Criminal justice is the study and practice of how legal justice is enacted through the interconnected workings of law enforcement, corrections, forensic science, and criminal law on local, state, federal, and international levels. With a recent focus on cooperation between the branches of criminal justice and communication between state and federal programs, there is a growing need for criminal justice professionals who have the ability to see the issues, protocols, and ethics of these systems with greater breadth, depth, and understanding.
An MBA in criminal justice can allow business professionals to advance their knowledge and skills in the managerial arena. It can also make an entry-level candidate more attractive to prospective employers, or help someone who is transitioning careers to break into the field. Because criminal justice is a huge field, those who earn an MBA may enjoy various career paths, including work as correctional officer supervisors, police and detective supervisors, criminal profilers, criminologists, district attorney/attorney general investigators, supervisory criminal investigators, forensic examiners, emergency management directors, and security managers.
Overall, these specialized MBAs are designed for students looking to approach criminal justice through the lens of business operations. As a result, these programs aren’t as common as a master’s of science (MS) in criminal justice, and those interested in the research underpinning criminal justice investigations may consider the MS instead of the business-focused MBA.
There are MBA programs in CJ available online for those looking to improve their skills, become more competitive applicants, or transition careers. An online MBA may be appropriate for parents, working professionals, or students living in more rural areas who are unable to attend campus sessions regularly.
Read on to learn about online MBAs in criminal justice, including what to expect from a program and discussions of three outstanding educators in the field.
|Featured Graduate Criminal Justice Programs
|Grand Canyon University
|MA in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
|Arizona State University
|Crime Analysis (MS)
|Arizona State University
|Criminal Justice (MA)
|Southern New Hampshire University
|MS - Criminal Justice
|Michigan State University
|Online MA - Criminal Justice
|Michigan State University
|Online MS - Law Enforcement Intelligence & Analysis
|MBA - Criminal Justice Management
MBA in Criminal Justice, Lamar University
Providing a combination of graduate-level business and criminal coursework, Lamar University’s MBA in criminal justice trains students in high-level decision-making, positive leadership skills, and an in-depth understanding of crime prevention, control, and punishment. Lamar University’s MBA program graduates are prepared to manage people from a wide variety of backgrounds, engage in effective decision-making in stressful and delicate situations, and help teams navigate policy and/or legislative changes.
Examples of coursework in the Lamar MBA program include managerial decision-making; international business; criminal justice system and policy; and the theoretical foundations of crime control. Students with undergraduate business degrees can expect to complete 30 credits, and students with non-business backgrounds may be expected to take additional leveling coursework. Campus visits are not required for admission. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of below 2.5 will be required to submit GMAT or GRE scores.
MBA in Criminal Justice, Texas A&M International University
Texas A&M International University’s online MBA program in criminal justice can be completed entirely online. The MBA portion of the program will help students expand their business knowledge and qualify for public and private sector management roles. In addition to business knowledge, students will be provided with criminal justice-relevant expertise in white-collar crime, cybercrime, and legal issues.
Made up of 30 credits, the program includes 21 credits of core MBA courses and nine credits of criminal justice electives. Core courses include financial management; managerial economics; financial statement analysis; strategic management; and business research methods. Courses in criminal justice include foundations in criminal justice; cybercrime; and white-collar crime. Notably, students who do not possess an undergraduate degree in business administration from an accredited university will be required to take prep-module courses that will help prepare them for their MBA journey.
At the end of the program, graduates can pursue opportunities such as private investigators, financial examiners, customs agents, homeland security agents, and correctional facility administrators.
MBA in Criminal Justice, Northcentral University
Boasting a 100 percent doctoral-trained faculty and a fully flexible schedule structure, students completing the Northcentral University online MBA in criminal justice are prepared for management and leadership in correctional institutions, law enforcement, and within the court system. Students in this program are challenged to look at the interconnected way in which distinct local and global legal traditions connect to criminal activity, law enforcement response, ethics, and the legal system.
Students enrolled in the MBA program at NCU are expected to complete 30 credits of coursework, nine of which are specifically related to criminal justice. Students without bachelor’s or master’s degrees in business are also expected to complete evaluation track coursework or successfully test out of pre-masters coursework.
Examples of courses include managerial decision-making; innovation and marketing; organized crime; introduction to criminal justice; and current issues in law enforcement. Campus visits are not required to apply, and the program is available to people residing in all states.
MBA with specialization in Criminal Justice, Liberty University
Emphasizing building up “Champions for Christ,” Liberty University’s MBA program is designed for those looking to improve upon foundational entrepreneurial, business, and management skills. Awarded as a college best for veterans by the Military Times, Liberty offers deep discounts for active service members, veterans, spouses, and Department of Defense employees.
In addition to the core MBA courses, students who choose the criminal justice administration specialization learn research methods, organizational administration, and criminal law. The MBA program at Liberty is 45 total credits, 12 of which will be in criminal justice. Examples of coursework include global economic environment; policy & strategy in global competition; topics & trends in criminal justice; criminal justice integration; and administration of justice organizations. Admission is available to residents of all states, and no campus visits are necessary.
MBA with a concentration in Homeland Security (related), Wilmington University
Wilmington University’s online MBA program is designed for working professionals and entrepreneurs, offering maximum flexibility through online courses and traditional classes. The program offers over ten specialized MBA concentrations and homeland security is one of them. The homeland security concentration includes instruction focused on homeland security issues that have become a priority at all levels of the corporate world. The program prepares business professionals to adapt to the ever-changing landscapes in homeland security to maintain a secure and safe work environment.
