Criminal Justice

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Dr. Julie Warnick (chair) | Dr. Aref M. Al- Khattar | Dr. John R. Cencich (coordinator of the M.A. in Criminal Justice Studies program) | Dr. Raymond J. Hsieh | Dr. Michael Hummel | Dr. Nikolas Roberts | Dr. Beverly Ross (coordinator of the M.A. in Conflict Resolution Studies) | Dr. Mathilda Spencer | Dr. Christopher Wydra


The philosophy of instruction for the Department of Criminal Justice is to integrate the substantive, procedural, theoretical and scientific aspects of law, crime and justice with a liberal arts education while incorporating ethics, leadership and diversity. Although this philosophy is primarily professional, the students are exposed to a wide array of intellectual disciplines across the University. The wide-ranging course offerings reflect the interdisciplinary approach and dedication to prepare graduates:

  • for a multitude of opportunities in justice systems, locally, nationally and internationally;
  • to be able to communicate and make informed critical decisions; and
  • to pursue graduate study in law, criminal justice, criminology and forensic sciences.


The criminal justice studies major consists of a core requirement of 11 courses that are designed to provide a broad and coherent approach to the six content areas identified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Students may choose a broad, general study of criminal justice or may select from concentration areas:

  • Criminology
  • Cyber Forensics
  • Law and Justice
  • Forensic Investigation
  • Homeland and International Security

Transfer students may transfer up to 24 credit-hours of criminal justice courses toward the justice studies degree requirements. Credit for life experiences and military or professional training may be available, but such credit cannot be counted toward the 48 credits of justice studies required courses. Such credit, if awarded, will typically apply to the additional electives category or General Education requirements, if applicable. 


Criminal justice studies faculty and students involve themselves in numerous activities beyond the normal academic experience. The program is an active participant in myriad justice-related activities at the regional, national and international levels. There are opportunities for student internships and study abroad. Students can compete with the Mock Trial Team. Membership and leadership opportunities exist in the Law and Justice Society, Forensic Science Club and Criminal Justice Club.

Honor Societies

The Department of Criminal Justice participates in the National Criminal Justice Honor Society (Alpha Phi Sigma) and Pi Gamma Mu, a social science honorary society.

Careers/Graduate Studies

Criminal justice studies graduates are qualified for numerous law enforcement positions. Graduates have been placed in agencies such as the Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C., police departments. Graduates pursue careers in agencies such as the Pennsylvania State Police as well as federal law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service; Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Some students obtain commissions as officers in the United States military and work in their criminal investigative and counterintelligence bureaus. Other graduates pursue post-baccalaureate degrees in law, criminal justice, criminology, forensic science, forensic linguistics or conflict resolution studies.

Police Academy

Graduates of the Pennsylvania Police Academy who earn the Pennsylvania Act 120 MPOETC certification, or its equivalent, can be awarded up to 15 credits, which will be applicable to the associate degree in Applied Policing and Technology. Act 120 MPTOETC police academy training and certification is offered at the University. Graduates of the Academy are awarded 15 credits, typically in the additional electives category.