Criminal Justice (M.A.)

From global security to the prison system and local crime prevention, the world of criminal justice is changing with unprecedented speed. No matter what area you plan to pursue or move up in, a DelVal master's will give you the preparation you need to be an informed, dynamic leader.


The Master of Arts in criminal justice from Delaware Valley University is designed to provide you with the opportunity to navigate and manage a wide variety of current, high-level criminal justice topics to prepare you to be an informed and deliberate leader in all aspects of the criminal justice system.

Our 100% online model is perfect for your busy schedule and can provide you with the opportunity to earn your master's at your own pace. Finish in as little as five semesters or extend the length of your program to fit your demanding lifestyle. Experience the DelVal difference and see why we are “connecting the community through criminal justice one student at a time.”

  • 100% online model for maximum flexibility
  • Full and part-time program options
  • A 10-course (30-credit) program
  • Practitioner based training featuring faculty who are senior leaders and administrators currently working in the criminal justice field
  • Intimate class sizes where faculty know students by name and students know each other. You are not just a number.
  • Competitive tuition rates: tuition discounts for professional partnerships, county employees, and cohorts from the same organization
  • No admissions testing

Sample Curriculum

  • Security Threat Groups

  • Advanced Criminology

  • Research Methods in Criminal Justice

  • Police and the Community

  • Criminal Law and Procedure

  • Diversity and Criminal Justice Social Policy

  • Problems in Contemporary Corrections, Probations and Parole

  • Criminal Justice Capstone Project

  • Ethical Leadership and Accountability in the Criminal Justice System

  • Crisis Communication for Public Safety Officials

Course Descriptions

There are very few topics that can generate both tremendous public appeal and opposition as the discussion of various security threat groups. Politicians, agents of the criminal justice system, and the general public have strong and often polarizing views on the topic of gangs. This course will examine domestic and International drug cartels, religious extremists and gangs both on the streets and in prisons. Attention will be given to the philosophical, sociological and structural influences that encourage the creation of various threat groups and the tactics agents used to monitor, intervene and control threat group activity.

The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of topical issues in contemporary criminology. The course is designed to provide opportunities for active learning and critical analysis with an eye towards an understanding of the social reality of crime and crime control as well as how the social administration of justice operates. Specific areas to be discussed include: the correlates of crime (race, class, gender, and age); violent crime; economic crime; policing; and the control and regulation of criminals in the courts and corrections. Further, students will learn to apply their knowledge to better understand contemporary criminal justice research, evaluation, and policy analysis.

This course provides learners with an in-depth overview of the quantitative and qualitative research methods used to support contemporary criminal justice and public safety policy initiatives. In a world of data driven strategies and evidence-based practices, today’s criminal justice professionals must possess an advanced understanding of research, including how research projects are designed and funded, as well as how data is gathered, analyzed, interpreted, and applied to policy and practice. Upon completion of this course learners will demonstrate proficiency in data analysis, interpretation, and application in the criminal justice field.

This course examines relationships between the police and the various communities they serve. Particular attention is given to the manner in which crime is addressed and quality of life issues. Community is examined as a geographical space made of multiple and diverse publics sometimes requiring different strategies and attention. A distinction is drawn between public relations and police community partnerships.

This course examines the nature, purpose, function, and substance of criminal law and criminal procedure in the United States. Specific focus is placed on the constitutional limits of the criminal sanction, the principles and scope of criminal responsibility, and elements of an offense. Attention will also be paid to the rights of the accused and the application of protections afforded to individuals under the United States Constitution.

This course identifies and analyzes minority issues relating to our criminal justice system and the resultant policies and laws that have been established. A comprehensive, critical, and balanced examination of the issues of crime and justice with respect to race and ethnicity will be presented. Procedures and policy in a pluralistic and multicultural society are examined relative to law enforcement, courts, and corrections environments.

This course introduces students to contemporary issues of American corrections and fundamental theories of punishment and treatment. Emphasis will be placed on policies, practices, issues, and controversies within the correctional system. The incarceration of various criminal populations in jail and prisons, alternatives to incarceration (e.g. probation and parole), and the public policy issues surrounding the expansion of community-based corrections will also be discussed.

The capstone project is designed to be a writing intensive experiential learning opportunity wherein students propose their own research project that analyzes a contemporary issue in the criminal justice field. The capstone reflects the total accumulated knowledge learned throughout the masters program. Upon the completion of this course, learners will demonstrate the ability to conduct and present original research, using the results of their study to propose a solution to a problem or articulate an area in need of future criminal justice research. *Prerequisite is Research Methods in Criminal Justice

The purpose of this course is to explore the presence of authority, power, force, and discretion in each of the subsystem of the criminal justice system. Administration actions and ethical issues permeate the criminal justice system. We will analyze the importance of ethical leadership, as well as the tension between deontological ethical systems and teleological or “means-end” ethical analysis. Discussions may include police corruption, prosecutorial misconduct, ethical issues in sentencing, prison corruption, and ethics in the creation and implementation of crime control policy.

