The Criminal Justice Master of Arts degree is a broad-based graduate program. The program addresses issues of crime and criminal justice within an analytical framework and emphasizes theory and research and their implications for social policy. The curriculum is grounded in the social and behavioral sciences and in legal approaches to crime and social control. It draws from contemporary research and theoretical developments across a spectrum of academic disciplines. The criminal justice master’s degree is designed to prepare students for doctoral studies in the field and in related areas of the social and behavioral sciences, assume teaching positions at the community college level, and serve the needs of professionals currently working in justice-related agencies by providing the knowledge and skills to enhance their performance in current positions and/or prepare them for career advancement.

Available Options

  • Thesis Track

    Students who complete a master’s thesis in criminal justice will conduct a research project and data analyses relating to an issue of theoretical and empirical significance. Students are expected to display the ability to integrate the elements of the core courses and related programs of study into their thesis projects.

  • Comprehensive Examination Track

    Students who complete a master’s comprehensive examination must pass a written test designed to assess their ability to synthesize and apply the knowledge learned throughout the criminal justice M.A. program curriculum.


For information regarding accreditation at UNLV, please head over to Academic Program Accreditations.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Criminal Justice Master's Degree Program, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate advanced theoretical knowledge of the nature of crime and patterns of criminal activity.
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the law and the legal system, as well as decision-making in the criminal justice process, the social and political context of the legal system, important constitutional issues, and how criminal law differs from other forms of law.
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of criminal justice institutions and processes, and current criminal justice policy.
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of research methods, statistics and program evaluation.
  • Demonstrate the basic theoretical, empirical, and substantive knowledge and skills required for graduate education at the doctoral level, teaching at the community college level, and for research, social policy positions, and professional positions in criminal justice-related fields.

Career Possibilities

Comprehensive Examination Track


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Master of Arts - Criminal Justice

Thesis Track

Comprehensive Examination Track


Department of Criminal Justice

The Department of Criminal Justice provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs designed to give students comprehensive understanding of the nature and causes of crime, criminal justice processes, criminal justice organizations and agency practices, and the law and legal system.


Greenspun College of Urban Affairs

The Greenspun College of Urban Affairs is committed to creating contemporary solutions for resilient communities. Its academic programs focus on effective public policymaking, creating support structures to meet behavioral and mental health challenges, ensuring cities are safe and prepared to meet emergency situations, effective and ethical journalism, and interpersonal and public communication strategies.