Mercyhurst University Logo

You are here

Criminal Justice

mercyhurst criminal justice graduate

 

The criminal justice program at Mercyhurst opens the door for students to learn about the operation of the criminal justice system, from the necessary historical background to the legal and sociological perspectives.

Our nationally and internationally recognized faculty members have diverse backgrounds in criminology, juvenile justice, constitutional law, ethics and immigration policy. Several faculty members have published books and journal articles, consulted for criminal justice agencies and presented their research at local, regional, national and international conferences.

Here at Mercyhurst, not only are students known by name, professors also know our students' individual interests and strengths. Faculty provide personal advising and mentoring by assisting students with scheduling, internships and their career paths.

Criminal justice majors have completed internships to complement their classroom learning at places like police and sheriff's departments, juvenile and adult probation offices, prisons and jails, law offices, district attorney and public defender’s offices and county judges.

Want to get more involved outside the classroom? Check out the criminal justice club or Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society. These extracurricular experiences give you the opportunity to build friendships with other criminal justice students as you gain even more experience in the field through target shooting practice, service activities, national conferences and more.

Hear from Olympic Gold Medalist and Criminal Justice alumni, Meghan Agosta, on her experience at Mercyhurst.

 

Kinnane Conference

Mercyhurst University and its Civic Institute with support from the university’s Criminal Justice Department, Administration of Justice Program, and Public Safety Institute host criminal justice themed conferences. In 2012, the 37th James V. Kinnane conference was held. This is the largest conference for local and regional criminal justice practitioners in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The prestigious James V. Kinnane Award is presented at the conference. The James V. Kinnane Award is presented in memory of former Mercyhurst Criminal Justice Department Chair James V. Kinnane, who embodied the qualities of public service that Mercyhurst criminal justice programs seek to encourage in their students. The most recent award recipients include Erie County Prison Warden James Veschecco and SafeNet Executive Director Linda Lyons King.

Students are invited to attend this free, one day conference. Some of the recent conference themes were:
2012—IMPACT: Domestic Violence – The toll it takes on our community and what we can do about it
2010—Minor Problems Major Impact: Juveniles in the Adult Criminal Justice System
2008—Systems Gone Awry: When Criminal Justice Meets Mental Health
2007—Cyber Crimes in Cyber Times

 

Clubs and Organizations

Alpha Phi Sigma

Alpha Phi Sigma (APS) is the only National Criminal Justice Honor Society for Criminal Justice Majors. The society recognizes academic excellence of undergraduate and graduate students of criminal justice. Alpha Phi Sigma is the only Criminal Justice Honor Society which is a certified member of the Association of College Honor Societies and affiliated with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

APS is an honorary and professional organization. Membership in APS showcases students’ achievements as well as provides opportunities to participate in social and community activities. APS holds a national conference in conjunction with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences meeting (every March). This is an excellent opportunity to meet with other members of APS and also network with professionals in the criminal justice field.

The Mercyhurst University Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma is the Upsilon Chapter, which was chartered in October 1981. The Chapter has received 3 national awards for most outstanding Chapter. Criminal Justice honor society students have been active participants in community projects, campus presentations, and national meetings of Alpha Phi Sigma.

Recent APS activities include:

  • Participation in an ACJS conference in Dallas, TX 
  • Coordination of a cell phone drive, benefited Safe-Net, a domestic violence shelter
  • Halloween crafts with youth at the Martin Luther King Center 
  • Poinsettia sale (fundraiser for the conference)
  • Induction Ceremony at the Erie Yacht Club, with a federal judge as a featured speaker
  • Wearing honor cords at graduation ceremony

Requirements for Membership: (Undergraduate students)

  • Declare a criminal justice major or minor
  • Maintain a minimum of 3.2 overall GPA on a 4.0 Scale
  • Maintain a 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale in criminal justice courses
  • Rank in the top 35% of their class
  • Have completed a minimum of four criminal justice courses

If interested, please stop by Dr. Garase’s office (120 Preston) with your
-Program Evaluation from WebAdvisor
-Completed Application
-Money Order for $50.00 (Let’s make sure you are eligible prior to getting the money order)

APS Contact: Dr. Maria Garase
Phone: (814) 824-3675
E-mail: mgarase@mercyhurst.edu

Criminal Justice Club

The purposes of the Criminal Justice Club is to recognize and promote learning within field experiences; to assist students in preparing for a career in the criminal justice field; and to recognize and appreciate the necessity of education along with practical experience and training in becoming professional criminal justice practitioners. Members of the CJ Club bring speakers on campus, got to Shoot, Don’t Shoot activities, go to the firearm safety courses, and coordinate student field trips.

Examples of some of their activities include:

  • Speakers (juvenile probation, BARJ coordinator, forensic pathologist, district attorney, ROTC recruiter)
  • Shoot, Don’t Shoot Simulation (Students go to the police academy and “shoot” targets as well as seen various scenarios on an interactive computer screen and have to decide to shoot the perpetrator or not given the situation. This is a computer simulation used by officers in their trainings. 
  • Firearm Familiarization (Students who have never fired a weapon before can attend a firearms familiarization workshop. A certified firearm instructor walked students through firearm usage and allows the students to use firearms in a controlled and supervised range.) 
  • Field Trips (Students have coordinated field trip to local prisons and the court house to sit in on hearings) 

Advisor Contact
CJ Club Contact: Dr. Rodriguez
Phone: 814-824-3109
E-mail: frodriguez@mercyhurst.edu

 

Graduate and Law Schools

Our students are academically and professionally prepared for entry-level positions in criminal justice and social service agencies as well as for continuing their education in graduate and/or law schools. Some of our students pursued graduate degrees at the following colleges and universities.
  • Mercyhurst University
  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • SUNY Albany
  • Arizona State University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Florida State University

Students also were accepted into regional and national law schools, a sampling of these include the following.

