The MA in Criminology, Law and Society prepares students to conduct high-quality scientific research in the criminal justice field. Students learn cutting-edge social science methods and data analysis skills for advancing knowledge in the social sciences and for making a difference in the development and evaluation of justice policies and practices. The MA in Criminology, Law and Society prepares students to pursue advanced graduate studies at the doctoral level or for positions that require rigorous research skills.

For a related program, see Criminology, Law and Society, PhD


Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions. For information specific to the MA in Criminology, Law and Society, see Application Requirements and Deadlines on the departmental web site.


For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Banner Code: LA-MA-CLS

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 30

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Required Coursework

Core Courses

CRIM 700Values, Ethics, and Criminal Justice Policy3
CRIM 710Criminological Theory3
CRIM 720Law and Social Science3
CRIM 740Justice Organizations3
CRIM 760Evidence-Based Crime Policy3
Total Credits15

Analytical Methods Courses

CRIM 780Research Methods3
CRIM 782Statistics I3
CRIM 783Statistics II3
Total Credits9


Students must apply 6 credits of thesis to the degree. A thesis proposal must be submitted to the graduate director prior to registering for thesis credits. The master's thesis must be defended orally before a committee of three faculty. The committee chair and at least one member must be CLS graduate faculty. 

Students must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and once enrolled in CRIM 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment as specified in Academic Policies.

CRIM 799Master's Thesis6

Program Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to plan, execute, and communicate research in the field of criminology, law and society.
  • Students will develop core knowledge of justice and criminological theories, and be able to apply them appropriately to relevant issues.
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of criminological theory, criminal justice policy, justice organizations, and the interplay between law and social science.
  • Students will produce a thesis of original research representing a significant contribution to the field that demonstrates the ability to apply basic methodological principles.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to communicate scientific ideas and findings effectively in both oral presentations and writing to a wide range of audiences.