M.S. Program Requirements


The Master's program draws upon criminology, criminal justice, sociology, political science, psychology, law, and history. Areas of teaching and research in the Department include social theory, policing, law & society, human rights, policy evaluation, juvenile justice, immigration, punishment & society, race, history, and forensic science.

The Master's program prepares students for careers in criminal justice administration, public institutions, grassroots community organizations and nonprofit agencies, as well as for doctoral programs and research positions in public agencies. The program is built around the learning objectives below.


At the end of a Master of Science degree in Justice Studies, students will be able to:

  1. Evaluate the relationships between social justice and criminal justice across different societies and historical periods.  
  2. Demonstrate knowledge and skills needed to fulfill professional responsibilities or to pursue further postgraduate education in justice-related fields.
  3. Synthesize knowledge of scholarly approaches, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends within the subject areas of criminal justice and social justice.
  4. Design, implement, and evaluate research projects in the fields of criminal and social justice, including data collection, analysis, and interpretation.
  5. Apply multidisciplinary notions and principles of justice when formulating responses to social problems in communities and/or justice-related institutions.


The curriculum shown here is intended to be the latest one approved by the Department and University. However, the official MS in Justice Studies curriculum is housed in the SJSU Catalog

Each continuously enrolled student has "catalog rights" for the curriculum in effect in the catalog when first enrolled, or any subsequent catalog implemented while in the program. Therefore, many students may benefit from looking at the previous catalogs that are stored here. To see any catalog for which you have rights, you will need to drill down to "MS-Justice Studies" in the catalog corresponding to the academic year to which you have rights.

Currently, the MS in Justice Studies curriculum consists of 33 units of coursework, and it has two options for the culminating experience (students choose one): 

  1. Thesis Option - This option is popular among students interested in conducting research and/or pursuing a Ph.D.
  2. Project Option - This option is choosen more often by students seeking a degree to help them with their profession and those interested in working in a justice-related agency.

The program may be completed in as few as 2 years (attending full time), but should be completed within 7 years.*

Each student must take a core curriculum of 18 units (JS 201, JS 202, JS 203, JS 207, JS 211, and JS 223). The thesis option requires six thesis units, plus 9 elective units; the non-thesis option requires completion of JS 297, plus 12 elective units. Elective courses must be 200-level courses in the department. Subject to graduate coordinator approval, two graduate courses in other departments on campus may be taken as electives, if the student demonstrates their relevance to the student's program of study and/or career goals in Justice Studies. Undergraduate courses may not count toward the 33 units of required graduate course work. Students who are academically or administratively disqualified from the program, will generally not be readmitted.

Course Requirements            

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement  
At SJSU, students must pass the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). For information on the GWAR, please see the GWAR requirements page.
Requirements of the Masters 33
Core Courses 18
JS 201: Justice and Social Theory     3
JS 202: Survey of Research Methods     3
JS 211: Historical Issues in Justice Studies     3
JS 223. Comparative Criminology & Criminal Justice     3
JS 203: Seminar in Applied Statistics in Justice     3
JS 207: Seminar in Qualitative Research Methods     3
Culminating Experience 15
Plan A (with Thesis)  
JS 299: Master's Thesis     6
Three Elective Courses (from elective list below) 9
Plan B (without Thesis)  
JS 297: Program Evaluation Project     3
Four Elective Courses (from list below) 12
Elective Options  
JS 204: Justice Organizations, Ethics & Change     3
JS 205: Seminar in Law and Courts     3
JS 206: Seminar in Juvenile Justice     3
JS 208: Seminar: Punishment & Society     3
JS 209: Seminar in Police and Social Control     3
JS 212: Local & Global Perspectives on Human Rights     3
JS 214: Seminar: Social Movement, Community Organizing, and Social Justice     3
JS 218: Seminar: Immigration, Law & Justice     3
JS 220: Seminar: Criminological Theory     3
JS 221: Seminar: Deviance & Social Control     3
JS 222: Seminar: Penal Policies and Justice     3

Total Units: 33

*Section 40510(b)(2), California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Education, requires that courses in completed graduate degree programs be no older than seven years at the time of the degree award. The seven-year period is counted from the end of the semester in which the course was completed. Thus, no more than seven years may elapse between the time the first course in a graduate program is completed and the time the last item in the program is completed, the latter indicating fulfillment of all degree requirements. See the graduate coordinator if a course on your candidacy form is affected by this rule.