Skip to Main Content
College of Arts and Sciences
twoColumn twoLeft handbook

Criminal Justice Graduate Student Handbook

General Information

Class Size and Format

Graduate classes are typically smaller than undergraduate classes, which facilitates increased interaction between individual students and the faculty member teaching the course. Classes are often conducted on a seminar basis. This means that class sessions are devoted almost entirely to discussion of assigned readings or other materials, and it is expected that all students will come to class completely prepared and willing to participate in class discussion.

Class Attendance

Students are expected to attend all class sessions. Because most graduate courses meet just once a week, missing a single class is tantamount to missing an entire week of material. Given the limited number of class meetings, importance of class discussion, and rigor of graduate work, missed classes are inexcusable at the graduate level.

The Graduate Workload

The workload in graduate courses is heavier than that of undergraduate courses. Required readings, class assignments, and written research projects are extensive and time consuming. Graduate students are expected to submit all assignments on time. 

Quality of Work

A high level of performance in all written assignments for graduate students is expected. The work should demonstrate sophisticated critical thinking with an emphasis on depth and breadth of knowledge. Assignments must be written in Standard English with proper grammar, correct spelling, appropriate in-text citations, and academic references.


Graduate students should be self-directed and motivated in their studies. Some class assignments are specific while others will require you to develop and pursue individual research interests. Particularly in Supervised Research, Supervised Teaching, Directed Independent Study (DIS) and Exit Options, graduate students must be pro-active and self-directed in preparation and implementation.

Rules and Regulations

All Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) graduate students are responsible for the information included in the MSCJ Graduate Student Handbook and the UNF Graduate Catalog. Although the MSCJ Graduate Student Handbook elaborates on some aspects of your graduate school experience, the UNF Graduate Catalog is the official policy manual which governs your life as a UNF graduate student.

Admission Policies and Procedures

Applying to the MSCJ Program

Please follow the steps below to apply to the MSCJ program at UNF:

Step 1

Application and Application Fee All graduate applicants must complete and submit an application form, which is available on the Graduate School website at the web address above. If the application is submitted in paper format, the non-refundable application fee is $30.00 (check or money order) drawn from a U.S. bank. If the application is submitted online, the non-refundable application fee is also $30.00 and may be paid by credit card (UNF does not accept Visa, unfortunately). 

Step 2

Official College Transcripts Graduate applicants must provide evidence, in the form of official transcripts, of an earned baccalaureate degree from an approved college or university. An approved college or university is one that has candidacy or membership status with the appropriate regional accrediting agency, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The Graduate School will only accept hard copy transcripts. Students should submit one official hard copy of their transcripts to the Graduate School by the posted deadline. You are required to provide official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless if a transcript shows courses from another university. Former UNF students will normally not need to request transcripts unless they have attended an institution since leaving UNF.

Step 3

Additional Required Materials The MSCJ program requires two or more letters of recommendation from responsible persons who hold graduate degrees and know the student well enough to attest to the student’s ability to succeed at the graduate level and a letter requesting admission to the program discussing: a) Academic and relevant employment experiences, b) Career goals, c) Areas of chief interest in the 6 field, and d) Reasons for seeking the MSCJ degree. The letters of recommendation and letter of interest must also be sent to the Graduate School.

Step 4

Submission of your materials. The Graduate School strongly encourages you to submit all application materials together in one packet. All materials listed above in steps 1-4 must be sent to the address below:


The Graduate School University of North Florida

1 UNF Drive

Jacksonville, FL 32224

MSCJ Application Deadlines: Fall Admission – July 1st

Spring Admission – November 1st

Summer Admission – March 15th


Once all above requirements for admission have been satisfied, the applicant's file will be forwarded from the Graduate School to the MSCJ Program Director.

Application Review and Decision

The MSCJ Program Director carefully evaluates each application. The Graduate Committee, comprised of a portion of the CCJ faculty, may additionally review applications. An application decision is one of three possible outcomes: Admit, Provisionally Admit (Trial Program), or Deny. Once the decision has been made, the applicant will receive a letter from the UNF Graduate School informing him/her of the result.

Trial Admission

Trial or “provisional” admission is considered on a case-by-case basis. Full admission into the MSCJ program requires that prospective students have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. If the GPA remains slightly below the minimum standard, the MSCJ Director and Graduate Committee may admit the student on a trial basis. The student must then meet certain requirements in order to be fully admitted. Typically, these requirements consist of earning a “B” or better in the first two core courses in which the student enrolls.

