The University of Colorado Denver’s Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ) degree was founded in 1972 and has been offered online for decades. The program is designed for the best and brightest of the criminal justice world to better understand the justice system and, in turn, make a bigger contribution to society.

The MCJ degree is designed to give you an interdisciplinary perspective on criminology and the criminal justice system. The MCJ program prepares students for a variety of careers intersecting with the criminal justice system, including federal, state and local law enforcement and criminal justice administration; crime data analysis; victim advocacy and support; juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice; and criminal justice policy and reform. Whether you currently hold a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree, are working in the criminal justice system, or are looking to change your career from something entirely different, the Master of Criminal Justice degree program will prepare you for a wide range of career opportunities. 

Program at a Glance

Degree Program:

Master of Criminal Justice

Offered By:

School of Public Affairs


Cost Per Credit:


Cost Per Credit:


Credit Hours:


Program Details

The online Master of Criminal Justice program is designed to ensure that students will:

  • have mastery of the concepts and theories associated with the various components of criminology and the criminal justice system;
  • have an in-depth knowledge of the theories of crime causation;
  • develop skills necessary to utilize research methods in conducting and evaluating criminology and criminal justice issues;
  • develop an understanding of criminology and the components of the criminal justice system including law enforcement, courts, and corrections;
  • demonstrate knowledge of key theoretical concepts and application to public policy questions and organizational management;
  • make use of the broad base of knowledge and research in criminology and criminal justice programming and policy-making;
  • communicate knowledge effectively in written and oral formats;
  • and utilize critical problem-solving skills and critical analysis in criminology and criminal justice agency settings.


Are you looking for a more customizable experience? Then one of our three concentrations in the MCJ program may be for you.

Crime Analysis

The Crime Analysis concentration emphasizes criminal justice and criminology-related subjects. The analytical skills learned in the concentration will help you succeed in a variety of career tracks. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn from the best in the industry. Courses will be taught by current and former analysts, so you know you’ll be prepared for an actual career.

Disasters, Hazards and Emergency Management

The concentration in Disasters, Hazards, and Emergency Management provides a solid all-hazards knowledge base for students interested in natural hazards, disasters, and resilience. The concentration will not ignore security aspects, but security-related topics will be just one among many topics to include natural hazards/disasters, accidents, etc.

Emergency Management and Homeland Security

The Emergency Management and Homeland Security concentration will provide you with advanced education in the management of emergencies, hazards, disasters, and homeland security. By completing this concentration, you will have the knowledge and skills necessary to assess and manage a broad range of hazards and disasters, and to understand the policy environment in which emergency management occurs.

General Track

Customize the program by choosing from a selection of criminal justice elective courses based on your own specific career goals.


The Master in Criminal Justice requires a minimum of 36 graduate semester hours made up of the following: 

  • Core sequence of 5 core courses that will provide a foundation in theory, practice and research methods
  • For those with no previous criminal justice experience: One 3 credit hour internship with local, state or federal criminal justice
  • Either a 3-6 credit hour thesis, or a 3 credit hour applied research capstone project

The most common course load for MCJ students is six to nine graduate credit hours per semester. We encourage students who work full time not carry more than six graduate semester hours in the MCJ program.

The MCJ program is definitely a commitment, but that doesn’t mean you must study full-time. One of the many benefits of an exclusively online degree program is the flexibility to complete the program on your own schedule. The average time to complete the MCJ program is about two and a half years, but you are able to take up to seven years to finish the program.


Admission requirements and deadlines vary based on program. In addition, you will have different requirements depending on if you are a first time student, a transfer student, or an international student.

No GMAT/GRE Required

Learn more about the admissions process by filling out the form above or contacting our Enrollment Team today.

Career Outlook

Criminal justice professionals are in high demand. A career in criminal justice not only puts you on the front lines in the fight for justice, it also makes you an asset to your community and helps make a difference in society. 

Due in part to the rapid growth and changing nature of the criminal justice industry, careers in the industry are constantly changing and evolving. Criminal justice management is a field with many different career options. Here are some of the top career opportunities that you could expect after graduation and median average salaries:

  • Criminologist: $43,106
  • Forensic Examiner: $60,521
  • Criminal Profiler: $62,888
  • Police and Detective Supervisor: $91,590


Courses at CU Denver are offered three times a year — fall, spring and summer. Not all courses are available every semester. For most programs, courses last 15 weeks, plus one week for finals. This is a big commitment, but we believe the extra time you spend dedicated to your studies pays off!