Mercyhurst University’s Criminal Justice program affords students the ability to take a broad spectrum of courses that are designed to provide a basic understanding of the criminal justice system, to theorize why people commit crime, to review judicial processes and constitutional safeguards, to examine the effectiveness of correctional systems, and to evaluate criminal justice policies. Thus, our program encompasses all aspects of the criminal justice system. Majors are also required to choose a concentration (listed below) for more focused study within the field. Our curriculum prepares students for careers in public and private sectors, in safety and protective services, in legal and victim service arenas, and in correctional facilities and reentry agencies.

​​​​​​​Our award-winning and nationally recognized faculty members personally advise our students with their schedules and with their career paths. Our student-centered approach allows us to assist students with deciding upon minor options, obtaining internships, participating in study abroad opportunities, and networking in the field of their concentration—this hands-on learning in real world settings complements their classroom instruction! 

Fast Facts

  • Since 2002, our graduating seniors have consistently scored higher than the national average on the  Major Field Test in Criminal Justice in the areas of Law Enforcement, Law, Court System, Corrections, Theories of Behavior, Research Methodology and Statistics, and Critical Thinking.   
  • We offer criminal justice-focused study abroad opportunities through which students can visit other countries to learn about and compare systems of justice.
  • Our department won the 2017 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, National Program of the Year Award for its activities during March’s National Criminal Justice Month.
  • We have a 4+1 program with our Criminal Justice Administration online graduate program, which allows students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s in as little as five years.
  • Students can also take advantage of a 3+3 program partnership with Duquesne University School of Law and Cleveland Marshall School of Law.

With careful planning and proper advisement, students who are in their final year of their bachelor’s degree program may opt to apply for the Municipal Police Training Academy at Mercyhurst Northeast for Act 120 Certification.  Upon completion of the bachelor’s degree major and REACH requirements, students may enroll in the Police Academy and transfer the credits earned from the Academy back to the bachelor’s degree program as general elective credits for degree completion.  Students who are interested in this option should contact their faculty academic advisor early in the process to ensure all major and REACH course requirements would be met prior to entering the academy.  

The Police Academy is a full-time, 940 plus hour intensive course satisfies the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officer’s Education and Training Commission (MPOETC) minimum training requirements for Pennsylvania entry-level law enforcement officers.  The course typically meets Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m, is approximately five months in duration and is designed for aspiring peace officer recruits who can dedicate their full attention and efforts towards completing the program. The full-time intensive Academy requires a strong commitment by the recruits and their families. Upon completion the student can typically apply to police agencies. 

The Basic Police Academy course includes fundamental principles, procedures and techniques of law enforcement, including: Criminal Law, Patrol Procedures, Cultural Diversity, Investigative Procedures, Report Writing, Defensive Tactics, Firearms, Leadership, Ethics, Community Policing, Police Vehicle Operations, Traffic Enforcement, Accident Investigation, Handling Emotional Situations and First Aid/CPR.

The course also includes a challenging physical conditioning requirement that will prepare academy students for police service.

In 2016, the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice established a Mercyhurst University Criminal Justice Advisory Board. Board members are volunteers who were selected based on their reputation and experience in criminal justice at the local, state and federal level, as well as their connection to Mercyhurst. Our board members provide feedback on our continuum of programs, including the associate’s degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree, and police academy certification. Additionally, they are a good sounding board to ensure that our curriculum is relevant, our students are learning valuable skills and competencies for a variety of entry- and mid-level positions, and our students are entering fields with positive job outcomes.  Overall, this relationship with the board allows us to be on the cutting edge of trends and hiring practices in the field.

Criminology and Criminal Justice Advisory Board



MU Alum

Mr. Gerry Battle

Director, Edmund L Thomas


Mr. Michael Brenot

Trooper, PA State Police


Mr. Michael Clark

Superintendent, SCI Albion


Ms. Amy Eisert

Director, Mercyhurst Civic Institute


Ms. Ebony Frith

Director, Erie Community Corrections Center

Chief, DJ Fuhrmann

Chief, MU Police Dept.

Deputy Chief, Erie Police Department (retired)


Ms. Khadija Horton

Erie County Public Defender’s Office

Mrs. Linda King

Executive Director, SafeNet

Mr. James Kress

Manager - Facilities Security Operations Section, Erie Insurance

Mrs. Cheryl Labenne

Hearing Examiner,

PA Parole Board


Mr. Len Lombardo

Director of Service Delivery, Harborcreek Youth Services

Dr. David Meyers

Doctoral Chair, University of New Haven

Mr. Michael Ponzurick

U.S. Secret Service Officer

Mr. Matthew Rea

Probation Officer, US District Federal Probation

Mr. David Sanner

Director, Erie County Drug and Alcohol


Contact Us

Maria Garase, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Criminal Justice
Office: Preston 120
Phone: 814-824-3675