Criminal Justice

Master of Science

Effective June 2024, the Board of Higher Education has approved American International College for the Degree of Master of Science in Criminal Justice under the Guidelines for Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Academic Programs. The program has been found to meet or exceed all quality standards established by the Guidelines making it eligible for police career incentive pay increases under the Police Career Incentive Pay Program (PCIPP), formally known as the Quinn Bill.

The online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program is intended to prepare professionals to advance their careers in the field of criminal justice, law enforcement, corrections, and the courts. This program highlights the expertise that shapes accomplished criminal justice leaders. This fully online program offers students four possible specializations (Social Justice & Public Policy, Victim Studies, Executive Leadership, Homeland Security, and Intelligence Studies), allowing them to focus on an area of interest unique to their career goals. These specializations can also serve as stand-alone certificates for those interested in enhancing their educational goals and learning activities which overlap across disciplines but remain connected by a single shared subject. This program provides specialized knowledge of public policy, organizational management, and administrative processes, along with advanced graduate leadership and research training.

Graduates can apply their skills to many types of law enforcement positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% growth for protective service occupations between 2020 and 2030. With a master’s degree, graduates can access the most desirable and highest-paying positions in the law enforcement field.

In addition to foundational theories of criminology and criminal justice, students explore policy design and implementation alongside emerging trends in the field. The M.S. in Criminal Justice at American International College provides the skills, knowledge, and practical experience needed to protect and serve the public through a wide range of careers. The program will enable students to develop as ethical and skilled decision-makers in the various branches of criminal justice. The program also provides students with experience in leadership and management to assist them in advancing in career areas such as law enforcement, corrections, social services, and other public service-related field.

Mission statement of the program

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice program is dedicated to cultivating a community of professionals who are committed to advancing the field of criminal justice. Through rigorous academic inquiry, innovative research, and comprehensive coursework, students are equipped with the knowledge, critical thinking skills, ethical foundations, and practical insights to navigate the complex landscape of criminal justice.

Guided by a holistic approach, the mission of the program is to foster a deep understanding of the multifaceted issues with the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, legal processes, corrections, policy development, and social justice. The program seeks to produce graduates who demonstrate unwavering dedication to upholding the principles of fairness, equity, and accountability in their respective roles, and who are empowered to effect positive change in their communities and contribute to the ongoing evolution of the criminal justice field.

Ultimately, the goal is to nurture informed and proactive leaders who will drive advancements in criminal justice policy and practice. With a steadfast commitment to excellence, integrity, and social responsibility, the graduate criminal justice program aspires to shape the future of the field by producing graduates who are both visionary thinkers and dedicated agenda of positive transformation.

Additional Admission Criteria

In addition to the general admissions criteria of the Division of Graduate Studies, students can be considered for two tracks and must meet the following criteria

Direct Track: An undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution in Criminal Justice, Emergency Management, Finance, Fire Science, Human Resources Management, Nursing, Public Policy, Political Science or Public Administration as well as other fields. Degree Requirements/Curriculum students admitted under the Direct Track complete a total of 36 credits.

Midcareer Track: Evidence of successful completion of 4 years or more of related work experience in their chosen concentration. If accepted into the mid-career track, two CRJ courses will be waived (-6 credits). Students admitted under the mid-career track complete a total of 30 credits.

Learning Outcomes for Criminal Justice
  1. Critically analyze complex issues and problems within the criminal justice system, including issues related to crime prevention, law enforcement strategies, criminal behavior, and social justice.
  2. Demonstrate proficiency in conducting empirical research, including designing research studies, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting research findings. They should also be able to evaluate existing research literature in the field of criminal justice.
  3. Synthesize leadership and management skills necessary for supervisory and administrative roles within criminal justice agencies.  This includes skills in team management, conflict resolution, decision-making, and strategic planning.
  4. Integrate strong written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to convey complex ideas and information clearly and effectively to diverse audiences, such as policymakers, practitioners, and the public.
  5. Articulate a strong ethical foundation and demonstrate an understanding of ethical principles and dilemmas within the criminal justice field. They should be able to apply ethical decision-making frameworks to real-world scenarios
  6. Analyze criminal justice policies and propose evidence-based strategies for improving the effectiveness, fairness, and efficiency of the criminal justice system. They should understand the policy-making process and its implications for criminal justice practice.

