Applied Criminology, Master of Science

Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This graduate degree provides coursework for a professional program focused on the social and practical problems surrounding the creation and implementation of law and justice policy in local, national and international environments. This program allows graduate students to focus their studies in the areas of communities, health, and justice, socio-legal policies and practices and transnational crime and justice. Students pursuing a graduate degree in Applied Criminology work closely with faculty mentors on research and projects that interest them. 

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Communities, Health, and Justice - Emphasis (ending Summer 2025)
  • Law, Policy and Social Change - Emphasis (ending Summer 2025)
  • Transnational Crime and Justice - Emphasis (ending Summer 2025)

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master's degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 36
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Emphasis Required

An emphasis is required for this degree.

Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Thesis Thesis may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Oral Defense Oral Defense may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement
The core of the educational mission of the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is to provide both undergraduate and graduate students with the theoretical, methodological, and analytical skills to think critically and systematically about the nature of crime, the meaning of justice, and the efficacy of crime control policies and practices.
The Master of Science in Applied Criminology is an integrated program of study designed to provide graduate students with the theoretical perspectives, substantive knowledge and practical research skills needed to engage in independent, critical investigation of social justice and criminal justice issues, problems, and policies. The MS degree prepares students for professional employment in applied local, national, and international justice contexts or to pursue further education at the doctoral level.
The program’s core courses are designed to ensure that students acquire a graduate-level understanding of advanced theory and methods in criminology, justice system processes, and contemporary policy debates regarding crime and crime control. The graduate curriculum examines justice-related issues from a variety of criminological, social justice, and global perspectives and emphasizes three broad substantive areas of specialization:  transnational crime and justice, communities, health, and justice, and law, policy and social change.  Throughout the curriculum, students are expected to apply their core methodological and theoretical knowledge to analyze real-world justice challenges
The applied nature of the MS program is particularly emphasized in the diverse completion options available to students. Depending upon their career goals, our program facilitates experiential learning and the development of subject area expertise via a student designed project focused on research, teaching, or an internship in a justice agency. The opportunity to complete an independent project offers student-centered flexibility while also preparing students for their chosen professional career within the field of criminology. Applied Criminology graduates are critically informed citizens who value diversity and social justice and apply their methodological and theoretical knowledge to advance the cause of justice. 
Student Learning Outcomes 

The Master of Science in Applied Criminology provides students’ with the ability to apply graduate-level knowledge of criminological theory and advanced research skills to real-world problem solving in the areas of social and criminal justice.  Our program produces criminal justice practitioners, researchers, and human rights advocates who have a broad understanding of social justice-related issues and who have the advanced theoretical and methodological skills to work toward fostering healthy and sustainable communities that prioritize harm prevention.
Upon completing the MS in Applied Criminology, students will be able to:

  • [Theory] Critically engage, evaluate and apply social and criminological theories.  
    • Identify and understand the influence of social, historical, political, cultural, and economic contexts on the development of criminological paradigms and their associated theories.
    • Demonstrate advanced understanding of how criminological theories shape justice-related practices and policies.
    • Appropriately select and apply criminological theory in the completion of a capstone project. 
  • [Methods] Understand, critique and apply the common methodological strategies for analyzing justice-related questions.
    • Identify and explain key aspects of the research process, ranging from concept formation and measurement, to theory application and construction, to research design and data collection and analysis.
    • Develop and apply robust methodological approaches in a capstone project, such as hypothesis testing, describing social phenomenon, and developing grounded theory.  
    • Critically assess and evaluate existing (empirical) research and justice practices.  
  • [Critical Thinking] Read, reflect and discuss justice-related issues from a variety of social justice, global, and human perspectives.
    • Assess how dynamics of power, privilege, and inequality shape law making and the administration of justice locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
    • Evaluate the impact of justice policies and practices for diverse groups.
    • Critically assess the ethical dilemmas associated with diverse perspectives on the meaning of justice. 
  • [Communication] Write and communicate orally at a professional and scholarly level.


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • Three letters of recommendation
    • A writing sample
    • A personal statement or essay
Master's Requirements
  • This Master’s degree requires 36 units distributed as follows:

    • Foundation Courses: 9 units
    • Select one of the following 21 units:
      • One Emphasis (9 units) plus 12 units of Electives
      • Two emphases (18 units) plus 3 units of Electives
    • Capstone Project: 6 units

    Take the following 36 units:

    Foundation Courses (9 units)

  • Emphasis Requirements* (9-18 units):
    (Select one or two emphases)

    • Elective Units* (3-12 units):
      • Students who complete one emphasis area must complete 12 units of additional elective coursework approved by the student's Graduate Committee.
      • Students who complete two emphasis areas must complete 3 additional units of approved elective coursework.

  • Capstone Project (6 units):
    • Select one of the three following capstone projects:
      • Thesis - original qualitative or quantitative research in criminology
      • Internship - minimum one semester full-time field placement and the completion of a written analysis of the internship project
      • Justice Education Practicum - requires completion of CCJ 688 and CCHE 580 or CCHE 640 and, with the approval of the CCJ 688 instructor, one semester of supervised college-level teaching (or other justice-education project) and the completion of a written, critical analysis of the teaching experience
  • Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Program

    This program is available as an Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan. Accelerated Programs provide the opportunity for outstanding undergraduates working on their bachelor’s degree to simultaneously begin work on a master’s degree. Departments may allow students to complete both degrees in an accelerated manner by approving up to 12 units applicable toward both degrees. Students must apply to the accelerated program and the master’s program by the application deadline, and meet all requirements as listed on the Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Programs to be considered for admission. Admission to programs is competitive and qualified applicants may be denied because of limits on the number of students admitted each year. Be sure to speak with your advisor regarding your interest in Accelerated Programs.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.