Justice Studies (M.A.)

Justice Studies (M.A.)
justice studies student

Why get a master’s degree in justice studies?

The justice studies Master of Arts degree program offers you a challenging and hands-on environment to prepare for your dream career advancing justice. You will develop in three areas: philosophical and theoretical understandings of justice, knowledge of the inner-workings and realities of laws and justice systems, and skills related to the implementation of justice. Pursuing a master’s in justice studies allows you to delve deeply into law, crime, courts, corrections, policing, drugs, terrorism, homeland security, immigration, forensics, sexual violence, juvenile justice and more. Boost your earning potential and be more employable when you transition into the workforce.

Why choose UNH for your justice studies degree?

At UNH, we offer masters students unique and inspiring opportunities including working alongside experienced scholars and practitioners. Research centers include the Crimes against Children Research Center, focused on childhood victimization, and the Prevention Innovations Research Center, focused on sexual and interpersonal violence prevention. You will develop advanced theoretical and research skills to prepare for the workplace. Paid work experiences allow you to engage with justice studies faculty and staff. You will complete a group project for a community partner (e.g., N.H. Attorney General’s office, Strafford County Community Corrections, Durham Police Department, etc.), and either an internship with a related culminating project or a master’s thesis.

Potential career areas

  • Child advocacy
  • Courts, probation and parole
  • Criminal investigator
  • Drug programs
  • Emergency or security management
  • Immigration
  • Juvenile justice
  • Law
  • Police or correctional officer
  • Sexual and interpersonal violence
  • Victim witness

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Curriculum & Requirements

The Master of Arts degree program in Justice Studies (MAJS) provides a broad understanding of justice, crime, and law.  It provides tools for reasoned appraisal of how the justice system works and what policies underlie it. The program familiarizes students with legal and justice ideas, justice institutions, and legal processes. It draws on a variety of disciplines, subjects, and research methodologies for its core knowledge. Our students work closely with faculty with established reputations as scholars, teachers, and practitioners.  

Degree Requirements

The master of arts in justice studies requires that students complete a minimum of ten courses (37 credit hours) in justice studies from the following list:

Required Courses
JUST 802Law and Society4
JUST 803Professionalism in Justice Studies1
JUST 805Quantitative Research Methods4
JUST 807Applied Research Methods4
JUST 830Theories of Justice4
JUST 850Capstone Preparation: Internship/Thesis4
Select one of the following:4
SOC 815
Criminological Theory
SOC 921
Crime and Conflict
JUST 865
Special Topics
Concluding Experience
Select Option A or B from the below:
Option A:
JUST 897Culminating Project4
Option B:
JUST 899Masters Thesis8
Select two elective courses from our approved course list.8


EDUC #867Students, Teachers, and the Law4
EDUC 897Special Topics in Education (must be approved by Justice Studies)1-4
EDUC 967School Law4
EDUC 968Collective Bargaining in Public Education4
HDFS 876Children, Adolescents and the Law4
HDFS 894Families and the Law4
HIST 809United States Legal History Special Topics (must be approved by Justice Studies)4
JUST 801Graduate Seminar in Justice Studies4
PA 818Non-Profit Management3
PSYC 954Advanced Seminar in Social Psychology (must be approved by Justice Studies)4
SW 897Special Topics in Social Work and Social Welfare (must be approved by Justice Studies)2 or 3
SW 979Social Work and the Law3
SOC 820Sociology of Drug Use4

This graduate program is approved to be taken on an accelerated basis in articulation with certain undergraduate degree programs.

General Accelerated Master's policy, note that some programs have additional requirements (e.g. higher grade expectations) compared to the policy.

Please see the Graduate School website and contact the department directly for more information.

  • Demonstrate critical thinking and analysis of justice studies concepts and literature.
  • Effectively communicate Justice Studies concepts and research.
  • Present and interpret quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Demonstrate the technical skills and ethical skills that are appropriate for a practitioner (internship/project option) or researcher (thesis option) working in the justice field.

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Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: June 30 (current UNH undergraduates only; for Accelerated Masters)
  • Spring: November 1 (current UNH undergraduates only; for Accelerated Masters)
  • Summer: March 1 (for financial aid); March 15 (to be eligible for Assistantship positions); May 31 (final deadline; no aid)
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: Not Needed

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

All three letters must be academic letters of recommendation.