Post-Baccalaureate Status

Students who wish to take courses in a non-degree seeking status may apply as a post-baccalaureate student. The application is also available from the Graduate School’s website. Post-baccalaureate students may take up to 9 credit hours of graduate course work and up to 12 credit hours of undergraduate coursework. Please note that financial aid is not available to students in a non-degree seeking status. All students who are in post-baccalaureate status are required to contact the MSCJ Program Director each semester during the registration period in order to receive registration permission for MSCJ courses in which they wish to enroll.

However, the MSCJ Director and Committee can agree on different criteria based on the individual applicant. Students completing trial program requirements successfully will be removed from conditional status and fully admitted into the program. Students who fail to meet trial program requirements will not be admitted. Those individuals have a right to appeal this decision.

Readmission of Inactive Students

Students who have been accepted previously but who never enrolled or who have not taken courses for one year (three consecutive terms, including summers) must reapply to the graduate program. They will be responsible for meeting any new general admissions requirements and program specific requirements.

MSCJ Program Information


The program consists of 36 graduate semester hours. There is a common core of 6 courses required of all students, comprising 18 semester hours of study. The students must also complete an Exit Requirement of either a thesis or two additional electives in consultation with the MSCJ Director.


Prerequisites must be completed within the first nine hours of graduate course work.

  • Undergraduate Statistics (STA 2014) or Research Methods (CCJ 3700) 
  • Undergraduate Criminological Theory or Introductory Criminology with a theory component

Program Courses

Required Core Courses

Advanced Methods of Criminological ResearchAdministration of Justice Advanced Criminological TheoryQuantitative Research Methods


course offerings vary

Exit Requirements

Thesis/demonstration project or graduate level electives

Offical Program of Sudy

Registration, Enrollment and Graduation


A full-time graduate course load is nine hours; a part-time graduate course load is fewer than nine hours. A fully admitted MSCJ graduate student is able to register for any course for which special permission is not required. Graduate courses are those at or above the 5000 level, and the Graduate Catalog provides individual course descriptions. Prior to each term, the class schedule is posted online.

Occasionally, a student may receive a registration error when they attempt to enroll and will be unable to complete the registration process. When this occurs, students should e-mail the MSCJ Director with their N number, the name and number of the course for which they are attempting to register, and the specific error message they are receiving. The MSCJ Director will ascertain the nature of the problem and take steps to ensure successful registration.

In addition to seminar-style courses, there are several electives that engage a graduate student in one-on-one work with a faculty member for which special permission is required. In order to participate, the student must consult with the MSCJ Program Director the semester prior to the one in which he/she hopes to enroll in the course. These courses require the completion of a form and the signatures of the student, collaborating faculty member, MSCJ Director and/or Department Chair. Forms can be acquired from the MSCJ Director or the CCJ Department Office Manager.

Special permission MSCJ courses include the following:

  • CCJ 6906 - Directed Independent Study: Requires signature of collaborating faculty member and Department Chair along with a written proposal. This course is an independent study of a narrow issue in criminal justice directed by a faculty member specializing in that area or topic.
  • CCJ 5743 – Supervised Research in Criminal Justice: Requires signature of MSCJ Director and collaborating faculty member. Under the direction of a faculty member the graduate student will explore major elements of criminology and criminal justice research, including initial planning and preparation, literature review, data collection and analysis, interpretation of findings, and report writing. The student will also learn the procedures for developing scholarly research for publication.
  • CCJ 6944 - Supervised Teaching Experience in Criminal Justice: Requires signature of MSCJ Director and collaborating faculty member. This course provides graduate students with a structured exposure to all the elements of college teaching within the parameters of assisting with a criminology and criminal justice undergraduate course being taught by a full-time faculty member. The intent is to prepare qualified persons for college teaching in criminal justice. Under the direction of faculty, the student participates in the planning, research, preparation, presentation, and examination aspects of the course. This includes attendance at all class meetings and at least three stand-alone presentations/lectures of the course material.

Graduate GPA

The graduate GPA includes all graduate credits taken once the student has been accepted as a degree-seeking graduate student. This includes graduate credits taken as a post-baccalaureate student, even before official admission to graduate program, when those credits are used to fulfill degree requirements. Graduate credits taken as a post-baccalaureate student, when those hours are not counted toward fulfillment of degree requirements, are not counted in the construction of the graduate GPA. Undergraduate credits, no matter when they are taken, are not counted in the graduate GPA; nor are transfer credits.

