Justice Studies M.A.

justice studies student
Justice Studies M.A.

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.  


Curriculum & Requirements

Degree Requirements

The master of arts in justice studies requires that students complete a minimum of nine courses (36 credit hours) in justice studies from the following list:

Required Courses
JUST 830Theories of Justice4
JUST 901Pro-seminar: Introduction to Justice Studies4
JUST 905Quantitative Research Methods4
JUST 907Applied Research Methods4
Select one of the following:4
Criminological Theory
Special Topics
Social Conflict
Crime and Conflict
Special Topics
Concluding Experience
Select Option A or B from the below:8
Option A:
Culminating Project
Option B:
Masters Thesis
Select two courses if taking JUST 899 or two courses plus JUST 950 if taking JUST 8978
Total Credits36


EDUC 867Students, Teachers, and the Law4
EDUC 897Special Topics in Education1-4
EDUC 951Laws and Regulations Affecting the Education of Students with Disabilities4
EDUC 967School Law4
EDUC 968Collective Bargaining in Public Education4
HDFS 872International Approaches to Child Advocacy4
HDFS 876Children, Adolescents and the Law4
HDFS 894Families and the Law4
HIST 809United States Legal History Special Topics4
HIST 84519th Century European Great Powers - Diplomacy and International Law4
HIST 949Colloquium in United States History3
JUST 950Internship4
JUST 965Special Topics4
JUST 995Reading and Research1-4
POLT 801Courts and Public Policy3
POLT 803Performance Management in Public and Non-Profit Organizations3
POLT 808Administrative Law3
POLT 897CSeminar in Comparative Politics3
POLT 897FSeminar in Public Administration3
POLT 898BSeminar in American Politics3
PSYC 954Advanced Seminar in Social Psychology4
SW 897Special Topics in Social Work and Social Welfare2 or 3
SW 979Social Work and the Law3
SOC 815Criminological Theory4
SOC 820Sociology of Drug Use4
SOC 876Family Violence Research Seminar4
SOC 880Social Conflict4
SOC 921Crime and Conflict4

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.

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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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