The criminal justice system is a complex network in which social forces, government policy, and private business interests intersect to create unique challenges and opportunities for professionals in management positions. MBA programs are designed to prepare students for organizational leadership roles in a broad range of fields, including public and private enterprises that operate within the criminal justice system. Students in some MBA programs may have the opportunity to take electives that cover some of the special concerns that come with working in criminal justice, from legal and policy issues, to security and law enforcement strategies. In addition, there are MBA programs that provide a specialized track in criminal justice management consisting of several designated courses in matters pertaining to crime, law enforcement, social policy, forensics, the judiciary system, and other criminal justice topics. These programs are referred to as MBA in criminal justice or criminal justice management programs.
An MBA in criminal justice is a master’s-level program in business administration that offers general training and instruction in business leadership and management as well as a cluster of two or more courses dedicated to unique features of the criminal justice system. Students in an MBA program that offers a criminal justice specialization complete a core MBA curriculum that covers proficiencies in accounting, finance, marketing, personnel and project management, operations management, and organizational leadership. In addition, these programs provide students with specialized training and instruction in areas relevant to operating and managing organizations in the field of criminal justice.
MBA programs with a criminal justice specialization are offered in various formats, including online. Online programs utilize distance-learning technologies to deliver all or most of their general and specialized coursework. Students in these programs receive the same training as students in a traditional, campus-based MBA program, but they are able to do so without relocating or commuting to a college or university campus. Some online MBA programs require students to attend a limited number of on-campus sessions, while others do not. For students who want to pursue an MBA in criminal justice without having to move or commute, an online program may be the only option, as MBA programs that offer a criminal justice specialization are not as numerous as MBA programs with other specializations.
OnlineEducation.com researches online MBA programs and classifies these programs based on several criteria. MBA programs on the site must be offered by non-profit colleges that have regional accreditation, and through schools or departments of business that have additional specialized accreditation from one of three bodies: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). These programs must offer all or most of their instruction online. Online programs that require students to attend more than two campus visits per year are not currently listed on the site. Finally, in order for a program to be classified as an MBA in criminal justice program, it must have a clearly defined concentration or track in criminal justice management consisting of two or more courses.
Students in an MBA program with a criminal justice track complete core business administration coursework in a range of subjects, including accounting, finance, marketing, human resource management, leadership, and organizational communication. In addition, they take courses that explore various aspects of the criminal justice system and receive training and instruction in the application of business administration skills to managing organizations in that sphere. This specialized coursework generally includes an overview of the current criminal justice system and of criminology theories, an introduction to the court system and law enforcement procedures, and an exploration of organizational leadership strategies applied to security management, judicial administration, and other types of organizations that operate in the criminal justice system. Many MBA programs culminate in a capstone project, which challenges students to apply what they have learned to a relevant issue within their area of specialization.
Much of the required coursework in an MBA program that has a criminal justice specialization is part of the general curriculum that most MBA students must complete. There are then typically between two and six additional courses in areas of criminal justice that comprise the specialization. The table below provides examples of criminal justice specialization courses that may be found in an MBA program:
|Course Title||Course Description|
|Criminal Justice System & Policy||A critical overview of current criminal justice policies and the roles played by governmental and non-governmental organizations in the prevention and control of crime.|
|Theoretical Foundations of Crime Control||An exploration of sociological, biological, psychological, and political theories of crime and criminality.|
|Criminal Justice Leadership||Theories of effective organizational leadership applied to the field of criminal justice and to the management of organizations operating within the criminal justice system.|
|Organized Crime||An overview of organized crime in the US and globally, with a focus on political issues in organized crime control, and the role of organized crime in drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling, and other criminal activities.|
|Survey of Forensic Science||An introduction to the field of forensic science and its role in investigating crimes, with a focus on processing and analyzing various types of crime-scene data.|
|Courts & Judicial Processes||An examination of criminal law and the court system at the local, state, and federal levels.|
Admissions procedures and criteria for students applying to an MBA program with a criminal justice specialization are generally the same as for students applying to traditional MBA programs. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Some programs have a minimum preferred or required grade point average. While an undergraduate degree in business is commonly not required, some programs may have a list of college-level prerequisites, usually introductory business, economics, and/or mathematics courses that applicants are expected to have completed. In addition, online MBA programs may ask students to furnish standardize test scores (GMAT or GRE), letters of recommendation, and/or a personal goals statement. Admission requirements vary by program. Prospective applicants should examine these requirements carefully before initiation the application process.
There are several important variations in how online MBA programs are structured. These variations can impact the relative convenience and flexibility of a program and may be important concerns for students who are working or who have other significant commitments outside of school. The three key areas of concern are online instructional methods (synchronous vs. asynchronous instruction), enrollment options (part-time vs. full-time enrollment), and whether or not a program requires students to attend on-campus sessions. For a more detailed review of these variations, refer to our Online MBA Programs page.