A top-ranked 100% online Criminal Justice program designed to help you protect and serve

MPath: Marian University’s Engaging Online Education Platform

From deterring would-be offenders to solving cases, the Marian University Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program prepares students to enforce the law and effect change that keeps communities safe. Taught in 7-week classes by well-respected experts with years of career experience, our courses are designed for working adults, and the coursework is designed to fit busy lifestyles.

The Online BS in Criminal Justice from Marian University helps students develop a greater understanding of real-world issues, policies, and procedures that will directly impact their desired career path. Focused on law enforcement, correctional institutions, and social and juvenile justice, students gain an understanding of the nature of crime, institutions, and processes that assist in preventing or responding to crime.

With our base of learning and offered preparation, graduates emerge ready to serve in law enforcement, probation and parole, corrections, and an assortment of human services.

Apply today. Law enforcement professionals save 10% on tuition!

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    Our MPath Online Education Platform Offers:

    • 100% online, 7-week accelerated classes
    • Flexible coursework designed for working adult learners
    • Six possible starts per year
    • The ability to focus on fewer topics at a time

    Why Choose Marian’s MPath 7-Week Accelerated Online Learning Platform?

    Choose Your Start Date

    Classes start every seven weeks to allow busy students to choose the best time to start.

    Focus on Your Course

    Fewer courses at a time empower students to focus on excelling at the task at hand.

    The Ultimate in Flexibility

    It’s easy to fit school into your life with 100% online courses

    Law Enforcement Professionals Save 10% on Tuition!

    Professionals working in law enforcement are eligible for a 10% tuition discount for all courses in this degree program.  As this is a 100% online program, students may live anywhere.  Those working in city, state, or federal positions are encouraged to apply today!

    • New applicants only
    • Must be degree seeking
    • May study full- or part-time
    • Must be able to show proof of profession
      (business card, email, letterhead, etc.)
    Request Information

    The Program

    Through the Marian University Online BS in Criminal Justice Program, students engage in a challenging curriculum centered on the three segments of the American criminal justice system – law enforcement, correctional institutions and social and juvenile justice. Students broaden their perspective by learning alongside others who bring experience working in criminal justice agencies, police forces, correctional institutions, and other settings.

    General Education Courses

    As a bachelor’s level student, you are required to take about 30 credits of general education courses as part of the 120 credits required for a bachelor’s degree.  Gen eds are required regardless of your major.

    All students take 10.5 to 17 credits in these areas:

    • Mathematical Reasoning
    • Argumentative and Research Writing
    • Introduction to Christian Theology
    • Interpersonal Communication
    • Introduction to Ethical Reasoning

    Criminal Justice majors will take courses covering topics such as:

    • Law enforcement administration
    • Criminology
    • Race, gender, and ethnicity
    • Crisis intervention and management
    • Corrections

    For more details regarding this program, view Marian’s Academic Bulletin.

    General Education – Common Courses, 15 credits:


    A course designed to enhance students’ composition and critical-thinking skills, by providing experiences with a range of writing strategies, with emphasis on expository and argumentative prose. Students develop their awareness of the resources of language and of the stages in the writing process. The course aims to make students competent in standard edited English and to prepare them for the writing they will do in college and in their careers. The course also introduces students to the principles of college research, with emphasis on analytical reading of research material, focused use of sources, and the methodology of citation and documentation. It acquaints students with techniques of interviewing and conducting surveys, as well as with search strategies involving resources in print. The course provides guidance for students as they apply research principles to subjects within their disciplines or areas of interest.


    An introduction to Christian theology understood as the critical and reflective study of God’s revelation through the person, life, and teaching of Jesus Christ and of the implications of this revelation. Proceeding from the Catholic intellectual tradition and incorporating perspectives of other Christian traditions, this study aims to present theology as a striving for the harmony of faith and reason. Through critical study and reflection, students are introduced to specific concepts, terminology, and methodologies needed to participate well in on-going theological dialogue. Students have the opportunity to apply and reflect on their knowledge in written work, presentations, service-learning, community service, and/or retreat experiences.

    General Education – Areas of Reasoning, 15 credits:


    A multi-disciplinary humanities survey that focuses on the interaction of art, literature, and music with philosophical and theological perspectives and subsequent cultural developments. The course emphasizes various relationships of tradition and innovation among global cultures, encouraging students to simultaneously identify with and critically evaluate various cultures. Above all, students are encouraged to identify, analyze, and synthesize the diverse aesthetic, intellectual, and spiritual insights of human history, and how those insights have impacted human lives, including those in the contemporary world. Students can earn credit in art, music, English-language literature, theology, and philosophy by focusing their coursework on the specific discipline.