From natural disasters to active shooter/hostile incidents, crises are dynamic, unexpected events that involve significant threat and ongoing uncertainty. Yet in the midst of limited and conflicting information, public safety leaders are tasked with making crucial decisions and communicating the progression of the event to the public all the while exercising empathy, competence, honesty, commitment, and accountability. Crises are often multidisciplinary, and multijurisdictional, drawing leaders and experts from a variety of backgrounds and governmental roles. As a result, when a crisis strikes, a management team is assembled with several ranking public safety officials’ front and center. Public safety leaders must be prepared to share information that is correct and credible using a variety of media platforms. During this course, students analyze several noteworthy incidents for their communications and management strengths and weaknesses. Students use “lessons learned” derived from after action government and academic reporting to develop a strategy to navigate a crisis while fostering resiliency and cooperation through leadership. Students also utilize concepts such as meta-leadership and CERC (crisis and emergency risk communication) principles in case study analyses. In addition, students explore techniques that cultivating valuable trusted relationships with the media, community leaders, and other critical stakeholders before a crisis strikes.

The lights of a police cruiser in the foreground, backed by a city skyline
4 + 1 Program

The M.A. in criminal justice program invites high performing students from DelVal's undergraduate criminal justice major to apply for an accelerated M.A. in criminal justice. Commonly known as the 4+1 Program, you can complete your B.A. and M.A. degrees at DelVal in as little as five years while saving over $8,000 in graduate tuition.

Frequently Asked Questions

All DelVal graduate program applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the U.S. Alternatively, applicants may furnish proof of the equivalent from a foreign college or university. Students must have also earned a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0-point scale. Applicants earning lower GPAs may be considered for admission on an individual basis and may be required to submit additional information.

  • A completed application for admission with the $50 application fee (application fee waived for those who attend an information session or for those who complete an application and all supplemental components within 30 days of the start of the application)
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended academic institutions
  • Three professional and/or academic recommendations with information about the candidate's potential and capacity for graduate study on the form provided
  • A minimum 500-word personal statement that includes personal and career goals, interest in the chosen DelVal graduate program, and a summary of strengths and areas for growth
  • A comprehensive and current professional résumé/CV

Our program consists of 10 required courses (30 credits) that are strategically mapped out for your convenience, so there are no pre-requisites or guesswork involved in scheduling. We set you up to be successful from the start.

Students have the option to pursue the degree full or part time. The accelerated format requires students to take two courses per semester, including Summer I, in order to earn your master’s in as little as five semesters. The part-time option provides the opportunity to take one or two courses per semester, and the length of the program will vary based on individual student pace and availability of courses.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for the fall (August) and spring (January) class starts.

Graduating students are required to complete a final comprehensive exam OR current criminal justice professionals can request the option to complete a capstone project in place of the final comprehensive exam provided advanced notification and approval from the Academic Director.

Our intimate and personalized classroom setting is designed to provide built-in stability and mutual support among you and your classmates. The focus is on small groups that promote active and engaging learning in a personalized setting where students know their faculty and faculty know their students. You are not just a number.

The master's in criminal justice is designed for working professionals looking to enter or advance into leadership roles across a wide range of career paths in the criminal justice field. This degree is designed to provide the opportunity for promotion within a student’s current profession/organization, position graduates to take on roles in leadership and administration, change careers, and to prepare future teachers of criminal justice professionals. Examples include police administration, security management, correction administration, court administration, government management, management of juvenile corrections. More specifically:

  • Correctional Officer Supervisor, Police and Detective Supervisor, Forensic Technician, Clinical Specialist/Director, Probation Supervisor a median salary of $49,360/year;
  • Correctional Treatment Specialist, Criminal Profiler, Fraud Risk Analyst, Criminologist, Supervisory Criminal Justice Investigator an average salary of $77,210;
  • Forensic Examiner, Emergency Management Director, Security Management, Information Security Analyst, ICE Agent, Forensic Anthropologist, Executive Paralegal, Director of Court Services an annual salary of $54,000-$58,000 with an anticipated market increase of 11-22% from 2012-2022;
  • Forensic Accountant, DEA Agent, CIA Analyst, CIA Officer, US Marshall, Air Marshall, Computer Forensics investigator, Border Patrol Agent, Victims Advocate, Youth Correctional Counselor, Substance Abuse and Behavior Disorder Counselor, Correctional Treatment Specialist an average annual salary of $45,628;
  • Teacher of Criminal Justice a median wage of $68,980, Loss Prevention Specialist, Customs Agent, Diplomatic Security Agent, Document Examiner, Policy Advisor, Probation Officer and more (data retrieved from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017).

You will be taught by seasoned criminal justice experts and practitioners who are currently working in the field. From Ethics and Administrative Functioning to Advanced Criminology, you will be educated and prepared to apply what you are learning directly to relevant real-world situations. The courses are designed to position professionals to assume leadership roles in such areas as law enforcement, corrections, probation and parole, security, operations, administration, data analysis, fraud and risk management, emergency management and other parts of the criminal justice arena. DelVal’s M.A. in criminal justice is also great preparation if you are considering a doctoral degree or law school.

It all happens in incremental steps. We recognize that some learners have been out of the classroom for a decade or more and it takes time to transition. We have grad school-specific resources to assist you in pursuing your master’s degree. The first class of the first course is dedicated to an orientation session to introduce students to the appropriate faculty, allow time to get to know one and other and to provide technical training and support regarding the online learning platform Blackboard.

Contact
Allison Keene, Administrative Director