The M.A. Degree

The M.A. Degree in Criminology, Law and Society (CLS)

Master’s students at the University of Florida take a sequence of 5 required courses plus elective courses to complete the required 36 hours for the degree. Students may select either a Thesis or Non-thesis option. In both options, the graduate student must meet the Graduate Council requirement that M.A. candidates have a broader interdisciplinary understanding of criminology and law and society. The hours taken to complete the M.A. will count toward the total of 90 hours required for the Ph.D., if admitted to that program. A detailed description of this program is available.

The Supervisory Committee. During the first or second semester, the student asks a member of the department faculty to serve as chair of the supervisory committee. This faculty member will become the student’s primary academic advisor. In consultation with the supervisory committee chair, the student selects at least two other faculty member from the department to serve on the committee. After obtaining the consent of all proposed members, the student proposes the committee to the Graduate Coordinator for approval, who then submits the committee to the Graduate School for approval. The chair must hold Graduate Faculty status in the department. After consultation with the supervisory committee, the student must decide whether to complete a thesis or nonthesis paper for the terminal M.A. project. [ ma-committee-approval-crim.pdf ]

Thesis. A master’s thesis candidate must prepare and present a thesis that shows independent investigation. It must be acceptable, in form and content, to the supervisory committee and to the Graduate School. The work must be of publishable quality and must be in a form suitable for publication, guided by the Graduate School’s format requirements. The academic unit is responsible for quality and scholarship. A thesis proposal is prepared and presented before research is actively undertaken. The scope and length of the thesis proposal is determined by the supervisory committee. A final copy of the thesis proposal must be placed in the mailroom for public inspection 10 business days in advance of the defense. The supervisory committee chair must announce to faculty, students, and staff in the department, via email, the date, time and place of the defense. The email must identify the student, the title of the project, and an abstract of the thesis. [ ma-proposal-approval-crim.pdf ]
A thesis typically has the following characteristics:

  • a larger and/or broader piece of work
  • representative of the field/area
  • the final examination covers the student’s more comprehensive knowledge of the field, such as mastery of various topics (e.g., theory, methods, statistics, main research areas in the area, trends in the area, etc.) in addition to the subject area of the thesis

Nonthesis paper. A master’s nonthesis candidate must prepare and present a research paper of a scope and quality acceptable to the supervisory committee. No proposal is required.
A non-thesis typically has the following characteristics:

  • a paper of high quality and/or publishable piece
  • focuses on a subject/topic within the field or research project
  • the final examination covers the student’s broader knowledge of the research on that topic or specific subject; oral defense focuses more on the subject of the non-thesis than the field in general

Final Examination. Each master’s candidate must defend the thesis or non-thesis paper before all members of the supervisory committee. A final copy of the thesis or non-thesis paper must be placed in the mailroom for public inspection 10 business days in advance of the defense. The supervisory committee chair must announce to faculty, students, and staff in the department, via email, the date, time and place of the defense. The email must identify the student, the title of the project, and an abstract of the thesis or non-thesis paper. All members of the supervisory committee must participate in the examination. For thesis degree applicants, the final examination is an oral defense of the thesis. For non-thesis candidates, the form of the exam is determined by the supervisory committee and may include a written component. Final examinations are not ordinarily held during the summer. All faculty are invited to attend and participate, but only supervisory committee members may vote. All supervisory committee members must attend. The Graduate Council also requires that candidates be examined on their broader interdisciplinary understanding of criminology and law and society by following this procedure:

Prior to the time of final examination, a faculty member with graduate status is chosen to serve as a thesis, non-thesis, or dissertation ‘reader’. The faculty reader represents the area of specialization not chosen by the student. If there is no representation of the other area on the supervisory committee, then a fourth person is selected. The supervisory committee chair in consultation with the graduate student and CLS director makes the selection of the faculty reader. The reader examines the student’s knowledge of the area during the final examination and, in consultation with the supervisory committee, makes the determination as to whether or not the student meets the graduate council requirement. If both areas of specialty are represented within the supervisory committee membership, no additional person is required.

