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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Criminal Justice (CRIMJ)

Program Home Page

Penn State Harrisburg
777 W. Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA 17057-4898

717-948-6322 (administrative assistant)
717-948-6484 (fax)


Degree Conferred:



The Graduate Faculty


The Program

The program reflects the numerous complexities of the discipline. It provides academic leadership for students to work within corrections, institutionalized and non-institutionalized settings, victim services, adult and juvenile services, policing and law enforcement, private security, courts, and other human service organizations serving the clients of these institutions. It also helps develop research acumen for those students who may wish to consider doctoral studies.

Strong ties developed in state, local, and federal level law enforcement, corrections, drug treatment, victimization, and crime control policy organizations provide research and learning opportunities for interested students.

The degree may be earned by full or part-time study. Most courses will be offered in the evening, although some will be offered during the day or on weekends.

Admission Requirements

  • A completed application form with the application fee.
  • Two official transcripts of all colleges and universities attended.
  • Graduation from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • A brief (two-page) statement of purpose or a writing sample.
  • Minimum GPA of a 3.0 for the last 60 credits of undergraduate study. Satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), or Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) are required if the GPA is less than 3.0. Note: All students who seek funding must take one of these standardized tests, preferably the GRE.
  • The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants whose first language is not English or who have not received a baccalaureate or master's degree from an institution in which the language of instruction is English must take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS ( International English Language Testing System) and submit the results of that test with the application for admission. A TOEFL score of 550 on the paper test, a score of 213 on the compluter-based test, or 80 points on the new Internet-based test with a minimum of 20 points on the speaking portion; or the IELTS module with a minimum compusite score of 6/5 is required for admission.
  • Some foundational course work may be required for those students who did not major in criminal justice as an undergraduate. This decision will be made by the MACJ Program Coordinator after a close review of the undergraduate transcript.
  • In exceptional cases, the program may also approve admission by reason of special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.
  • This program has rolling admission, that is, no specific deadline. Note that it may take 4-6 weeks to receive transcripts and process an application.

Degree Requirements

  1. The thesis track requires 36 credits. Six of the credits will be for the thesis.
  2. The non-thesis track will require 36 credits plus successful completion of the comprehensive essays, for which a student will register for one credit of CRIMJ 594.
  3. These credits must be at the 400 level or above with a minimum of 30 credits at the 500 level or above.
  4. A minimum grade-point average of a 3.0 must be earned for course work taken as a graduate student.
  5. Students are required to take the following courses: CRIMJ 500, CRIMJ 501, CRIMJ 502, CRIMJ 503, and CRIMJ 504. CRIMJ 501 and CRIMJ 503 are to be taken concurrently.
  6. Students who believe they have completed a course substantially similar to one of the specific course requirements may apply to have their previous work evaluated for the purposes of exemption to that requirement. If approved, another course will be taken in place of that requirement.
  7. A maximum of 6 credits of completed graduate work may be transferred in from another accredited institution.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.



Last Revised by the Department: Spring Semester 2009

Blue Sheet Item #: 37-03-043

Review Date: 11/18/08

Faculty linked: 8/14/14


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