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.

The Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice highly recommends that students complete an internship (or two) prior to graduation. Students will work with their academic advisor and also with the Career Development Center for assistance with setting up an internship placement.  Students who complete internships are able to gain valuable experience, to network with professionals in the field, and to showcase their skills and abilities on their resume.  

Interns have been placed in a variety of settings and with various federal, state, local agencies. Some of our internship placements include:

  • 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 and Dolphin Hotel (Walt Disney World)
  • Presque Isle Downs and Casino

Contact Us

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