Criminal Justice Graduate Programs

The Department of Criminal Justice at New Mexico State University provides two program options for earning the Master of Criminal Justice degree (MCJ):

1. the traditional campus-based program; and

2. the online program.

The online program is intended to serve students who are unable to relocate to Las Cruces or are in professions that prevent students from completing the traditional campus-based MCJ program. Please click the link for information about the Online MCJ Program.

There are two options for earning the MCJ degree:


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The Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) allows master’s, graduate certificate, and Ph.D. students who are residents of the WICHE member states to enroll in some 450 high-quality programs at 61 participating institutions outside of their home state and pay resident tuition.

Graduate Classes Offered

The following links show the classes we plan to offer over the next two years. Note that the final schedule may change.

Please check the official schedule ( usually posted a few weeks before the end of the previous semester.

 Admission into the MCJ Program


Step 1: Apply to Graduate School:


All applicants to the MCJ program must declare in writing to the Director of the MCJ program if the application is for the campus-based MCJ program or the online MCJ program.

This declaration of intent should be included in your written essay that is part of the application process.

Once a program is chosen you must remain in that program for one full academic year, a complete Fall and Spring semester cycle.

Students may apply to switch between the online and campus-based programs between academic years, with the switch taking effect at the start of the Fall semester. Applicants admitted into the online program may only enroll in online courses. Applicants admitted as campus-based students may only enroll in campus-based Criminal Justice courses unless the course is offered as part of the NMSU Weekend College. Students enrolled in the campus-based program may enroll in online courses during the two five-week summer sessions.

Admission into the MCJ program is competitive. Class cohorts are limited in size and there are frequently more applicants than there are openings into the program. Applicants are admitted for the Fall or Spring semester and admission is based upon the strength of a student’s application packet and the number of positions available for admission in any given semester.

Department of Criminal Justice ONLY reviews the applicants ONCE PER YEAR, IN SPRING FOR FALL ADMISSION.

For full admission consideration for the Fall semester, the Director of the MCJ needs to be in receipt of ALL application materials no later than March 1.

Although admission into the program is possible after this deadline, a decision to admit an applicant after the deadline has passed is made on a case-by-case basis and is a function of space availability in the MCJ program and the relative merit of individual application packets.

The minimum requirements for admission into the MCJ program are:

1. a minimum overall undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.000 or a minimum 3.500 cumulative GPA for your last 60 hours of earned credit;

2. three letters of recommendation from individuals who are able to comment upon your ability to complete graduate work; and

3. after reading through our graduate handbook, provide a brief personal statement discussing your interest in the field and reasons for wanting to pursue the degree (1 – 2 pages). Please also include a brief sample of writing on a topic in Criminal Justice or Criminology that you are likely to develop in your coursework and/or thesis. This can be a shorter version (3-4 pages) of a past project or term paper, or a more general statement of your current substantive research interests.

Send the personal statement and sample of writing described in #3 above directly to the Director of the MCJ program.

Dr. Michael Tapia
Department of Criminal Justice, MSC 3487
New Mexico State University
PO Box 30001
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001



If you are an international applicant, please apply through the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.



Am I eligible for a Graduate Assistantship?

NMSU provides the Department of Criminal Justice with a small number of graduate assistantships each year. Each spring these graduate assistantships are awarded to students for the upcoming academic year on a competitive basis. If you wish to be considered for a graduate assistantship award you must indicate in writing your desire to be considered for a graduate assistantship. For full consideration, the Director of the MCJ must be in receipt of all materials for admission, including your written request to be considered for a graduate assistantship, by March 1. The formal allocation of graduate assistantships occurs after the Graduate School informs the Department of Criminal Justice of the number of graduate assistantship allocations. Only campus-based students are eligible for Graduate Assistantships in the Department of Criminal Justice. Students with a full time job are ineligible for a TA position.

Please fill out the application for TA and email it to Dr. Michael Tapia ( TA-application-LASTNAME


How do I register for a course(s)?

Once the admission process is complete and you have been formally admitted into the program, you will be able to enroll/register for specific courses offered in a given semester. You may register online by following the instructions provided at that location. If you encounter difficulties in completing the course registration process you should contact the following places for assistance in order: the NMSU Graduate School at or (575) 646-2736 or the Director of the MCJ program, Dr. Michael Tapia at (575) 646-5386 or


How much does it cost to be a MCJ student?

All students (in-state and out-of-state) registering for six credit hours or less per semester are charged the in-state tuition rate. Out-of-state students registering for seven or more credit hours per semester are charged the non-resident tuition rate with the following exceptions: Students in active military duty are charged the resident tuition rate.


How do I pay for my courses?

Students have a variety of options for paying tuition. Students have the option of paying in person, phoning the automated credit card payment system at 646-1680 (from Las Cruces) or 1-888-PAY-NMSU (toll-free), accessing the World Wide Web by using the ‘PAY-NMSU online‘ option or mailing a payment to NMSU Accounts Receivable-MSC 4570, PO Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003. Our phone credit card and on-line payment systems are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Note: All payments made after 5:00pm Mountain Time are processed on the next business day.


Is financial aid available?

Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarship Services.


How do I get textbooks and other required material?

Textbooks can be ordered online through the NMSU bookstore.

There are a variety of online retailers specializing in textbooks making it possible to do comparison-shopping once you have determined the exact textbook(s) required for your courses.


Is the Thesis required?

No. There is the Focused Coursework Option.

If you are contemplating pursuing the Ph.D. after completing the MCJ it is highly advisable that you pursue the Thesis options.


For more information please consult the:

Myths and Misconceptions about the Thesis Option 

Note: You must have completed all 5 core classes by the time you take the COMPREHENSIVE exams. See MCJ Student Handbook.