Credits and costs
Prepare for Your Future in Criminal Justice Administration and Leadership
Criminal justice organizations are becoming increasingly evidence-based in their practices and administration. This shift creates a growing need to hire educated professionals with sound, in-depth knowledge of the criminal justice system and criminal behavior, coupled with an understanding of the research methods necessary to evaluate criminal justice policies and practices at the local, state, and national levels.
Penn State's Online Master of Criminal Justice Policy and Administration
In this program, you will study with highly regarded faculty from the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts' Department of Sociology and Criminology and the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs. Your diploma will look no different than those earned by students on our physical campus. And you will be part of a Penn State community that includes the largest dues-paying alumni network in the world.
What You Can Expect to Learn
Upon graduation from this program, you should be able to:
- describe and summarize crime rates, trends, and patterns, and apply foundational knowledge of criminological theories devoted to explaining crime
- discuss organizational structure, processes, and challenges of criminal justice institutions, and analyze past and current criminal justice policies and evidence-based practices
- apply the foundations of contemporary ethical practices and effective leadership in the criminal justice profession
- employ advanced knowledge in social science research and applied statistical methods, specifically focused on criminal justice issues
- demonstrate advanced knowledge of criminal procedure
Who Should Apply for the Criminal Justice Master's Degree Online?
If you're looking for advancement in your current criminal justice career or a change to an altogether new field, a highly respected Master of Professional Studies in Criminal Justice Policy and Administration could not only provide you with the skills and knowledge you need but also help you stand out among your peers.
This master's degree is also part of an Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate program (IUG) that provides undergraduate criminology students the opportunity to earn both a bachelor's degree and master's degree in approximately five years. Academically strong students who are pursuing their B.S. or B.A. in Criminology (CRIM) at University Park would typically apply to the online graduate program during the semester in which they will complete 60 credits. Current undergraduate students interested in the IUG pathway can email the program office for more details.
Information for Military and Veterans
Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, or application instructions.
Penn State's 30-credit online Master of Professional Studies in Criminal Justice Policy and Administration program emphasizes social science perspectives in the study of criminal justice. The degree consists of 18 credits of core courses and allows you to choose from a number of electives to customize your learning to your interests and career goals. You will finish your education with a capstone course, the opportunity to apply your newfound knowledge to a project selected by you and your faculty adviser.
Required Courses (18 credits)
Electives (select 9 credits)
You will have the opportunity to tailor your program of study to your interests by choosing from a list of elective courses. The elective courses will be chosen in consultation with your adviser.
Culminating Experience (3 credits)
The culminating capstone experience provides you with an opportunity to apply your course knowledge to a project. You will work with your faculty adviser to mutually determine the choice of project topic and its exact form. For example, the capstone experience could be an academic research project, an evidence-based policy evaluation, or the development of a program.
You will be expected to utilize theories, literature, and methods acquired during other courses in the online criminal justice policy and administration degree program. The report will be formally presented to peers in the program and faculty members at the end of the semester (i.e., final presentation via videoconference). The capstone report must be approved by the faculty adviser to meet course requirements.
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.
Costs and Financial Aid
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,007 per credit|
|12 or more||$12,082 per semester|
Financial Aid and Military Benefits
Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.
How to Apply
Deadlines and Important Dates
We must receive your completed degree application, including all application materials, by the following deadlines:
- Fall Deadline: Apply by July 31 to start August 21
- Spring Deadline: Apply by October 31 to start January 8
- Summer Deadline: Apply by March 31, 2024, to start May 13, 2024
Decisions will follow shortly after these semester deadlines.
For Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate (IUG) Program Candidates: Academically superior undergraduate criminology students who want to be considered for the IUG program will need to apply and be accepted to both the Graduate School and IUG program. Please contact the program office to better understand the special admissions requirements associated with the program.
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee.
You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
A copy of an official transcript from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. Upon admission and your acceptance of admission, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.
Statement of Purpose — A two- to three-page essay articulating career and educational goals that demonstrate the student's written communication skills and basic statistical knowledge.
Résumé — a current curriculum vitae (vita) or résumé.
References (3) — You will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each recommender requesting they complete a brief online recommendation regarding your commitment for success in an online program. Please inform all recommenders that they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
GRE test scores are not required.
English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
Start Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
Begin the graduate school application
- Select "Degree Admission" as the enrollment type
- Choose "World Campus" as the campus
- Select "Criminal Justice Policy and Administration" as the major
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
Review the technical requirements for this degree program.
Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.
Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State master's degree?
Advance Your Career
Advance Your Career
You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.
Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way
Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way
Show mastery of specific subjects before your degree is complete. Thanks to shared courses across programs, students can often earn a certificate along with their degree in less time than if they earned them separately.
