as part of their graduate studies. All students will default into the Portfolio option when they enter the program. It is assumed that a student will pursue a Portfolio unless they specifically apply for and receive permission from the graduate committee to complete a Field Project or Thesis. Students considering a Field Project or Thesis must meet with the Graduate Coordinator during their first year of study. 


CCJ Masters students will create an electronic portfolio (e-portfolio) to document, evaluate, integrate, and reflect upon their learning experiences. The purposes of the portfolio are to facilitate students' learning and intellectual development, document accomplishments, and assess students' specialized skills and professional knowledge. Successful completion of the portfolio is a graduation requirement and is a public document that can be shared with members of our academic and professional community.

Electronic portfolios will be created and maintained online. A template for the portfolio may be accessed at:

The following content is required:
  • Home/Welcome Page
  • Resume or CV
  • Artifacts (2 minimum for each competency)
  • Description of each artifact
  • Reflection statement for each artifact
  • Assessment for each competency
  • Narrative summary
In addition, students may include additional information in their portfolios such as biographical information, contact information, pictures or videos, links to websites, blogs, professional associations, etc., favorite quotes or readings, and other content approved by the student's advisor. The portfolio is public so students should be careful about private information.
Details on the requirements of the Portfolio can be found in the CCJ Graduate Handbook.&

Field Project:

Students interested in pursuing the Field Project option within the CCJ Master’s program must receive approval from the Graduate Committee. 
Students completing a Field Project must contribute to an organizational or agency project that demonstrates their ability to integrate specialized and advanced knowledge of criminology and criminal justice. The Field Project must also have a strong applied focus and address a specific professional or organizational need. The expectation for the final project is that students will work with faculty and/or an agency on a particular project and s/he will produce a final report or product for the agency that represents tangible and specific graduate level skills and knowledge. It is the student’s responsibility to seek out a faculty advisor and a second faculty committee member to oversee their project. If the student is working directly with an agency, they must meet regularly with their faculty advisor. The student must remain in good academic standing at PSU and be enrolled in at least one project credit while completing their project. At the end of the project, the agency contact will complete a student evaluation form administered by the faculty advisor.
The Field Projects must have a strong applied focus and address a specific professional or organizational need. The project may include the development of datasets, webpages, proprietary material, a written report, or other materials as long as it represents the application of tangible and specific graduate level skills and knowledge.
A Field Project is not an internship and students must demonstrate that the work they are doing represents a substantial and meaningful Field Project experience. 
Students wishing to complete a Field Project will be required to submit a formal proposal to the graduate committee by no later than the Friday of week 8 of the term prior to the start of the project. 
Details on the submission process and requirements of the Field Project can be found in the CCJ Graduate Handbook.


 A Thesis is an original empirical research project that is conducted solely by the student and overseen by a thesis committee. This means that students must either collect and analyze their own data or analyze existing data in a unique way that adds to the literature. The Thesis committee will be Chaired by the student’s advisor. The Advisor will take a central role in advising, overseeing, and facilitating the completion of the project. A thesis is subject to graduate school thesis rules and guidelines. Students must adhere to the stipulations as outlined by the graduate school. Finished theses are published online in PSU’s official scholarly archive, PDX Scholar. A thesis is an option that requires considerable self-direction and research skills. The graduate committee must be convinced that a student has the skills to complete the project before a student will be allowed to proceed.  
Students interested in pursuing the Thesis option within the CCJ Master’s program must receive approval from the Graduate Committee to be granted permission to continue. The student must submit to the Graduate Program Coordinator both a (1) letter of interest and (2) thesis prospectus. The submissions must be delivered in hardcopy. The CCJ Graduate Committee will meet to review the submissions and deliver a decision to the student within four weeks of the request. Submissions received during the summer will be held for consideration during the academic year.
Submissions must be received by 5:00 PM Friday of the first week of the term that falls at least two terms before expected thesis defense and graduation. The schedule outlines the last possible date of prospectus submission to ensure a timely graduation:
  • Fall term graduation: Due week 1 of winter quarter
  • Winter term graduation: Due week 1 of spring quarter
  • Spring term graduation: Due week 1 of fall quarter
Details on the submission process and requirements of the Thesis can be found in the CCJ Graduate Handbook.

Admissions Requirements and Application Process: 

The Department encourages students from a variety of backgrounds to apply. We regularly admit students with a non-CCJ undergraduate degree or students who are returning to their studies after being away. One of the primary admissions criteria is that students demonstrate a clear understanding of Criminology and Criminal Justice as a discipline and that their educational goals fit our program. Students from a non-traditional CCJ background will need to demonstrate through their application that they understand and are prepared to enter our program.

