Applied Criminology

Applied Criminology Master of Arts (M.A.) in Criminal Justice Studies: Applied Criminology

About Applied Criminology

Apply your expertise in criminology to become a top criminal justice professional.

If you want in-depth study in criminology and criminal justice, California University of Pennsylvania will provide you with a one-of-a-kind graduate program led by world-class faculty experts.  

Cal U’s online master’s degree in criminal justice studies, with a concentration in applied criminology, presents advanced criminological theories and examines the behavioral manifestations of violent offenders. Students in this online program build a strong foundation of theoretical knowledge in criminology, develop research skills, and apply this theoretical framework to real-world situations involving criminal investigative analysis, equivocal death analysis and geographical crime analysis.

Learn policies and real-world practices from outstanding faculty experts.

Cal U developed its master’s in criminology concentration with assistance from some of the original criminal profilers from the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va.The program empowers students to apply their knowledge to create policies and practices that prevent and/or predict the occurrences of serious offenses, and for those major crimes that have been committed, to identify the offenders and develop relevant admissible evidence before any number of courts or tribunals.

Faculty members in the applied criminology graduate program combine their multi- and inter-disciplinary expertise to develop subject matter from criminological, criminal investigative, forensic, socio-psychological, legal and research-driven perspectives.

Program Highlights: Applied Criminology

Solid Foundation:  Students who select the applied criminology concentration in the criminal justice master’s degree program must complete 30 credits. It takes just over one year of full-time study, entirely online, to finish the program. Required courses include Advanced Behavioral Analysis of Violent Crime, Equivocal Death Analysis, Criminal Investigative Analysis, and Geographic Crime Analysis, among others.

Capstone Experience: In the program's capstone experience, students choose one of these options (when available):

Faculty Expertise:  Most of the faculty who teach in the applied criminology graduate program are full time and tenured. Dr. John Cencich is a retired U.S. federal agent and former senior international war crimes investigator with the United Nations; he earned a Doctor of Juridical Science, the highest degree in law, from Notre Dame and an advanced law degree from the University of Kent at Canterbury, England. Dr. Aref M. Alkhattar is a former intelligence officer from Jordan who was awarded the Medal of Independence from the king for his contributions to national security. He is an expert in Middle East terrorism and criminological research methods. Dr. Michael Hummel holds a doctorate from Columbia University and specializes in criminal justiceresearchand policy analysis. Professor Julie Warnick is a legal specialistwith extensive experience in the courtroom; she advises and coaches Cal U’s mock trial team. 

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Ranking for Best Online Master’s in Criminology Programs (2018), by
Median annual wage for detectives and criminal investigators, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Degree Benefits

Cal U's applied criminology master’s degree concentration is your gateway to a solid career. As a student, you will:

  • Create a strong theoretical foundation in criminal justice and applied criminology while honing research skills.
  • Undertake behavioral analysis and apply newly learned skills and techniques to prevent, predict and solve crimes having a major impact on societies throughout the world.  
  • Evaluate the ethical and legal aspects of the application of theory to practice.
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Graduate Outcomes


Earning your master's degree in criminal justice studies with an applied criminology focus equips you to enter the fields of criminal justice and criminology or advance in your current position. With the help of highly qualified professors who have strong professional contacts, graduates with an M.A. in criminal justice studies gain the applied criminology background required for positions in local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies; victim-witness units; threat assessment teams; and correctional institutions.


Applied Criminology Concentration (M.A. in Criminal Justice Studies)


A criminology student assesses a crime scene.

On-Campus Expertise

Cal U’s applied criminology graduate program is associated with the Pennsylvania Center for Investigative and Forensic Sciences at California University of Pennsylvania, which provides an array of real-time investigative consulting activities along with professional training programs for police officers, detectives, district attorneys, public defenders and others involved in the administration of justice.

A students its in a classroom.

Job Outlook

What can you do with a master’s degree in criminology? Graduates of Cal U’s criminal justice studies program in applied criminology are prepared for careers as police officers, criminal investigators, violent crime analysts, victim-witness coordinators and threat assessment specialists, among other positions. 

A Cal U criminology professor teaches a class.

Professional Connection

Cal U is attuned to professional standards in  criminal justice and applied criminology through faculty who are members of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.  ACJS is an international association established in 1963 to foster professional and scholarly activities in the field of criminal justice. ACJS promotes criminal justice education, research and policy analysis within the discipline of criminal justice for both educators and practitioners.

M.A., Criminal Justice Studies: Applied Criminology Courses

The applied criminology master’s degree concentration builds a strong foundation of theoretical knowledge and research skills, which students learn to apply to real-world situations.



Course Credits
CRM 700  Advanced Criminological Theories 3
CRM 710  Advanced Behavioral Crime Analysis Theory 3
CRM 720  Research Methods in Criminology 3
CRM 820  Ethical and Legal Aspects of Criminology 3
CRM 830  Criminal Investigative Analysis 3
CRM 840  Equivocal Death Analysis 3
CRM 850  Geographical Crime Analysis 3
CRM 855  Applied Research in Criminology 3
CRM 880*  Criminology Thesis  OR  CRM 885  Criminology Internship  OR  CRM 890*  Criminology Studies Abroad  OR  6 credit hours of prior learning (FBI Academy, FLETC, CFE Certification and similar academies and programs) 6
Total 30

*Depending on availability



Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements (Regular)  

  • Bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.00 or higher (Students with a GPA below 3.00 may apply for conditional admission)
  • Official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • International Global Online Applicants:   a satisfactory viva voce interview with a member of the graduate faculty of the Department of Criminal Justice may be considered in lieu of the minimum score.

Conditional Admission Requirements

  • Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements.  Those admitted conditionally based on missing document/s have up to a maximum of two semesters to satisfy these requirements:
    • GPA under 3.00 will be reviewed for a decision
    • Official transcripts
    • Resume
    • 500-word essay supporting application

How to Apply:

School of Graduate Studies and Research
California University of Pennsylvania
Box 91
250 University Ave. 
California, PA 15419

  • Submit unofficial transcripts and other documents by mail (using the address above), email ( or fax (724-938-5712)

For additional information:
Phone: 1.866.595.6348

M.A., Criminal Justice Studies: Applied Criminology

Related Programs

Applied Criminology Faculty

Dr. Aref M. Al-Khattar

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Dr. Robert Ambrosini

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Carl Benoit

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Dr. John R. Cencich
Professor and Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Investigative and Forensic Sciences and Director of Criminal Justice Graduate Programs, Forensic Linguistics Program Coordinator

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Dr. Raymond J. Hsieh
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Dr. Michael Hummel

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Dr. Nikolas Roberts
Assistant Professor
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Dr. Beverly Ross
Assistant Professor and Director of the Serene Leadership Institute at Cal U

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Dr. Mathilda Spencer
Assistant Professor
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Julie Warnick
Department Chair and Assistant Professor

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Dr. Christopher Wydra
Assistant Professor; Program Coordinator, B.S. Criminal Justice, Homeland and International Security Concentration (Online)
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