Comprising 36 credits, the program’s core MBA curriculum includes courses such as organizational behavior and ethical leadership; managerial decision-making; survey of data analytics; financial analysis; and global marketing management. Courses from the homeland security concentration include contemporary issues in homeland security; sociology of terrorism; legal aspects and policy of homeland security; and crisis leadership.
MBA in Criminal Justice Management, Union Institute & University
Earning an online MBA in criminal justice management from Union Institute & University will provide students with the skills that will make them particularly employable as police executives. They can move through the ranks and achieve executive-level roles such as directors of law agencies, prison wardens, and police chiefs. Delivered entirely online, the program offers both part-time and full-time options and requires no residency.
The business side of the program will provide students with skills in strategic planning, decision-making, finance, and organizational behavior. The criminal justice side will help students learn about cross-cultural communication, legal issues, managing organizational change, and police technology. Students will also be required to engage in case studies and other activities based on real-world scenarios. With six start dates throughout the year, the program can be completed in just 12 months.
Consisting of 36 credits, the program’s core courses include financial and accounting management; strategic management and organizational changes; strategic marketing management in a digital age; ethics in context; and management and leadership. Criminal justice concentration courses include cross-cultural communications in criminal justice management; managing organizational change in criminal justice management; legal issues in criminal justice management; organizational research, analytics, and innovative solution building in criminal justice management; and global management in criminal justice management.
Each online MBA program has slightly different application requirements, so it’s important that prospective students take the time to read and understand what is required for admittance into each university. Requirements for online programs are often the same or similar to admission requirements for traditional programs, and admission can also be similarly competitive. The following are common requirements for an online MBA in criminal justice applications:
*While this is a requirement across most programs, there are different ways in which pre-MBA coursework is built into programs. Depending on the program, students must complete course prerequisites before applying, as an evaluation before being admitted into the core MBA courses; or as an expected part of program completion, to be taken before core coursework.
Accreditation is the process by which universities agree to hold their programming to high standards as determined by an accrediting body. Accreditation for universities can occur at an institutional level and at the level of individualized programs. Because it is voluntary, accreditation is a helpful tool for prospective students to understand whether a program has been proven to meet standards for quality and integrity in learning outcomes, teaching excellence, and/or continuous improvement. In addition, if a student plans to transfer credits from one institution to another, applying to new schools with the same or similar accreditation can simplify that process.
On the level of programming, the two major accrediting bodies for business schools are the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Since 1988, the ACBSP accreditation process has been student-centered and focuses on ensuring that programs are involved in continuous improvement. The AACSB was established in 1918 and works internationally to ensure business school programs are increasingly focused on global prosperity.
There are no major accreditation bodies for criminal justice programs, so it is also in the student’s best interest to ensure that their university is accredited by regional or national accreditation bodies. According to the Council for Higher Education, the following are six reputable, regional accreditation agencies:
For an online university to operate within state boundaries, the university is required to gain authorization from (and adhere to the regulations within) that state. In addition, if a distance or online program established in one state advertises the program to the citizens of another state, it is expected their program will also adhere to that state’s regulations. For this reason, it is important for prospective online students to ensure that online programming is offered in their state of residence.
The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) works to provide a single set of standards by which states can extend programming across state lines. Instead of modifying educational programming offered to out-of-state students to fit each state’s set of regulations, those states or institutions who opt into the NC-SARA program can offer their degree programs across state lines by ensuring their programming meets universal standards as set by SARA.
Finally, a program’s authorization status can typically be found on program websites (e.g., Southern New Hampshire University). For those who don’t, prospective students are encouraged to reach out to program administrators.
Dr. Lucy Tsado is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Lamar University. She teaches or has taught courses such as correctional systems & practices, cybercrime, and criminal justice system and policy.
With a PhD in administrative justice from Texas Southern University, Dr. Tsado’s research interests are in cybersecurity, cybercrime, and digital forensics. A renowned scholar with works published in evidence-based, peer-reviewed academic journals, she is also interested in exploring how to overcome the pipeline deficiency resulting from cybersecurity skills gaps in the United States. She completed her MS from Texas Southern University and a BS from Ahmadu Bello University.
Texas A&M International University
Dr. Fei Luo is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Texas A&M International University. She teaches or has taught courses such as foundations of the criminal justice system; advanced seminars in the criminal system; statistics in criminal justice; special issues in criminal justice; and comparative criminal justice systems.
Her research focuses on policing, victimization, immigrants, and legal studies. Her research has been published in prominent journals such as Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, and Journal of Criminal Justice Education. She completed her PhD from Sam Houston State University and her LLM and LLB degrees from Nanjing University.
Lawrence Presley is an associate professor of criminal justice in the Helms School of Government at Liberty University, teaching courses in criminal investigations, forensic science, and terrorism. Professor Presley brings 21 years of experience working in teams and leadership positions in forensics, DNA analysis, and laboratory units for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Most notably, Professor Presley received an FBI commendation for his part in the successful investigation of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Professor Presley is also an active member of the field of forensic research and science and has published numerous peer-reviewed academic articles about topics within forensics. He completed his MA in criminal justice from the University of Detroit, an MS in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, and a BS in biology from Wheeling Jesuit University.
Farheen Gani writes about forensics schools across the United States, and has covered topics such as forensic chemistry and forensic science and biochemistry since 2018. She writes about healthcare, technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).