  • Suffolk University Law School
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Duquesne University
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Buffalo

A degree from Mercyhurst prepares you for this exciting and dynamic career.

Major(s) Criminal Justice Major
   
Minor(s) Pre-Law Minor
  Psychology of Crime and Justice Minor
   
Concentration(s) Corrections Concentration
  Juvenile Justice Concentration
  Law Enforcement Concentration
  Pre-Law Concentration

Ready to begin your journey in criminal justice?  Apply online today -- it's free and getting your application started takes only a few brief minutes.  Interested students may also consult the course catalog for more information.  As a liberal arts institution, all undergraduate students complete Mercyhurst's core curriculum

The mission of the Criminal Justice Department is to provide students with a liberal arts background that will enable them to live rich and fulfilling lives, with the capability of personal responsibility, professional development, and civic responsibility.

  • Demonstrate basic knowledge and historical background of the criminal justice system and profession
  • Synthesize concepts and apply problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Evaluate and apply basic knowledge of legal aspects of criminal justice operations.
  • Synthesize and apply basic knowledge of the sociological issues affecting criminal justice
  • Demonstrate an understanding of methodological concepts for conducting and analyzing research
  • Apply basic knowledge of professional skills for criminal justice careers.

CJ faculty and the Career Development Center highly encourage students to complete an internship within their concentration to complement their classroom learning. Mercyhurst University has many partnerships with police and sheriff’s departments, juvenile and adult probation offices, prisons and jails, community corrections agencies, law offices, county judges, district attorney’s and public defender’s offices. We place students in federal, state, and local agencies. We add new placements every year!

Although students can be placed anywhere in the country for their internship, a number of students complete their internships in Erie County. There are many criminal justice and social service agencies close to campus. For example, the Erie County Courthouse, which houses many criminal justice agencies, is within a 10 minute drive of campus (it is also on the bus route from campus). Students have the option to do their placements during the school year or during the summer.

Below is a sampling of our criminal justice internship placements:
 

  • City of Erie Police Department 
  • U.S. Marshal’s Office (Western District of NY)
  • New York State Police
  • Boston Police Department
  • Ocean City Police Department (Maryland)
  • Buffalo Police Department
  • Los Angeles Police Department
  • Allegheny County Police Department
  • St. Mary’s Police Department
  • Warren County Sheriff’s Office
  • Erie County (NY) Sheriff's Department
  • Avalon Police Department (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Lackawanna Police Department (Buffalo, NY)
  • Dover Police Department (Dover, NH)
  • Shaker Heights, Police Department (Ohio)
  • Geauga County, Sheriff’s Department
  • District Attorney’s Office, Nassau County
  • Amberley Village Police Department
  • Presque Isle State Park Police
  • Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department
  • St. Mary’s Police Department
  • Erie County, Edmund L. Thomas Detention Center
  • Erie County PA Adult Probation/Parole
  • Erie County PA Juvenile Probation
  • Erie County PA Public Defender’s Office
  • Erie International Airport Police
  • Pennsylvania Board Probation/Parole (Western District, Erie office)
  • Clearfield County Probation Department
  • Nicholas Perot & Smith Kohler Wall
  • Clearfield Co Magisterial District Judges
  • Erie County District Magistrates
  • Ford City Magistrate
  • Venango County Court of Common Pleas
  • Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh)
  • Monroe County Public Defender's Office (New York)
  • Chautauqua County District Attorney (New York)
  • Perseus House (Juvenile Treatment facilities)
  • Achievement Center
  • Gateway Rehabilitation 
  • Sarah Reed Children’s Center
  • Hermitage House Youth Services
  • Allegheny Co. Juvenile Probation
  • Butler County Adult Probation
  • Auberle (Juvenile Residential Treatment)
  • Community Corrections Center
  • SafeNet, (Domestic Violence Services)
  • Bayfront Maritime Center
  • George Junior Republic
  • SCI Cambridge Springs (Prison)
  • SCI, Albion (Prison)
  • Waldameer Amusement Park (Security)
  • Swan & Dolphin Hotel (Walt Disney World)
  • Presque Isle Downs and Casino

This is not an exhaustive listing as we add new placements every year.

Frank Anthony Rodriguez Ph.D.-ABD Assistant Professor Office: PRES 128 Phone: (814) 824-3109

Frank Hagan Ph.D. Program Director, Professor of Criminal Justice Office: Preston 126 Phone: (814) 824-2265

Maria L Garase Ph.D. Associate Professor Office: PRES 120 Phone: (814) 824-3675

Peter Benekos Ph.D. Professor of Criminal Justice Office: Preston 115 Phone: (814) 824-2328

Thomas Gamble Ph.D. President of Mercyhurst University and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Office: Old Main 113 Phone: (814) 824-2311

Tina Fryling M.S., J.D. Associate Professor Office: Preston 122 Phone: (814) 824-2352