How to Apply: 

Portland State University requires that an applicant submit their application through PSU’s online graduate school application system located at: Questions about the PSU graduate application process should be directed to the Office of Graduate Studies. The application forms provide detailed information about what is required by the university to apply. Information on the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice application requirements can be found below.

Application Material and Requirements: 

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. The degree need not be complete at the time of application, but there must be evidence that it will be complete before the first term of graduate enrollment.
  • Total undergraduate GPA of 3.20 or higher, or a graduate GPA of 3.20 or higher for a minimum of 9 credit hours. The admissions committee may consider applicants with a GPA below 3.2. Only on rare occasions will the committee consider an applicant with a GPA under 3.0.  
  • Scanned copies of your official transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended.
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency through the submission of TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE-Academic exam scores (for applicants who have not earned a degree from a qualifying institution) for all non-native English speaking applicants.
  • A 500-word statement of purpose describing academic and professional career goals, including subfields of primary interest is required. The statement may also be used to provide any other additional information pertinent to the applicant's qualifications. 
  • A resume/C.V. outlining previous work and educational experience.
  • Two letters of recommendation (three letters are encouraged and will increase consideration) from faculty members at colleges or universities previously attended, or from others in a position to comment on the student’s academic and professional background and experience.
  • GRE: Students are not required to take the GRE to apply to the program but students who do take it will be given priority for admissions and funding decisions. 
  • A $65 non-refundable application fee and a $2 processing fee. The fees are good for one year.
It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all application materials are received by the deadline, including transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. The CCJ Department does not review application files until they are complete. If an application file is incomplete and the deadline passes, the applicant may request that the file be reactivated and considered for the next admission term. Unless such a request is made, the application will receive no further attention.

Application Deadlines:

Criminology and Criminal Justice (CCJ) admits students into the M.S. graduate program only once a year in the fall quarter only (term starts late September). There are two formal application deadlines for the program: 1) February 1st is the priority deadline for fall admission, and 2) April 1st is the secondary deadline for fall admissions. Following the April 1st deadline applications will continue to be reviewed on the first of every month through August 1st. Students applying to the graduate program after April 1st will only be considered for fall term admission if there are openings left in the new graduate cohort
Students who submit their completed application by the earlier deadline will be given priority in admission and funding decisions. Students meeting the second deadline will then be considered for any remaining open positions. Applicants can expect to be informed of our final decision roughly 4 to 6 weeks after application deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): 

When will I know if I have been accepted?

Applicants can anticipate notification for Fall admission within 4 to 6 weeks of application deadline. Students will receive an electronic letter from the graduate school informing the applicant of the Graduate Committee’s recommendation for admission. The final decision to admit, however, is contingent on the receipt and verification of application materials by PSU's Office of Admissions and the Office of Graduate Studies.

Can I defer my admission?

Yes. If you are admitted to the CCJ graduate program but cannot attend during the term of admission, you may defer your admission for up to one year. It is critical, however, that you contact the CCJ Department to request that your admission be updated to another term. If you do not request a deferral, PSU will cancel your admission and you will have to reapply the following year.

Can I transfer course credits from other programs?

A limited number of previous graduate course credits can be considered for transfer. "Pre-admission credits" are those received for coursework taken prior to admission to CCJ, including courses taken at PSU or another institution. "Transfer credits" are those received for course work taken at any institution at any time. The limit on pre-admission credits and transfer credits is 16, which is normally four courses. Students who would like to transfer credits from other programs are encouraged to meet with the CCJ Graduate Coordinator prior to June 15th of the year of their admission into the program.

How much and what type of work does a GA do?

GAs perform academic duties such as research assistance and teaching assistance. They may also be asked to assist in convening conferences or seminars, draft correspondence, perform outreach activities, or other administrative tasks. GAs do not undertake personal errands for faculty members. In the Criminology and Criminal Justice program, many of our GAs serve as teaching assistants and course facilitators in our online program. GA appointment is some fraction of an FTE (full-time employee), which determines the hours of work required per week. For example, .15 FTE appointments require 6 hours of work each week; .30 FTE appointments, 12 hours; and .45 FTE appointments, 18 hours. 

Can I work a job in addition to my GA?

Yes. Students holding graduate assistantships may also be employed elsewhere within the university, provided the total number of hours worked do not exceed 20 hours per week (.49 FTE). For those working outside the university, CCJ recommends that this same limit be observed. Being a full-time graduate student (9 credit-hours) combined with being a GA is a commitment in both time and energy. Students are encouraged to seriously consider the time constraints of taking on too much when considering additional work.   

Can I lose my Graduate Assistantship?

