Master of Criminal Justice

100% Online Degree

Whether your goal is an upper-level career in law enforcement, security, corrections, or human services, St. Ambrose can prepare you to be a skilled, effective, and ethical leader.

Learn more about completing this degree online.

Our graduates work at the Center for Alcohol and Drug Services, Chicago Police Department, Families of Northeast Iowa, FBI, J&I Polygraph Investigations, and more.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Only MCJ Program in Iowa
  • Skills That Lead to Leadership
  • Tailored to the Working Professional
  • Online Degree Option

students in class

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students in class

Whether you take classes on campus or online, you will get an interactive experience. By combining theory and practical hands-on application, our expert faculty fully prepare you to take your ‘next step' and applaud your success.

See Our Fact Sheet on the MCJ Program

More Information About the Master of Criminal Justice Program

What will I learn?

Courses include criminology theory, justice statistics, research methods, crime policy analysis, justice planning and leadership, and seminars in juvenile justice, law enforcement and corrections.

The curriculum addresses social justice topics including race, class, and gender and their impact on the criminal justice system - from arrest through sentencing.

The MCJ is a 30-credit-hour program. You can choose to write a thesis to complete your education or take a comprehensive exam. Full-time students can earn an MCJ in one year by taking courses in the fall, spring, and summer. Most students enroll part-time and complete the degree in two years. However, all students have up to five years to earn their degree.

Many of the classes are offered in the evenings, Monday through Thursday, and average about 10 students. That creates an environment conducive to deep, intellectual discussions, but also large enough to share the diverse knowledge our students and faculty bring to the table. Other classes are cross-listed with undergraduate classes and offered during the day. We also offer online classes.

Are you an undergraduate looking for a head start? In the Master of Criminal Justice 4+1 program (see below), you can take master's level coursework starting in your junior year. One additional year of coursework remains after your bachelor's degree to achieve your master's in criminal justice degree. That saves you time and tuition.

Tell me more Ambrose Advantages
  • Students regularly submit their thesis work to conferences, for publication, or as evidence for a PhD application. Recent thesis titles include: "How Virtual Visitation Effects Criminality" and "Baselines for Racial Profiling."
  • Students can design their own course of study - within structured guidelines - for achieving a Criminal Justice master's degree. This personalization allows students to tailor their education and meet career goals.
  • We're accommodating: If a class you need to graduate isn't available, directed reading and independent study may be offered. We also connect you with internships at local, state, and federal agencies that can be completed for 6 credits.
  • A capstone class provides you with guided review of areas that will be covered on the comprehensive exams, including a review of statistics, methods, theory, and practice.
  • Our exploration of criminal justice doesn't stop at the U.S. border. The Women in Irish Film course looks at the subject of criminal justice-not only in a different country but also in a different time. A follow-up study trip to Ireland allows students to examine justice at work in the modern era. Take a look at other classes
  • Best of all, our faculty share their experience in the classroom. They have extensive backgrounds in corrections, law, criminology, sociology, education, human services, and law enforcement. Many do consulting and conduct grant-funded research. Past research projects have focused on the treatment of women in the criminal justice and the prison systems; counseling and offender treatment; recidivism and treatment at halfway houses; gender issues and treatment; and the effect of race and gender in decision making.
What have alumni of this program done?
  • Maricela Guzman '06, '11 MCJ, is an Adult Probation Officer with Rock Island County (Illinois) Court Services. She interned there as a SAU student and says the opportunity led to the job. She provides resources and referrals to people, empowering them to become productive members of society.
  • Kim Anh Hua '12, '13 MCJ is an EB-5 Case Manager for CMB Regional Centers in Rock Island, which handles immigrant investing.
What is tuition for this program?

A limited number of graduate assistantships and fellowships are available. Check with the program director for details.

In addition, the St. Ambrose University Financial Aid Office provides information on loans for graduate studies.

2019-20 Tuition

  • $970/credit hour/seated (some discounts may apply)
  • $546/credit hour/online

Refund Schedule: Students are obligated for the full amount of tuition for courses for which they are registered, subject to the refund schedule. Exact refund dates for each term are located in the campus Academic Calendar.

  • You have 10 days to make changes to your enrollment without penalty.
  • You will be charged 50% of tuition through the 20th day if you drop below 9 credit hours (full-time); or, if you are already a part-time student and you drop below your original enrolled credits. If you received financial aid of any kind, your package will be re-evaluated and possibly adjusted to reflect your new enrollment status.
  • Any changes made after the 20th day will result in a full charge of tuition.

This rule does not apply if you fully withdraw from the university. In that case, your tuition will be prorated based on the number of days attended.