    A multi-disciplinary humanities survey that focuses on the interaction of art, literature, and music with philosophical and theological perspectives and subsequent cultural developments. The course emphasizes various relationships of tradition and innovation among global cultures, encouraging students to simultaneously identify with and critically evaluate various cultures. Above all, students are encouraged to identify, analyze, and synthesize the diverse aesthetic, intellectual, and spiritual insights of human history, and how those insights have impacted human lives, including those in the contemporary world. Students can earn credit in art, music, English-language literature, theology, and philosophy by focusing their coursework on the specific discipline.








    Major, 45 credits:

    This course explores the three main subsystems of the Criminal Justice System: Law Enforcement, Courts, and Corrections. The history, philosophy, structure, current issues and future trends of these three main subsystems are presented, discussed, and studied using a cooperative learning approach. This course also identifies the functions and jurisdiction of Wisconsin law enforcement and criminal justice system agencies and the sources and legal principles that form the foundation of Wisconsin criminal law. Additionally, belief systems, social pressures, moral problems, ethical decision making and the consequences of decisions are discussed. This course identifies the resources available in communities to assist the criminal justice system. This course also covers Wisconsin requirements for written law enforcement agency policies and procedures.

    In this course students will examine the tenuous balance between the needs of society to investigate and prosecute criminal conduct against the rights of the individual to be free from governmental intrusion in their lives. Students will analyze laws and court decisions relating to arrest, search and seizure, and confessions law under the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

    This course identifies the elements of crimes against persons, property, controlled substances, and alcohol beverage laws. The legal definitions and potential penalties of felonies, misdemeanors, and ordinance violations are explored. Students will be able to identify potential violations and penalties in simulated cases.

    This course examines the juvenile justice system including juvenile court proceedings involving alleged delinquent children and on behalf of children in need of protection and services under applicable Wisconsin Statutes and constitutional law principles. The roles and responsibilities of law enforcement, child protection agencies, intake workers, and court officials are developed. The juvenile justice system is also examined from a sociological perspective with students evaluating the system’s effectiveness in controlling juvenile delinquency by reviewing recent legislation and court ruling on the rights of youthful offenders and assessing legal efforts to correct their antisocial behavior.

    This course examines trends and issues in the delivery of public safety issues and services. It explores strategic innovations such as community policing, problem-oriented policing, disorder-based policing, Intelligence-Led Policing and the use of technologies. It discusses criminal justice effectiveness and reviews what research tells us about ‘what works’. The course also examines issues of law legitimacy and accountability, corruption, regulating use of force and brutality, special and legal issues in policing as well as in a law enforcement agency, and the challenges involved in ensuring that criminal justice professional’s behavior conforms with democratic principles such as fairness, equity, access to justice and respect for human rights. It also looks at issues of equity and diversity as regards to women in the criminal justice arena and relationships with ethnic minority communities. Finally, it sketches and assesses developments in private policing, both domestically and globally. While this class focuses on critical issues in the United States, it offers a global perspective and incorporates examples from different parts of the world.


    A survey course of police management practices and principles. The course is structured to provide the student with a comprehension and knowledge of the law enforcement profession, including administration, management and supervision and duties and functions therein. The course focuses on job descriptions and responsibilities, as well as law enforcement traditions, current trends and practices, and the future needs from an administrative and technical standpoint. Other topics covered include staff development, planning, budgeting, community relations, and legal aspects of administration. Application of decision-making and problem-oriented policing techniques are included in this course.

    An overview of theories of crime. The following theories will be explored: classical, spiritual and natural explanations, biological factors, psychological factors, control theories, deterrence theories, conflict theory, gender and crime, age and crime, and integrative theories.

    Students will learn the role of crisis intervention and its management strategies necessary for their criminal justice career. Professional communication will be integrated and reinforced throughout the course. Students will be expected to apply these professional communication skills appropriately in (all) simulations. Students will also learn intervention principles, guidelines and techniques for criminal justice, public safety and health providers- about persons with possible mental disorders, alcohol or drug problems, dementia disorders, and/or developmental disabilities. Strategies of crisis intervention will be discussed in their own right and within the contexts of: suicide and personal loss/bereavement as well as other crises of lethality; posttraumatic stress disorder, hostage situations and the catastrophic events that are related, and sexual assault and domestic violence (including both adult and child victims and the perpetrators of these crimes) as well as the current issue of school-based violence.