Good Academic Standing

A graduate student who has a cumulative UNF graduate GPA of 3.0 or higher is considered to be in good academic standing. A graduate student must have a cumulative UNF graduate GPA of 3.0 or higher to be eligible for graduation and the award of a graduate degree. Graduate students who hold assistantships and fellowships are expected to be in good academic standing.

In addition to remaining in good academic standing, MSCJ students are required to earn a "B" or higher in all MSCJ courses in order to get receive credit for the course toward graduation. If a student earns a grade lower than a "B" in a core course, the student must retake the course ans earn a "B" or higher. If a student earns a grade lower than a "B" in an elective course, the student may retake the same elective course and earn a "B" or higher; or take a different elective course and earn a "B" or higher. Only courses where a student has earned a "B" or higher will count toward program completion.   

Academic Probation

A graduate student who fails to maintain a cumulative UNF graduate GPA of at least 3.0 will be placed on academic probation. Probation shall be noted on the academic transcript for each term in which the cumulative UNF graduate GPA is below 3.0.

Academic Suspension and Dismissal

(1) If, while a graduate student is on probation, the cumulative UNF graduate GPA does not reach 3.0 in the next academic term, the student is eligible for suspension or dismissal from the program. (2) If, while a graduate student is on probation, he or she earns a “D” or an “F” in a graduate course in his or her program of study, the student is eligible for suspension or dismissal from the program. The decision concerning whether the student is actually placed on academic suspension rests with the MSCJ Director and the Graduate Committee. Academic suspension is noted on the academic transcript. A graduate student may not register for courses while on academic suspension. The decision to release the student from academic suspension rests with the MSCJ Director and Graduate Committee.

Decisions made by graduate program directors and/or graduate program committees may be appealed by graduate students; such appeals are made via written letter to the Graduate Committee. The letter must present the reasons as to why the student requests re-consideration of the original decision. 

Graduate Transfer Credit Policy

The residency requirement at UNF is 24 credit hours, 18 of which must be taken at the 6000 level. No student may earn a UNF graduate degree without 24 hours of UNF graduate course credit. It is also required that students earn a majority of credits toward their degrees at UNF.

Applying for Graduation

During the semester that students realistically anticipate that they will complete their Exit Requirement, they must register for graduation. The easiest and most convenient way to apply is online in the Student Records section of myWings Student Self Service. The online application is available from final exam week the preceding semester through the posted application deadline, generally the third Friday of the semester. Failure to apply by the deadline may affect your ability to graduate that term and will result in a delay of your diploma.

Exit Requirements

Thesis option

The thesis provides students with the opportunity to engage in an independent but supervised research activity and to make a contribution to the body of knowledge in the field of criminology and criminal justice. The thesis is also one form of evidence that the MSCJ student has mastered his/her discipline, both theoretically and methodologically.

Who Should Select the Thesis Option

There are many other good reasons to do a thesis. The thesis can be a way of developing and demonstrating a high level of expertise on a specific topic. Such expertise may be of value in your future employment options or doctoral-level education. All students should discuss the appropriateness of selecting the thesis option with the MSCJ Director at the time of admission. For those selecting the thesis at that time, it may be advisable to discuss this choice again after completing the MSCJ core courses. Difficulty in successfully completing the MSCJ core courses may suggest that the student lacks important theoretical or methodological skills which will be required in order to successfully complete a thesis.

The Thesis Process

Graduate School thesis requirements

All core coursework must be successfully completed and the thesis proposal must be successfully completed and orally defended before the student may officially enroll in thesis hours. All thesis committees will be comprised of three faculty members at the proposal stage, two of whom, including the chair, must be graduate faculty from the CCJ Department. It is recommended that students seek faculty members who can assist by virtue of their expertise in the general subject area and/or their expertise in the methodological approach. Please note that the faculty have an obligation to be responsive to graduate students; however, no faculty member is required to serve on any particular student's thesis committee. Students should be prepared to make a second--or even a third--selection in soliciting faculty to serve. Also note that faculty may require you to make one or more revisions of your proposal before they agree to work with you.

Both the written thesis proposal and the oral defense must be prepared in consultation with the department chair, receive final IRB clearance (see below) and be approved by the full three-member committee before the next stage of the process. The thesis proposal and its oral defense must address the following key elements:

  • The research question, problem or hypothesis
  • A literature review
  • The general methodology
  • A proposed timeline for completion of the thesis

At the point of the submission and/or defense of the thesis proposal, a Proposal Filing Form must be submitted to the Graduate School. (This form is available, as a PDF document from the Graduate School's website). The form should be downloaded, completed, signed by both the student and her/his thesis director, and submitted to the Graduate School either electronically as a PDF file or on a CD submitted to the Graduate School's office. If proposed research for any thesis is subject to the federal regulations pertaining to research involving either human or animal subjects, review by the UNF Institutional Review Board (IRB) and/or UNF Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) must be obtained prior to beginning such research. The measures taken to ensure the protection of human and/or animal subjects should be explicitly addressed in the researcher's discussion of methodology when applicable.

