Course Requirements: MS Degree

There are 8 courses required for completion. Of these, 7 are required and one is an elective. The courses are designed to give our graduates a solid understanding of criminological theories, an advanced study of the components of the criminal justice system, and the tools to comprehend and conduct crime and justice system research. Although the scheduling may change slightly year to year, for a typical year the schedule will be:



CRIM 600 - Proseminar in Criminology

CRIM 634 - Evidence-Based Crime Prevention

CRIM 602 - Criminal Justice Data Analytics

CRIM 536 - Quant. Methods in Sociology I

CRIM 601 - Proseminar in Criminal Justice

CRIM 603 - Research Methods/Crime Analysis



CRIM 604 - Criminology in Practice

Required courses:

CRIM 600 - Proseminar in Criminology

This course provides an overview of the leading criminological theories of crime. The central focus is on the major theories of crime developed over the past century from the disciplines of economics, psychology, and sociology. The course will focus on the application of social science research as a way to evaluate theories of crime. Special attention is devoted to the issues of measurement of crime and what is known from the available data. In addition, the course will focus on how these theoretical perspectives relate to public policy responses to crime.

CRIM 601 - Proseminar in Criminal Justice

This course examines the scholarship on the causes and consequences of the development of the criminal justice system. The primary focus of the course is on the historical development and contemporary impact of key actors in the criminal justice system, such as the police, courts, and corrections, on society. The course will examine the social and economic effect of criminal justice policies and practices. The course emphasizes evidence from the available research in the United States, with some reference to research in other European nations.

CRIM 602 - Criminal Justice Data Analytics

This course covers the tools and techniques to acquire, organize, link and visualize complex data in order to answer questions about crime and the criminal justice system. The course is organized around key questions about police shootings, victimization rates, benchmarking justice system performance, identifying crime hotspots, calculating the cost of crime, and finding out what happens to crime when it rains. On the way to answer these questions, the course will cover topics including data sources, basic programming techniques, SQL, text mining, regular expressions, and geocoding. The course will use R, an open-source, object-oriented scripting language with a large set of available add-on packages.

CRIM 603 - Research Methods/Crime Analysis Project

This course provides an overview of the application of social science research methods and data analysis to criminology. The course will place an emphasis on diagnostic and analytic tools for the data analysis. Students will learn basic statistical techniques for the analysis of social science data and how to interpret results as part of the rigorous practice of evidence-based Criminology. M.S. students will conduct a semester-long, data-based crime analysis project using quantitative analysis to address a specific research question. Student projects culminate with an oral class presentation and the submission of a written thesis.   

CRIM 604 - Criminology in Practice

This course consists of weekly talks by prominent figures working in the criminal justice system. These include law enforcement executives, senior leaders of non-profit organizations working to improve the justice system, and scholars actively engaged in crime policy. Students have the opportunity to interact with our guest speakers to learn about their careers, their priorities, and their vision for the future of the justice system. CRIM 604 is a year-long, one-credit course.

CRIM 634 - Evidence-Based Crime Prevention

This course considers the use of evidence to identify effective crime prevention policies. The course will teach students to think critically about what constitutes convincing evidence, use benefit-cost analysis in comparing policy alternatives, and write effective policy memos that can translate research into practice. Students develop these skills by studying the effects of different policy approaches to crime prevention including incarceration, policing, gun control, drug regulation, and place-based interventions, as well as education, social programs, and labor market policies. Emphasis will be on the methodological challenges to identifying “what works” and the empirical methods to overcome those challenges.

CRIM 536 - Quantitative Methods in Sociology I

This course is an introduction to the practice of statistics in social and behavioral sciences. It is open to beginning graduate students and -with the permission of the instructor- advanced undergraduates. Topics covered include the description of the social science data, in graphical and non-graphical form; correlation and other forms of association, including cross-tabulation; bivariate regression; an introduction to probability theory; the logic of sampling; the logic of statistical inference and significance tests. There is a lecture twice weekly and a mandatory "lab".


During the spring semester, students will select an elective course that complements their career aims. The elective can be any course offered at Penn that is 400-level and above and has the approval of the MS program director. The list below shows courses that recent MS Criminology students have elected to take. Not all courses are offered every year.





CRIM 605 – Criminal law, Criminal Procedure, and Criminology
CRIM 671 – Clinical Neuroscience Approach to Understanding Violence

City and Regional Planning

CPLN 503 – Modeling Geographic Objects

Fels Institute of Government

GAFL  589 – Policy Development



LAW 748 – Criminal Procedure: Prosecution and Adjudication
LAW 503 – Criminal Law

Political Science

PSCI 498 – Race & Criminal Justice

Social Policy & Practice

MSSP 631- Law & Social Policy


MS students are also required to attend the Criminology Colloquium Series, colloquia presented about once per month by visiting scholars.


There is no language requirement for the MS degree.


Note for current Penn undergraduates considering submatriculation


All courses listed here are required. We do not issue waivers or accept substitutions. The Department of Criminology offers each course at one time slot in one semester. If there is a scheduling conflict, then your undergraduate degree requirements are the priority. You will have to enroll in your undergraduate required courses and withdraw from the MS submatriculation program. We schedule the MS courses so they do not conflict with required undergraduate criminology courses, but the courses may conflict with required courses for other majors. If you are considering the MS submatriculation program, discuss your course plans with your undergraduate advisor to give yourself the best chance of success. If you cannot resolve a course conflict, then you can apply to complete the MS degree in the year following your Penn undergraduate graduation. Several Penn students have done so in the past.