For more than 40 years, Mercyhurst has offered the Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration (CJA) program, producing graduates dedicated to serving society and preserving the basic rights and freedoms of all people.     

This 30-credit graduate program is offered 100 percent online, making it available to anyone around the world and ensuring you'll have access to Mercyhurst’s experienced faculty, coursework relevant to today’s justice issues, and other dynamic learning experiences, no matter where you live. Scheduling flexibility and full- and part-time options allow you to earn your master’s without disrupting your career.

Program Overview

  • Options: Master of Science, graduate certificate, 4+1 (MU Undergrads Only)
  • Location(s): Online
  • Credits: 30
  • Duration: Minimum 21 months
  • Cost: $855 per credit; $26,480 total
  • Deadline: Rolling admissions
  • Start term(s): Fall or Spring semester
  • Career: Director-level law enforcement, corrections, social services

Criminal justice is a rapidly expanding field of academic study. Many government agencies are requiring advanced academic preparation for those in supervisory positions at criminal justice and social service agencies. The CJA program is designed to broaden the perspectives of criminal justice practitioners, to equip practitioners with administrative skills, and to prepare students for further graduate work and scholarship. 

Learning Outcomes

Mercyhurst graduate programs are designed to give our students a competitive edge in the marketplace. Beginning with your first course, you will gain knowledge applicable to problem-solving in your field. Upon completion of the program, you will be able to:

  • Understand the history and current state of affairs in criminology and criminal justice
  • Analyze research, evaluate methodologies, and examine criminological theories in the discipline
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between theory, research, and practice in the field and the interrelations between each of these concepts
  • Demonstrate proficiency in oral, written, and electronic communication skills
  • Demonstrate ethical leadership in the criminal justice and social services professions

The M.S. in Criminal Justice Administration is a 30-credit program offered 100 percent online. Taken full time, students can complete the program in as little as 21 months. The program begins with core management courses designed to develop a broad overview of governmental management, organizational dynamics, professional ethics, and research competency. Students will then use elective course work in line with their interests to complete the degree requirements.

Course Requirements 

The Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration is a 30 credit program. Students may write a thesis or they may complete two additional elective courses in lieu of the thesis. 

Core Courses (18 credits)

CJA 501: Research Methods in Criminal Justice
CJA 502: Organizational and Human Behavior
CJA 506: Professional Ethics
CJA 604: Criminal Justice Planning and Evaluation
CJA 622: Advanced Research and Analysis or CJA 605 Government Management
CJA 621: Advanced Criminology or AOJ 511 Historical and Comparative Criminal Justice

Elective Courses (12 credits—choose 4 from the following*)

CJA 503: Issues in Correctional Administration
CJA 511: Historical and Comparative Criminal Justice
CJA 515: Organized and White Collar Crime
CJA 519: Victimology
CJA 520: Issues in Criminal Justice
CJA 532: Public Law and Public Administration
CJA 550: Politics of Crime
CJA 595: Women and Crime
CJA 610: Law and Society
CJA 616: Issues in Juvenile Justice
CJA 620: Forensic Science
CJA 621: Advanced Criminology
CJA 625: Theories in Corrections and Criminal Justice
CJA 628: Seminar: Crime Analysis
CJA 630: Policy, Politics, Community Coalitions in Criminal Justice Administration
CJA 631: Political Crime and Terrorism
CJA 634: Seminar: Criminology and Crime Policy
CJA 637: Seminar: Special Topics in Juvenile and Criminal Justice
CJA 650: Supervised Justice Administration Readings
CJA 675: Justice Administration Thesis

*Students who elect a six-credit thesis take only two criminal justice electives. The thesis substitutes for the third and fourth elective courses.

Prospective students looking to earn a quick credential or ease into graduate school can opt for the four-course, 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice Administration. The 100 percent online program can be completed in as little as nine months. Learn More.

Course Requirements (3 required core courses plus 1 elective course)

CJA 501: Research Methods in Criminal Justice
CJA 604: Criminal Justice Planning and Evaluation
CJA 605: Government Management or CJA 622 Advanced Research and Analysis
CJA XXX: Elective: choose from more than 20 electives (some courses not offered each year)

Available to qualified Mercyhurst undergraduate students, the M.S. in CJA allows students to begin earning graduate credits during their junior year at no additional cost.* Students starting the 4+1 in the fall of their junior years can earn up to 12 credits, shortening their time to master’s completion and saving more than $10,000. Learn More.

Career Paths

Many prospective students choose our program to enter into or advance in the fields of criminal justice and social services. Some choose careers as instructors or college educators. Our alumni have administrative positions in a variety of criminal justice and social service agencies including:

  • Correctional institution administrators
  • County jail administrators and detectives
  • Directors of adult and juvenile probation departments (county, state)
  • Supervisors of juvenile justice and child care agencies
  • Adult and juvenile probation officers (county, state, and federal)
  • Case managers and supervisors for criminal justice and social service agencies
  • Federal and state law enforcement officers
  • Substance abuse counselors
  • Research policy and intelligence analysts
  • Attorneys
  • University professors

Admissions Requirements

Prospective applicants for the Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration must fulfill the following admissions requirements. At the discretion of the director of the criminal justice administration graduate program, acceptance may be granted to applicants who have not fulfilled all the admissions requirements provided they agree to the conditions of the acceptance prescribed by the director.

Admissions decisions are made by the program director on a rolling basis after a holistic review.

Applicants can choose to start in either the Fall (preferred) or Spring semester.

  • Completed (free) online application
  • A bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited school with a preferred overall minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you’ve attended 
  • A current resume with 3 references
  • A 500- to 750-word personal statement outlining your reasons for enrolling and personal and professional goals
  • A letter of recommendation (1) from a professional or academic source (ex. employer or professor)
  • International applicants whose records are written in a language other than English must have their documents translated into English and a notarized statement attesting to the accuracy of the translations
  • International applicants whose primary language is not English must attain a TOEFL score of at least 79 on the internet-based exam OR an IELTS score of at least 6.5 OR a Duolingo English Test score of no less than 100.

Cost and Financial Aid

Mercyhurst graduate programs are competitively priced. Our goals it to provide you with an education that earns you an excellent return on your investment.
Tuition for the M.S. in CJA graduate program is $855 per credit (2021/22 school year rates).

Estimated total program cost for the M.S. in CJA is $26,480.

Learn more about available financial aid for graduate programs including:

  • Graduate Assistant (GA) positions
  • Graduate Employment (GE) positions
  • Educational Benefits Supplemental Grant (EBSG)
  • Veteran benefits
  • Employer reimbursement
  • Federal direct loans

Contact Us

Maria L. Garase, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Chair, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Phone: 814-824-3675

Kseniya Kampova
Graduate Enrollment Coordinator
Phone: 814-824-3384