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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Criminal Justice Policy and Administration

Jeff Ulmer, Professor of Sociology and Criminology
211 Oswald Tower
University Park, PA 16802

Degree Conferred

Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.)


The Graduate Faculty

Master of Professional Studies in Criminal Justice Policy and Administration

The M.P.S. in CJPA degree program capitalizes on Penn State’s strengths as a premier research institution to provide an advanced professional degree in criminal justice policy and administration. Combining theory and applied research, this degree allows professionals and students entering the work force to gain graduate level expertise in this growing, applied field of study. The degree caters to professionals in criminal justice (broadly, policing, courts, corrections, probation/parole, and treatment), government, administration, and offender or victim services. The 30-credit program of study emphasizes social science perspectives to the study of criminal justice. The degree consists of core courses (18 credits) and allows students to choose from among several electives. 

Admission Requirements

Educational Background

Admission requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin. Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission.

Students who do not have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 will be considered on a case-by-case basis depending on the quality of their overall application. Work experience will be considered for applicants who have more than two years of experience in a related field.

Core Application Packet

  • Completed official online Graduate School application and payment of a nonrefundable application fee.
  • Statement of purpose: a 2-3 page essay articulating career and educational goals that demonstrate the student’s written communication skills and describes their background with basic statistics education and/or usage.
  • A current curriculum vitae (vita) or résumé.
  • Three letters of recommendation that attest to the student’s readiness for graduate study. Letters must be submitted through the online application system. Within the online application you will be asked to enter the names and email addresses of three individuals who will be providing your recommendation. Those individuals will receive a note via email asking them to complete a brief form that will serve as your recommendation. Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete.
  • Official transcripts from each institution attended.

Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Total required credits for the M.P.S.: 30 credits. At least 18 credits must be completed at the 500 level or 800 level, with at least 6 credits at the 500 level.

Core Courses of Master’s Program (18 credits)
All students will take these courses:

  • CJPA 501: Criminal Justice Institutions (3 credits)
  • CJPA 502: Theories of Crime (3 credits)
  • CJPA 803: Applied Research Methods for Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CRIMJ 503 Advanced Statistics in Criminal Justice (3 credits)
  • CJPA 820: Criminal Procedure (3 credits)
  • CJPA 865: Criminal Justice Ethics in a Diverse Society (3 credits)

Electives (9 credits):
Students will have the opportunity to tailor their program of study to their interests by choosing from a list of elective courses. The elective courses will be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor. The list of approved elective courses is maintained by the graduate program office.

Capstone Course (3 credits):

  • CJPA 808: Criminal Justice Policy and Administration Capstone

The capstone course provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge from their courses to a project. The choice of project topic and exact form will be mutually determined by faculty mentors and the student. For example, the capstone experience could be an academic research project, an evidence-based policy evaluation, or the development of a program.  The student will work with a faculty mentor/adviser on a capstone project that will be written up as a capstone report. Students are expected to utilize theories, literature, and methods acquired during other courses in the M.P.S. in Criminal Justice Policy and Administration. The report will be formally presented to peers in the M.P.S. and faculty members at the end of the semester. The capstone report must be approved by the faculty mentor/adviser as meeting the course requirements.

Course Substitutions

Substitutions for the above prescribed courses, either with resident-education courses, alternate online courses, or courses from other institutions, will be considered on a case-by-case basis subject to restrictions outlined in Transfer of Nondegree and Certificate Graduate Credits. Course substitutions must be petitioned and approved in advance by the Chair/Co-Chair, with input from the student’s adviser.

Student Aid

World Campus students in graduate degree programs may be eligible for financial aid. Refer to the Tuition and Financial Aid section of the World Campus website for more information. Refer to the Student Aid section of the Graduate Bulletin.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 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: Summer Semester 2017

Blue Sheet Item #: 46-01-000

Review Date: 8/22/2017


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