Course Syllabus

Welcome to CRIM 100: Introduction to Criminal Justice

Course Overview

Credits 3
Prerequisites None
Delivery Web (Canvas,
Dates See the Calendar.
Instructor See the Orientation module under the Modules tab.


The course will provide an introductory examination of the American criminal justice system. The course can be divided into five core components.

Component One: Chapters One through Four will present an overview of American criminal justice. It will present material on crime and justice in America, victimization and criminal behavior, the criminal justice system and its operations, and criminal justice and the rule of law. The Chapters will provide relevant examples of current public policies, models of criminal justice, crime typologies and their measurement, theories of victimization and criminal behavior, and the goals and laws of criminal justice in America.

Component Two: Chapters Five and Six offer an in depth examination of policing, police operations, challenges and issues in policing, and police and constitutional law. This component will provide a history of law enforcement, their functions, organization, and strategies, and will examine the current state of law enforcement. Discussions will include a focus on police professionalism, police powers under the 4th and 5th amendments, and law enforcement restrictions and accountability.

Component Three: Chapters Seven through Nine focuses on the American court system. Particular emphasis is placed on pre-trial processes, prosecution and defense, determination of guilt, punishment philosophies, and sentencing. Chapters within this component will examine qualifications and qualities of judges, pretrial processes and bail, roles and responsibilities of the prosecution and defense, the stages of a criminal trial, plea bargaining, the goals of punishment, and court decision making.

Component Four: Chapters Ten through Twelve will focus on the Correctional aspect of the Criminal Justice System. It will discuss a historical overview of corrections including the distinctions between local, state, and federal incarceration facilities.  Additional focus will be on the challenges of probation and parole supervision along with the social and legal challenges of offender re-entry into society.

Component Five: Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen are supplemental to the traditional Criminal Justice System studies and include the unique distinctions of Juvenile Justice and how youthful offenders have similar rights yet a distinctive process from the treatment of adults in Criminal Justice.  The final chapter is an overview on the Homeland Security mission and how this holistic approach to public safety is closely interactive with the Criminal Justice System in America.

This course is a prescribed course in the CLJBA, CLJBS, ADM J BS and ADM J BA majors, and it is also a prerequisite for most 400-level courses in Crime, Law, and Justice.


At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Examine the historical roots and development of American police, courts, and corrections and how these historical developments have influenced our current criminal justice system.
  • Evaluate the main functions of each core component in the American criminal justice system in a context leading to an understanding of due process rights and protections afforded to every citizen.
  • Explain and analyze current issues and problems which exist within our criminal justice system through critical thought and examination of current events and case studies locally relevant to the individual student.


This course is made up of 15 lessons. For each lesson you will need to complete two (2) required assignments:

  • a discussion board forum and
  • a lesson activity, consisting of a short essay. With each of the Five Components there is:
  • one (1) graded quiz comprised of multiple choice questions. Assignments are due on Sunday at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

In addition, within each of the Five Components there is: one (1) graded quiz comprised of multiple choice questions and a final exam consisting of five short essay questions drawn from the five component subjects of the course. 

Online Learning and Attendance

This course has been developed to promote asynchronous learning. The instructor and students do NOT meet on a designated day and time each week. For each lesson, there is a time-frame to complete all activities and assignments, and you may work at your own pace within that time-frame. However, you must adhere to the due dates outlined on the Calendar. (Due dates can also be viewed under the Syllabus tab.) You should log into the course daily to check for updates, review lessons, and participate in activities.

Texts and Other Materials

The following texts are required:

There is one required text. J. A. Fagin, CJ 2019, Pearson Education (ISBN: 978-0135202173)

Library Services

Penn State Libraries provides a wide variety of services and resources. To learn how to take advantage, refer to the Online Student Library Guide at This guide serves as your starting point for access to all that Penn State Libraries can offer you as an online student. Use this guide if you have questions on library services offered to you, how the library can help you, how to use the library, or what resources you can access via the library! The guide will connect you to important pages and resources within Penn State Libraries and save time from you searching for the information you need.


Final letter grades will be assigned based on the scale below.


A 95% 541.5
A- 90% 513
B+ 87% 495.9
B 83% 473.1
B- 80% 456
C+ 75% 427.5
C 70% 399
D 60% 342
F 0% 0

Due Dates

All assignments are due by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on the date indicated on the Calendar. (Due dates can be also be viewed under the Syllabus tab.) Please be aware that Canvas follows the Eastern Time (ET) time zone. Assignment due dates adhere to this time zone, and it is your responsibility to submit assignments accordingly. If you are outside of the ET time zone, you can set your Canvas account to sync to it. Refer to the Set a Time Zone article in the Canvas Guide at

As a general rule, no late assignments will be accepted. It is your responsibility to keep up with your assignments. Students with an excused absence (e.g. hospitalization, jury duty, family emergency, or military service) may be asked to produce proper documentation in order to make up graded work. 