    An overview of corrections (jails, prisons, probation/parole, and community-based options) as a means to protect society. Students will develop an understanding of the concepts of incarceration, prison management, and rehabilitation (penology), especially in the United States. Topics include pre-sentence investigations, sentence recommendations, conditions of probation and parole, case plans, rules, probation/parole violations, and revocations. How offenders change their lives in order to become productive community members will be explored in this course. Students will become familiar with corrections philosophies, prison violence, inmate subcultures, health care needs, treatment programs, punishment, prison educational programs, community perceptions, and jail administration. Consideration of aspects of probation service delivery, home visits, restitution, court obligations, supervision fees, and alternative methods of community protection.

    The focus of this course is to study the nature and extent of racial, cultural and gender issues as they pertain to criminal justice issues in America. Furthermore, the class will attempt to distinguish the variability in past and existing criminal justice practices at each stage of the criminal justice system for minority groups.

    The capstone project includes an individual research, design, and implementation project chosen by each student. Projects will be approved by the faculty member leading the capstone course. The expectation is that this would be a significant project acting as a capstone for their criminal justice leadership education. Depending on the student’s interest, there may be more of a research and writing aspect to the work or possibly more design and implementation of software. The projects would be structured with various deliverables during the semester and culminating with a colloquium at the end of the semester. The particular content of each presentation would be agreed upon in advance by each student (or sub-group) and the professor. The professor will arrange for each of the students taking the senior seminar to give presentations preferably at the end the term to the cohort, seminar groups, and any other interested faculty and students.

    12 credits from the following courses:

    This course is a study of the fundamentals of criminal investigations including the principles involved in the collection, processing, and preservation of physical evidence. Students will examine the unique aspects of death, sexual assault, and child maltreatment investigations including crime scene management, identification and evaluation of physical evidence found in the crime scene, and the collection and preservation of that evidence.

    This course is designed to introduce students to specific laws and court decisions on topics of arrest requirements, frisks and searches, seizures, warrants and exceptions, confessions and statements, and trial procedures.

    This course is a study of the nature, types and degrees of evidence used in criminal prosecutions. The vital importance of “why” and “how” evidence handled by the forensic criminalists for proper presentation and administration into the trial in accordance with historical rule governing the admissibility of evidence in court is emphasized. This includes the citizen-to-criminalist, criminalist-to-criminalist, and criminalist-to-prosecution chain of evidence rules. A basic legalistic criminalistic component will be stressed which will examine the various analytical systems used in the evaluation of physical evidence which includes the correct identification, collection, and preservation of evidence.

    This course is designed to provide the student with a thorough understanding of gangs, theories of gang formation, gang behavior, and policies implemented to address them. Upon completion of this course, students should have a good understanding about what a gang is, how gang violence is functional, and how the existence of gang criminal activity has impacted criminal justice policy (prosecution, courts, prisons, probation and parole).

    This course studies the different types of child abuse. Central to this course is an extensive review and examination of the multiple causes and intricate familial dynamics of abuse. Both the physical and behavioral indicators of the victim are also studied as well as potential family intervention strategies.

    This course focuses on the dynamics of the court by introducing the concept of the “courtroom workhouse” and the interrelated relationship of the three main actors-judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney-thus illustrating the law in action, not just boring theories and facts. It is important to understand the basic layout of the judicial process no matter what field of law or criminal justice one may be in. This class provides the basic concept needed.

    This course is a seminar in the major concepts of professionalism in Criminal Justice Administration, and further, an introduction to the knowledge and skills necessary for one to practically apply the theory and principles of professionalism and professional conduct in the environment of criminal justice practice.

    Introduction to the practice of developing research skills in the major. Perform, under supervision, various tasks associated with the research process. Tasks may include collection of data, development materials, literature searches, data analysis, report preparation or other activities.

    A continuation of 360, a further practice of developing research skills in the major will be explored. Perform, under supervision, various tasks associated with the research process. Tasks may include collection of data, development materials, literature searches, data analysis, report preparation or other activities.

    An upper-level practicum for students majoring in Administration of Justice whose academic performance is judged adequate for placement. Practical work experience in law enforcement, probation and parole or corrections is obtained with a federal, state or local criminal justice agency.

    Selected topics relating to the field of Criminal Justice are presented. The topics reflect the particular competencies and interests of program faculty taking into consideration the needs and requests of the students.

    Intensive independent study of a selected topic in the Criminal Justice System. The student is expected to research the topic and will prepare a critical documented paper on the topic. See also the statement on Independent Study.