Graduate Fees

2019-20 Fees

Graduate level students taking 9 or more credit hours $280/yr. ($140/semester)
Graduate level students taking 8 or less credit hours $140/yr. ($70/semester)
Online course fee $60/credit hour

Master of Criminal Justice

Degree Requirements

Foundation courses (12 semester credits)
MCJ 500 - Criminological Theory
MCJ 550 - Applications of Criminal Justice Writing
MCJ 530 - Advanced Criminal Justice Statistics
MCJ 531 - Advanced Criminal Justice Research Methods

Core courses (9 semester credits)
MCJ 510 - Crime Policy Analysis
MCJ 620 - Administration of Justice
MCJ 640 - Justice Planning and Leadership

Professional Practice (9 semester credits)
Choose one seminar class from the following list:
MCJ 670 - Seminar in Juvenile Justice
MCJ 671 - Seminar in Law Enforcement
MCJ 672 - Seminar in Corrections

plus both:
MCJ 507 - Seminar in Criminal Justice
MCJ 702 - Final Project

Click here to read course descriptions in the online course catalog

BA-MCJ Program

Admission Requirements

The BA-MCJ program gives qualified undergraduate students the opportunity to earn a Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ) degree on an accelerated timeframe.

Starting as juniors, qualified students can complete up to 12 credits of graduate-level criminal justice courses that will count toward both their BA and MCJ degrees. This will allow students to complete their master's degree in Criminal Justice in a single year following the completion of the bachelor's degree.

SAU Criminal Justice majors who have completed at least 60 hours of undergraduate course credit with a 3.2 cumulative grade point average will be eligible for admission to the program.

Students will apply in the fall of their junior year and once admitted, will begin taking courses required for the MCJ degree during the spring semester of their junior year.

Admission Requirements

Students may be admitted to the BA-MCJ program in the fall semester of their junior year. Applications must be completed by October 1.

Accepted students will be allowed to register for a graduate class in the spring semester of their junior year.

Current St. Ambrose students and new transfer students are eligible to apply if they have met the following:

1. Currently enrolled at St. Ambrose University as a Criminal Justice major.
2. Have a faculty advisor from the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice 
3. Completed 60 credit hours
4. Minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA

Admission Criteria

This program is competitive and intended for highly motivated students who excel in the classroom. Applicants will be evaluated on the following:

1. Grade point average (overall and in the major)
2. Interview with the Program Director
3. Letter of recommendation from a professor or employer

Plan to Graduate

Course Sequence
Once enrolled in the BA-MCJ program, students take specific classes in their junior and senior year to segue into the master's program.

Junior Year
Fall: Apply for admission into program
Spring: MCJ 510 Crime Policy Analysis

Senior Year
Fall: MCJ 550 Applications of Criminal Justice Writing
Spring: MCJ 620 Administration of Justice + MCJ 671 or 672 Seminar in Law Enforcement or Seminar in Corrections


Year One

 Fall CR Spring CR 
CRJU 101 Intro to Criminal Justice  CRJU 231 Contemporary Corrections*
ENGL 101 English Composition  CRJU 221 Criminal Law and Procedures*
Philosophy/Theology  Oral Communication  (COMM 129, 132, 230, 228, or 329) 
Foreign Language 101  Foreign Language 102 
NSS 101 New Student Seminar  Math 131 or 171 
IL 101 Information Literacy  KIN 149: Wellness Concepts 
Total Credits  14  16 

Year Two

 Fall CR Spring CR 
CRJU 102 Intro to Law Enforcement  CRJU 303 Police, Problems, and Practices* 
CRJU 200*  CRJU 430 (Pre-req CRJU 200) 
Humanities #  Creative Arts 
Natural Science  Philosophy/Theology 
Kinesiology-Fitness  Elective 
Total Credits  16  Total Credits 16

Year Three

CRJU 316 Juvenile Justice* WI-CRJU 407 (Pre-reqs: CRJU 400, CRJU 430, ENGL 101)
CRJU 400 Criminological Theory*  CRJU 314* 
Philosophy/Theology  MCJ 510 Crime Policy Analysis
Electives 6 Humanities** n/a 
Elective 3
Total Credits 15  Total Credits 15

Year Four

CRJU 411: Constitution and Criminal Justice* CRJU Justice Issues Elective 
CRJU Justice Issues Elective*  MCJ 620 Administration of Justice 
MCJ 550 MCJ Seminar (620, 671, or 672)
300-level Philosophy/Theology  Electives 6
Total Credits  15  Total Credits 15

Year Five

MCJ 500 Criminological Theory 3 MCJ 507 Master's Seminar 3
MCJ 531  MCJ 530 
MCJ 640  MCJ 702 Final Paper 
Total Credits  Total Credits 

WI=writing intensive
*Needs CRJU 101 as prerequisite 
**Humanities course must be from two different departments

Ready to Apply?

Take the next step toward earning your master's degree in Criminal Justice and apply to our program.

Brian Flisk, Master of Criminal Justice, Class of 2017

Current Occupation: Investigator at Cooney and Conway, Chicago | "I loved the small class sizes," he said. "I loved the sense of community. St. Ambrose felt like home on the first day, and it has been so ever since."

Apply Visit Info


Chris Barnum, PhD, Program Director

Master of Criminal Justice
McMullen Hall 012
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 60 programs and 27 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!