The Master's Degree in Criminology 

The Master of Science in Criminology program offers a challenging curriculum that will prepare candidates to become leaders and innovators in the system dedicated to the just enforcement of the criminal laws of the Commonwealth and the United States.  

The program accomplishes this through:

  • A critical degree for career advancement or progress to a PhD.
  • A Challenging curriculum that will create a “think tank” atmosphere to address the critical problems of the criminal justice system.
  • Small classes taught by a vibrant faculty that values individual interaction with each student.
  • The ability to complete the degree within one calendar year.
  • Affordable tuition.
  • Course schedules to accommodate the working professional
What Can I Do With a Master's in Criminology?

A Master’s degree is a highly desired credential in the field as it is often a key to advancement to the managerial level of a criminal justice agency. Regardless of whether the agency is focused on law enforcement, probation/parole services, juvenile counseling, court administration or corrections, the advanced degree is an important springboard to an upward progression within the agency’s hierarchy.

The degree is also often a prerequisite for opportunities to teach in the field at police academies as well as college and junior college programs.

Focus of the Program

Those familiar with Criminology as an academic discipline are aware that a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology is not sufficient for an individual who seeks to attain a higher level of participation in matters of policy analysis and new policy direction within the justice system.  At a minimum, a Master’s degree is a prerequisite to advancement to positions in which real change might be effectuated.                                                          

While the Program will focus the graduates on the key issues facing the criminal justice system today and in the future, and will seek to operate much as a think tank for issues that are deeply problematic in this area, the sound principles of the Catholic, Benedictine and liberal arts tradition of Saint Vincent will be paramount in the Master’s program.  Only by employing this tradition in its best manifestation will we truly be able to allow our graduates to make a profound difference in their communities. 

The curriculum will provide the graduate with the techniques to analyze and study the issues facing the system, evaluate the work of others who have assessed those problems and use the techniques of that analysis to help guide policy directives.  This technical expertise will be placed in the context of an emphasis on sound criminological theory and an openness to the wisdom of other disciplines that may, in classic liberal arts fashion, provide them with an expansive perspective in which effective solutions to those problems may be formulated.    

Requirements for Master of Science in Criminology

Total credits: 30

Admission: 3.0 GPA, three (3) academic/professional recommendations, personal statement no more than 2 pages double-spaced to answer the question of how a Master’s degree in Criminology will be beneficial to their career aspirations, and completed application to include transcripts.

Curriculum: Graduates of Saint Vincent College with a degree in Criminology, Law and Society will be afforded six advanced placement credits towards this 30 credit curriculum based upon their successful completion of courses which are currently taught at the graduate level by the Department:

  • Ethical Decisions
  • Criminological Theories
  • Criminology Capstone
Candidates who have not received a CLS Bachelor’s Degree from Saint Vincent College may still qualify for the six advanced placement credits.  To do so, the student must successfully complete the Ethical Decisions course offered by Saint Vincent and either the Criminological Theories course or the Criminology Capstone course offered by the College.


During the fall, all Master’s candidates will take three core courses:

  • Research Methods
  • Policy Analysis
  • Advanced Criminological Theories

While it is not recommended that candidates take a fourth course in the fall, the candidates may choose to take International Criminal Law, Sentencing, or Prediction and Prevention of Criminal Conduct as an elective course if it is offered during that term.  

In the spring, all Master’s candidates will take three core courses:

  • Legal Issues
  • Statistics
  • Professional Seminar

Again, while it is not recommended that a candidate take a fourth course in the spring, an elective course may be chosen from Financing Criminal Organizations, Urban Street Gang Prosecutions, and Criminology of Race, if they are offered that term.  

In the summer following the first academic year of the Master’s Program, the candidate will have the option of either writing a thesis to be awarded six additional credits or taking two elective courses from among the courses offered that summer. 

"A Master's degree in Criminology is almost a must for management in Probation and Parole agencies, Juvenile Justice and Court Administration. There is a change recently where to be considered for entry level and line positions these agencies prefer an applicant with a Master's degree. This is true especially in large urban courts, Federal Probation and even in some rural areas. Agencies want the most educated applicants they can get to deal with the complex issues facing the Criminal Justice System today. I have worked in management positions in Probation and Parole, Court Administration and the Prison System for 37 years and it only happened after I earned my M.A. in Criminology in 1974 from IUP. I always advise my students at Saint Vincent of the advantages of getting a Master's degree."

- Michael J. Kuhar, adjunct faculty:
  • Learning Objectives
    • Students will critique and evaluate the various components of the criminal justice system.
    • Students will identify career goals and pathways to evaluate, enhance, and improve the criminal justice system using evidence-based approaches.
    • Students will further understand, analyze, appraise, and evaluate, both written and orally, a variety of criminology-based theories and their application in terms of logical consistency, scope, parsimony, and spuriousness and their relationship to public policy and issues in criminology.
    • Students will integrate and apply analytical skills and substantive knowledge to specific problems in criminology.
    • Students will highlight the role of diversity and the human experience in the application and study of criminology and criminology–related policies.
    • Students will critically evaluate, synthesize, and analyze informational sources about criminal law, policing, corrections, research and social justice.
    • Students will explore a variety of ethical/moral issues, which characterize and define the different facets of criminology/criminal justice, to better relate and understand the issues and challenges that have historically and currently exist.
    • Students will demonstrate an advanced understanding of research methodology and assess strengths, weaknesses and limitations.
    • Students will gather and interpret quantitative and qualitative data in order to identify patterns and trends consistent with criminology issues.
    • Students will conclude their understanding of criminology research and analysis by completion of a comprehensive exam.