May 18, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [FINAL EDITION]

Criminal Justice, MA

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Degree Requirements

To qualify for the degree of Master of Arts in Criminal Justice, the candidate must:

  1. Comply with all general requirements of Widener University relating to the governance of graduate programs.
  2. Satisfactorily complete 30 semester hours of approved course work in the criminal justice program as follows:

The graduate criminal justice advisor oversees the selection and distribution of courses for all students in the program. Regardless of the option selected, students must obtain the approval of the advisor before taking courses in other programs.


Completion of One of the Following Options

Master’s Thesis Option

  • Four graduate electives (12 semester hours), two of which must be graduate criminal justice (CJ prefix) electives.
  • 6 Credit(s)

Comprehensive Examination Option

  • Six graduate electives (18 semester hours), three of which must be graduate CJ electives.
  • Written comprehensive examinations.

The Master’s Thesis

The master’s thesis is an empirical research project supervised by a full-time faculty member in the program. The thesis is in the form of a scholarly journal article. With advice of the thesis advisor, each student selects a journal most appropriate to his/her area of interest, conducts the required research, and prepares a manuscript at the level required for publication in the selected journal.

Each thesis adheres to the particular journal’s page limits, bibliographic format, manner of data presentation, and so on. Where appropriate, students are encouraged to develop their thesis from research conducted from their course work or from preexisting databases.

The student must complete the thesis proposal within one year of completion of course work and then must complete the thesis within one year of approval of the proposal.

It is the responsibility of the student to select a thesis advisor from the MACJ full-time faculty.

Successful candidates must provide two copies of the completed thesis to the MACJ director.

Thesis Proposal Procedure

Upon obtaining the written consent of the faculty advisor, the student notifies the MACJ director by memo of the selection of the faculty member and the start date of the thesis process. The student must complete the proposal within one year of completion of course work. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the program.

Upon approval of the MACJ thesis proposal by the faculty advisor, the student provides one copy for the department’s file (approved and signed by the advisor). The faculty advisor shall notify the members of the faculty by memo of the existence of the signed proposal as well as the proposed thesis title.

Format and Scope of the Comprehensive Examinations

Candidates for the master’s degree must complete all their course work requirements prior to taking the master’s comprehensive exams. Petitions to sit for master’s examinations must be submitted to the MACJ director at least 60 days prior to the scheduled examination period. The petition must provide confirmation that all course requirements have been satisfied.

The format of all comprehensive examinations is as follows:

The exams are written and administered on-campus with a maximum 3-hour per area time allotment. No more than one exam can be scheduled per day; no exams are scheduled on consecutive days.

Successful completion requires passing each of the three master’s examinations.

The examinations are in theory, research methods, and one additional area of specialization chosen by the student and based on courses offered in the program. The examination in theory covers the course content of CJ 501  and a reading list provided by the faculty. The examination in research methods covers the course content of CJ 509  and a reading list provided by the faculty. MACJ faculty are responsible for providing reading lists and for constructing and evaluating examination questions in the specialization/additional areas. Reading lists should be requested by the student at least one semester prior to the scheduled examinations.


Possible outcomes are pass, fail, or conditional pass. It is the responsibility of the respective faculty member(s) evaluating the examinations to notify the MACJ program director, in writing and within two weeks, of the results of the evaluation. If the student is deemed to have failed the exam, the faculty member includes the reasons for the failure in the notification to the graduate program director. Within two weeks of notification of the grade on the master’s examination, students receive a detailed evaluation in writing from the MACJ program director.

Students who fail a written exam, or any part thereof, may request a re-reading from the faculty member(s) evaluating the examination. This request is to be submitted to the director of the graduate program in criminal justice within 20 days of the student receiving the detailed written evaluation.

Under the conditional pass, students re-write the part(s) in question on campus. The students are permitted to bring their original response with them to the exam.

Repeats of Examinations: Written Comprehensive
Only one repeat for each area is permitted. Failure on a repeat examination is a permanent failure for that area.

Administration of Comprehensive Examination

The administration of examinations is the responsibility of the director of the graduate program in criminal justice. Exams are administered during the fall and spring semesters.

Please Note

The program of study that appears here applies to students who were admitted for the summer session of this catalog year and later.  Students admitted prior to that term should select the appropriate catalog year of their admission.  Choose previous catalogs from the Home, Graduate, or Undergraduate Catalog Page at

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