Program Requirements: Direct Entry (36 credits)

Required (18 credits)

  • CRJ5410, Ethics in Criminal Justice
  • CRJ5220, Social Justice and Public Policy
  • CRJ5330, Statistics in Criminal Justice
  • CRJ5520, Criminal Behavior
  • CRJ6880, Criminal Justice Research Methods
  • CRJ6899, Criminal Justice Capstone

Electives: Choose 6 electives from the following list (18 credits)

  • CRJ5510, Legal Aspects of the Criminal Justice System
  • CRJ5530, Criminal Justice and Public Policy
  • CRJ5540, Community Partnerships
  • CRJ5550, Principles of Homeland Security
  • CRJ5560, Victim Studies
  • CRJ5570, Victimology and Restorative Justice
  • CRJ5580, Violence in America
  • CRJ5590, Foundations of Social Justice for Public Service
  • CRJ5600, Public Advocacy for Social Justice
  • CRJ6010, Special Topics in Criminal Justice Leadership
  • CRJ6020, Cross-Sectoral Governance
  • CRJ6030, Executive Leadership
  • CRJ6040, Justice Administration
  • CRJ6050, Domestic and International Threats and Policy Analysis
  • CRJ6060, Intelligence Studies
  • CRJ6070, Intelligence Analysis and Security Management
  • CRJ6080, Victim Rights and Services

Program Requirements: Mid-Career Entry (30 credits)

Required (18 credits)

  • CRJ5410, Ethics in Criminal Justice
  • CRJ5220, Social Justice and Public Policy
  • CRJ5330, Statistics in Criminal Justice
  • CRJ5520, Criminal Behavior
  • CRJ6880, Criminal Justice Research Methods
  • CRJ6899, Criminal Justice Capstone

Electives: Choose 4 electives from the following list (12 credits)

  • CRJ5510, Legal Aspects of the Criminal Justice System
  • CRJ5520, Criminal Behavior
  • CRJ5530, Criminal Justice and Public Policy
  • CRJ5540, Community Partnerships
  • CRJ5550, Principles of Homeland Security
  • CRJ5560, Victim Studies
  • CRJ5570, Victimology and Restorative Justice
  • CRJ5580, Violence in America
  • CRJ5590, Foundations of Social Justice for Public Service
  • CRJ5600, Public Advocacy for Social Justice
  • CRJ6010, Special Topics in Criminal Justice Leadership
  • CRJ6020, Cross-Sectoral Governance
  • CRJ6030, Executive Leadership
  • CRJ6040, Justice Administration
  • CRJ6050, Domestic and International Threats and Policy Analysis
  • CRJ6060, Intelligence Studies
  • CRJ6070, Intelligence Analysis and Security Management
  • CRJ6080, Victim Rights and Services

All Courses

This course is designed to explore various ethical dilemmas facing the criminal justice professional. The content will focus on applying various theories of moral decision making, including moral rationalism, utilitarianism, and Kant’s categorical imperative to hypothetical situations confronting the criminal justice practitioner.

The course provides an overview and foundation for understanding the roots of some of today’s most complex public management social problems. Students will learn social justice theories and research with specific attention to minoritized and oppressed groups. Students will engage in self-exploration of personal values and biases that influence our practice. They will learn about social structures of power and oppression, socio-cultural diversity. Pre-requisite: None

Learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Identify issues that may arise in organizational settings requiring a social justice analysis and advocacy approach (e.g., racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism).
  2. Discuss past and current theory, research, and practice on effective leadership on social justice and advocacy issues in organizational settings will be presented from a multidisciplinary perspective.
  3. Describe systemic barriers and challenges, leadership and organizational development, social justice strategy frameworks, and community-building issues involved in social justice and advocacy work in organizational settings.
  4. Explain the ethical and legal issues (e.g., confidentiality, informed consent, boundaries, competence) that are unique to advocacy and social work in organizational settings.
  5. Explain the developmental stages of organizational change and community organizing.

Students in this course explore the data applications within criminal justice organizations, such as decision-making, data modeling, classifications and predictions, and trend forecasting.

Focuses on probability and statistics with an emphasis on data analysis, including univariate and multivariate techniques. Statistical problem solving is engaged using various data sources.

Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Describe behavioral research paradigms and designs with a particular focus on quantitative research.
  2. Select and use sampling techniques that are appropriate in behavioral research.
  3. Interpret assessments regarding reliability, validity, uses, limitations, and implications.
  4. Select and use appropriate instrumentation to measure research variables.
  5. Apply appropriate statistical tools to address research questions, test research hypotheses and understand the statistical results.

