Criminal Justice M.A. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

The primary mission of the Department of Criminal Justice is three-fold: to educate students about their responsibilities as scholars and practitioners of criminal justice, and as citizens in a pluralistic society; to maintain an academic and working environment where all faculty and staff are encouraged to develop themselves personally and intellectually and where faculty feel free to engage in teaching, research and community service in the spirit of academic and personal freedom; and to build a department that by its example of cooperation, teamwork and dedication to university and community needs, serves as a model for citizen involvement.

Within the graduate degree program, this mission is expanded to include training in theories and methodologies necessary to critically analyze a problem in a professional field, and exposure to the current research and theories in the field to more accurately predict the outcome of interventions at the social, political, and legal levels. Additionally, the MA in CRJ program requires that students be able to apply these same critical and methodological analyses to these current theories and studies to more completely understand and evaluate the quality of the research and to better understand the flaws inherent in many studies.

The primary mission of the Department of Criminal Justice:

  1. To educate students about their responsibilities as scholars and practitioners of criminal justice, and as citizens in a pluralistic society;
  2. To maintain an academic environment where all graduate students are encouraged to develop themselves personally and intellectually and where graduate students feel free to engage in teaching, research and community service in the spirit of academic and personal freedom;
  3. To build a graduate student cohort that is an example of cooperation, teamwork and dedication to university and community needs; and
  4. To foster and encourage training in the theories and methodologies necessary to critically analyze a problem in a professional field, and to be exposed to current research and theories in the field of criminal justice, and to have the ability to apply these current theories and studies in order to more completely understand and evaluate the quality of the research and to better understand the flaws inherent in many studies.

Program Outcomes

1. Masters students will receive excellent training in criminal justice theories and research methodologies.

Student Performance Indicators

  • Graduate students are required to take 18 credits of course work in the Core area. This information is focused on both the understanding and the critical evaluation of current and classic research studies.
  • Every M.A. student will write examination responses in the core classes some of which deal with the effects of race, gender, and status on the quality of justice received.
  • Graduate students, through their participation in the Core classes, will be exposed to issues such as Racial Profiling, Victimization, Ethics, and Inequality and Justice Issues. The examination and grading processes in these classes will test their understanding and internalization of this knowledge.

Assessment Method

  • Thesis students will be evaluated on their knowledge of research, and their critical thinking skills, through the rigorous examination of their respective literature reviews. Non-thesis students will be held to the same standard, but will be assessed through the comprehensive examination process.
  • In the course of teaching these core classes, faculty members will be expected to grade each student's performance in course work, and report to the Graduate Advisor the student's progress and performance.
  • Their performance in classroom discussions and on papers and examinations will be used as an indicator of their understanding of this material.

2. Students will complete their theses or professional papers and graduate in a "reasonable" time frame.

Student Performance Indicators

  • All MA students are offered the opportunity to participate in the teaching of a specific class, and are encouraged to teach classes which deal with the topic of their respective theses.
  • All M.A. students are encouraged to take the materials generated by their thesis research, as well as course-based research documents, to local law enforcement and social service agencies in order to improve their understanding of the field and to expose them to the current state of the art in research findings.
  • All M.A. students who choose to write a master's thesis will be required by their committee members to make sure the thesis demonstrates, both through the literature review and the subsequent data analysis, perspectives which consider the impact of social and economic disadvantage on crime.

Assessment Method

  • The number of classes taught by graduate students over the course of their time in the department, and the topic of the class taught by the individual graduate student.
  • The number of agencies/criminal justice professionals contacted and presented to by the graduate student, as well as the number of agencies which request information from the research.
  • The presence of a broad-based literature review in the thesis, as well as data collection which recognizes the importance of demographic factors in crime causation and social sanctions.

3. Program graduates will be prepared for subsequent graduate education or criminal justice agency employment.

Student Performance Indicators

  • Knowledge of criminal justice theories is required of all graduate students. Students who have not had coursework in criminological theory will be required to take at the graduate level the criminological theory course and pass the class with a grade of B or better.
  • Selection of courses in research methodology that have as their goals the training in skills necessary for the production of a quality thesis, as well as success in the criminal justice field.

Assessment Method

  • Theoretical knowledge and the appropriate application of theory will be evaluated in both a portion of the Comprehensive exam, as well as the literature review of the thesis. Further, the number of students who are required to take the Criminological Theory course, and their respective grades will also be tracked.
  • Students are required to obtain approval from the Graduate Director for their core courses in Research Methodology and Statistics. The graduate director will provide approval based on the content of the class as indicated by the course syllabus and contact with the instructor.

Student Learning Outcomes