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Information for Future Students

Are you considering applying to the M.A. in Criminal Justice at University of Winnipeg? This section of our website has answers to all your questions about who we are and what exactly a Criminal Justice M.A. – and our program specifically – entails. You will find information on what qualifications you need to be a competitive applicant to our program and the available funding and supports. We also have a section specifically to answer questions we frequently receive from future students who are international applicants.

Who should I contact if I have questions?

Please note that you should email only ONE person with your questions (e.g., do not simultaneously email multiple people the same question). If the person you email cannot answer your question, they will forward it to the correct person.

If you have general questions about the M.A. program, you should contact Graduate Program Chair, Dr. Michelle Bertrand at m.bertrand@uwinnipeg.ca or Departmental Assistant Janet Turner at ja.turner@uwinnipeg.ca

If you have a question about whether an individual faculty member would consider being your supervisor, you should reach out to them directly.

If you have questions related to admissions, awards, training, or records, please direct your question to the appropriate person in Graduate Studies

What exactly *is* a Criminal Justice M.A.?
How do I know if a Criminal Justice M.A. is right for me?

A Criminal Justice M.A. is an ideal fit for students who want to study justice and its processes and/or effects at an advanced level, and to be able to choose from different methodological approaches in doing so. Through coursework and the thesis or major paper, students will learn theoretical, applied, and policy-relevant skills which open up many opportunities for future employment and/or further graduate training at the doctoral level.

What is the difference between doing a Criminal Justice M.A. versus a Criminology M.A.?

Although there are a lot of differences between university program offerings, typically, Criminal Justice focuses on the operation of the system, such as policing, courts, corrections, and less on crime and criminality, which is usually what Criminology studies. Criminal Justice research usually involves examining public policy, legal procedure, and the administration of justice institutions and how these are known via media and culture and discourses of criminal justice in politics. 

Criminal Justice generally is an applied area of study that is interdisciplinary – meaning faculty and graduate students are from many academic areas including law/legal studies, geography, psychology, sociology, criminology, and history. Criminal Justice researchers consider the role of the criminal justice system in preventing and investigating crime (policing), determining criminal responsibility (criminal law) and dealing with those convicted of criminal offences in institutional and community settings (corrections and penology). 

Criminology programs tend to adopt a Sociological perspective and focus on criminality as it relates to the social. Criminology tends to be more theoretically focused on social causes of crime and why offenders commit crime. However, some Criminology programs may look fairly similar to Criminal Justice programs depending on which programs and universities are being compared.

What is the difference between doing a Criminal Justice M.A. versus an M.A. in Psychology or Sociology or Politics or History (etc.)?

Similar to the section on the differences between a Criminal Justice versus Criminology M.A., although there are a lot of differences between university program offerings, typically, Criminal Justice focuses on the operation of the system, such as policing, courts, corrections, and less on crime and criminality. This usually involves examining public policy, legal procedure, and the administration of justice institutions and how these are known via media and culture as well as politics.  Criminal Justice (CJ) generally is an applied area of study that is interdisciplinary – meaning faculty and graduate students are from many academic areas including law/legal studies, geography, psychology, sociology, criminology, and history.

Disciplines such as Psychology, Sociology, Politics or History have stronger disciplinary boundaries and are less focused on a particular set of agencies the way Criminal Justice is. One way to think of it is that scholars in many other disciplines use similar methodological approaches to study many different topics that do not necessarily have common grounding. Criminal Justice scholars use different methodological toolboxes in their approach to studying a common substantive topic.

For example, Psychology studies the human mind and behaviour. These programs span many areas of study (e.g., social, cognitive, developmental, clinical, neuroscience, etc.). Criminal Justice studies use psychological principles, pairing them with an area of criminal justice such as the role of jury selection. Criminal Justice will pair knowledge of the system with psychology.

As another example, Sociology studies social systems, social change, population, and demography, and theorizes about social behaviour guided by major theoretical paradigms such as interactionism, social conflict, functionalist, and feminist theory. The discipline of criminal justice uses similar paradigms to study things like why we have prisons, or why police are well-funded compared to social services, or how courts are gendered.

What kinds of research can I do in a Criminal Justice versus Criminology M.A.?

Similar to the preceding two sections, it often depends on the specific program you are looking at. More importantly, it depends on the research that faculty in a specific program are doing since many programs, including our own, are unlikely to accept a student if there are no faculty members with the expertise and willingness to supervise them.

It is important for students to apply to programs where faculty are doing research in their desired area of study because Master’s-level work is akin to an apprenticeship. That is, you will be learning from your supervisor’s expertise and depth of knowledge in a particular area, so it is important that your research interests align.

The following offers some broad generalizations about the distinctions between the two areas.

A graduate degree in Criminal Justice offers opportunities to do applied, policy-relevant research within and about the key areas of the criminal justice system. While theoretical research is also done in a Criminal Justice graduate degree, theory is interdisciplinary and draws from a variety of fields including socio-legal studies, law, psychology, geography, cultural studies, history and more.