A failed proposal defense may require the student to take alternative exit options at the discretion of the thesis committee and MSCJ Director.

Subsequent to a successful proposal defense, the third committee member may remain on the thesis committee at his or her discretion. Thesis committee members expect students to initiate all appointments and submit all drafts of thesis chapters in a timely fashion. Thesis committee members will advise, provide feedback, read and thoroughly critique draft chapters, and try to help solve problems which may emerge.

The MSCJ Thesis Enrollment Permission Form must be completed prior to registration for thesis hours. Typically, students are expected to enroll in all six (6) credit hours of CCJ 6974 at one time and will be given a grade of "Incomplete" ("I") if they do not finish the thesis in the semester for which they enroll in these hours. The grade of "I" will remain until the completed thesis is submitted, a public oral Thesis Defense is successfully completed, all signatures have been received, and university and Graduate School requirements have been met. At that time, it will be changed to a "P" (Pass).

The format for the thesis typically conforms to the following (but ultimately depends on the nature of the study, i.e. qualitative or quantitative):

  • Chapter One - Introduction
  • Chapter Two - Literature Review
  • Chapter Three - Methods
  • Chapter Four - Findings
  • Chapter Five - Analysis
  • Chapter Six - Conclusion

Please see the Graduate School webpage that details Thesis Policies and Timelines. These timelines must be closely followed to ensure graduation. In addition, the UNF Library has requirements for formatting all theses that can be found on their website. It is wise to incorporate these elements early in the writing process.

Some formatting items to keep in mind:
  • Arrangement of contents - items that must be present in a thesis or dissertation must be arranged in the correct order.
  • Pagination Sequence - pages must be organized in the correct order.
  • Type and Spacing - must be uniform and must conform to the Library's requirements.
  • Margins - Left: 1 1/2" for binding purposes; Top, Right, Bottom: 1", except for chapter headings which should have a 2" top margin.
  • Illustrations, Photographs, Graphs, and Tables - must conform to the Library's requirements
  • Copyright Permissions - all copyrighted material must be used only with permission.
  • Title Page - must conform to the Library's requirements.
  • Signature Page - must conform to the Library's requirements.

No later than one week after graduation, students should submit the thesis document (and supporting materials) to the Graduate School. The Thesis/Dissertation Submission Form must be submitted to the Graduate School with the materials at that time.

Please note that during the time the student is working on the thesis proposal and/or after the conclusion of the required 6 thesis hours while the actual thesis document remains incomplete, a student must be registered for at least 3 credit hours. If the student has completed all 36 required hours for the MSCJ degree prior to this semester or summer term, he or she must enroll in a 3-credit hour Directed Independent Study (DIS). The DIS requires the completion of a permission form and signatures of both the Department Chair and the Faculty Advisor. In these cases, the Faculty Advisor is the Chair of the student's Thesis Committee. The Thesis Committee Chair is responsible for entering the DIS grade for the student. The student will receive an "A" if it is deemed by the Thesis Chair the student completed an appropriate amount of work towards the thesis during the semester in question. In all other cases, the student will receive an "I" until the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of the Thesis Chair, at which point the Thesis Chair will change the grade to an "A." If the student does not complete the thesis, any remaining "I"s will revert to "F"s.

Financial Aid Opportunities

Student Loans

By far the most accessible form of funding for graduate students, subsidized and unsubsidized student loans are available from the One-Stop Student Services office. Returning students must reapply for student loans each year. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available January 1 each year. Complete the FAFSA or the renewal online at The UNF school code is 009841. If you need financial aid beginning in the spring semester, visit One-Stop Student Services and complete a Midyear Financial Aid Request form. If you need aid beginning in the summer semester, visit Once Stop Student Services and complete a UNF Summer Financial Aid Request form. UNF recommends that you file your FAFSA each year by April 1.

Graduate School Scholarship Opportunities

The Graduate School offers two scholarships. The Delores Auzenne Scholarshipassists students from populations that are under represented in particular disciplines; this changes from year to year, as does the amount of funding available to an Auzenne Scholarship recipient. The Graduate Scholars Programoffers aid to students who are pursing projects of their own initiation that contribute to their activity as scholars, for example, the presentation of a paper at a scholarly conference. These are one-time modest awards to cover costs associated with these sorts of scholarly activities. For more information about the Graduate School Scholarships can be found on their website.