Yes. Graduate Assistantships are contingent on satisfactory progress toward the degree as well as satisfactory job performance. Because GAs must be registered for, and satisfactorily complete, at least 9 credits of coursework during each term of their appointment, incomplete coursework or low grades may jeopardize the student's eligibility for an assistantship. The loss of a GA appointment does not, in itself, affect the student's standing in the degree program though poor academic standing can also affect a student’s ability to continue in the program. 

Are there special considerations regarding GAs for international students?

All graduate students are eligible to apply for Graduate Assistantships. The type of work and the hours of work required by GA appointments in CCJ are within the limits established for foreign students by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). Some scholarships have nationality requirements. If no such requirement is specified, then international students can apply.

Is there a graduate student orientation?

Yes. A mandatory orientation session, for all newly admitted graduate students, is typically held the first Friday before the Fall Term begins. Students will receive more information about the orientation from the CCJ Graduate Coordinator.

How long will it take to complete my degree?

If students maintain full-time enrollment (taking 9 or more credit hours per term), the degree requirements can be comfortably completed in two years. If you attend part-time, it is important to enroll in and pay for at least one credit hour per academic year (three-terms) in order to maintain your enrollment status. Students should also keep in mind that after seven years, credits are considered out-of-date and cannot be applied toward the master's degree unless they are revalidated, a process that involves paying a fee and passing an exam.

How do I know what courses to take?

Faculty advisors help steer students to courses that fit their interests, meet the degree requirements, and provide a good understanding of the discipline. You can track your own progress toward the degree by completing the M.S. Degree Progress Checklist.

How many classes should I take per term?

To maintain full-time status, graduate students should enroll in 9 or more credit hours per term. Most graduate classes in CCJ are 4 credits. Therefore, students should plan to take between 3 and 4 courses per term Students must enroll in at least 1 credit hour in the term that they defend their thesis or final project.

What happens if my grades are too low?

Graduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and a term GPA of at least 2.7 in order to remain in good academic standing. A student failing to meet these GPA requirements is placed on “academic probation” and must meet the minimum requirements after the next 9 credits of coursework taken. Students on academic probation may not hold graduate assistantships.

I would like to complete an internship. What do I need to do?

Graduate students who would like to complete an internship should schedule an appointment with the department’s undergraduate internship coordinator for help identifying an appropriate placement. In addition, students need to identify a faculty member who is willing to supervise the internship and should discuss their plans with their faculty advisor. There is a limit on the number of internship credit hours that will count toward the degree.

Should I complete a Portfolio, thesis or a project? What is the difference?

The final requirement for the degree is to complete a master’s thesis or final project. Both require students to demonstrate their ability to integrate specialized knowledge of criminology and criminal justice and create an original work that contributes to our understanding of crime and justice. The master's thesis is a more structured document and specifically addresses an original research question using an appropriate scientific methodology. Completing a thesis is typically considered more academically rigorous and prestigious; students considering doctoral study are strongly encouraged to complete the thesis option. In addition, it is sometimes easier for students to write a thesis because it follows a highly standardized and structured format.

The field project provides students with an alternative to the traditional thesis. Students have more discretion in designing and writing a master's project, which may be tailored to students' professional and academic interests. Master's projects often have a strong applied focus and address a specific professional need. Graduate project requirements may be satisfied by demonstrating mastery of a particular field of literature and its application to a policy issue or need. 

A Portfolio is an electronic portfolio (e-portfolio) to document, evaluate, integrate, and reflect upon their learning experiences. The purposes of the portfolio are to facilitate students' learning and intellectual development, document accomplishments, and assess students' specialized skills and professional knowledge. Successful completion of the portfolio is a graduation requirement and is a public document that can be shared with members of our academic and professional community. The Portfolio is less about creating a new project and is more about reflecting upon your graduate experience and future plans.

What are thesis credits and project credits?

While working on a thesis, students enroll in CCJ 503 to receive thesis credits and students working on a project enroll in CCJ 506. Students are required to take a minimum of 6 credit hours of thesis or project credits; up to 9 credits of thesis and project hours may be applied toward the degree requirements. You must be enrolled for at least one thesis or project credit during the term in which you expect to defend your master’s thesis or project. To enroll in thesis and project credits, students should submit a “Credit by Arrangement” form, available from the Department Office Coordinator. Thesis and project credits are supervised by your thesis or project director and may be taken for 1 to 6 credit hours.

Where should I get advice?

The Graduate Coordinator initially advise all new students. Students are assigned faculty advisor after the completion of their first year in the program. Faculty advisors normally serve as the main source of information about the requirements of the program, how best to achieve your educational goals, and will serve as advisor for their final project (either a Portfolio, Field Project, or Thesis). The website for the PSU graduate studies office is another good source of information about policies and requirements governing graduate education.

New students invariably receive advice, solicited or unsolicited, from other students further along in the program. This may be a source of valuable information as well, but it is no substitute for faculty advice regard