Criminal Justice — M.S.

Program director
Froylana Heredia-Miller

Loma Linda University's motto, "To make man whole," provides a powerful and much-needed context in which criminal justice, within a mental health framework, can be addressed on the basis of healing and restoration. 

An interdisciplinary approach to this course of study considers the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being of victims, offenders, and communities. The curriculum provides a deeper understanding of crime and the struggle of the modern criminal justice system within a forensic mental health specialization. 


The mission of the Criminal Justice Program is to prepare students to think critically and analytically about the problems of crime and social control in contemporary society and to work with the legal system as it relates to a forensic mental health framework.

Program objectives

Students will demonstrate:

  • The ability to integrate and utilize knowledge of social science and theories of criminology as these apply to criminal justice issues within mental health settings.
  • An understanding of the dimensions and causes of crime and delinquency.
  • An understanding of the structure of the American criminal justice system.
  • An understanding of the ethical principles that guide the concepts of justice and fairness within professional criminal justice/forensic mental health practice.
  • An understanding of major mental illness and treatment interventions within a forensic mental health framework.
  • An understanding of the differences between retributive and restorative justice approaches in addressing the effects of crime.

General overview

The 48-quarter unit program begins with 16 units of core course work. The curriculum is divided into three professional areas of study, which include: criminal justice, religion and ethics, and social research methods. During the final year of study, students complete the forensic mental health specialization along with specialized selectives. Forensic mental health is a specialized branch of professional practice in which the clinical and criminal justice worlds overlap. Students will focus on the needs of individuals in the criminal or juvenile justice systems that have serious emotional disorders and/or severe mental illness, and may also present with co-occurring substance abuse. Students will gain knowledge and skills in treatment programming.  In addition, students will be prepared to assess and provide expert testimony regarding continued institutionalization versus readiness for outpatient psychosocial rehabilitation, including the development and implementation of assertive community treatment plans.

Students have two options to complete the program:

  1. Nonthesis: Professional practica (540 hours of integrated practicum and seminar) and 9 units of didactic selectives; OR
  2. Thesis: 6 units of academic thesis and 3 units of didactic selectives.

Liberal arts preparation

The M.S.W. and criminal justice curricula are built on a liberal arts perspective. Individual applicants whose undergraduate degree does not reflect this perspective may be asked to enroll in additional courses, which must be completed before advancement to candidacy (prior to beginning the advanced curriculum).

Unit values represent the quarter system of measurement. Content from multiple courses may be used to meet most requirements.

In addition to Loma Linda University admission requirements, this program follows the admission requirements of the School of Behavioral Health, as follows:

  1. Applicants must meet the minimum academic and professional compatibility criteria established by the program. These criteria include:
    • A cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale). Applicants with lower grade point averages will be considered if the last 45-quarter credits (30 semester units) of non-field practica coursework shows significant improvement or if they have additional attributes that demonstrate preparedness and an appropriate fit for graduate education in the area of Criminal Justice. Work and volunteer experiences must be verified by employer/supervisor statements on official agency stationery. Further consideration will also be given to individuals who provide evidence of additional graduate coursework, certifications, and/or training that illustrate preliminary preparation for a career in Criminal Justice. Students who are admitted to the Criminal Justice Program with a cumulative G.P.A. below 3.0 may be required to participate in individualized academic assessment and a targeted learning assistance program.
    • Demonstration, through the application and interview processes, of compatibility with professional standards set by the program including the ability to develop and nurture interpersonal relationships, communication skills, self-awareness, professional comportment, critical thinking skills, fit with the mission and values of Loma Linda University and the Department of Social Work and Social Ecology, and the capacity to successfully complete the Master of Science in Criminal Justice curriculum.
  2. Submission of  three letters of recommendation (one from an academic source and one from a work supervisor preferred).

The 48-unit curriculum for the M.S. degree in criminal justice provides the mix of academic, experiential, and research activities essential for M.S. degree students.

Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 (or a letter grade of B on a 4.0 scale) in order to progress successfully though the program and complete the degree. In addition students must meet the knowledge, skills, and professional performance competencies outlined by the program.

All course grades should meet the minimum B (3.0) standard, which by university policy indicates satisfactory performance. Courses in which a student earns a grade below a B (3.0) may need to be repeated (or may not apply to the degree) if competency in the subject area is related to practice performance with clients, and a grade less than a 3.0 represents marginal or unsatisfactory practice performance.

