MPA in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice is a broad occupational field that encompasses police officers, lawyers, correctional officers, teachers, security officers, and mental health counselors. A Master of Public Administration (MPA) in criminal justice allows one to further their career not just by rising through the ranks to supervisory positions, but also by developing and honing a deeper understanding of public service.

Information about Criminal Justice MPA Programs

Many of these criminal justice MPA programs require between 36 and 42 credit hours and may be offered in evening/weekend sessions and as online, in-class, or hybrid formats. Some (but not all) programs end with a capstone experience, such as an internship, practicum or seminar. Often the programs are split into two areas: core courses that everyone is required to complete and electives that may concentrate on the specific area of study within the broad realm of criminal justice, including the following:


Understanding the specifics of both administrative law and constitutional law is essential for those wishing to obtain an MPA in criminal justice. Most programs offer several courses in which students will learn about legal issues facing the criminal justice system and the ethics or morals involved in decision-making. They will also address constitutional law and how it affects a modern society.

Public Service

Most MPA programs have multiple core and elective courses to help students increase their knowledge of public service, as well as public administration. Students will learn how to manage and execute public policy. Crucial concepts and the theoretical base of public administration will be studied, preparing students for real world situations in managing the public sector.


Core finance courses may focus on financial accounting and management. Students might evaluate budgets and explore the outcomes of deficiencies at various levels of government. Classes may explore the funding of goods and services related to the government, along with examining the concept of income redistribution.

Society and Human Resources

MPA programs focused on criminal justice often include courses that focus on human resources and social issues, with an emphasis on human resource management and its effects on a modern society. Students should gain a stronger understanding of problems in our society, such as conflicting views and discrimination, and how to apply possible resolutions to real life situations.


Criminal justice students will learn how to apply ethical values for making moral and legal decisions. Ethical theories are studied, with a goal of being applied to real life scenarios. The rules that must be followed in making laws and judicial decisions will also be explored.

Program Admission Requirements

In general, all graduate programs will require transcripts from previous colleges and universities. In addition, applicants for criminal justice MPA programs can expect to supply letters of reference (professional or personal), a written statement of career goals, a resume, and an application fee. Some programs also require standardized test scores.

Aside from an increase in knowledge and a refining of one's skills, earning this master's degree demonstrates an ethical commitment to the field. Whether the goal is advancement or career change, an MPA in criminal justice can ensure broadening horizons and a deeper understanding of public service.

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