MSCJ Assistantships and Scholarships

UNF has made some graduate funding available directly through the various graduate programs for eligible students in those programs. Such MSCJ program opportunities usually take one of the following forms:

Graduate Teaching Assistantship 

The Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) works in consultation with the course faculty member and MSCJ Director to gain teaching skills and an increased understanding of the discipline. GTAs work under the direct supervision of graduate faculty and will be assigned to duties related to instruction for about 16 hours of work per week in the CCJ department. These include teaching-related activities such as assisting in the preparation of lectures and exams, grading papers and exams, leading Breakout Group discussion sections, designing assignments, maintaining student contact and keeping class records and attendance. The position provides a partial in-state tuition waiver and a stipend. GTAs are required to take 18 credit hours of graduate coursework in the MSCJ program during the academic year for which they are hired and to be full-time students. Applicants must have a minimum 3.00 GPA in the MSCJ program at UNF in order to qualify. Candidates should demonstrate potential for teaching and research and the ability to mentor undergraduate students in the undergraduate program. The GTA position(s) are advertised widely along with an application deadline.

Usually, applicants are required to submit a letter expressing interest and describing qualifications for the position, a curriculum vita/resume, at least two letters of reference, and an unofficial copy of their transcript with their highest degree.

Once hired, the GTA must meet ongoing expectations during the academic year in order to maintain the GTA position and its accompanying financial award. The conditions are as follows:

  1. Must be fully admitted to the program
  2. Maintain an overall GPA of 3.0, be in good standing and be carrying no more than one Incomplete
  3. Maintain professional demeanor and attire
  4. Show effort and due diligence in the development of lecture material, the preparation and grading of exams, student contacts, and all other related teaching assistant duties as designated by appropriate faculty members
  5. Receive a formal and written evaluation by a supervising faculty member of performance during classroom observation
  6. Receive formal, end-of-semester evaluations by students using the Narrative Evaluation for Graduate Assistants
  7. Meet SACSCOC requirement 3.7.1 of “direct supervision by a faculty member” via numbers four and five above, from which a formal written evaluation by either the department chair or the graduate program director will be generated and provided.
  8. Meet SACSCOC requirement 3.7.1 of “regular in-service training” by attending all mandatory programming scheduled by the Graduate School.

Graduate Assistantship 

The Graduate Assistant (GRA) duties involve assisting in/working on research projects with faculty members. The GRA will work in consultation with the MSCJ Director and under the direct supervision of graduate faculty and will be assigned to duties for about 10-15 hours per week in the department. The GRA will receive a stipend for the semester. Application requirements are similar to those for the GTA and the position is advertised widely.

Graduate Scholarships

Graduate Scholarship Awards are typically a dollar amount close to the cost of one three-credit hour graduate course, though graduate students may use the money for any purpose related to their graduate studies. Application requirements include a letter indicating an interest in receiving scholarship funding, to what use the student would put such funds if they were received, and personal and professional ambitions in the field, along with a copy of the student’s unofficial transcript showing courses completed to date and current graduate GPA. The call for Graduate Scholarship applications is advertised widely.



Dr. Brenda Vose

Department Chair & Associate Professor of Criminal Justice (Ph.D., University of Cincinnati)

Dr. Michael Hallett 

Professor of Criminal Justice (Ph.D., Arizona State University)

Dr. Alicia Sitren 

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice (Ph.D., University of Central Florida)

Dr. Jennifer Wesely

Professor (Ph.D., Arizona State University)

Dr. Michael Cherbonneau

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice (Ph.D., University of Texas)

Dr. Kristina Lopez

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice (Ph.D., Texas State University)

Dr. Holly V. Miller

Professor of Criminal Justice & MSCJ Program Director (Ph.D., University of South Carolina)

Dr. J. Mitchell Miller

Professor of Criminal Justice & Editor-In-Chief of the American Journal of Criminal Justice (Ph.D., University of Tennessee)

Title IX

The University of North Florida does not discriminate on the basis of sex in the University’s educational programs and activities, and the University is required by Title IX and its implementing federal regulations do not discriminate on that basis.  The requirement not to discriminate also extends to admissions and employment.  Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may referred to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Education, or both. UNF’s Title IX Coordinator, Marlynn Jones, may be contacted at 1 UNF Drive, Building 1, Suite 1200, Jacksonville, FL 32224,, 904-620-2507.