GRE Optional But Recommended

The GRE scores are optional, though strongly recommended. If you wish to provide scores please email the scores directly to the department once you have submitted your application online.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

The thesis option in the Justice Studies graduate program involves the formulation of a research hypothesis, which is tested with an appropriate and rigorous methodology. The thesis will include, at a minimum, the normal elements associated with research: an introduction discussing the topic of the research, the research question(s) and its importance to its allied field of study, a review of the pertinent literature, a discussion of the methodology that will be used to answer the research question(s), an analysis of the data collected or conceptual arguments asserted, and a discussion of the findings, conclusions, and recommendations. This format may be altered with approval of the thesis committee to more closely fit the research question(s) and the chosen methodology.


  1. Establishing the Thesis Committee
    The student who pursues this option must have a minimum of a three-member thesis committee. The chair and at least one other member must be members of the Justice Studies faculty. It is the responsibility of the student to assemble a committee of professors who have agreed to serve on the committee. The student’s advisor can assist the student in establishing the committee; however the advisor is not required to be a part of the committee. The committee should be selected upon the basis of the members’ knowledge of the subject of the thesis, the methodology that will be used, and their willingness to serve.
  2. The Thesis Process
    The master’s student will prepare a thesis proposal and present it to the thesis committee. If the proposal is approved the student will conduct the research in accordance with any guidelines established by the committee. Before any data can be gathered that involves human subjects, approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) must be secured. The master’s candidate defends the thesis in an open meeting of the program. The committee may vote to accept the thesis, reject the thesis, or require a modification of the thesis. The outcome is determined by a majority vote of the thesis committee.
  3. Appeal
    The appeal process established by the Graduate School shall be followed in student appeals of a committee decision.

Although the project option does not necessarily have to be associated with the practicum/internship, students are encouraged to develop a project in conjunction with their practicum/internship. The project is a practical application of knowledge and skills to an existing problem of practice/service associated with an organization, often the one that sponsors the practicum/internship. The project is different from the thesis in that the project has immediate application to the organization. A project may involve an evaluation or the formulation of new program or process associated with the organization.


  1. JUST 897 Project must be taken in conjunction (prior or concurrent) with JUST 950 Internship.
  2. Project Process
    The instructor leading the JUST 897 culminating project course will serve as chair of the project committee for all students.  The instructor will assist the students in selecting a Justice Studies faculty member to serve as a second reader of the project.  Together, the chair and reader will make up the student's project committee.

    The proposal will, at a minimum, describe the problem of practice the project will address. The proposal shall include a short literature review of the problem, or list of some of the sources, so as to position the problem within the field. Lastly, the proposal will describe the method or process and any instruments associated with the project. Work on the project will continue only after the committee has approved the proposal. If the methodology involves research on human subjects, the master’s candidate shall secure IRB approval before starting the gathering phase of the project.

    Projects will typically have the following components:
    (1) An introduction to the problem addressed by the project. What is this project and why is it important and to whom is it important are issues that should be addressed in the introduction.
    (2) The literature review is of sufficient depth that the reader will know where the project is situated within the field and how the literature informs the project.
    (3) The project shall comprise the major portion.
    (4) Findings, recommendations, and conclusions shall be the last portion. In this section the student shall discuss how this project contributes the problem of practice, which focused the study. This section shall also discuss any next steps to follow the project.

    The project shall be accepted if both committee members agree. In the case of a split decision, each committee member will prepare a summary of the rationale for the decision. The project and the summary shall be given to the Director of the program who shall ask a member of the Justice Studies faculty to read the project and summaries and to cast the tie-breaking vote.
  3. Appeal Process
    The appeal process established by the Graduate School shall be followed in student appeals of project decisions.

JUST 950 Internship


Most placements deal directly with the legal system. Possible placements include police departments (state and local), juvenile service agencies, district courts, probation and parole offices, various correctional institutions and programs, prosecutors' offices, and public defenders' offices. Those interested in pursuing an internship with the state police or a federal agency must contact the Justice Studies Office well in advance. It must be understood that these internships are subject to availability. It can take up to two semesters to plan such internships due to the extensive background checks conducted by these agencies.

Please contact the office at (603) 862-1716 if you are interested in one ofthese internships.


The Justice Studies 950 internship is limited to 4 credits.


Students should expect to spend between 10 and 15 hours per week at their placement. In addition to hours spent working in the field, students are required to attend a weekly class meeting, keep an activity journal and complete weekly assignments relating to their placements.

How to Register

Enrollment in Justice Studies 950 is by permission only. An informational meeting will be held a few weeks before registration to answer any questions about the program. At this meeting, an appointment will be set for the student to discuss possible internships and placement procedures with the Field Placement Coordinator. After meeting with the Field Placement Coordinator, the student will be given permission to register.

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