Designed to enhance students’ awareness of the fundamentals of research and research design. Students must complete work that shows their ability to conceptualize ideas in criminal justice and apply methods for exploring them. Pre-requisite: Completion of at least 18 credits in CRJ courses.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the operation and policies of the criminal justice system.
  2. Demonstrate proficiency in knowledge and application of criminological theory.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of research methods and proficiency in the design of criminal justice research.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to locate, evaluate and effectively use information sources to conduct criminal justice research.

Critically analyze the differential impact of criminal justice policy for population groups, including women, juveniles, racial and ethnic minorities, socioeconomic classes and victims.

Serves as the final evaluation for Criminal Justice students. Requires case studies and other materials to show oral and written competence in research, professional responsibility, and management. Analyzes issues of law, policy, and society, allowing students to integrate knowledge and experience as they apply ethical principles in developing effective strategies to confront issues facing practitioners within the realm of human service and criminal justice.  Pre-requisite: CRJ6880 (CR Research Methods)

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Locate, critically analyze, and evaluate research and information in the field and to assess its relationship and utility to policy and decision-making.
  1. Identify needs and problems inherent in the field (profession, community, system) and integrate issues of law, policy, and operational environments to develop strategies to address those issues effectively.
  2. Understand the natural connection between theory and practice and the complexities of searching for answers in a complex socioeconomic environment.
  3. Understand the various processes involved in developing policies and strategies, including planning, stakeholders, funding (including grant writing), evaluation, and professional writing.
  4. Present an original, professional project in both written and oral formats.

The course is designed to give an overview of legal principles, which provide a framework for the criminal justice system. An analysis of cases and statutes, pertinent to areas under consideration, is emphasized together with instruction in fundamental aspects of legal research. Areas covered include investigation, initial appearance, arraignment, preliminary examination, trial, guilty pleas or conviction, sentence, and release.

Presents major theories of crime and criminality. Theories are analyzed by common sense, logic, evidence, policy utility and compatibility with one another. Theories will be examined through a discussion of measures, correlates and popular beliefs regarding the prevalence, causes and continuance of criminal offending. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Understand the major criminological theoretical perspectives and hone the ability to link theoretical ideas to inquiry and analysis.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of how ideological, social, political, and fiscal forces shape crime policy.
  3. Understand and appreciate the role of social inequality and cultural diversity in the study of criminology.
  4. Approach the study of crime and criminals from a social scientific perspective

Facilitates critical thinking about the approaches to the delivery of public safety services through an examination of the processes of developing and implementing law and policies. Includes the study of the political process’s complexities and of behaviors and attitudes of individuals in various agencies to understand and assess planning decisions. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Apply social science methods and policy analysis to practical problems of government, communities, regions, and/or global issues.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to apply oral and written communication skills in public appearances, written reports and documents.
  3. Follow ethical principles for citing sources, using human subjects, serving the public, and working with colleagues.
  4. Develop critical thinking about public policy issues and the ability to conduct professional analyses of social, political, and economic structures and bureaucratic processes.

This course will examine the concept of community in public service. The focus will be to explore partnership initiatives with public and private institutions and federal, state, and local agencies. Students will review the experiences of diverse agencies in developing, implementing, and maintaining partnerships within local communities. Issues, obstacles, and limitations that are involved with collaborative interventions will be explored. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Create a model partnership within the community.
  1. Effectively utilize the tools necessary to create a community collaboration.
  2. Employ the resources that are present within a specific community.
  3. Share the creation of a vision, strategic planning, and participation in the decision-making process towards a common goal.
  4. Prioritize the needs of a particular community and provide solution

This course explains the history of building national security, its mission, and its role. It will cover the various aspects of terrorism and homeland security as both affect the United States today. Much of the focus will be the problems and challenges stemming from 9/11that create today’s world situation. To understand what is going on currently we will examine the historical context of terrorism, national security, emergency management and civil liberties. Pre-requisite: None

Learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Identify the principles, goals, challenges, and constraints of Homeland Security.
  2. Develop a basic understanding of how the various levels of government and different governmental agencies operate together to form Homeland Security.
  3. Explain the goals of HSL.
  4. Characterize the history and nature of terrorism.
  5. Describe the key principles of emergency management.
  6. Illustrate the key principles of HSL and civil liberties

Explores the response to crime by law enforcement, the court system, social services and victim advocates. Examines domestic violence, crime prevention, delinquency, hate crimes and substance abuse in terms of best practices from the field. The course will focus on community attitudes towards victims, the interaction of the victim with the criminal justice system and programs for psychological rehabilitation of the victim. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Explain the historical development of victimology and the victim’s movement
  2. Discuss the progress away from a victim justice system towards the development of a criminal justice system
  3. Discuss the ways that crime impacts victims and the various methods developed to assist victims in dealing with the effects of crime and with the criminal justice system
  4. Understand and evaluate research into various victim-related issues

