Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice

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.

Program Description

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.

B.S. Criminal Justice Advising Sheet

Communication Skills

Fundamental communication skills are essential for any successful college graduate. Therefore, criminal justice majors must earn a grade of C or better in WRT 200 (or higher) before proceeding to the required upper division courses.

Required Courses (33 Credits)

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:

  • CRJ 110 - Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • CRJ 210 - Theories of Crime and Delinquency
  • CRJ 220 - Corrections
  • CRJ 287 - Policing in America
  • CRJ 300 - Criminal Law
  • CRJ 387 - Criminal Justice Research
  • CRJ 400 - Criminal Procedure
  • CRJ 490 - Practicum (12 credits)

The courses are designed to be taken in sequence. Lower division courses are prerequisites for upper division courses.

Criminal Justice Electives (27 Credits)

All Criminal Justice majors are required to earn a C or better in at least nine Criminal Justice electives. (Students may take additional Criminal Justice electives as general education student elective courses.)

Because students may choose a diversity of careers from this discipline, the criminal justice electives (27 credits) permit the student to tailor the academic curriculum to more specific career goals.

Required Practicum Course

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.

Department Requirements

  • Achievement of a grade of C or better in Writing 200 (or higher)
  • Achievement of a grade of C or better in the following required courses:
    • CRJ 110 - Introduction to Criminal Justice
    • CRJ 210 - Theories of Crime and Delinquency
    • CRJ 220 - Corrections
    • CRJ 287 - Policing in America
    • CRJ 300 - Criminal Law
    • CRJ 387 - Criminal Justice Research
    • CRJ 400 - Criminal Procedure
  • Successful completion and achievement of a grade of C or better in the twelve-credit summer Practicum (CRJ 490).
  • Successful completion of nine additional criminal justice elective courses (27 credit hours) with a grade of C or better.
  • Students must earn an overall grade point average of 2.5 or better in all Criminal Justice classes.

Requirements for Successful Completion of the Bachelor's Degree

University Requirements

  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 120 semester hours as shown in the Program Record (Appendix A).
  • Achievement of a minimum grade point average of 2.00.
  • Attendance at West Chester University for at least 30 semester hours of the degree program.
  • At least 50% of the courses required for the major must be taken at West Chester University.
  • All upper division required courses in Criminal Justice must be taken at West Chester University (CRJ 300, CRJ 387, CRJ 400, CRJ 490).
  • Fulfillment of any special requirements or program competencies which are particular to the department or school.
  • Fulfillment of all financial obligations to the university, including payment of the graduation fee; and of all other obligations, including the return of university properties.
  • Compliance with all academic requests from the Vice President of Academic Affairs, including the submission of Application for Graduation Form.

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).

Transfer Policy

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.