Mercyhurst University’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice 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. Our curriculum prepares students for careers in public and private sectors, in public 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 on 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.

criminal justice study abroad


Criminal Justice students are offered the opportunity to take their coursework abroad and interact with international lawyers, drug and alcohol counselors, correctional and police officers, inmates, police historians, and even Ripperologists. Recently, students have traveled to London, Paris, Dublin, Galway, and Belfast.

students at prison


In CRJS 335: Issues in Criminal Justice, ten university and ten incarcerated students take a course together at SCI Albion and discuss contemporary issues in criminal justice. This transformative learning experience breaks down barriers between future criminal justice practitioners and system-impacted persons.   

erie county courthouse


Almost all Criminal Justice students participate in internships throughout their time at MU. This allows them to gain valuable behind-the-scenes experience, network with professionals the field, and provide work experiences for their resume, which proves essential for future career opportunities.

Contact Us

Tina Fryling
Interim Chair, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Office: Preston 122
Phone: 814-824-2352