    Examination of crime prevention strategies and concepts, with emphasis on new and innovative approaches to preventing criminal behavior, primarily from the perspective of law enforcement. Review and discussion are focused on the following areas: diversity, facilitation and problem solving, and community policing strategies. Students will recognize the dynamics of a diverse society, identify hate crimes, recognize the role of problem solving within the community, apply principles of crime prevention, and understand the components of community policing.

    This course is an upper division examination of criminal justice systems worldwide. Students will explore the justice systems predicated on Common and Civil Law as well as Sharia Law and Marxist traditions. The course explores the means of establishing cooperation toward mutual goals despite structural, historical and ideological differences.

    An upper-level practicum for students majoring in Administration of Justice whose academic performance is judged adequate for placement. Practical work experience in law enforcement, probation and parole or corrections is obtained with a federal, state or local criminal justice agency.


    MAT 001 Basic Algebra, Appropriate math placement test score or MAT 001 with grade of C or higher

    An interdisciplinary introduction to the basic principles of data analysis with an emphasis on application. Students are expected to apply these principles to data analysis in their respective areas of study. The applied focus is on the computerized application of summary statistics, one/two/multi-sample tests, linear models, association tests, randomness/normality tests, time series comparison, quality control charts and probability distributions as used across a variety of community and organizational settings. Other techniques may be added as appropriate for specific disciplines.


    This course presents the basic principles and methods of social science research. Students are introduced to techniques for critical analysis of the professional practice literature and how, as consumers, they can incorporate research findings into practice. Students also acquire knowledge and skills for applying research with their social work practice as well as in the area of program evaluation. Students conceptualize research questions, determine appropriate designs and methodologies, and incorporate qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Professional values and ethics, as well as sensitivity to human diversity, are subsumed within the conduct of research.

    Survey of homeland security as a national priority and security imperative. Students will review the tenets of relevant initiatives, programs, policies and agencies associated with the nation’s defense and security enterprise. Using case studies of significant homeland security incidents, students examine the impact of these events upon how the “whole community” manages crisis preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response and recovery.

    Selected topics relating to the field of Homeland Security are presented. The topics reflect the particular competencies and interests of program faculty taking into consideration the needs and requests of the students.


    Study of resource management doctrine, guidance and oversight provided to agencies, communities and collaborative teams who plan for and provide emergency management and homeland security-related functions for society. Homeland Security grants and grant writing, budgets, public administration, personnel, training and education programs, and critical and creative problem solving, are explored and practiced. Practicing professionals and experts guest lecture, contributing content, analysis and real-world illustrations.

    Study of methods, procedures, protocols, and strategies central to emergency planning. Students will incorporate concepts into real-world projects to aid communities and organizations, providing students with authentic, hands-on experience and exposure to professionals and subject-matter experts working in emergency management, first responder-related, and homeland security fields.

    Selected topics relating to the field of Homeland Security are presented. The topics reflect the particular competencies and interests of program faculty taking into consideration the needs and requests of the students.


    This course examines assumptions people make about catastrophes by way in-depth analysis of the way social and cultural processes which shape the experience and understanding of catastrophe, whether natural, accidental, or intentional. Students will learn how disasters emerge from the convergence of hazard, risk, and the social construction of vulnerability. This course offers students an overview of a variety of natural and man-made disasters and how society prepared for, responded to, and recovered from specific events from multiple perspectives. In doing so, students will access case studies “scientific storytelling,” as well as research and their affects on “disaster theory.” Students will gather an increased appreciation of the complexities associated with planning for and responding to natural and man-made disasters.

    *Maximum of 6 credits out of the 12 can be from the classes below

    (Also MGT 321)  The course provides a broad overview of the theoretical and conceptual issues relevant to organizational communication. The focus is on how communication operates in organizations, the impact of communication on organizational life and how communication can be made more efficient and effective in meeting personal as well as organizational goals.


    A study of professional expository prose focusing on all aspects of the writing process, various types of writing, the importance of context and the central role of audience awareness. Students write extensively and work with examples from business, government and academic writing to perfect their skills.


    This course will examine the roots of terrorism in the twentieth century, the current intellectual and governmental policies and theories regarding the nature and methods of terrorism, and the impact of terrorism in the past, present and future.


    An examination of changes over time in concepts of justice, injustice, crime, and deviance.


    What is Law? This is a philosophical investigation into the depths of human society to discover the very nature and idea of law. Law is something that humans require to live with one another, it effects all humans, has been around for thousands of years, yet it is any abstract idea that can seem quite complicated and difficult to grasp. This class will shine the light of thoughtful examination on: different theories of law and jurisprudence; the difference between legal rules and ethical norms; the rights of citizens and the state; the legality of civil disobedience; the need for liberty and the limits of law; the ideal form of judicial reasoning; and theories of punishment.


