• Speakers bring real-world experience to MTSU classes
  • Law enforcement is one of many doors open to graduates
  • Forensics plays an important role in seeking justice
  • A career in the court system may fulfill a dream

Criminal Justice M.C.J.

MTSU offers a Master of Criminal Justice (M.C.J.) degree in cooperation with Tennessee State University. A graduate degree can help pave the way for advancement in professional opportunities in law enforcement, homeland security, courts, police administration, correctional management, probation, parole, juvenile justice, drug rehabilitation, and private security or investigations. Master's candidates are not required to take classes at both campuses, but an individual can earn up to 18 hours at the partner institution to transfer to the home institution. Students officially accepted in MTSU’s graduate program may participate in the department’s internship program, with placements available in prosecutor and public defender offices, sheriff and police departments, probation and parole offices, courts, and state and federal agencies. Master’s candidates may choose either the thesis option or a non-thesis track requiring an internship.

Director of Faith-Based Initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

Alum works with faith communities to combat addiction

Monty Burks (M.C.J. 2011) directs Faith-Based Initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), working to expand addiction recovery support services across the state. Burks has more than 15 years’ experience in criminal justice, including working on the faculty of two higher education institutions; as a process server; as one of Tennessee’s first project coordinators for Lifeline, a state program to reduce the stigma associated with people who suffer from addiction; and as a coordinator with Middle Tennessee Rural Reentry’s jail and prison program, which has earned national recognition. An accomplished and nationally recognized public speaker, Burks is pursuing a Doctorate of Theology. “MTSU was my college of choice because of its rich and diverse culture,” he says. “My favorite instructors, Dr. Lance Selva, Dr. William Shulman, and the late Dr. Dennis Powell have left a lasting imprint on my career!”

Scollon directs state training program after acquiring M.C.J.

Scollon directs state training program after acquiring M.C.J.

Bill Scollon advanced quickly in his 30-year career after returning to school part-time to earn the M.C.J. in 1994. Now as director of the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs, he helps secure funding and plan training for local and state criminal justice and victim service agencies. Scollon also sits on the National Criminal Justice Association Executive Board of Directors and is a member of the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet Group responsible for implementing the Tennessee Public Safety Action Plan. “I had worked several different jobs in my field but I found myself unfulfilled,” Scollon says, explaining why he returned for graduate work. He was promoted soon after his master’s graduation, then hired for state criminal justice strategic planning prior to his current position. “Over half my staff have advanced degrees and this is one of the top considerations, along with experience, in the hiring process,” Scollon says.

A Master of Criminal Justice degree allows graduates to pursue advanced opportunities in law enforcement, courts, and corrections at the federal, state, or local level, or with private security or businesses associated with the criminal justice system. M.C.J. holders also may continue studies for careers in higher education or for law degrees. Some occupations for MTSU graduates from this program:

  • Attorney
  • Chief of police
  • Corporate security officer/director
  • Court administrator
  • Criminal justice professor
  • Crisis counselor
  • Emergency services director
  • Family resource specialist
  • Forensic scientist
  • Investigator
  • Juvenile court judge
  • Police officer
  • Pre-trial release/pre-trial diversion officer
  • Probation officer/director
  • Public information officer
  • Regulatory board investigator
  • Sheriff
  • Social services district director
  • Special agent
  • State director of safety/homeland security
  • State trooper
  • U.S. deputy marshal
  • Warden 

Employers of MTSU alumni include

  • Blue Ridge Center, Asheville, N.C.
  • Cannon County
  • City of Atlanta
  • Cope, Hudson, Scarlett, Reed, McCreary
  • Cumberland University
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • Family Voices of Tennessee
  • Fillauer & Wilson, P.C., Cleveland, Tenn.
  • Forensic Medical
  • Gallatin Police Department
  • Hendersonville Police Department
  • Humphreys County 911
  • Keiser University
  • La Vergne Police Department
  • Litigation Paralegal
  • Metro-Nashville Government
  • Metro-Nashville Police Department
  • Murfreesboro Police Department
  • Oasis Center
  • Regions Bank
  • Rutherford County
  • State of Tennessee
  • State of West Virginia
  • Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Tennessee Correction Academy
  • Tennessee Department of Human Services
  • Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security
  • Tennessee Highway Patrol
  • Tennessee Parole Board
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. Probation Office (various locations)
  • University of South Carolina

Click here for more helpful career links.


Students may obtain a Master of Criminal Justice (M.C.J.) at Middle Tennessee State University. The program, with its first graduates in 1978, is a joint program between MTSU and Tennessee State University that allows up to 18 hours of classes to transfer to the home institution.

As of fall 2014, students apply and are admitted to one campus and will receive the diploma from that home institution. Both MTSU and TSU offer the full core curriculum for the M.C.J.

Admission Requirements

  • an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a minimum of 18 credits at the undergraduate level in criminal justice (or approved equivalent).
  • satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or a score of 370 or better on the Miller Analogies Test.

To be considered for Fall admission, an applicant's materials must be received by June 15; for Spring admission, November 1; and for Summer admission, April 15.

