Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of job can I get with an MACJ?

Criminal Justice is an academic discipline that enjoys a high job placement rate, and many positions in today’s competitive job market require the master’s degree and/or provide salary increases commensurate with education level. The criminal justice field offers many career opportunities. Our graduates are working in law enforcement, private security, community and institutional corrections, court services, victim services, social services, academia, and/or investigation in a range of public and private agencies. They have rewarding careers as data analysts, law enforcement officers, forensic scientists, victim advocates, criminal investigators, researchers, policymakers, advocates, and teachers in community colleges and universities.

Can I work while I go to school?

Our classes meet evenings and weekends. Most students take 6-9 credits a quarter and complete the MACJ in two years.

Does S.U. offer assistance for travel to Criminal Justice conferences and events?

If you are interested in attending a conference (either domestic or international), applications must be completed and turned in at least six weeks before dates of travel. Any student interested should request the application from the Graduate Program Coordinator and work to submit and discuss it with the Department Chair.

Should I choose an optional specialization area?

You are not required to select a specialization area. The advantage of not choosing a specialization is flexibility in selecting elective credits. The advantage of concentrating in a particular area is that a set of courses will be required and identified on your transcript and diploma as an official specialization. This may stand out to employers who seek expertise in a specific area (e.g., a victimology specialization may be an asset in applying for positions in victim services, research and evaluation for research analyst positions, and investigative criminology for investigative positions) or to graduate admissions and selection committee for Ph.D. programs.

Here are a few tips/factors to think about in determining whether or not to concentrate.

Choose the MACJ with no specialization if:

  • If you want flexibility in your schedule and the freedom to choose an individualized set of elective courses.
  • You want to take your time completing the program over 3 or 4 years and don’t want to be tied to successive course offerings (i.e., taking a series of courses in a 4 quarter block).
  • You want both flexibility and a traditional criminal justice master’s degree. 
  • You would like to pursue research at the Ph.D.-level but are unsure at this point what specific area of criminal justice on which you would like to focus.

Choose the MACJ with Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation specialization if:

  • You seek a career as a research analyst for a criminal justice agency.
  • You want to be sure to take elective courses that offer you well-rounded background in quantitative and qualitative research methods and comprehensive exposure to key areas of criminal justice research.
  • You want to highlight your expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methodology for potential employers or in your current position.
  • You would like to pursue research at the Ph.D.-level and want to highlight your coursework in research and evaluation.

Choose the MACJ with Investigative Criminology specialization if:

  • You seek a career as an investigator in federal, state, county, or local criminal justice-related or private agency.
  • You want to enhance your knowledge of the application of criminological theory to investigative practice and to develop investigative skills and expertise. 
  • You currently hold an investigative position and want to better understand the theoretical underpinnings of investigative practice and gain knowledge of key research findings in the area of offender profiling, crime scene investigation, and investigative practice.
  • You would like to pursue research at the Ph.D.-level in the area of offender profiling, criminal investigation, and/or forensic psychology.

Choose the MACJ with Victimology specialization if:

  • You seek a career in victim advocacy/victim services.
  • You believe that traditional criminal justice education does not sufficiently focus on victims and victimology and want your MACJ degree to include coursework specifically devoted to research, theory, and issues focused on victims of crime. 
  • You currently work with victims of crime and want to enhance your knowledge of theory and research in victimology and victimization and take coursework that will enhance your skills as a victim advocate.
  • You would like to pursue research at the Ph.D.-level that focuses on Victimology, violence and victimization, and/or restorative/community justice.

If you are unsure whether or not you would like to concentrate in a particular area, the best approach is to look at what your schedule will look like if you select the specialization and which courses you will be required to take. Keep in mind that you can select a specialization and/or change your mind at any time prior to your last quarter (although changing or adding a specialization area late in the program may affect your date of completion). To change or select a specialization, contact the CJ Graduate Director and/or your faculty advisor.

Is it better to take the comprehensive exam or write a thesis?

All MACJ students are required to either pass a comprehensive examination or complete a thesis. Students wishing to pursue the thesis option must obtain approval from the Graduate Director by submitting a thesis proposal and identifying a thesis chair and committee.

Here are a few tips/factors to consider when deciding which option to choose.

Choose the comprehensive exam if:

  • You are interested in gaining a broader understanding of various criminal justice topics and issues.
  • You are interested in completing your degree in a faster fashion.
  • You have no desire to pursue a Ph.D. degree or conduct research either on your own or in your profession.
  • The completion of a thesis will have no bearing on advancement or promotion in your profession.

Choose the thesis if:

  • You are interested in specializing in one research area of criminal justice.
  • You are interested in conducting and analyzing research.
  • You have solid skills in methods and statistics and want to apply them.
  • You plan to enter a Ph.D. program upon graduation.
  • You plan to obtain a job as a research analyst.
  • You plan to continue to conduct research after graduation.

Are teaching and research assistantships available? 

Students may work as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Research Assistant (RA) for criminal justice faculty for academic credit. Both positions offer students an excellent opportunity to acquire proficiencies in pedagogical and research skills. For those students who are considering entering into academic positions or doctoral programs upon graduation, working as a TA or RA is great work experience. TAs assist the faculty member in teaching responsibilities for undergraduate criminal justice courses. Typical responsibilities of TAs include:  acquiring recent research for the course, assistance in grading, classroom support, and perhaps the opportunity to make a mini-presentation in the course. RAs assist in the research of the graduate faculty member. Typical responsibilities of RAs include: conducting literature searchers, acquiring research articles, and assistance in data collection and analysis. Students who would like to work as a TA or RA must first contact the criminal justice faculty member that they are interested in working with to determine the work requirements and the needs of the faculty member. Once an agreement has been reached between the student and faculty member, the student will need to see the department chair for final approval. 

Are internships available?

MACJ students may obtain 1-3 credits for work completed as part of an approved internship. Students must work 50 hours per credit, complete a reflection log, agency and student self-evaluation, and synthesis paper (nature and length determined in consultation with Internship Director). The degree also offers one-credit practicums with the Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Marshals Service, and others. Students also have the option of completing an independent study project involving research, theory, or practice in criminal justice. Independent study projects are approved by Department Chair on a case-by-case basis.

Students have had internships and volunteer experiences in city, county, state, and federal agencies, including:

  • Washington State Department of Corrections
  • King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention
  • Family & Friends of Violent Crime Victims
  • Municipal Court of Seattle
  • Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
  • Seattle Police Department
  • King County Sheriff
  • King County Medical Examiner’s Office
  • Washington State Patrol
  • King County Prosecutor’s Office
  • The Defenders Association
  • U.S. Investigations
  • U.S. Postal Inspection
  • Federal Agencies: ATF, DEA, FBI, INS, NCIS, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Probation, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 

Students may also seek internship positions on their own and obtain approval through the Internship Director.


Contact Us

Elaine Gunnison 
Graduate Program Director

Nicole Moses 
Graduate Program Coordinator

Matthew Hickman
Department Chair