Criminal Justice Administration - MS

Program Code: MSCJA
Master of Science

Availability: online

The Criminal Justice Administration (CJA) program’s philosophy is to provide students with knowledge, skills, and abilities that will allow them to effectively lead criminal justice and social service agencies. The CJA program prepares students to have a solid foundation in criminological theory, social science research, and criminal justice policy. Competency in these areas allows our students to become educated, sensitive, and ethical leaders who want to make a positive difference in the criminal justice and social service fields. This program is fully online.

The CJA program is a completely online, 30 credit, thesis optional, graduate program. Our extensive curriculum covers many significant criminal justice issues, including victimology, women and crime, crime prevention, and crime policy. The core content of the program emphasizes developing research and critical thinking skills through courses on quantitative and qualitative analysis, research methods, and professional ethics. Additionally, students are also introduced to management courses in administration; organizational and interpersonal dynamics; and planning and program evaluation.

Mission Statement
The Criminal Justice Administration program is dedicated to developing critical thinking, diversity appreciation, civic responsibility, and leadership in our students. We prepare students for careers in the helping professions, for leadership in criminal justice and community affairs, and for the pursuit of advanced degrees. Engaging students in sustained and civil conversations about the relationship between individual and community well-being is both an objective and a means for realizing other objectives.

Admission Requirements
Prospective applicants for the Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration must fulfill the following admission requirements:

  • A completed application form, which can be found online at
  • A bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited college or university with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • All official transcripts from accredited higher education institutions. (All documents and credentials submitted must be translated into English; Mercyhurst recommends that international students contact World Education Services at, the foremost organization specializing in transcript and credential evaluation, to provide such translations.)
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons with whom you have a professional or academic relationship (ex. employer, professor, or volunteer coordinator) who can attest to your ability to succeed in a graduate level program. Preferably, two letters will be from faculty at your undergraduate institution.
  • A current résumé or curriculum vitae
  • A 500-750 word personal statement specifically discussing:
    • Your reason for choosing this program
    • Your short- and long-term professional goals
    • The strengths you bring as an applicant to this program
    • The skills you hope to develop while in this program
  • A professional or academic writing sample may be requested after initial review of your application and required supplemental materials.
  • A personal interview may be requested after initial review of your application and required supplemental materials.

International students from countries where English is not a native language must submit an official score report from the TOEFL or IELTS examination Completed applications are reviewed and the admissions decision is based on the “whole student profile.” Strong emphasis is placed on the applicant’s reading, writing, and research skills. 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 admission requirements provided they agree to the conditions of the acceptance prescribed by the director.

Entry Points
Students may begin the program in the fall or in the spring semesters. Students can register for part time or full time study. The Criminal Justice Administration graduate program has a preferred admission deadline of August 1st. After August 1st, applications will be considered until the class is full. International students should submit their applications by July 1st

Program Student Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of the Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration, the graduate will possess knowledge, skills and abilities in the following competencies:

  • 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.
Program Requirements:

The minimum requirements for the award of a master’s degree are:

  • Completion of the course requirements designated by each graduate program
  • An overall GPA of 3.0.
  • A completed “Application for Degree” form filed with the Registrar’s office by Feb. 1 of the year of intended degree completion.

The department shall conduct an annual review of the academic progress of all students enrolled in the program. Students whose GPA falls below a 3.0 or who might otherwise exhibit behavior that is not conducive to ensuring employment in this field will be placed on probation or dismissed from the program, depending on the outcome of the review. 

To obtain a master’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration, the student must complete 30 graduate hours of study, including six core courses and four electives. Two elective courses may be taken in lieu of the thesis.

Core Requirements




12 credits are required 

Click here to see this course group.

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