This course investigates how the United States has gained the reputation for being the most violent nation in the industrialized world. This course will cover the patterns, ideas, and justifications of violence. Crimes under analysis include homicide, sexual assault, domestic violence, robbery, riots, and school violence. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Understand the different types of violent crime.
  2. Explain the trends, patterns, and characteristics of the different types of violent crime.
  3. Explore the issues surrounding the definitions of legitimate and criminal violence.
  4. Review historical antecedents to present day forms and patterns of violent crime.
  5. Explain the various theories that suggest explanations concerning the nature, type, and   patterns of violent crime

The course provides an overview and foundation for understanding the roots of some of today’s most complex public management social problems. Students will learn social justice theories and research with specific attention to minoritized and oppressed groups. Students will engage in self-exploration of personal values and biases that influence our practice. They will learn about social structures of power and oppression, socio-cultural diversity.

Learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Identify issues that may arise in organizational settings requiring a social justice analysis and advocacy approach (e.g., racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, classism).
  2. Discuss past and current theory, research, and practice on effective leadership on social justice and advocacy issues in organizational settings will be presented from a multidisciplinary perspective.
  3. Describe systemic barriers and challenges, leadership and organizational development, social justice strategy frameworks, and community-building issues involved in social justice and advocacy work in organizational settings.
  4. Explain the ethical and legal issues (e.g., confidentiality, informed consent, boundaries, competence) that are unique to advocacy and social work in organizational settings.

Explain the developmental stages of organizational change and community organizing.

Community-based policy advocacy seeks to strengthen group solidarity to promote change. Policy analysis and interpersonal skills to mobilize groups and communities are examined. The course will provide students with an understanding of political systems and teaches the skills to affect policy in the legislative as well as administrative arenas.  Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Apply analytical methods to understand the dimensions of power and decision-making at the community, state, and national levels
  2. Develop strategies to enhance social and economic justice within organizational and political systems especially as they affect women, minorities of color, gay and lesbian persons, those most economically disadvantaged, as well as strategies to address social class
  3. Identify professional values and ethical positions within, as well as between systems, which may appear to be incompatible with political roles and strategies and develop skills to bridge these incompatibilities to affect change
  4. Identify and utilize methods and skills, which develop and sustain inter-organizational networks
  5. Demonstrate advocacy skills, such as testifying, lobbying, and providing staff support for public interest, constituency and/or grassroots community groups; Identify institutional and community practices that disempower, and develop strategies to challenge them
  6. Demonstrate how to share empowerment theory and practice with constituencies who are unfamiliar or inclined to oppose such.

This course exposes participants to the key elements necessary to be successful as leaders in criminal justice. A variety of topics and techniques will be covered that will prepare participants to engage in a management style that will foster a rewarding and successful career as a police chief or head of a law enforcement or criminal justice agency. This course covers sound leadership principles necessary for an ethical high performing criminal justice organization by student self-reflection, peer feedback, and subordinate feedback. Additionally, students are challenged to create sound leadership policies necessary for a high performing criminal justice organization. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Exhibit a working knowledge of federal, state, and local law enforcement management systems and the relevance of technology in creating and sustaining responsive organizations.
  2. Demonstrate that they have developed the skills and knowledge to strategically lead the acquisition and infusion of modern technologies, theories, processes, concepts, and systems that will contribute to the growth and development of law enforcement organizations.
  3. Demonstrate the importance of high ethical standards and their application in law enforcement management decision-making.
  4. Utilize management skills to analyze law enforcement structures and organizational cultures to produce the best lawful and ethical practices.
  5. Understand theories regarding teamwork in organizations with specific emphasis on law enforcement.

This course exposes participants to the key elements necessary to be successful as leaders in criminal justice. A variety of topics and techniques will be covered that will prepare participants to engage in a management style that will foster a rewarding and successful career as a police chief or head of a law enforcement or criminal justice agency. This course covers sound leadership principles necessary for an ethical high performing criminal justice organization by student self-reflection, peer feedback, and subordinate feedback. Additionally, students are challenged to create sound leadership policies necessary for a high performing criminal justice organization. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Exhibit a working knowledge of federal, state, and local law enforcement management systems and the relevance of technology in creating and sustaining responsive organizations.
  2. Demonstrate that they have developed the skills and knowledge to strategically lead the acquisition and infusion of modern technologies, theories, processes, concepts, and systems that will contribute to the growth and development of law enforcement organizations.
  3. Demonstrate the importance of high ethical standards and their application in law enforcement management decision-making.
  4. Utilize management skills to analyze law enforcement structures and organizational cultures to produce the best lawful and ethical practices.
  5. Understand theories regarding teamwork in organizations with specific emphasis on law enforcement.