Although students may transfer up to 18 hours in their program of study from the partner institution, graduate students may not enroll in more than 12 total hours in any given semester including if simultaneously enrolled at both TSU and MTSU. A student, on rare occasions, may be given permission for an overload up to 15 hours.

The University also offers a graduate minor in Criminal Justice.

For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS  tab above.


A student in the Criminal Justice Administration program may pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, with concentrations available in either Law Enforcement or Homeland Security. 

Minors in Criminal Justice Administration and Homeland Security are offered for non-CJA majors.

Apply Now!

Criminal Justice Administration, M.C.J.

Lance H. Selva, Program Director
(615) 898-2630

The Department of Criminal Justice Administration offers a Master of Criminal Justice (M.C.J.) degree. In cooperation with Tennessee State University up to 18 hours of graduate credit can be transferred to MTSU for the M.C.J.  The M.C.J. degree can be obtained entirely online.

A minor in Criminal Justice Administration at the graduate level is also offered at MTSU.

Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.

Admission Requirements

Normally, applicants for admission are expected to present satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or a score of 370 or better on the Miller Analogies Test.

Applicants are expected to have an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, or to have completed a minimum of 18 credits at the undergraduate level in criminal justice or an approved equivalent.

Application Procedures

All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.

Applications for admission will be considered on a rolling basis.

Applicant must

  1. submit an application with the appropriate application fee (online at www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php);
  2. submit official scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT);
  3. submit official transcripts of previous college work.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Criminal Justice degree requires completion of either a thesis (33 hours) or non-thesis (36 hours) program of study with no more than 30 percent of the total degree hours dually listed as undergraduate/graduate hours.

Curriculum: Criminal Justice

 Candidate must complete 33 (thesis option) or 36 (non-thesis option) hours in the following curriculum:

Core Courses (18 hours)


  • CJA 6000 - Criminal Justice Administration

    3 credit hours

    Criminal justice, juvenile justice, correctional and mental health processes, and other issues including those arising out of other processes of social control and community-based treatment of offenders. Development of a critical analysis of current literature, compilation of a bibliography, and completion of an intensive research paper required.

  • CJA 6010 - Seminar in Law Enforcement

    3 credit hours

    The function of police within the community and its relationship to the criminal justice system, the effects of police actions on the community and other segments of the system, social expectations and limitations, assessment and special problems. Analysis of relevant studies, formation of annotated bibliography, and organization of research into a formal composition.

  • CJA 6020 - Judicial Seminar  3 credit hours  

    CJA 6020 - Judicial Seminar

    3 credit hours

    Examines the judicial system, including flow of the criminal case, personnel, court community relations, computers and the courts, and special problem areas. A research project consisting of a literature review, bibliography, and a thorough analysis required.

  • CJA 6030 - Contemporary Corrections

    3 credit hours

    Corrections programs in contemporary custodial and juvenile institutions and community-based corrections programs; problems and prospects associated with them. Each student required to make class presentations on assigned topics, participate in class discussions and analysis of reports, develop a bibliography, and submit a research paper in a specific area of corrections.


  • CJA 6900 - Research in the Criminal Justice Process

    3 credit hours

    Introduces research methods, including the experiment and experimental methods and models, survey research, participant observation, case studies, unobtrusive measures, the use of official and unofficial statistics, validity, reliability, and data analysis. Special emphasis on ethics in criminal justice research and on proposal writing and evaluation research.

  • CJA 6910 - Qualitative Research

    3 credit hours

    Enhances abilities to understand, plan, conduct, evaluate, and disseminate findings of qualitative research related to social sciences, criminology, and criminal justice. Reading and writing intensive. Students will conduct original research.


Select one of the following:

  • CJA 6640 - Thesis Research  1 to 6 credit hours  (3 credit hours) OR 

    CJA 6640 - Thesis Research

    1 to 6 credit hours

    Selection of a research problem, review of pertinent literature, collection and analysis of data, and composition of thesis. Once enrolled, student should register for at least one credit hour of master's research each semester until completion. S/U grading.

  • CJA 6250 - Criminal Justice Internship

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Student placed for an intensive field experience in a functional criminal justice agency. The selection of the placement agency determined by student's background, academic status, and interest.

NOTE: Thesis-track students will be required to complete and successfully defend a research-based thesis. Non-thesis track students will be required to complete and successfully pass a written comprehensive exam in the same semester as the internship course is taken.

Electives (15-18 Hours)

  • 15-18 hours selected in consultation with advisor (thesis-track-15 hours/non-thesis-track-18 hours)

Program Notes

Candidate must

  1. file a degree plan in the College of Graduate Studies prior to entry into the program;
  2. file a Notice of Intent to Graduate form in the College of Graduate Studies within the first two weeks of the term in which candidate intends to graduate.

Contact and Student Information

Lance Selva

Lance Selva

Department of Criminal Justice Administration
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 238 
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

College of Graduate Studies
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 42
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Request Information

MTSU College of Graduate Studies

Provides innovative, interdisciplinary programs and allows students to work in a collaborative envir... [more]

MTSU Campus Tour

From the acclaimed academic programs and state-of-the-art facilities to MTSU campus life and our thr... [more]