Criminal Justice Department
West Chester University
Criminal Justice Department
200A Ruby Jones Hall
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Mary Brewster, Ph.D., Department Chair
The undergraduate program's primary focus is academic. It provides: (1) a core curriculum of required courses to ensure a solid working knowledge of the major systems within the discipline; (2) a variety of elective courses to provide students with the opportunity to tailor the curriculum to their own professional goals and interests; (3) a venue for the development of critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills; and (4) practical experience in a criminal justice setting. These primary programmatic qualities will advantageously position the successful undergraduate student for entry-level positions in criminal justice agencies.
As a department in one of the 14 state universities, our mission is to provide a quality education at an affordable price to students who have demonstrated competence and commitment to learning and growth, who desire to make a meaningful contribution in the field of criminal justice, and who share the values of idealism, honesty, integrity, justice, and fairness. Our students will enjoy the advantages of having (1) an education provided by qualified full-time faculty who have demonstrated expertise in the discipline, (2) a rich exposure to adjunct faculty who are practicing experts in specialized fields, and (3) direct experience in the discipline in which they seek expertise.
Please note that information, procedures and academic and program requirements are subject to change. Students are advised to keep abreast of these changes through regular conferences with the student's academic advisor. In addition, because of the essential nature of the twelve-credit summer Practicum, students cannot obtain a B.S. in Criminal Justice exclusively through an evening program of study. Students should be prepared for the full-time commitment to our twelve week summer Practicum.
Fundamental communication skills are essential for any successful college graduate. Therefore, criminal justice majors must earn a grade of C or better in Writing 200 (or higher) before proceeding to the required upper division courses.
The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program at West Chester is designed to provide an excellent theoretical education in the discipline, as well as broad-based competencies in application. The program has been designed to ensure that students have a superior grounding in essential areas of criminal justice. Therefore, students must earn a minimum grade of C in each of the following required courses:
The courses are designed to be taken in sequence. Lower division courses are prerequisites for upper division courses.
All Criminal Justice majors are required to earn a C or better in at least eight Criminal Justice electives and six "related areas" courses. (Students may take additional Criminal Justice electives as "related areas" courses.)
Criminal Justice is interdisciplinary in nature. Because students may choose a diversity of careers from this discipline, the criminal justice electives (24 credits) and related areas courses (18 credits) permit the student to tailor the academic curriculum to more specific career goals.
To facilitate this endeavor, the Department has a list of approved related areas courses from which the student may choose. The courses are divided into four sub-disciplines to facilitate career tracks:
Because criminal justice is an applied discipline, an important feature of the program is the twelve-credit summer Practicum. Designed to give personal and direct experience, it affords the student the opportunity to put his or her theoretical knowledge to work at a criminal justice agency.
Students work full-time for a minimum of 12 weeks in an approved criminal justice agency. Such placements include, inter alia, federal agencies, police departments, state or county probation/parole offices, state attorney general offices, district courts, juvenile court, district attorneys' offices, public defenders' offices, bail agencies, medical examiners' offices, private security firms, private investigation firms, insurance companies, crime victims' centers, prisons, and detention centers.
While the department maintains an Agency Database to assist students in locating an appropriate position, it is the student's responsibility to apply for and obtain employment with an approved criminal justice agency.
The department has a detailed Practicum Policy which the student is expected to read and understand, and with which the student must comply. Because the Practicum is required of all criminal justice majors, students should familiarize themselves with the Practicum requirements before becoming criminal justice majors.
Courses that the West Chester University Department of Criminal Justice may accept for credit from community colleges include: Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminology, Juvenile Delinquency, Corrections, Criminal Investigation, Private Security, Policing, and Scientific Crime Detection (Criminalistics).
Criminal Justice majors must take at least half of the courses required for the major at West Chester University. Therefore, the Department of Criminal Justice at West Chester University will accept a maximum of 24 criminal justice course credits from other colleges or universities. Course equivalencies are determined by an examination of course content, textbooks, syllabi, rigor, and instructor qualifications. Courses which must be taken at WCU include: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Criminal Justice Research, and the Practicum. In general, courses taken at paralegal schools or police academies will not be given academic credit in the major.. The Department also has created prototypical course sequences to assist criminal justice majors in scheduling classes.
With few exceptions, credit will not be given for courses taken at community colleges which are taught as upper division courses in the Department of Criminal Justice at West Chester University. In general, students wishing to transfer to WCU in this discipline should take general education courses at the community college, and criminal justice courses at WCU.
Click here to access the Undergraduate Handbook.
Click here to access the Major Application Form Instructions.
Click here to access the Major Application Form.
“West Chester University's Criminal Justice Department gave me the skills and confidence I needed in order to perform as a Police Officer. The courses, practicum, professors and staff were each an integral part of the preparation I needed to help me gain full time employment in the criminal justice field.” - Officer Nathan P. Kutz, Badge #8306, Ocean City Police Department, Maryland
"The West Chester University Criminal Justice Department delivers an uncompromising level of excellence and dedication, providing students with the edge needed to compete in today's difficult job market." - Paul Iffrig (Class of 2013) and President of the Criminal Justice Club
Brandon Oyama (Class of 2014) is a junior at WCU. He transfered to WCU from Green River Community College in Washington State and is a member of the Men's Tennis Team. He is looking forward to completing his practicum this summer with the Pierce County Juvenile Court in his home state. Brandon states, "WCU was a good choice for me. The faculty are helpful, the courses are interesting and relevant to my future occupation."
Mary-Elizabeth Keeney (Class of 2013) is the current president of the Criminal Justice Honor Society and a Fast-Track student. Mary-Elizabeth completed her practicum with the Department of Homeland Security and is looking forward to graduating with a B.S. in Criminal Justice and a minor in Psychology. As a Fast-Track student, she will earn her Master's Degree in 2014.