Applied Policing and Technology

Applied Policing and Technology Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree

About Applied Policing and Technology

Prepare for a career in law enforcement with top police training and technology skills.

From crime scenes to department headquarters, the field of law enforcement is increasingly driven by technology.

PennWest California’s associate degree in applied policing and technology gives students the knowledge and hands-on training required for a career in law enforcement and criminal justice.

Aspiring police officers can complete this 60-credit associate degree program either on PennWest California’s campus or 100% online. Students have the option of earning 15 credits by graduating from the Pennsylvania Municipal Officers Education and Training Commission (MPOETC) Police Academy, which is held on campus and provides Pennsylvania Act 120 Municipal Police Officer Certification for those who complete its requirements.

Develop a range of skills and a community-focused policing approach.

PennWest California’s applied policing and technology associate degree program is the first of its kind in southwestern Pennsylvania. With its focus on technology and hands-on police training, the program provides skills needed for success as a law enforcement officer.

Students in the applied policing program learn to:

  • Collect and process physical and digital evidence.
  • Conduct crime scene investigations using high-tech tools.
  • Conduct interviews and interrogations.
  • Understand and apply criminal law and procedures.
  • Analyze current issues in policing.

The program takes a community policing approach, preparing students to work thoughtfully and effectively in small-town, suburban or big-city police departments.


Academy Option: Students can earn 15 credits toward their associate degree — as well as the Act 120 Municipal Police Officer Certification required for employment as a police officer in Pennsylvania — if they choose the MPOETC-approved police academy program at PennWest California. Police officer cadets are trained to understand and apply federal and state laws, and they learn about court decisions that apply to police officers. The police academy also provides training in verbal and written communication, defense tactics and use of firearms, defensive driving, crisis management, patrol procedures and operations, human relations and community policing, and police technology. Physical fitness tests are required, and cadets can be certified as first responders.

Career Focus: Statistics show that college-educated police officers tend to use force less often and are more effective at problem-solving and decision-making. That may be why police chiefs in Pennsylvania and beyond report a growing interest in hiring police officers with a college degree. Some departments offer annual pay incentives for officers with an associate or bachelor’s degree; others require an associate degree, at minimum, for entry-level employment or promotions. In addition to the A.S. in Technical Studies: Applied Policing and Technology, PennWest California offers a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and even a doctorate in criminal justice.

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Estimated number of job openings for law enforcement officers in southwestern Pennsylvania alone during the next 10 years, according to the State System of Higher Education.
Number of credits required to complete the associate degree program either on campus or 100% online.
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Degree Benefits

Students in the applied policing and technology program can take advantage of resources offered by PennWest California’s Department of Criminal Justice. These include internship opportunities with local and regional police departments, such as Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and federal agencies, through the Washington Center in Washington, D.C. Those who qualify also can join PennWest California’s chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society for students.

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Graduate Outcomes

Graduates of the associate degree program in applied policing and technology have a competitive advantage, because increasing numbers of police departments in Pennsylvania and nationwide either require or prefer job candidates with a college degree. For example, the Washington County (Pa.) Chiefs of Police Association reports that its members are seeking more college-educated officers.

Technical Studies: Applied Policing and Technology (A.S.)
Dr. Michael Hummel, a professor for the Policing and Technology Associate Degree Program.

Experienced Faculty

Students in this program learn from professors who have been there, done that. PennWest California faculty in the applied policing program have extensive work experience in law enforcement, from community police forces to large urban police bureaus. Some also have served in government agencies, and many share their expertise as instructors for the police academy based at PennWest California.

Police officer using technology on the job.

Technology Focus

Technology plays an increasing role in police work today. From GPS units and infrared cameras to computer software and advanced communication systems, technology is changing the way crimes are investigated and making police work safer for both officers and the public. This program prepares future police officers to make effective use of these high-tech tools.

Police officer wearing a vest.

Choose Your Path

Students may complete this associate degree program 100% online or choose campus-based courses. (Because it includes extensive hands-on training, including physical fitness and defensive driving components, the 15-credit police academy is available on campus only.) The A.S. degree can serve as a jump-start toward PennWest California’s general Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree or its concentrations in cyber forensics, homeland and international security, law and justice, or criminology.

A.S., Technical Studies: Applied Policing and Technology

Course Credits
Semester 1 15
ENG 101  English Composition I 3
JUS 101*  Introduction to Criminal Justice Studies  3
JUS 103*  Correctional Systems 3
MAT 100  Fundamentals of Math or Any Math 3
Related Elective** 3
Semester 2 15
COM 101  Oral Communications 3
JUS 102*  Introduction to Law Enforcement 3
JUS 105*  Introduction to Forensic Science 3
Related Elective** 3
Health and Wellness Course 3
Semester 3 15
JUS 201*  Criminal Investigation 3
JUS 331  Juvenile Justice System 3
JUS 380  Crime Scene Imaging OR Any Approved Technological Literacy Course 3
Related Elective** 3
Natural Sciences Course 3
Semester 4 15
JUS 375  Criminal Law 3
JUS 376  Criminal Procedure 3
PSY 100  General Psychology 3
Related Elective** 3
Humanities Course 3
Total 60

* Program Notes:

  1. If students have already completed these courses, then credits as work force development (WFD) may be applied up to a total of 15 credits.
  2. Fifteen of the last 30 credits must be taken at Cal U.
  3. After successful completion of the Police Academy, the student will be awarded 15 credits toward the degree.

** Required Electives (complete 12 credits)

  • JUS 211  Organized Crime
  • JUS 405  Cyber Security
  • JUS 487  Computer Forensics
  • JUS 488  Cyber Crime Investigation
  • Any Approved JUS Course (requires prior approval from adviser)
  • WFD 199  MPOETC


B.S., Criminal Justice

Minors also are available in a number of these degree programs.


Applied Policing and Technology Faculty

Dr. Raymond J. Hsieh
Professor, Program Advisor of Forensics Investigation and Cyber Forensics

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Dr. Michael Hummel

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Dr. Mathilda Spencer
Associate Professor
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Julie Warnick
Assistant Professor

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Dr. Christopher Wydra
Associate Professor, Program Coordinator: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Studies - Applied Criminology and Forensic Linguistics

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