To learn more about the Master of Professional Studies in Criminal Justice Policy and Administration, offered in partnership with Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts
— Department of Sociology and Criminology, and the Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs, please contact:
World Campus Admissions Counselors
Email: [email protected]
Eileen M. Ahlin
DegreePh.D., Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park
DegreeM.A., Sociology, George Mason University
DegreeB.A., Administration of Justice and Sociology, Penn State
Dr. Eileen M. Ahlin is an associate professor of criminal justice in the School of Public Affairs at Penn State Harrisburg. She joined the faculty in 2013 after 15 years with a private corporation, where she conducted criminal justice research at the federal, state, and local levels. Her teaching and research interests include violence, neighborhood effects, corrections, research methods, and criminological theory.
DegreePh.D., Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park
DegreeCertificate, University Teaching and Learning, University of Maryland, College Park
DegreeM.S., Criminal Justice Administration, Niagara University
DegreeB.A., Psychology, Keuka College
Dr. Jennifer Gibbs' research interests focus on policing topics, including violence against police, public attitudes toward police, diversity in recruitment and retention, and terrorism. Her work on social distance and attitudes toward police, co-authored with Dr. Jonathan Lee, received recognition in the 2016 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence. At Penn State World Campus, Dr. Gibbs typically teaches courses on policing (CRIMJ 210: Policing in America; CRIMJ 408: Police Administration) and ethics (CRIMJ 465: Ethics in Criminal Justice).
Ahmet GulerDegreePh.D., Public Administration and Policy, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany
Dr. Ahmet Guler, associate teaching professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Penn State, is director of graduate studies in criminal justice policy and administration. His research focuses on criminal justice policy, policing, terrorism, criminal justice reform, information technology in criminal justice, and transnational crime.
DegreePh.D., Social Science-Criminal Justice, Michigan State University
DegreeM.S., Criminal Justice, Shippensburg University
DegreeB.S., Sociology/Anthropology, Elizabethtown College
Dr. Don Hummer is co-author/editor of The Culture of Prison Violence, Handbook of Police Administration, and the forthcoming The Technology Revolution in Criminal Justice. His work, focused primarily on offender treatment and control, has appeared in peer-reviewed outlets such as Aggression and Violent Behavior, Probation Journal, Law & Policy, and The Prison Journal.
DegreePh.D., Criminology, Sam Houston State University
DegreeM.A., Criminal Justice, Penn State
DegreeB.A., Economics, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
Dr. Jonathan Lee is an associate professor of criminal justice at Penn State Harrisburg's School of Public Affairs. He specializes in quantitative research on sociology and psychology of deviance, police-public relations, and police decision-making. He is associate editor of International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, a consultant to Dauphin County DA's Office and police agencies, and principal investigator of criminal justice projects funded by U.S. Department of Justice.
DegreePh.D., Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY)
DegreeM.A., Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY)
DegreeB.A., Biomedical English, Peking University Health Science Center
DegreeB.S., Psychology, Peking University
Dr. Siyu Liu specializes in quantitative research on the topic of criminal desistance, police legitimacy and the Forth Amendment process, and the death penalty in China. Dr. Liu is an active member of the Association of Chinese Criminology and Criminal Justice based in the U.S. and has been presenting her research projects in more than eight prestigious universities in China.
Jennifer L. Schally
DegreePh.D., Sociology, University of Tennessee
DegreeM.A., Community Psychology and Social Change, Penn State
DegreeB.S., Sociology, Penn State
Dr. Jennifer L. Schally joined the faculty at Penn State Harrisburg in 2014 after earning her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Tennessee. Her research interests are mainly in green criminology and crimes by the powerful, including harms to nonhuman animals. She regularly teaches courses in criminology and race and crime. Dr. Schally’s work has appeared in the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, the American Journal of Community Psychology, and the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Her book, Legitimizing Corporate Harm: The Discourse of Agribusiness, was published by Palgrave in 2018.
Emily R. StrohackerDegreePh.D., Sociology, University of Central Florida
Dr. Emily Strohacker joined the School of Public Affairs at Penn State Harrisburg in August 2017 as an assistant professor of criminal justice. Her areas of research interest include criminology, deviance, and victimology, specifically in the areas of cyber victimization and sexual victimization. She regularly teaches courses in victimology, research methods, and criminology. Her published works have appeared in Crime & Delinquency, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, and Police Quarterly.
Jeffrey T. UlmerDegreePh.D., Sociology, Penn State
Dr. Jeffery T. Ulmer is a professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State, and serves as associate department head. His work spans such topics as courts, criminal case processing, sentencing, and corrections, as well as criminological theory, religion and crime, and violent crime.