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g. upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Valid Excuses
A major advantage of an online course is the flexibility it affords students for doing assignments. All assignments are intended to be accessed and completed within a window of several days duration, and can be done from anywhere in the world. (The necessary technology, even if you are not at home, will frequently be available at internet cafes, copy shops, or libraries.) The dates of these assignments have been provided to you well ahead of time in the course calendar. Given this flexibility, an unexpected event that makes it impossible for a student to complete an assignment on time should be very rare. It is expected that students plan ahead and allocate their time accordingly.

A student must inform the instructor as early as possible if they anticipate it will be impossible for them to execute an assignment on time. If a student does not notify the instructor, and fails to submit the assignment on time, that student will receive zero credit. If a student only notifies the instructor of a valid conflict after the assignment window has opened (or, for homework, less than 48 hours before the assignment is due), the instructor may arrange to have the deadline changed for that student, but the decision and any possible penalties are left to the discretion of the instructor.

If a student anticipates a valid conflict and informs the instructor before the assignment window opens (or more than 48 hours before the homework is due), the instructor may allow the student to submit the work at a later (or earlier) time without penalty. Valid conflicts are items that make it impossible for a student to complete the assignment at the scheduled time, primarily including illness, or family emergencies. Travel plans (except as required by university-sponsored activities) DO NOT constitute valid conflict. Students should plan to be available online until they finish the assignment. Encountering technical problems at the last minute is not a valid conflict.


  • To Do List: Some assignments may not appear in the To Do list under the Home tab. Use the Calendar or Syllabus to ensure that you are fully aware of assignment due dates.


Basic information about each assignment group is provided below. For detailed directions about an individual assignment, see the assignment information under the Modules tab.

Note on Feedback: You can expect meaningful feedback on all written assignments within one week of the deadline.

Discussion Board Forums 24.5% 140
Lesson Activities 49% 280
Quizzes 9% 50
Final Exam 17.5% 100
Total 100% 570

Discussion Board Forums

Value: 14 x 10 PTS, 140 PTS total
Weeks: 2 - 15

Criminal justice is a field in which there are many different opinions. To promote student engagement and critical thinking, these discussion board forums will ask you to critically analyze a particular question and respond to it in an academic manner (a manner that isn’t personal opinion, but academically based). Students are expected to post their own individual response and to receive full credit students should provide some credible response, comment, or reply to another student's forum post.

*Late Discussion Forum posts will not be accepted.

Grades for your discussion board forums will be based upon:

  • Does the answer directly address the question?
  • Does the student critically analyze the course material?
  • Is the response thorough enough to show a deep level of understanding, analysis, and application?
  • Does the student provide relevant examples to back up their response? This may include links, references to the course text, referring to other academic sources.

Discussion board forums must:

  • Demonstrate strong critical thinking skills as evidenced by analyzing and evaluating relevant theories, literature, and data
  • Demonstrate personal application of concepts – use relevant personal/professional examples
  • Be submitted by the appropriate and established deadlines
  • Use clear, concise language and appropriate terminology (do not use text message format, abbreviations etc.)

Lesson Activities

Value: 14 x 20 PTS, 280 PTS total

Each week, students will complete a lesson activity. Lesson activities are provided to enhance what students have learned in the textbook, lesson notes, and supplemental material for that week's topic. Lesson Activities will focus on active learning and critical thinking and will encourage the student to use internet search resources and other public domain or open sources to combine current events and relevant case studies that are locally relevant to the student.

*Late activity essay assignments will only be accepted with individual permission from the instructor. Please contact the instructor if you require an exception. 

Grades for your lesson activities will be based upon:

  • Student’s ability to articulate definitions, concepts, and theories from all lesson sources
    including textbook, lesson notes, and supplemental materials
  • Application of definitions and concepts to current issues within the criminal justice
  • Ability to apply and link core concepts with relevant examples to propose new decision
    making and problem solving solutions to criminal justice topics

Lesson activities must:

  • Demonstrate strong critical thinking skills as evidenced by analyzing and evaluating
    relevant theories, literature, and data
  • Demonstrate active learning through higher-order thinking (analysis, synthesis,
  • Demonstrate personal application of concepts – use relevant personal/professional
  • Be submitted by the appropriate and established deadlines


Value: 5 x 10 PTS, 50 PTS total

The course quizzes are provided as a practice tool to gauge comprehension of terminology and concepts. The questions are pulled randomly from a database of questions, and will consist of multiple choice answers. Correct answers for these questions will be provided to the student after quiz submission. The quizzes are graded. The quizzes have a total of 20 questions and there is no time limit however students are expected to take the quiz in one sitting.