Graduate programs in Criminology (especially those offered within sociology departments) focus more narrowly on sociological theory about the societal causes of crime and offer fewer opportunities for research within real-world criminal justice contexts. 

Who are the people in your program?
Who are your faculty and staff?

The faculty in Criminal Justice come from a variety of educational backgrounds, including Criminology, Sociology, Psychology, Education, and History. Our faculty research many different topics and use a variety of methods (quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods).

You can find profiles and contact information for our faculty and Departmental Assistant on our Faculty and Staff web page.

Who are your students?

To date, our students have come from a variety of educational backgrounds, including Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Sociology, but we welcome applicants from other social science disciplines with Criminal Justice-related experiences and/or research interests!

You can see our profiles of our current student profiles and links to the theses of graduated students on our Graduate Students web page.

What is your program like?

See the Program Information tab within the Graduate Studies section of this website for details.

What do I need to know about applying to your program?
Do You Have Information Sessions?

We typically hold information sessions via Zoom once per month from October – January. All times listed are in Central time. For 2023 and 2024, the information sessions will be the following dates and times:

November 15, 2023 5:00pm CST

December 14, 2023 11:00am CST

January 18, 2024 5:00pm CST


In these information sessions, the Graduate Program Chair will provide an overview of the program and then answer any questions. Following this, the Chair will leave the Zoom and a current student in our program will be available to answer any questions that you may feel more comfortable or appropriate to ask a student. You may request the zoom link and passcode from the department assistant Janet Turner ja.turner@uwinnipeg.ca or the Graduate Program Chair Michelle Bertrand m.bertrand@uwinnipeg.ca 

What are your application dates and how do I apply?

Applications for a September start date open the November 1 of the previous year and close February 1. We do not have January or April start dates and we generally do not consider late admissions.

You apply online through the Faculty of Graduate Studies. You can find more information here: Graduate Studies Future Students web page.

How many students do you accept every year?

We accept approximately 7 or 8 students per year. It is a competitive process and only the top candidates are chosen.

What degree and grades do I need to be accepted?

We prefer that students hold a recognized Honours degree in a social science field, though students with a four-year social science degree and a strong background in theory and methods will also be considered.

All applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher to be eligible for consideration for our program. However, as this is a competitive application process, simply meeting the minimum requirements is not enough to gain acceptance.

International applicants can consult Minimum Academic Requirement: International Credentials [PDF] for the minimum GPA requirements based on their home country.

Does my educational background make me a good fit for your program?

You will be a competitive candidate if your educational background is an Honours degree in the social sciences (e.g., criminal justice, criminology, psychology, sociology, political science, conflict resolution, etc.).

If you do not have a social science background, it is your responsibility as a prospective student to demonstrate why you would be a good fit for our program and that you would be able to succeed in a social science M.A. program. For example, students from other educational backgrounds who have direct experience working or doing research within a criminal justice context may be considered.

What kind of research interests do I need to have?

Whether you are in the thesis or course/project stream, here are no specific research interests you need to have, however, one of the things we consider in assessing applications is whether any of our faculty have expertise in your desired research area. If not, you are unlikely to be a successful applicant.

How do I find a supervisor?

Applicants are strongly urged to familiarize themselves with the research specialties of the faculty in the Criminal Justice department before applying to ensure your proposed research topic aligns with the research specialties of at least one faculty member.

We strongly suggest that you contact the faculty member you are interested in working with to see if they are accepting students in a particular year, and if they would be interested in working with you.

You can find faculty profiles and contact information on our Faculty and Staff web page. 

If you are contacting a faculty member about potential thesis supervision, you should provide information about your relevant educational and work background, which area(s) of their research you are interested in, and how your own research interests and ideas align with the faculty member’s research.

Keep in mind that if a faculty member says they would be interested or willing to work with you, it does not mean that you are guaranteed to get into our program. It only means they would be willing to supervise you if you are accepted to the program. Your application still has to be vetted by the selection committee. We have a limited number of spots available, so the application process is competitive.

If a faculty member says they would be my supervisor, does that mean I am accepted to your program?

The short answer is: no. If a faculty member says they are willing to be your supervisor, it is not a guarantee of acceptance. It means that they would be willing to be your supervisor if you are accepted into the program. All applications must still be reviewed by our Departmental Graduate Committee. This Committee will make final decisions about which applicants are accepted to our program as we have a limited number of spots available.


Who should I get to be my referees?

As noted in the application requirements, students need to provide the names and email addresses of two people who can provide references for them.

We often get asked by students if it is okay to have their boss or supervisor at work be a referee. Your application will not be considered without evaluation from two referees, so if your employer is the only reference you can get, it is better than not having them at all. However, even though they can comment on things like your work ethic, employers typically do not make strong referees as they often cannot comment on many of the things we are interested in knowing about students (e.g., research potential, understanding of course material).