CRMJ 515Crime and Society3
CRMJ 517Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence3
CRMJ 520Restorative Justice3
CRMJ 574Criminological Theory4
SOWK 682Legal and Ethical Aspects in Health and Mental Health Services3
Religion, philosophy, and ethics3
Select of the following:
Bioethics and Society
Graduate-level Religion. An approved 3-unit course within subject area, in consultation with advisor
Social research methods
SOWK 548Research Methods5
Forensic Mental Health Specialization
CRMJ 620Forensic Mental Health3
CRMJ 630Criminal Justice Planning and Administration3
SOWK 662Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies4
SOWK 662LBehavioral and Cognitive Therapies Practice1
Select 4 units from the following:4
Child Abuse and Family Violence
Drug Addiction and Therapy
Co-occurring Processes and Interventions
Recovery in Behavioral Health
Behavioral Health Policies and Systems
Degree completion options9
Nonthesis option:
Selectives (9 units) 1
Expert Testimony: Procedure and Practice
Directed Study/Special Project
Women in Development
Social Welfare Policies and Services
Recovery in Behavioral Health
Advanced Policy Analysis
Advanced Policy Projects
Professional Practicum 2
Professional Practicum and Seminar
Professional Practicum and Seminar
Professional Practicum and Seminar
Field Orientation
Thesis option:
Selective (3 units from nonthesis option above)
Applied Research (4 units)
Thesis (2 units)
Total Units48

Other courses may be approved for elective credits in consultation with the faculty advisor and in accordance with University policies for academic variances


Professional practicum and seminar units are not calculated into total didactic units required for the degree. Students pay program fees for professional practicum units instead of tuition. Practicum and seminar hours: 480 + 60.

Normal time to complete the program

2 years (7 quarters) based on full-time enrollment; part time permitted


CRMJ 515. Crime and Society. 3 Units.

Discusses crime as a social problem and surveys its criminal justice responses. Provides an overview of criminological theory by placing crime in its cultural, social, political, and historical context. Describes the criminal justice system from an institutional perspective; and examines the intersecting roles of the police, forensic science agencies, the courts, and corrections as they aim to promote justice in the context of the social good.

CRMJ 517. Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence. 3 Units.

Studies criminal procedures as they are guided by the U.S. Constitution. Focuses on 4th-, 5th-, 6th-, and 14th-Amendment rights with regard to searches and seizures, confessions, due process, jury trials, assistance of counsel, and equal protection under the law. Discusses the introduction of scientific evidence in criminal trials as the point of intersection between science and law. Pretrial discovery rules, access to expert witnesses and testing, as well as federal and state rules of admissibility examined as they shape the content and process of evidence presentation in the courts by expert witnesses.

CRMJ 519. Expert Testimony: Procedure and Practice. 2 Units.

Familiarizes students with judicial procedure, and provides opportunity in a simulated trial setting for them to practice testifying as expert witnesses.

CRMJ 520. Restorative Justice. 3 Units.

Provides a new perspective on the purpose and role of the criminal justice system by examining how restorative justice attempts to forge new relationships between offenders and the people and communities they have victimized.

CRMJ 574. Criminological Theory. 4 Units.

Provides students with a detailed examination of the best-known and most influential theories of crime causation. Examines and evaluates selected theories from sociological, psychological, and behavioral perspectives.

CRMJ 588. Topics in Forensic Science. 2 Units.

Addresses current interests in specific areas of forensic science, offered at the discretion of the Department of Social Work and Social Ecology. Topics may include quality assurance, forensic chemistry and controlled substances, forensic biology, forensic toxicology, questioned documents, and others. Sections consist of lectures but may also include laboratory experience under the guidance of criminalists.

CRMJ 599. Directed Study/Special Project. 1-4 Units.

Limited to matriculating master's degree in criminal justice students who wish to pursue independent investigations in criminal justice practice or policy under the direction of a department faculty member.

CRMJ 620. Forensic Mental Health. 3 Units.

Overviews the specialized mental health and substance-abuse disorders treatment for persons incarcerated in jails, prisons, or special forensic psychiatric hospitals. Reviews effective treatment methods in forensic institutions and examines the current criminal justice system's handling of persons with mental illness and substance-abuse disorders.

CRMJ 630. Criminal Justice Planning and Administration. 3 Units.

Examines the structure, function, and effective operation of criminal justice agencies and organizations—including law enforcement, the courts, and corrections—within the overall context of the criminal justice system.

CRMJ 697. Research. 2 Units.

Supports students who choose to complete the thesis option. Provides research matriculation in the collection and analysis of data for the thesis. Students required to register for two quarters, or a total of 4 units.

CRMJ 698. Thesis. 2 Units.

The culminating work of the student's independent research, under the direction of the research advisor. Registration during the quarter in which student defends research and submits final document to the department and School of Behavioral Health.

CRMJ 757A. Professional Practicum and Seminar. 3 Units.

Experiential learning in criminal justice. Students must satisfactorily complete 160 practicum hours and 20 hours of concurrent seminar.

CRMJ 757B. Professional Practicum and Seminar. 3 Units.

Experiential learning in criminal justice. Students must satisfactorily complete 160 practicum hours and 20 hours of concurrent seminar.

CRMJ 757C. Professional Practicum and Seminar. 3 Units.

Experiential learning in criminal justice. Students must satisfactorily complete 160 practicum hours and 20 hours of concurrent seminar.

CRMJ 787. Advanced Professional Practicum and Seminar. 4 Units.

Experiential learning in advanced criminal justice practice. Students must satisfactorily complete 200 practicum hours and 20 hours of concurrent seminar.