Final Exam

Value: 100 PTS

Your final exam will be comprised of five short essay questions. Each question should be thoroughly answered and must show evidence of a) critical thinking skills (did student read the material, understand the material) and b) application (is the student able to provide relevant examples, integrate course book, forums, and activities). The test should be completed no later than the deadline provided by the Course Instructor (please keep in mind if you are graduating this is even more important) and late exams will not be graded. Your final exam is cumulative, meaning that you will be tested over all five of the component lessons content.

University Policies

Academic Integrity

According to Penn State policy G-9: Academic Integrity, an academic integrity violation is “an intentional, unintentional, or attempted violation of course or assessment policies to gain an academic advantage or to advantage or disadvantage another student academically.” Unless your instructor tells you otherwise, you must complete all course work entirely on your own, using only sources that have been permitted by your instructor, and you may not assist other students with papers, quizzes, exams, or other assessments. If your instructor allows you to use ideas, images, or word phrases created by another person (e.g., from Course Hero or Chegg) or by generative technology, such as ChatGPT, you must identify their source. You may not submit false or fabricated information, use the same academic work for credit in multiple courses, or share instructional content. Students with questions about academic integrity should ask their instructor before submitting work.   

Students facing allegations of academic misconduct may not drop/withdraw from the affected course unless they are cleared of wrongdoing (see G-9: Academic Integrity). Attempted drops will be prevented or reversed, and students will be expected to complete course work and meet course deadlines. Students who are found responsible for academic integrity violations face academic sanctions, which can be severe, and put themselves at jeopardy for other outcomes (see G-9: Academic Integrity).

Unless your instructor tells you otherwise:

  • Always include an in-text citation that includes the author(s) last name(s) and the year the source was published at the end of any sentence or below any image that includes words, images, or ideas you found in a source, always included quoted text within quotation marks, and always include a reference for any source at the end of your paper (ask your instructor about the format you should use).
  • All of your graded coursework must be created by you without help from anyone in the course or otherwise. If you have questions about this, you should ask your instructor before submitting work for evaluation.
  • All course materials you receive or access are protected by copyright laws. You may use course materials and make copies for your own use, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Disability Access

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for every Penn State campus at For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website at

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation described at If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Penn State's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) office offers residential and distance-based Penn State students non-emergency mental health services in the form of case management, community resource referrals, supportive listening, care giver support, and much more.

Students may request assistance from CAPS regarding a variety of common mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, and stress. CAPS services are designed to enhance students' ability to fully benefit from the University environment and academic experience. Call CAPS at 814-863-0395 (8 am-5 pm, Monday-Friday EST) or submit an inquiry online at to schedule an appointment with a mental health advocate, who can help you address mental health concerns that may interfere with your academic progress or social development. This appointment will include a one-on-one session that can be conducted via telephone, teleconference (Skype, FaceTime, etc.), or locally at Penn State University Park. For more information on services provided through CAPS, please visit the Penn State CAPS website at Students enrolled at the World Campus are also encouraged to visit its Mental Health Services page at

Reminder: These services are for non-emergencies only. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis situation, please call your local crisis center or 911.


Penn State is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas. Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University's educational mission, and will not be tolerated. For further information, please visit the Affirmative Action Office website at

Reporting a Bias Incident

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage at


The materials on the course website are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated.

University Emergency Procedure

In the event of a University-wide emergency, the course may be subject to changes. Exigent circumstances may require alternative delivery methods, class materials, and interactions with the instructor and/or classmates. In addition, there may be revisions to grading policies and the Calendar, including assignments and their due dates.

In the event of a University-wide emergency, please refer to the Canvas website at for specific information related to the course. For more general information about the emergency situation, please refer to the Penn State website at or Penn State News website at

To register with PSUAlert, a service designed to alert the Penn State community when situations arise that affect the ability of a campus to function normally, please go to the PSU Alert website at Subscribers can receive alerts by text message to cell phones, and also can elect to have alerts sent to an email address.

Syllabus Subject to Change

The class will likely adhere to the information outlined in this Syllabus and the Calendar, but adjustments may be made based on what actually transpires during the semester. Remaining in the course after reading this Syllabus will signal that you accept the possibility of changes and responsibility for being aware of them.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due