Online Degrees in Criminal Justice Leadership: Program Overviews

Dec 12, 2019

Research online Criminal Justice Leadership courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

Essential Information

Many online schools offer master's degree programs in criminal justice leadership or in criminal justice with the opportunity to specialize in leadership studies. These programs are designed to accommodate working people, primarily law enforcement personnel, by offering online courses that can be accessed as the student's schedule permits. While most program courses are fully online, a few programs are a hybrid between online and traditional study. Some programs also require a one-week on-campus residency.

The master's-level program usually requires about two years of online study. Students may take core courses in topics such as criminology, the history of crime control theory, the administration of criminal justice and research methods.

Many programs allow students to choose electives that reflect their career goals. For instance, law enforcement officers who want to advance in their agencies may take courses such as financial management for a law enforcement agency or personnel management in the field of criminal justice. Students who intend to go into teaching or pursue a doctoral degree may research and produce a thesis and take more research- and theory-based courses.

Master's Degrees in Criminal Justice Leadership

Law enforcement professionals can stay current in the ways in which our borders and citizens are protected and criminals are handled by continuing their education at a graduate level. A variety of online master's programs are available for professional development as well as for students who are interested in a management level career in criminal justice. While associate's and bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice are also available online, the leadership focus is found in advanced degrees. Master's programs provide administration skills, such as budgeting, and review theory and policy.

Information and Requirements

A post-baccalaureate master's degree program can be completed online in two years. Most programs are fully accessible via interactive Web courses, although a one week on-campus session may be required for some schools. A research thesis option may be available for students planning on continuing in a Ph.D. program or pursuing a teaching career.

Although programs provide flexibility for working students, distance learners are encouraged to be conscientious of time management and log-on daily in order to receive updates, participate in discussion and remain engaged. The working student has an advantage in that skills learned may be immediately applied in the workplace.

Common Criminal Justice Leadership Courses

A foundation in policy and theory is built through courses in history, policy and theory of criminal justice. Elective courses emphasize specializations in corrections, security and policy management.

Criminological Theory

Various theoretical models in the history of criminology are reviewed and critiqued in light of case-studies. Leading theories of prevention and punishment are discussed.

Justice Management

Effective administration of law enforcement agencies requires knowledge of training, evaluating and rewarding performance, and effective means of handling job-related stress. The ways in which technological advancements aid in strategic planning are also introduced.

Budget Management for Justice Professionals

Topics include accounting, financial forecasting and grant writing. Special attention is given to fiscal issues affecting law enforcement agencies and correctional institutions.

Career Information

Master's degree programs in criminal justice prepare students for careers in teaching, corrections management and law enforcement administration. In 2018, the mean annual salary for first-line supervisors of correctional officers was $68,350 and $93,100 for first-line supervisors of police and detectives as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

Students interested in criminal justice leadership positions can obtain an online two-year master's degree in criminal justice or criminal justice leadership. These programs help law enforcement employees and other professionals advance skills and career prospects in a more flexible, convenient manner.

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