Program Details

Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Legal Studies

Offered By: College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Next Start Date:
Program Now Enrolling
Total Program Credits: 40
Online: 8 weeks [More Info]
Transfer Credits:
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the program
Program Tuition Rate:
Online: $500 per credit. [More Info]


Move Up in Law Enforcement

Legal experts hold an important role in every society; established crime prevention, punishment and restorative justice systems are essential for a healthy community to preserve a sense of safety and security. Grand Canyon University's (GCU) Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Legal Studies helps you learn how to preserve the legal system, examine contemporary law and public policy, explore constitutional rights of all citizens, conduct legal research, gain leadership skills in criminal justice and more.

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences offers this advanced criminal justice degree program to help professionals in law enforcement expand specialized skills in order to move into positions of greater responsibilities and leadership, or to provide essential information for law school-bound students.

A capstone class concludes this legal studies degree and focuses on professional portfolio development and a final written proposal. The portfolio contains your curriculum vitae, examples of writing from graduate courses, a statement of criminal justice philosophy, a five-year plan for professional goals and a research topic paper and written proposal.

Degree Outcomes

Gain Expertise in Contemporary Legal Issues

When you enroll in the Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Legal Studies, you engage in study that examines current law enforcement topics, including research and methodological evaluation of criminal justice topics; historical and contemporary questions of constitutional rights; and U.S. and international law. You also explore the role psychology plays in the legal system and analyze criminal punishment versus restorative justice, along with the effectiveness of each method. Legal research, organization behavior, leadership and law and public policy are also examined.

There is always a need for well-prepared leaders in legal fields, and GCU's Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Legal Studies helps prepare you for these positions by understanding criminal behavior, societal influences, psychological elements of the legal system and the preventive strategies to keep communities and nations safe. Students who are on a law school track can also benefit from this program.

What You Will Learn

Serve Your Community as a Legal Expert

As a student in this online and evening master's degree program, you explore:

  • Criminal theories represented in contemporary peer-reviewed resources
  • Constitutional issues related to the legal system, including federal courts, Congress and executive offices
  • Rights under the law including due process, freedom of speech and religion, as well as equal protection
  • Statistical analysis and research design using current quantitative and qualitative methods
  • Law enforcement management
  • Important factors in criminal activity and prevention, including personality and values
  • Conflict resolution
  • Procedures within various international and regional law organizations
  • Legal issues from the client perspective, including locating resources that help clients such as statutes, regulations and previous court decisions

Career Outcomes

Lead in a Legal Career

Since legal issues are encountered in nearly every profession, the Master of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Legal Studies may help you seek employment in a variety of fields. Law enforcement officers and individuals in government positions may pursue this degree in order to gain the skills necessary for management or leadership positions. The curriculum and coursework in this legal studies degree also helps prepare you for law school.

Course List

The programs offered at Grand Canyon University may vary by content and course length. You are currently viewing the program version available in Arizona. In order to view the specific course content and credit length available for your state, please contact a counselor at 1-855-GCU-LOPE or click here to request more information.
40 credits
Total Degree Requirements:
40 credits

Program Core Courses

Course Description

This course is designed to prepare students for the graduate learning experience at Grand Canyon University. Students have opportunities to develop and strengthen the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in the liberal arts. Emphasis is placed on utilizing the tools for graduate success.

Course Description

This course expands the student’s understanding of the scope of criminological theories focused through contemporary peer-reviewed resources.

Course Description

This course conducts an in-depth analysis of both historic and contemporary questions of constitutional rights. Provided is an understanding of the powers of the federal courts, Congress, and the president; an examination of the doctrines of separation of power and federalism; and discussion regarding some of the limitations that the Constitution imposes on state powers. Topical coverage also includes the takings and contracts clauses, due process, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and equal protection.

Course Description

This course provides a fundamental analysis of research and a methodological evaluation of criminal justice topics. This course familiarizes students with aspects of statistical analysis and research design relevant to today’s justice environment using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The course focuses on the practical application of research rather than exclusively on the theoretical.

Course Description

This course provides an objective study of the many roles psychology plays in the legal system, including expert witnesses, criminal profilers, and trial consultants for jury selection and child custody hearings.

Course Description

This course compares and contrasts traditional goals of punishment (rehabilitation, incapacitation, retribution, and deterrence) with the concepts of restorative justice. Topics include community service, victim assistance, victim-offender mediation, and restitution. Restorative justice seeks a balance between the need to rehabilitate offenders while executing a duty to protect the public.

Course Description

This course explores contemporary law enforcement management by examining personality, values, groups, power dimensions, decision making, conflict management, change, and organization development.

Course Description

This course explores the interrelatedness of law and socioeconomic concerns and attempts to generate a holistic perspective of society and social control for those charged with the administration of justice.

Course Description

This course addresses the issue of international law in an increasingly interconnected world. The course explores the procedural workings of various international and regional organizations regarding public international law.

Course Description

This course teaches students how to do legal research using both hardcopy and electronic resources. Presented from the perspective of a law specialist working for a client, this course allows students to consider a client’s legal issues and to discover how to locate resources that address the problem, including statutes, regulations, court orders, court decisions, and secondary sources.

Course Description

This course is taken in the final term of the graduate program. It focuses on professional portfolio development and a final written proposal by the graduate. The portfolio will contain the graduate’s curriculum vitae, exemplars of writing from graduate courses, a statement of criminal justice philosophy, a 5-year plan for professional goals, and a research topic paper/written proposal. A final written proposal must focus on how the graduate will use the totality of the learning experience to examine and improve the criminal justice system at the federal, state, county, or city level. The proposal must exhibit adequate research, coordination within the extant layers of justice policy, realistic consideration of available resources, and a reasonable timeline of benchmarks.

Program Locations



Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere. GCU offers the most experienced leadership in delivering online degree programs. Full-time faculty members and fully trained adjunct instructors, equipped with strong academic backgrounds and practical experience in their fields, support you every step of the way. Designed with the career-oriented professional in mind, our online classes provide an intimate environment that stimulates engaging and challenging discussions. Choose from programs across our distinct colleges, in high-demand employment areas. Classes begin frequently.

* The Department of Education defines how an institution must calculate a program's On-Time Completion rate for federal disclosure purposes. The On-Time Completion rate is based on a program’s published required number of months to complete all degree requirements as provided in the institution’s catalog. Completion statistics are updated every January and are based on the cohort of students who graduated between 7/1 – 6/30 of the preceding year. The On-Time Completion rate is determined by the number of students in the cohort who completed the program within the published program length divided by the number of students in the cohort who graduated.

Online and Evening program disclosures (21 month program)

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Program subject to change.