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Criminal Justice (M.S.C.J.)

View PDF of Justice Sciences Admissions Checklist
Prospective students should use this checklist to obtain specific admissions requirements on how to apply to Graduate School.

View PDF version of the Justice Sciences catalog description

Degree Offered:





(205) 934-2069


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Web site:


Heith Copes, Associate Professor (Justice Sciences); Qualitative Methods; Criminal Decision Making; White Collar Crime; Police

Martha Earwood, Teaching Assistant Professor (Justice Sciences)

Elizabeth Gardner, Assistant Professor (Justice Sciences)

John Grimes, Teaching Assistant Professor (Justice Sciences)

Kent Kerley, Associate Professor (Justice Sciences); Policing; White-Collar Crime; Criminal Justice Policy

Jason Linville, Assistant Professor (Justice Sciences)

Shelley McGrath, Assistant Professor (Justice Sciences); Research Methods, Statistics

Kathryn D. Morgan, Associate Professor (Justice Sciences); Corrections; Criminological Theory; Minorities

Suzanne Perumean-Chaney, Assistant Professor (Justice Sciences); Statistics, Homicide

John J. Sloan, III, Full Professor and Chair (Justice Sciences); Victimization; Fear of Crime; Criminal Justice Policy; Juvenile Justice; Program Evaluation

Anne Wheeler, Instructor and Pre-Law Program Director (Justice Sciences); Law and Society; Criminal Law

Adjunct Faculty

James Philips, (Adjunct Instructor), Criminal Law, Evidence, and Procedure; White Collar and Corporate Crime

Gary Warner, Instructor (Computer and Information Sciences/Justice Sciences); cybercrime, computer forensics, law enforcement

Program Information

The criminal justice graduate program requires study in the overall discipline, including intensive investigation in the areas of criminal justice policy, criminal justice administration, research methods and statistics, and criminological theory.

Each year, students are admitted to the M.S.C.J. program for the fall term. The application deadline is July 1. Students may be admitted to the M.S.C.J. program "in good standing" provided they meet all minimum admission criteria established by the Graduate School and have taken an introductory-level statistics and an introductory-level research methods course in which a grade of B or better was earned in each course. Students who otherwise meet the minimum admission criteria but have not taken one or both of these courses, may be admitted to the M.S.C.J. program on a "contingency" basis. Students so admitted will not be allowed to register for graduate coursework until the contingencies are removed. Students meeting the minimum requirements for admission but lacking a substantive background in criminal justice may be admitted to the M.S.C.J. program on a "contingency" basis, but will be required to undertake remedial coursework before they will be allowed to register for any graduate coursework.

Degree Requirements

Plan I (Thesis)

Students selecting the Plan I option must (1) complete a minimum of 30 semester hours (18 of which are the required professional seminars JS 583, 600, 601, 604, 605, and 606); (2) 9 semester hours of electives;  and (3) propose and then complete a major research project under the direction of a thesis committee chaired by the student's major advisor (minimum 3 hours of JS 699). Students who select the Plan I option must establish and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all coursework undertaken (required and elective). Students failing to do so may be dismissed from the program.

Plan II (Non-thesis)

Students selecting the Plan II option must (1) complete a minimum of 36 semester hours in coursework, 21 hours of which consist of the required professional seminars (JS 583, 600, 601,  603, 604, 605, and 606); (2) 12 semester hours of electives (3 hours of internship is strongly recommended); (3) and (4) write a “Demonstration Project” in their area of substantive interest (3 hours JS 697). The demonstration project provides evidence of the student’s proficiency in the core areas of research methods, statistics, and criminal justice policy. This research paper is done under the guidance of the student's advisor. The student will prepare and submit this research paper to his/her advisor. Students who select the Plan II option must establish and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all coursework undertaken (required and elective). Students failing to do so may be dismissed from the program.

Financial Aid

Students who are admitted to the M.S.C.J. program "in good standing" are eligible to receive department-based financial aid in the form of research assistantships or scholarships that are awarded on a competitive basis. Students are typically notified of such awards in early June of each year for the following fall.

Additional Information

Deadline for Entry Term(s):


Deadline for All Application Materials to be in the Graduate School Office:

July 1

Number of Evaluation Forms Required:


Entrance Tests

GRE (TOEFL and TWE also required for international applicants whose native language is not English.)

Contact Information

For detailed information contact Dr. Heith Copes, Department of Justice Sciences, University Boulevard Office Building (UBOB) room 215, 1201 University Boulevard, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-4562.

Telephone: 205-934-2069

E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Course Descriptions

Unless otherwise noted, all courses are for 3 semester hours of credit. Course numbers preceded by an asterisk indicate courses that can be repeated for credit, with stated stipulations.

Criminal Justice (JS)

Required Seminars

583 Patterns of Crime. Analysis of the social correlates of crime and the typologies of offenders.

593. Spec Projects in Crim Justice.

600. Proseminar in Criminal Justice. Critical analysis of formal and informal processing of offenders by criminal justice agencies, including police, courts, and corrections; effectiveness and future directions.

601. Criminological Theory I. Analysis of crime patterns and known correlates; theoretical explanations of criminality including classic and contemporary theories.

603. Seminar in Criminal Justice Administration. Theories, philosophies, and techniques of criminal justice systems; evaluation of governmental role in administration of justice systems.

604. Seminar in Criminal Justice Policy Analysis. Origins, formulation, implementation, and evaluation of criminal justice policy; classic and contemporary examples of policy innovations.

605. Seminar in Criminal Justice Research Methods. Quantitative methods of empirical research emphasizing criminal justice/criminological applications; current research methodologies relating to analysis of issues involving crime and criminal justice.

606. Seminar in Criminal Justice Data Analysis. Bivariate and multivariate analyses and interpretation of results from substantive research.

Elective Courses

500-504. Special Topics in Criminal Justice. Investigation of topics of current interest to faculty members. Topics selected for in-depth analysis are listed each term in class schedule. May be repeated in different topics for a maximum of 12 hours. 3 hours each.

507. Advanced Criminal Law. In-depth, case-study examination of substantive criminal law; analysis of acts, mental states, and attendant circumstances constituting various crimes.

540. White Collar and Corporate Crime. Analysis of illegal or deviant behavior occurring in organizational settings, including crimes committed by and against complex organizations.

542. Race, Crime, Gender and Social Policy. An examination of how the subordinate status of minority groups (primarily African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans) affects their interaction with the justice system.

543. Women and the Criminal Justice System. Examination of the role of women in the criminal justice system as offenders, victims, and professionals.

544. Law and Society. Origins and definition of law; overview of legal systems and their characteristics; use of law to facilitate or retard social control, social change, and social conflict.

545. Juvenile Corrections. Analysis of ongoing efforts to reduce juvenile delinquency; particular attention paid to recent innovations, programs, and program effectiveness.

614. Seminar in Advanced Legal Problems. Legal theories; criminal law, evidence, and procedure; origins, philosophy, and development of legal system; exposure to legal reasoning.

676. Adv Bio Method in Forensic Sci. Legal aspects of physical evidence; role of expert witnesses in criminal process; moot court activities.

*696. Graduate Internship in Criminal Justice. Field experience in criminal justice agency setting. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 hours of credit.

*697, 698. Directed Research. Independent study in a student's substantive area of interest under the direction of a faculty member.

*699. Thesis Research. Prerequisite: Admission to candidacy and successful defense of thesis proposal. 1-6 hours.