Strong referees will be those who can speak to your potential to succeed in a graduate program. For this reason, current or former professors will make the best referees, especially if you have taken classes with them at a higher level (e.g., seminar classes) or worked more closely with them in some capacity (e.g., they supervised your Honours thesis; you worked as a T.A. or R.A. for them).

Your referees’ email addresses should be their university or work emails as this provides the best certainty regarding their identity.



When will I know if I’ve been accepted to your program?

The short version is that we try to let students know whether they’ve been accepted as soon as possible, but notification times can vary from year to year depending on a number of factors. We aim to let students know if they have been accepted by May 15, though it may be earlier or later than this.

If I’m accepted, can I start whenever I want?

No, our only intake is in September. We do not have January or April intakes.

Can you waive the application fee for me?

No, we are unable to waive application fees.

Do I need to have a Bachelor’s degree to be eligible for your program even if I have experience working in a criminal justice profession?

Yes. We respect professional experience, but you still need to have an appropriate educational background and meet the minimum education requirements to be considered.

What are your tuition costs and funding like?
What are the tuition costs to take your program?  

The most up-to-date tuition costs for both domestic and international students can be found on the Fees page on the Graduate Studies website.

What funding do you offer for domestic and international students?

Full-Time Students

The amount of funding we are able to offer varies from year to year, though it is typically around $10,000 in the first year of study for full-time domestic and international students.

Funding offers are usually comprised of a variety of sources and may include funds from one or more of the following: internal and/or other scholarship funds, Teaching Assistant positions, Research Assistant positions, and/or bursaries.

If you are accepted to the program, your acceptance letter will detail your funding offer.

Students are also eligible to apply for additional teaching and research assistant positions when at the University of Winnipeg.

Students are also strongly encouraged to apply for tri-council scholarships (e.g., SSHRC) and major University of Winnipeg scholarships for funding support. These awards are between $15,000 - $17,500. Please note that most of the application deadlines for these awards will occur before you have heard back regarding acceptance to the program, so you need to be planning carefully to meet all deadlines: https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/graduate-studies/funding/index.html

Our students have been very successful in winning major scholarships and awards in their second years of study. In fact, approximately 80% of our second-year students to date have won a major award. Several students have also won major awards in both their years of study.

We are unable to guarantee funding in the second year, but do provide some funding to second-year students when it is available. If we can provide some funding, we let students know as soon as possible. We also work closely with our students on their applications for major scholarships and awards, and, as noted in the preceding paragraph, our students are very successful in winning these awards.

International students may also wish to look at the Graduate Studies International Student Awards and Financial Aid web page for other information on financial supports.

Part-Time Students

Unfortunately, we are typically unable to provide funding support to part-time students, but we provide partial funding when we are able to do so. If we are able to provide partial funding, we let students know as soon as we do.

What else should I know if I’m an International student?
Who can I talk to about Visas and Study Permits? What is your English requirement?

If an applicant’s first language is not English, the English Requirement is a minimum TOEFL iBT score of 100, with a score of at least 22 on the writing and speaking components, an IELTS score of 7.5, or a Duolingo English test score of 125. The test must have been taken within two years of the date of application.

Can the English requirement be waived if my score is below the minimum and I have high undergraduate marks?

No. There are no exceptions to the English requirements.

If I am accepted to your program, where can I live when I first move to Winnipeg?

If you have family or friends already in Winnipeg with whom you can live, this is a great option.

If you do not know of anyone in Winnipeg you can live with, one option international students may wish to look for when they first arrive is university student housing. University student housing has many advantages for students new to Winnipeg that helps make for an easier transition, e.g., it has furnished rooms and is close to campus. Searching for an apartment or other off-campus housing is also much easier when you are in Winnipeg and able to see locations and places in person! You can find more information on university student housing on the Campus Living website.

What other information is available to me as an international student?

You can find more information on the Graduate Studies International Students web page.

What can I do with a Criminal Justice M.A.?

The short answer is: a lot of things! You will graduate with a skillset that makes you qualified for many different types of employment or to go on to a Ph.D. program.

Several of our students have decided to continue their studies and enter Ph.D. programs in Criminal Justice and Sociology.

For those looking to gain employment after their M.A., many of the higher-level jobs our graduates are interested in either require the M.A. degree or consider it an asset qualification. In some cases, an M.A. can make the difference in being able to move to higher-level positions within an organization, or to move to a different organization. Thus, the M.A. will make you a competitive candidate for many types of employment.

Our graduates have gone on to positions with the federal government (e.g., Federal Fraud Investigator), provincial government (e.g., Policy Analyst; Researcher), correctional services, and the Winnipeg Police Service.

We encourage you to check out the ‘Careers’ section on our website for other ideas regarding post-M.A. careers.

Career Services at the University also has many resources you can access.