    This course explores the major types of psychopathology to include anxiety disorders, personality disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia, organic brain disorders, substance-related disorders, somatoform disorders, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, sleeping disorders, mental retardation, adjustment disorders, sexual and gender identity disorders, impulse control disorders and delirium, dementia and amnestic disorders. Emphasis is given to the issues surrounding classification, etiology and treatment.

    An examination of the relationship between brain chemistry and behavior. Special attention is paid to drug use/abuse and the application of drugs to the treatment of psychological disorders.

    A survey of major theories of personality functioning, covering such areas as the nature, determinants, development, structure, motivational bases, and dynamic operations of the human personality. Examples of theories from the following areas are treated: psychodynamic, behavior and learning, cognitive, humanistic-phenomenological, trait, and Eastern. Each theory is critically analyzed in terms of its assumptions, logical cohesiveness, research support, and applications.

    Focuses on the production and application of psychological knowledge and research findings to both civil and the criminal justice systems. Topics include competency evaluations of criminal defendants and of the elderly, screening/selection of law enforcement applicants, the delivery and evaluation of intervention and treatment programs for juvenile and adult offenders, police and investigative psychology, and psychopathy.

    An introduction to the fundamentals of comprehending, speaking, reading, and writing Spanish. The course provides, at the same time, the cultural background of the Hispanic world.

    A continuation of Spa 101. This course continues to develop the basic skills of comprehending, speaking, reading, and writing Spanish by providing live and meaningful situations with the cultural background of the Hispanic world.

    Exploration of the contemporary writings of Hispanic Americans that provide insight into the history, socio-political and literary roots of cultural identity in the U.S. Texts ae representative of various genres in Spanish and English and illuminate the diverse ethnic and cultural components of Hispanic communities in different regions of the U.S. Texts are in English. This course is taught in English. (This course may be applied toward the requirement of 12 credits of study of foreign language for the Bachelor of Arts degree.)

    A general survey course introducing students to social work and human services in contemporary society. Professional knowledge, values, and skills for intervention and the nature of interdisciplinary approaches to complex problems and issues are included. It further explores the special concerns of those most vulnerable and discriminated-against. At issue is the professional mandate of social work to join in a concerted effort with other human service professionals to influence the social welfare institution and its social programs to become more responsive to these special populations. Teaching methodology includes interviews with practicing professionals and field trips to a variety of social agency settings.


    An introduction to the basic philosophical, religious, spiritual and practical dimensions of peacemaking, including the theories of peacemaking, the role of various religious traditions in the understanding and development of peace, and the skills needed to foster peace on the personal, interpersonal, and systemic (global) levels. The course requires a service-learning experience. Depending on the service-learning experience, an additional expense may be required.


    The Marian University Online BS in Criminal Justice program prepares students to be mature, competent, and effective leaders in the criminal justice field and its occupational and organizational settings. The program is committed to promoting and developing in students an understanding of criminal justice related politics and law; a working knowledge of best practices in community development aspects of crime prevention; juvenile probation, detention, and residential treatment; problem-oriented community policing; community corrections; adult probation; prison; prisoner reentry and parole. The program promotes and develops in students an understanding of multiple perspectives, conflicting values, and the role of research-based knowledge and critical thinking in the criminal justice field.

    Learning Outcomes:

    • Students will develop and promote in others an appreciation for individual diversity of thought and values.
    • Students will use different levels of critical thinking and research-based practices in decision making activity in the criminal justice field.
    • Students will evaluate situations for appropriate application of criminal justice related policies, procedures, and law.
    • Students will establish best practices in key aspects of crime prevention, problem-oriented community policing, and systems of correction and rehabilitation.
    • Students will develop skills of an effective and competent criminal justice leader.
    • Students will develop effective communication skills in order to complete the essential oral and written documentation of the work in the criminal justice field.

    Marian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    Students in the Marian University Online BS in Criminal Justice Program find the convenience of a program designed with their needs in mind, including the relevancy and quality that comes from a faculty compromised of criminal justice experts. Students can start the program in the fall, spring, or summer, and they are able to proceed through the program at their own pace by taking one or more courses per 7-week term.

    Tracey Marx, M.A.
    Assistant Dean for Adult and Online Studies

    Alan Johnson, J.D.
    Assistant Professor

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    For more information, please contact:

    Adult and Online Studies Office