The mission of the Department of Criminal Justice is to provide current and future criminal justice professionals with the background and skills that will enable them to think critically about the problems of crime and justice and to be effective decision makers in the criminal justice arena. Central to achieving this mission is an integrated program of study designed to provide graduate students with the knowledge and skills to undertake independent, critical investigation of issues related to crime control and justice policy. The Department was created in 1974 under the direction of Roosevelt Shepherd, its chair for 23 years. The initial curriculum was Law Enforcement-oriented and, because the department had only two faculty, drew heavily from Sociology, Psychology, Social Work, and Political Science for its courses. The result was a hybrid mixture of courses that fragmented the identity of the department. In 1987, the Department of Criminal Justice reorganized both its graduate and undergraduate curriculum to reflect the changing needs of our students and the demands of the fields they will be entering. A second revision was fully implemented by Spring 2001.
In response to regional needs, the Department of Criminal Justice developed the Master of Science degree program in Administration of Justice in 1983. The department offers two programs of graduate study, each of which lead to the Master of Science degree in Administration of Justice. The "evening" on-campus program is designed for both pre- and in-service students pursuing graduate study under a traditional format. The JCJC "weekend" program is designed specifically for juvenile probation officers employed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A minimum of 36 semester hours of graduate level credits is required to complete each program. The Department's major strengths are its applied perspective and strong emphasis on theory, policy, research, and analysis. Philosophy, format, and implementation stress the practical application of a higher level of knowledge, skills, and strategies. The methodological and theoretical elements are highly suitable as a preparation for entering advanced graduate studies and other professional programs.
Goals and Objectives
As the systems designed to deliver criminal justice services are continually asked to function effectively in an increasingly complex society, the need for capable criminal justice professionals becomes more and more pressing. Therefore, the Department of Criminal Justice has developed specific goals for its undergraduate and graduate programs. Goals:
- To provide students with the background and skills that will enable them to think critically about the major issues associated with crime and justice.
- To provide students with the background and skills that will enable them to be effective decision-makers in criminal justice agencies.
- To provide students with the knowledge and skills to engage in independent, critical examination of crime control and crime prevention policy.
The specific objectives to be achieved in meeting these goals include:
- Developing an academic environment that will be intellectually challenging and stimulating to both student and faculty.
- Fostering a commitment to pursuing the activities of education, scholarship, and public service in a manner that is consistent with the intellectual traditions of social science inquiry.
- Providing an intellectual environment that values human diversity and encourages independent and critical thought.
- Providing an intellectual environment that encourages teaching and scholarship from a diversity of theoretical perspectives and research methodologies.
- Providing courses that will provide the knowledge and skills fundamental to criminal justice professionalism.
- Providing a sound foundation for the pursuit of advanced degrees in criminal justice.
- Providing the opportunity for students who are currently criminal justice professionals to extend their knowledge and skills in their area of specialization.
- Developing professional leadership skills in the criminal justice field.
- Introducing students to the research techniques that will enable them to undertake independent research in their areas of specialization and effectively interpret and make use of the research conducted by other professionals.
- Providing an understanding of the relationship between public policy formulation and criminal justice system behavior.
- Providing individuals and agencies within the college's service area with needed programs and consultant services appropriate to the resources of the department.