From the FBI and the courtroom to homeland security and local law enforcement, Penn State Lehigh Valley’s Criminal Justice program provides the tools you need to pursue federal, state, county and local careers in this growing field. Taught by industry experts, you’ll learn the latest techniques from professionals who’ve been on the streets, behind the scenes, and in high-level roles. Complete the program entirely at our Lehigh Valley campus or spend two years with us and finish at another Penn State location of your choice. Either way, you’ll earn a PSU degree that is recognized – and respected -- around the world.
This high-energy and intensive program encourages students to think critically about crime control and social justice issues through its culturally aware, inclusive, and anti-racist curriculum. Both degree options explore the history, concepts, and critical issues in policing, courts, and corrections, as well as crime scene investigation, in an environment that invites students to share their unique perspective.
Our inclusive environment emphasizes critical thinking, research, and communication skills, and helps students understand how to navigate each individual role, as well as the complexities of the criminal justice system. The program blurs the line between classroom instruction and opportunities to learn from outside experts both on campus and in special field locations, and requires that students engage in a semester-long internship in their chosen area of interest. This step provides invaluable experience and network connections to bolster career prospects.
Concentrations or Academic Tracks
Penn State Lehigh Valley offers both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in Criminal Justice. These degrees provide a comprehensive and detailed examination of procedures and practices in addition to an expanded general education curriculum.
- Bachelor of Arts - A four-year baccalaureate degree consisting of 124 credit hours which includes an expanded liberal arts program and skill in a foreign language. This is an excellent choice for those students whose career direction requires a more broad-based understanding of American and international culture. Beyond the traditional classroom experience, all of our four-year students complete internships in which they gain real-life experience and valuable networking contacts.
- Bachelor of Science - A four-year baccalaureate degree consisting of 124 credit hours in which students fulfill part of their degree requirement by developing a structured skills enhancement component designed to meet the specific career goals of the student. Beyond the traditional classroom experience, all of our four-year students complete internships in which they gain real-life experience and valuable networking contacts.
Students complete at least one internship, typically during their junior or senior year. Students prepare for their internship experience through an Introduction to Internship course, where they research possible internship sites, prepare a resume and cover letter, practice interviewing skills, and network with local professionals.
Students conduct independent and group research projects in their courses. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty members on research projects and to propose independent study projects.
Students can pair the following minors with this degree program:
- Information Science & Technology
- Psychological Sciences
- Security & Risk Analysis
- Homeland Security
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that industry job growth in the field of criminal justice is growing faster than the average of all occupations. Bachelor’s degrees are required for most federal jobs.
Jobs in this field include three major categories of positions that encompass careers in both governmental and private settings. These opportunities include protective services, law and corrections, and crime-related prevention and support.
Penn State Lehigh Valley criminal justice graduates work in all phases of the criminal justice system. Other graduates have gone on to law school or are pursuing master's and Ph.D. degrees.
Apply your skills to a career as:
- Arbitrator, Mediator, and Conciliator
- Crime Scene Technician
- Court Positions: Prosecutor, Defense Counsel, Public Defender, Investigator, Court Clerk,
- Federal Law Enforcement: U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division, Capitol Police, Special Agent – FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Department of Agriculture, DEA, ATF, Office of Inspector General, etc.
- Law Librarian
- Probation Officer, Pre-trial Services, Law Clerk, Case Manager, Paralegal, etc.
- Police Officer and Detective (local and state)
- Polygraph Examiner
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Counselor
- Corrections: Officer, Counselor, Warden
*May serve (as with the role of prosecutor, for example) foundational undergraduate program with additional credentials required.
Suggested Academic Plans
Suggested Academic Plans (SAP) provide the possible order of courses students might follow as they pursue a particular degree. SAPs are proposed schedules only. Individual student's schedules might look different if -- in consultation with an academic adviser -- the student has created a different plan. Care should be taken when changing the order of courses, as the SAP takes into account prerequisites and course controls. For the final work regarding the courses needed for graduation in a particular major, all students should consult the University Bulletin and their degree audit.