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Bachelor of Science in
Criminal Justice


Penn State's online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program is designed to provide you with the theoretical and practical knowledge of crime control and the skills necessary to succeed in criminal justice and related careers. This interdisciplinary approach to the problems of crime and society can enhance your ability as a problem-solver in the field of criminal justice.

The bachelor's degree in criminal justice is a 120-credit program. To earn this degree, you must successfully complete:

  • 24 credits of prescribed courses
  • 3–4 credits of additional major requirements
  • 12 credits of additional upper-level criminal justice courses
  • 21 credits of supporting courses and related areas
  • 45 credits of General Education courses
  • A number of credits in elective courses dependent on the amount needed to reach 120 credits

The degree's 24 credits of prescribed courses and 12 credits of additional courses focus on the history, practice, and science of criminal justice. Many different course options are available to complete the program, allowing you to customize the degree to meet your specific goals.

Deputy Sheriff's Training and Act 120 Program

Students with ACT 120, Pennsylvania State Police, or Municipal Police Training transcripts may receive up to 16.5 credits for the following courses:

CRIMJ 100: Introduction to Criminal Justice (3 credits)
CRIMJ 220: Courts and the Prosecution Process (3 credits)
CRIMJ 210: Policing in America (3 credits)
CAS 203: Interpersonal Communication (3 credits)
KINES 067: Physical Conditioning (1.5 credits) 
NURS 203: First Aid and CPR  (3.0 credits)  

Training from other states will be reviewed upon request.

Use the Course List to find course information, including course descriptions and prerequisites.

Course List - Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (120 credits)

A student enrolled in this major must receive a grade of C or better in all courses required for the major.

Prescribed Courses (24 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Criminology CRIMJ 012 Explanations and measurement of crime; criminal law; characteristics of criminals and victims; violent, property, white-collar, organized, and sexual crimes. 3 credits
Introduction to Criminal Justice CRIMJ 100 Overview of the criminal justice system, including legal foundations, processing and correction of offenders, extent and types of crime, victims. 3 credits
Policing in America CRIMJ 210 Police organization and operations in America.

Prerequisite: CRIMJ 100 or concurrent CRIMJ 100
3 credits
Courts and the Prosecution Process CRIMJ 220 Purpose and function of criminal courts in society, organization, jurisdiction and staffing; prosecution, adjudication, and sentencing of offenders.

Prerequisite: CRIMJ 100
3 credits
Corrections in America CRIMJ 230 Punishment and treatment of sentenced offenders, correctional institution organization, staffing, inmates, and subcultures. 3 credits
Research Methods in Criminal Justice CRIMJ 250W Fundamental concepts of social science research, including design, measurement, sampling, and interpretation of study of crime, law, and justice.

Prerequisite: CRIMJ 012
3 credits
Senior Seminar CRIMJ 450W Capstone course exploring past, current, and future developments in criminal justice.

Prerequisite: Sixth semester standing and CRIM 100 or CRIMJ 100
3 credits
Ethics in Criminal Justice CRIMJ 465 Ethical behavior in the criminal justice system.

Prerequisite: CRIMJ 100 or permission of program
3 credits
Additional Major Requirements (3–4 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Statistical Analysis for the Social Sciences


Elementary Statistics


STAT 200
Methods of collection, presentation, and analysis of quantitative data in the social science, procedures, interpretation, and application. 

Prerequisite: 2 units of High School Algebra and CRIMJ 100 or permission of the program


Descriptive statistics, frequency distributions, probability, binomial and normal distributions, statistical inference, linear regression, and correlation. 

Prerequisite: 2 units of high school algebra and placement into MATH 021 or higher
3 credits


4 credits
Additional Upper-level Criminal Justice Courses (12 credits)
Title Abbreviation Description Credits
Security Administration CRIMJ 304 Interdisciplinary analysis of security and loss prevention; its administration, role in crime control and prevention, and relationship to criminal justice. 3 credits
Victimology CRIMJ 407 This course will explore the legal, emotional, and social responses to the process of victimization by offenders and third parties. 3 credits
Police Administration CRIMJ 408 Principles of administration as they relate to a police organization and policy development.

Prerequisite: CRIMJ 100 or CRIM 100 and CRIMJ 210
3 credits
Criminal Law and Procedure CRIMJ 420 Common law and statutory crimes; constitutional rights of accused persons, liability of criminal justice professionals.  3 credits
Alternatives to Incarceration CRIMJ 430 Control and treatment of offenders in the community, probation and parole organizations, diversion programs, innovative sentences, supervision techniques.

Prerequisites: CRIMJ 100, and CRIMJ 113, and CRIMJ 230, or permission of program
3 credits
Border Security CRIMJ 435 This course provides knowledge about government organizations charged with American border security, guiding laws, and policies.

Prerequisites: 6th semester standing
3 credits
The Juvenile Justice System CRIMJ 441 Historical and contemporary view of juvenile justice system. Focus on analyzing components of the system, their interactions, processing, and handling of youths.

Prerequisite: CRIMJ 100
3 credits
Internship in Criminal Justice CRIMJ 495 Experience with a criminal justice agency coordinated through readings and discussion.

Prerequisite: CRIMJ 100
3 credits
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Description Credits
Courses taken from the following: PLSC, PUBPL, PSYCH or SOC 6 credits*
Courses taken in Consultation with Adviser. Examples of relevant course topics include: Psychology, Sociology, Criminology, Human Development and Family Studies, Forensic Science, Communications, Legal Research, Law and Business Law, Organizational Leadership, Political Science and Public Policy.
Learn more about the optional minor in Homeland Security.
15 credits

*You may take 3 credits at the 200 level and 3 credits at the 300 or 400 level or 6 credits at the 300 or 400 level.

General Education (45 credits**)
Description Credits
Arts – GA 6 credits
Humanities – GH 6 credits
Health and Wellness – GHW 3 credits
Natural Sciences – GN 9 credits
Social and Behavioral Sciences – GS 6 credits
Writing and Speaking – GWS* 9 credits
Quantification – GQ* 6 credits
Integrative Studies (6 credits)***

*A student enrolled in this course must receive a grade of C or better.

**12 credits are included in the requirements for the major.

***This requirement only applies to students starting in summer 2018 or later. Learn more about the Integrative Studies options and consult your academic adviser when choosing courses to fulfill these requirements. 

Electives (Credits needed to meet the 120-credit degree requirement)

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

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