Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminology

The Master of Science degree in Criminology is a 30-unit, flexible program which provides a solid core in the field of criminology while permitting students to pursue specialized areas of interest. The program is designed to prepare students for service and responsible administrative and professional positions in agencies in the criminal justice system. The program also prepares students for a wide variety of occupations including in-service education; administrative education and management; community college teaching; pre-doctoral studies; and research. Since offering our first graduate criminology course in 1957, the master's program has become the most comprehensive master's program in the discipline between Sacramento and Los Angeles. It is an advanced program that now draws students from all over the United States.

How to Apply

You will need the following to complete the application process:

*Please contact a testing center and schedule your GRE test; you can take the test at the testing center at Fresno State, Alternatively, you can look for a suitable testing site at ETS' website ( Please note that you will need to take the GRE test by **August 31** in order for the University to promptly receive your official scores and process your applications.

**If you attended a University other than Fresno State, please send your undergraduate transcript to the University Graduate Admission office and the Department of Criminology. (One copy to each address below):

Graduate Admission Office
5150 North Maple Avenue M/S JA57
Fresno, CA 93740

Department of Criminology
Attn: Graduate Program
2576 E. San Ramon Ave, M/S ST104
Fresno, CA 93740-8039

Please send the three (3) letters of recommendation with a cover page, Department of Criminology application form, and the personal essay focusing on the statement of purpose to the Department of Criminology (see address above).

These steps are described in greater detail below.

If you have any questions, please contact the Graduate Coordinator, Dr. George Kikuchi.

Overview: How to complete a Master's Degree in Criminology

Admission to the University

Admission to California State University, Fresno graduate standing is the prerequisite to admission to the Department of Criminology Graduate Program. This requires that the GRE be taken prior to a student being admitted into the graduate criminology course work, or to graduate status. Please visit the Division of Graduate Studies website for more information on applying to the University.

Admission to the Department

The Department of Criminology requires the following:

  • An acceptable baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 (on a 4 point scale) in the last 60 semester units attempted.
  • A baccalaureate degree equivalent to the degree in Criminology at California State University, Fresno and prerequisite course work with a minimum grade of “B”.
  • Completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The Department must receive GRE scores before final admission by the Department can be determined.
  • A completed Application for Graduate Study in Criminology form.
  • Three (3) completed Recommendation for Graduate Study in Criminology forms.
  • A personal essay focusing on the statement of purpose.

Completion Requirements:

You will need the following to complete the application process:

  • Advancement to candidacy.
  • Completion of 30 units of course requirements.
  • Completion of either; thesis (Crim 299) project (Crim 298) or successful completion of the  Departmental Comprehensive Examination.

Additional Information

  • Completion of the above will allow a student to be admitted with classified standing (full admission).
  • Conditional classified standing may be granted to students who are deficient due to the lack of prerequisite baccalaureate course work. Any serious deficiencies, those where substitutions cannot be made, must be made up during the first semester of graduate study.
  • The following content represents prerequisite knowledge for entry into the Criminology Graduate Program. A meeting with the graduate coordinator is suggested for clarification. If students lack the required knowledge, they may take the following courses which may not be used toward the master’s degree:
  1. 100---Criminology
  2. 102---Criminal Justice Organization and Management
  3. 117---Criminal Legal Process
  4. 170---Research Methods

Advancement to Candidacy

Classified graduate standing gives a student permission to work towards qualifying for candidacy. Advancement to candidacy gives a student permission to proceed toward qualifying for the degree. Requirements for advancement to candidacy include the following:

1. Classified graduate standing

If a student is not classified by the semester in which a minimum of ten units to be used toward the master’s degree is completed, then not more than ten units (including transfer and post-baccalaureate credit) completed before achieving full classified standing at California State University, Fresno, may be listed on the Petition for Advancement to Candidacy. Work taken during the semester of classification is considered to be completed in classified standing and may be listed on the Petition for Advancement to Candidacy. (Master in Science Info Sheet.doc Revised September, 2011)

2. Completion of any additional prerequisites which the adviser specifies in writing.

3. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 (both overall and at California State University, Fresno) on all upper division and graduate course work from the date of embarking on the first course of the proposed master’s degree program.

4. Completion of core courses.

5. Submission to the Office of the Dean, Division of Graduate Studies and Research, of the properly signed petition for advancement to candidacy.

Advancement to candidacy must be attained no later than the semester (or summer) preceding the semester (or summer) in which the student applies for, and is granted, the master’s degree, and prior to the semester in which they register for the culminating course (Crim 298 or 299) or plan to take the comprehensive examination. The student is responsible for adhering to deadlines established by the Graduate Division for the submission of Advancement forms. Approximate deadlines are: October 1 (Spring) and March 1 (Fall). Students may not expect to be advanced to candidacy and to graduate in the same semester. (This does not apply to students who plan to complete the degree within one academic year.)

6. In keeping with the University Writing Skills Requirement, all graduate students must demonstrate their competence with regard to writing skills prior to advancement to candidacy. This is met by passing the writing component of Crim 200.

7. All required work must be completed within five years of the first course work.

Completion of Required Course Work

Under the direction of a graduate adviser, each student prepares and submits a coherent program individually designed within the following framework:

Required courses in Criminology 200 level (see specific requirements)   ...........................................................................……………….15 units

Electives in criminology or related areas 200 level    ............................................……………………………………… 15 units

At least 21 units must be California State University, Fresno resident credit, excluding credit by examination and 300 level course work.

TOTAL: 30 units

Specific Requirements:

Thesis or Project Program: Crim 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, and 298 or 299.

Non-Thesis Program: Crim 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 295, and successful completion of the comprehensive examination.

1. Project or Thesis

  • Recommended for those who intend to continue graduate education.
  • Must have been advanced to candidacy.
  • Complete core courses: Crim 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, and 15 additional units of 200 level courses (total 27 units).
  • Complete 298 Project (3 units) or 299 Thesis (3 units). Prepare, complete, and submit an acceptable project or thesis for the Master of Science degree.

1a. Committee assignment:

  • Project (298) students will be assigned a committee of at least two Department of Criminology graduate faculty.
  • Thesis (299) students select a three-person committee, two of whom must be Department of Criminology faculty. After approval, the Chairman of the Graduate Committee will contact the faculty involved and if everyone is in agreement, assign the committee as requested.
  • Must meet all conditions as required by committee chair (Project 298 or Thesis 299)

2. Comprehensive Examination

  • Recommended for those who do not plan graduate education beyond the M.S. degree.
  • Must have been advanced to candidacy.
  • Complete core courses: Crim 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 295 (total 18 units).
  • Successfully complete a comprehensive examination which is usually scheduled at the end of the fall and spring semesters. Exact time and date will be announced well in advance of the examination.

The above summarizes the major requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Criminology. Please refer to the California State University general catalog and the Division of Graduate Studies for more detailed information on program requirements and restrictions.


For questions, please contact the Department of Criminology Graduate Coordiantor, Dr. George Kikuchi.