Dec 08, 2023  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [FINAL EDITION]

Criminal Justice

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The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program is designed to prepare individuals for successful careers in research, management, and leadership in the criminal justice professions. The master’s degree curriculum provides intensive study in the areas of criminological theory, research methodology and data analysis, and organizational functioning.

The program is designed to encourage the development of effective, analytical, and problem-solving skills that will equip professionals with the intellectual capital needed to propose meaningful solutions to the criminal justice issues of contemporary society. The program includes a core curriculum that emphasizes criminological theory, the relation of law to the criminal justice system, research and data analysis, and criminal justice organizations. Students tailor the remainder of the degreeto their needs and interests by choosing electives from Widener’s extensive offerings. For the capstone requirement, students choose either the master’s thesis option or comprehensive examination option.

Classes are small and taught in a seminar format. Widener’s criminal justice instructors include full-time faculty and practitioners in the criminal justice system.


An applicant for admission to the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice (MACJ) program must have earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Candidates are considered for admission after having submitted:

  • A completed application form.
  • Two letters of recommendation.
  • Transcripts from all previously attended institutions.
  • A statement describing reasons and expectations for study in the program.

The decision to admit an applicant to the MACJ program is based primarily on the applicant’s undergraduate/graduate grade point average (minimum 3.00 GPA required), letters of recommendation, and the applicant’s personal statement. A limited number of other factors may be considered, including quality of undergraduate program, undergraduate major, relevant work experience, research reports, publications, project reports, presentations, and other work demonstrating the ability to successfully pursue graduate studies. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required, but scores may be submitted in support of the application.

Applicants with undergraduate degrees in disciplines other than criminal justice will have their curricula evaluated by the graduate criminal justice advisor to ensure the proper academic preparation to successfully pursue a graduate degree in the field. Deficits in undergraduate criminal justice preparedness may require the taking of additional courses. Such decisions are made on an individual basis in consultation with the applicant.

Guaranteed admission is extended to those Widener students who complete their undergraduate education with an overall GPA of 3.5 or better.

All inquiries should be addressed to:

Criminal Justice Graduate Program Director
Widener University
One University Place
Chester, PA 19013

Submissions should be addressed to:

Office of Graduate Enrollment Management
Widener University
One University Place
Chester, PA 19013

Transfer Credits

Students who apply for admission to the MACJ program may transfer a maximum of 6 semester hours of previous graduate course work. To be accepted for transfer credit, graduate course work must be recent (within 5 calendar years), indicate a high degree of scholarship (a grade of A or B), and conform to the curricular philosophy of the program. Transfer credits will not be accepted for core courses—only for graduate electives. Transfer credit requests must be made at the initial application stage. Students wishing to receive such credit must petition the MACJ graduate program director in writing and must submit official transcripts and course descriptions from the graduate institutions at which the course work was completed.

International Students

International students should consult the International Student Services web page at for international graduate student guidelines or contact the Office of International Student Services at Widener University, One University Place, Chester, PA 19013; phone: 610-499-4499.

Student Status

Matriculating—A student who meets all entrance requirements and is working in a program toward a graduate degree is said to be matriculated.

Auditing—Students are permitted to audit courses with the approval of both the director and the instructor. No grade or credit is given. Full tuition and fees for the course must be paid.

Visiting—Students who do not wish to pursue the formal degree but who do want to complete courses offered in the program are considered nonmatriculated. All course requirements must be completed and a grade received. A change in status to degree candidate will be considered after having submitted a written request and required admission documentation to the director of the program.

Normal Progress

Students are expected to make continuing progress toward the completion of their graduate education. Under ordinary circumstances “normal progress” is defined as follows. Students are expected to complete the master’s degree no later than their third year in the program. The department also considers headway on the thesis, number of credits accumulated, and failure to complete course work in a timely fashion in defining progress. Students who fail to make normal progress may be dismissed from the program.

Students who have not completed all necessary MACJ degree requirements, including successfully passing the comprehensive examinations or successful completion of the master’s thesis, may not “walk” or otherwise participate in graduation ceremonies. Students are strongly encouraged to take core courses when they are offered.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations adopted by the MACJ faculty for the master’s degree is five years. Students must complete the MACJ degree requirements within five years of being accepted into the program. Exceeding this limit will result in dismissal from the program. Requests for extensions must be made in writing by the student and approved by the MACJ director.


The graduate program director serves as the academic advisor to MACJ students. Upon admission to the program, students should meet with the director for academic advisement. The director and student should create a plan of study that fulfills departmental requirements and provides comprehensive professional (academic) training. This plan of study should take account of students’ backgrounds and available departmental resources and be reviewed periodically.

Final responsibility for course selection and the meeting of department requirements resides with the student.

Quality of Graduate Work

Consistent with university regulations, a minimum of a “B” average is required for certification of readiness to take graduate examinations or to begin the thesis process and for conferral of a graduate degree. Students should consult the College of Arts & Sciences policies on student status and dismissal and readmission for more information regarding graduate standing.



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