Plan of Study. The student should consult with the supervisory committee chair to develop a detailed plan of courses and timing for completion of the M.A. degree. The supervisory committee chair will transmit an approved copy of the plan to the Graduate Coordinator within one month of the supervisory committee’s appointment. [ ma-plan-crim.pdf ]

Credit Hour Requirements. The M.A. requires a minimum of 36 credit hours of courses, with additional guidelines noted below. The Department guidelines are designed to ensure that graduate students are exposed to the core ideas in methods, statistics, and theory while receiving substantive training in crime and justice or law and society. Students will benefit from participating in dynamic exchanges found in seminars as well as doing independent or collaborative research with faculty and other graduate students. So long as the basic guidelines are followed, students can craft their program in various ways to incorporate individual studies hours (3 credits maximum), thesis research (6 credits maximum), courses outside the Department (6 credits maximum), and transfer credits (9 credits maximum) .

  • 15 hours of required courses in methods, theory, and professional development (see below)
  • Ordinarily no more than a total of 3 credit hours in individual work (courses numbered 5905 or 6905) may be counted toward the M.A.
  • Students completing the Masters Thesis option for the M.A. should enroll in Research for Masters Thesis (6971). No more than 6 credit hours of this course can be applied to the M.A.
  • Students completing the paper option for the M.A. should enroll in Supervised Research (6910). No more than 5 credit hours of this course can be applied to the M.A. AND the Ph.D.
  • With approval of the Graduate Committee, similar graduate courses taken at other universities may be substituted for up to 6 semester credit hours of required courses.
  • Students completing the joint JD/MA program are permitted to count 12 hours from law toward the MA.
  • Work in Criminology must be in courses numbered 5000 and above. For those selecting the thesis option, at least three hours of courses numbered 5000 or above may be taken outside CLS provided they are part of an approved plan of study (or are approved in writing by the Graduate Coordinator and supervisory committee chair). For those selection the non-thesis option, nine hours must be taken outside of CLS.
  • Ordinarily no more than six semester hours of graduate sections of primarily undergraduate courses (commonly called “piggy-back” courses) may apply toward the M.A. degree.
  • Only courses with a grade of B or higher can be applied toward the M.A.

Required Courses. Students are required to take the 7 courses listed below (21 total hours).

  • CCJ 6936: Proseminar in Crime, Law and Justice
  • CCJ 6920: Seminar in Criminological Theory
  • CCJ 5934: Introduction to Quantitative Methods
  • CCJ 6705: Research Methods in Crime, Law and Justice
  • CCJ 6039: Law and Society

Rule Waivers. Students may petition the Graduate Committee to waive departmental rules. Such petitions must include full justification and must have the approval of the student’s supervisory committee if it has been formed. Petitions should be delivered to the Graduate Coordinator for submission to the Graduate Committee.

Courses in Other Departments. Work in Criminology must be in courses numbered 5000 and above. For those selecting the thesis option, at least three hours of courses numbered 5000 or above may be taken outside CLS provided they are part of an approved plan of study (or are approved in writing by the Graduate Coordinator and supervisory committee chair). For those selection the non-thesis option, nine hours must be taken outside of CLS.

Joint M.A. and J.D. Program. The department offers a joint M.A. and J.D. program in conjunction with the Law School. The student must be admitted to both the Law School and Graduate School and specify that the application is for the joint degree program. Further information is available from the Graduate Coordinator.

Admission to the Ph.D. Program. All students admitted to the graduate program are presumed to be in pursuit of the Ph.D. Degree. Those students admitted with an acceptable M.A. degree are admitted directly into the Ph.D. program. Those admitted with a bachelor’s degree are admitted for the purpose of earning the M.A. degree, but with the presumption that they will continue in the program to pursue the Ph.D. However, transfer into the Ph.D. program is not automatic. Students receiving a University of Florida M.A. in CLS must apply to transfer to the doctoral program during the semester in which the M.A. is completed. The student should inform the Graduate Coordinator of his or her desire to continue in the program and ask the supervisory committee chair to forward a recommendation to the Graduate Committee at the completion of the M.A. final examination. The Graduate Committee makes the final decision. This is an internal departmental procedure, and the student does not have to re-apply to the Graduate School or Graduate Admissions Office. Normally, all prior accepted semester credit hours completed before admission into the Ph.D. program will be credited toward the toward the total needed for the Ph.D.