Graduate Program: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice

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Why Simpson’s MACJ?  Because Simpson’s master’s of arts degree in criminal justice is designed to meet the educational needs of professionals currently working within the criminal justice arena, in both public and private sectors, while providing an enhanced opportunity for career-changers or those seeking to gain entry into criminal justice or social services careers.

Students enrolled in Simpson’s MACJ program will develop a greater understanding of the criminal and juvenile justice processes, the causes and conditions that contribute to criminal behavior, the relevant issues in law enforcement, the courts, and correctional processes. Social justice, fairness, and integrity in one’s professional responses to others are integral to the overall mission of Simpson College and are consistent themes in MACJ course work.

In pursuit of the mission of the program, the MACJ learning objectives are:

1. To apply criminological and criminal justice theory to concrete situations.

Rationale: Development of effective policy requires theoretical application which enables us to deal with problematic situations constructively.

2. To analyze and interpret criminological and criminal justice system data.

Rationale: Good policy decisions are dependent of critical thought based on the best information available to us.

3. To formulate ethical responses to professional situations.

Rationale: Ethical behavior in relationships with colleagues and the public are necessary to insure a just and fair criminal justice system.

For new graduate students beginning in the fall 2016, the comprehensive examination  requirement has been eliminated, substituted with a revised course sequence to include an applied project culminating in a capstone course.

Location and Mode of Delivery

Courses in the MACJ are taught at Simpson’s Ankeny and West Des Moines campuses in eight-week term formats, utilizing a face-to-face, one night a week format with an online learning system.  The  six core classes are taught in Ankeny, but the three electives can be taken in West Des Moines or Ankeny campuses. Currently, up to three electives can be taken in a fully online format.

Typically, students attend class one night a week per eight week term (there are two terms per traditional semester).  Students who want to be full-time can take 12 credits per semester (i.e., more than one course per term).  Most degree-seekers can complete the degree in about two years, though some who can devote more time may be able to finish more rapidly.

If you are an undergraduate and looking to the future, please contact us about our unique Advanced Standing Program (ASP), which allows undergraduates to take several courses for dual undergraduate and graduate credit. The ASP is designed for exceptional undergraduates intending to complete the MACJ at Simpson. The program provides the opportunity for students to complete both undergraduate and graduate degrees in five instead of six years.

Who We Are

Simpson has an outstanding faculty dedicated to providing students with a high quality graduate experience.

Full-time faculty are doctorally qualified, and have a range of practitioner and academic experiences.  Some of the elective classes may be taught by part-time faculty, who have a combination of outstanding degrees and experiential qualifications that make them uniquely qualified to teach these courses. We are fortunate to have individuals from leadership positions in agencies such as the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the Iowa Board of Parole, the U.S. Probation Office for the Northern District of Iowa, as well as several other entities including the Electronic Crime Institute at DMACC, as adjunct faculty in our program.

Simpson is currently accepting applications for our MACJ program, and applications are evaluated on an on-going basis.

For more information, please contact Dr. Denise Leifker, MACJ Graduate Program Director at

We look forward to hearing from you!