MA in Criminal Justice

Mission Statement and Program Goals - About Us

This program was designed to develop and sharpen skills appropriate to beginning or continuing practitioners in the criminal justice system. Professionals in the fields of law enforcement, corrections, or the court system can utilize this degree to seek career advancement or personal enrichment. Many of our students work full-time and attend school at night.

Our mission is to prepare students to be frontrunners in the field of criminal justice. Our students are guided by professors who are leaders within the field of criminal justice, in very small class settings. This intimate and individualized setting creates an environment of collaboration, inspiration, and academic motivation.

Our mission is guided by several values:

  • An environment for students to learn, enhancing critical thinking, research, analysis, and problem solving--all skills invaluable to the field of criminal justice.
  • A life of academic and professional integrity by fostering greater awareness and understanding of complex issues and problems within the field of criminal justice.
  • Respect for the views of others as well as support for personal and professional views with academic research.
  • An emphasis on a professional orientation to the criminal justice field, enhancing students’ practical capabilities and career paths.

The Program's Capstone Course

Holy Family University’s Criminal Justice program is set apart by its capstone course, which applies knowledge and practical skills to a specific justice-related issue or problem and sharpens students’ writing, research, and communication skills. This approach prepares our students for either for doctoral-level study or for professional growth and advancement.

Students have conducted research on such topics as school shootings, social-structural consequences of incarceration, the relationship between drug use and violent crime, the effectiveness of halfway houses, and the truth behind religious conversion in prisons. Close collaboration and consultation with a faculty mentor allow students to work independently and to tailor the amount of supervision received to their individual needs.

Course Requirements

The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program at Holy Family University requires students to successfully complete five core requirements and 12 credits of elective courses (four courses).

Core Requirements:
CJMA 501: The American Criminal Justice System
CJMA 502: Criminological Theory
CJMA 503: Research Methods in Criminal Justice
CJMA 504: Data Collection and Analysis in Criminal Justice
CJMA 520: Ethics in Criminal Justice


  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Planning, Program Development, and Evaluation in Criminal Justice
  • Understanding School Violence
  • History of Crime and Crime Control
  • Terrorism and Counterterrorism
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Race and Crime
  • Correctional Management
  • Women, Law, and Social Control
  • Police Administration
  • Public Policy and Criminal Justice
  • Serial and Mass Murder
  • Crime, the Media, and Moral Panics
  • Philosophy of Law

Alumni Spotlight

Several of our students have earned impressive positions in the field, working at the federal, state, and local criminal justice level. For example, Michele Farrell is the former Warden of Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Michele Farrell – MA in Criminal Justice ’10: Former Warden, Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility

“I already had my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and thought that having the advanced degree in Criminal Justice would not only help me better understand crime and criminology but would also help me be a better administrator. Knowing what treatment programs are most effective helps when making decisions about what programs to bring into the facility. It also provided me with a larger perspective on Criminal Justice; expanding my future opportunities as an educator, consultant, etc. – the possibilities are unlimited.”

“My education at Holy Family University prepared me for advancing my career. Shortly before my graduation, I was promoted to Warden at the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS). It also provided me with an opportunity to become an adjunct instructor at Holy Family. This opportunity allowed me to pass on my educational knowledge as well as practical experience to some great students, some of whom have come to the PPS to do their internships.”

Admission Requirements

Graduate students seeking full admission to the Master of Arts program must submit an application to the Office of Graduate Admissions and meet the following requirements:

  • Submit application with statement of goals
  • Submit official transcripts from all institutions attended
  • Submit two letters of reference
  • Submit an example of scholarly writing, such as an undergraduate paper or an article authored by the applicant
  • Submit a $25 application fee

Once all the admission materials have been received, the application will be forwarded to the Graduate Chair in Criminal Justice for review.

Who to Contact

If you have questions about the program, please contact:

David Whelan - Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
(267) 341-3416

Ready to Learn More? Get Started!