This course focuses on the study and analysis of human behavior patterns. Special consideration is given to the role of the emergency services department management team member as a leader and motivator of people. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Exhibit a working knowledge of federal, state, and local law enforcement management systems and the relevance of technology in creating and sustaining responsive organizations.
  1. Demonstrate that they have developed the skills and knowledge to strategically lead the acquisition and infusion of modern technologies, theories, processes, concepts, and systems that will contribute to the growth and development of law enforcement organizations.
  2. Demonstrate the importance of high ethical standards and their application in law enforcement management decision-making.
  3. Utilize management skills to analyze law enforcement structures and organizational cultures to produce the best lawful and ethical practices.
  4. Understand theories regarding teamwork in organizations with specific emphasis on law enforcement.

Examines planning models and techniques applicable to public administration. Topics will also include theories of administration, leadership types, group decision-making, the budget process, the role of the work environment and grant writing. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Identify various leadership styles and their impact on others.
  1. Describe one’s own leadership style with its strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Explain the impact of statutes, case law and other external influences in managing the public sector.
  3. Define the responsibility of the manager to lead, train, supervise and discipline staff.
  4. Explain the budget process as it pertains to grant administration.

This course examines, through an assessment of risk and vulnerability, various domestic groups’ culture, history, ideology and motivation, capabilities, methods, and activities within contexts of political, ethical, social, and legal issues. Included, this course examines through a risk and vulnerability assessment of the global terrorism phenomenon, various international groups’ culture, history, ideology and motivation, capabilities, methods, and activities within contexts of political, ethical, social, and legal issues. Particular attention will be focused on U.S. policy, media impact, intelligence cycles, acts and procedures at governmental, state, and community levels. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Define extremism in the United States
  2. Differentiate extremists, extremist organizations, and extremist events of the past 50 years
  3. Examine contemporary accounts on the emergence of extremism in the United States
  4. Deconstruct the influence of globalization and technology on domestic extremism recruitment, membership, and its sustained impact
  5. Illustrate past and present attempts to counter extremism in the United States

This course will explore the organization and functions of the U.S. Intelligence Community, its interaction with national security policymakers, key issues about its workings, and the challenges it faces in defining its future role. It will provide a comprehensive overview of intelligence for national security for the entry-level intelligence practitioners and beginning students. The student will learn security issues, define critical terms and review the history of intelligence as practiced in the United States.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Discuss the key issues and controversies in the academic and professional intelligence analysis literature.
  2. Develop the basic skills and knowledge to create intelligence products from raw, open-source data.
  3. Improve analytical communication skills (writing and briefing)
  4. Apply common structured analytic techniques to intelligence questions.

This course will introduce students to the business of intelligence—the form, function, purpose, and general capabilities of the US Intelligence Community (IC)—and the supporting role intelligence analysis plays in achieving US national security objectives. This course explores vulnerabilities of our national defense and private sectors, as well as the threats posed to these institutions by terrorists, man-made disasters, and natural disasters.  Students will learn substantive issues regarding intelligence support of Homeland Security measures implemented by the United States and explore how the intelligence community operates. Pre-requisite: None

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Enhance their knowledge of the intelligence process and various components of the Intelligence community.
  2. Develop the skills necessary to write concisely, clearly, and analytically about sensitive and complex intelligence and national security issues.
  3. Understand the core elements of the “Intelligence Cycle” and specifically the process of effective intelligence analysis.
  4. Develop the skills to conduct oral briefings on sensitive and complex intelligence and national security issues with confidence.
  5. Work efficiently and effectively in teams to understand, assess, and analyze intelligence issues and case studies.

An analysis of the legal rights of victims of crime at both the state and federal levels and how these laws relate to specific victim advocacy and service-providing programs, with an in-depth treatment of the management and administration of crime victim programs.  Pre-requisite: None

Learning outcomes:

Students will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate research methods for studying coordinated community response to trauma and criminal victimization
  2. Synthesize research from the literature and apply it to current issues in the field
  3. Evaluate programs designed to address the impact of collaborative and community engagement in response to victimization
  4. Summarize the relevant legislation regarding victim advocacy and background of victim advocacy
  5. Discuss how crime affects victims
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