Legal Studies - Criminal Justice Concentration

Legal Studies - Criminal Justice Concentration Online Master of Science (M.S.)

About Criminal Justice

Prepare for leadership in the fields of criminal justice and law enforcement.

The master's degree program in legal studies at California University of Pennsylvania offers you an excellent education in the specialized concentration of criminal justice. Designed for working professionals and other serious students, Cal U’s fully online program focuses on the practical application of law and policy within the criminal justice system.

Courses address practical topics that law enforcement professionals can apply to their day-to-day decision-making or use as they step up to executive leadership roles.

Expand your contribution to the community.

Students in the M.S. in Legal Studies: Criminal Justice concentration examine the structural and operational dynamics of criminal justice organizations. They engage in advanced study of the functions and processes of the American criminal justice system, and research and analyze contemporary criminal justice issues.

As a graduate student in this program, you’ll dig deep into critical issues of police accountability, including police practices that frequently trigger civil liability. You’ll learn risk management approaches for reducing criminal and civil liability, and you’ll study investigative practices for financial crimes and sexual offenses.

In short, you’ll build knowledge, skills and confidence, so you are better prepared to advance your career and the cause of criminal justice.

The online master’s in legal studies can be completed in one year of full-time or two years of part-time study. Cal U’s accelerated B.A. to M.S. in Legal Studies option reduces time to completion even further by allowing undergraduate students to complete up to 12 credits of graduate-level courses during their senior year.


Step up
Why choose the criminal justice concentration in legal studies? It’s a practical option for law enforcement professionals who wish to advance their careers, move up to executive leadership, prepare for a second career or open the door to new opportunities.

Core topics
Instead of relying on courses in psychology and social issues, the legal studies curriculum empowers you to address real-world topics in criminal justice, such as financial investigations, sexual assault investigations, and forensic photography and digital imaging. You’ll study law and public policy, ethics, civil liberties and the Constitution, legal methods, and police processes.

Certificate option
In addition to the master’s degree program, Cal U offers a fully online, 15-credit certificate in legal studies: criminal justice. Complete the certificate in just 12 months so you can prepare to begin a new career or advance in your current profession. The certificate can be earned as a standalone credential or as part of the master's degree program.

Learn more about applying

Cal U's M.S. in Legal Studies is delivered entirely online, making it a flexible option for working professionals.
Credits required to complete the criminal justice concentration in legal studies.


icon undergrad for degree

Degree Benefits

The criminal justice concentration in legal studies encourages research and reflection on topics of concern to all Americans, including police procedures and the functions and processes of the American justice system. Criminal justice students also may:

  • Partner with professors in completing research for publication in various academic and professional journals.
  • Choose research topics relevant to their current employment. For instance, students who are police officers may select specific police policies and present solutions in their white papers.
icon undergrad for degree

Graduate Outcomes

Cal U's online master's degree in legal studies prepares you for well-paying and rewarding careers in the workplace. Because this graduate degree program blends the fields of humanities, business and political science with the legal and policy issues related to criminal justice, Cal U graduates are ready for career advancement in the legal and justice system in policing, law, corrections, investigations and human services.


Curriculum and Admission Requirements

This master's degree concentration prepares practitioners to assume leadership roles to contribute to the advancement of the legal and justice systems.



Course Credits
LAW 600  Law and Public Policy  3
LAW 601  Law and Ethics 3
LAW 602  Law, Civil Liberties and the Constitution 3
LAW 603  Law and Legal Method 3
LAW 605  Law and Police Process 3
PCJ 747  Financial Investigations 3
PCJ 748  Criminal Justice Organization and Management 3
PCJ 749  Seminar in Justice Studies 3
PCJ 750  Sexual Assault Investigations 3
PCJ 752  Digital Imaging, Forensic Photography and the Law 3
Total 30


Admission Requirements

Regular Admission Requirements

  • Regionally Accredited Bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Official transcripts from a regionally accredited undergraduate institution

Conditional Admission Requirements

  • Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements:
    • Regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.9 and below will be reviewed for a decision once the following documentation has been received:
      • Resume with contact information for three professional references with an overview of professional work experience
      • 500-word essay supporting the application
        • If admitted, students will be required to earn a 3.0 in their first term to remain in the program

Provisional Admission:
Applicants who have provided unofficial documentation of test scores, prerequisite courses, transcripts or lack of letter(s) of recommendation may be admitted provisionally.

This policy also applies to undergraduate students who apply for graduate admission pending bachelor degree completion. Upon receipt of all official documents, a student will be changed from Provisional Admission to either Regular Admission or Conditional Admission. Provisional Admission students may take classes for one term but will not be eligible for Federal Financial Aid.

How to Apply:

  • Complete the Graduate School Application
  • Submit the nonrefundable $35 Application Fee
  • Submit required documentation by mail or email:
    • Mail:

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

For additional information:
Phone: 1.866.595.6348

justice 1

Career network


Cal U students in the M.S. in legal studies program learn in cohorts, where they meet and study with other types of practitioners. Graduate students are from law enforcement, the police, corrections, investigations, human services and more. Cohort students become valuable career contacts and colleagues.


Professional resource

The Institute for Law and Public Policy at Cal U offers degree and certificate programs, as well as professional development and training opportunities for a wide range of professionals in southwestern Pennsylvania region.


Faculty Support

Students in the Legal Studies: Criminal Justice degree program receive academic and professional advisement from the program coordinator and Cal U faculty. You’ll be assigned a dedicated faculty adviser, who will work closely with you to monitor and guide your academic progress and offer career advice.

Jonathan Whaton becomes a Police Cheif.

Student Success

Graduates say it best: Jonathan E. Wharton, police chief in Upper St. Clair Township, Pa., says, “The unique M.S. in Legal Studies: Criminal Justice concentration provided me with an opportunity to take my criminal justice knowledge to the next level by expanding into areas of law and public policy."

Read more

Legal Studies Online Master of Science (M.S.)



M.S., Legal Studies Faculty

Larry Bassi

View profile
Jeffrey Davidson

View profile
Kevin Govern, J.D., LL.M.

View profile
David Heller
Adjunct Professor

View profile
Brian Kohlhepp, M.A.
Assistant Professor

View profile
William Morgan, J.D.
View profile
David Smith, M.S., M.A., J.D.

View profile
Dr. Christina A. Toras, J.D., M.A.
Professor, Legal Studies Program Coordinator, Director of the Institute for Law and Public Policy

View profile
Michael Vennum, J.D.

View profile
Dr. Karl Williams, M.D., M.P.H.

View profile