MBA in Criminal Justice


The country’s legal system has been taking a closer look at itself over the last few years. There is a variety of past practices that can stand to be reexamined through the lens of 21st century approaches to law and order. For those excited by the idea of leading change in how our nation approaches prosecution, incarceration, law enforcement, and public safety, an MBA in criminal justice can be an invaluable asset.

An MBA in criminal justice can be a perfect fit for those seeking socially useful career paths that blend business and justice. Those already working in a public safety capacity can add business acumen to their skill set through an MBA, just as those with business experience eager to serve their community in valuable ways can add knowledge of criminal justice to their professional toolkit. Those new to the professional world who want to make a difference can also pursue an MBA in criminal justice to make applications into entry-level positions more competitive.

In addition to being socially useful, legal careers and careers in management are expected to see growth in the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the greater legal profession is predicted to grow nine percent in the decade preceding 2026, and management positions are expected to grow by eight percent—both slightly faster than the predicted growth of seven percent for all occupations. As of May 2016, legal occupations paid an average of $79,650 annually, and management positions paid an average of $100,790.

Educational institutions in all disciplines are recognizing the need for advanced career training that can fit into the already-established lives of working professionals or stay-at-home parents. As a result, there are an increasing number of online MBA programs and flexible MBA programs available from high-quality, accredited universities and colleges. To make attendance feasible for working professionals, classes are offered during off-hours periods at night or on weekends, or can be taken asynchronously at the time of an enrolled student’s choosing. In addition, distance learning options provide the opportunity for students to take courses across state lines without having to physically move. Continue reading to learn more about what to expect from an online MBA program, including the coursework and the high-quality faculty teaching courses.

Featured Criminal Justice Programs
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Online MBA in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

This program at Widener is unique in that it is a dual master of jurisprudence (MJ) in corporate and business law and MBA. This dual 48-credit program requires more work and dedication than the school’s traditional MBA program. While MBA students can be admitted with a 2.75 GPA, students in the dual MJ/MBA program must have at least a 3.0 GPA.

In the jurisprudence section of the program, students learn about legal analysis and regulatory compliance across corporate, nonprofit, and governmental organizations. They also have the option to complete the general track or concentrate in regulatory analysis and compliance or global compliance and ethics. Professional development workshops are offered to students to prepare them for a competitive and changing business environment. The program is accredited by the Compliance Certification Board (CCB) and can be completed entirely online.

Location: Chester, PA
Tuition: $1,004/credit-hour for the MBA courses and $1,056/credit-hour for the jurisprudence courses
Time to Completion: 18 to 24 months
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International); Compliance Certification Board (CCB)

A non-profit, Christian-affiliated school, Liberty University offers an MBA designed to provide current skills in business, management, and entrepreneurship. Liberty offers 16 different MBA cognates, one of which is criminal justice. The 45-credit-hour MBA in criminal justice program blends business and criminal justice acumen by preparing students for effective research methods, organizational administration, and understanding of criminal law. As an addition to the 36 credit-hours of core MBA courses, criminal justice coursework includes criminal justice integration, administration of justice organizations, and topics and trends in criminal justice.

Location:Lynchburg, Virginia
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (school), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (program)
Time to complete: One to three years
Tuition: Full-time (nine hours or more): $565/credit, part-time (eight hours or less): $615/credit

This 30-credit MBA program with a criminal justice specialty emphasizes providing the necessary skills to succeed in leadership positions in private and public sectors including the judicial system, law enforcement, and corrections. Students receive insight into how these types of entities are structured and managed, along with an overview of current legal and policy challenges, ethical concerns, and areas of social responsibility. Coursework includes an overview of domestic and international legal codes and their connection to modern law and criminal activity, plus juvenile justice, forensic science, and values. The final part of the online-based course is a research project that challenges students to propose solutions to a contemporary problem in criminal justice.

Location: San Diego, California
Accreditation:WASC Senior College and University Commission (school), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (program)
Time to complete: 16-41 months (five year limit)
Tuition: $2,838/course, $29,680/program

Lamar’s MBA in criminal justice management is designed to help students understand institutions, budgets, processes, and people, so that they can come up with informed decisions and policies on the spot or through long-term planning. The 36-credit curriculum focuses on business skills in management theory, business communication and organization leadership. The criminal justice component challenges students to examine current criminal justice trends and study topics like criminology and crime control. The online format allows people to take courses at their own pace.

Location: Beaumont, Texas
Time to complete: 14-16 months
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (school), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (program)
Tuition: $13,092/program, $17,988 with “leveling” courses (prerequisites for students enrolled without business/accounting foundations)

Professors to Know in Online MBA in Criminal Justice Programs

  • Melissa Baldo, JD, Lamar University

    Melissa Baldo works in Lamar University's College of Business, where she teaches business law, business law and public policy, and environmental law at the undergraduate level, as well as leadership and negotiation and the legal framework of ports and trade at the graduate level. The former federal prosecutor began teaching at Lamar in 2013 and became full-time in 2016. She studied business administration at the University of Texas Austin and received her JD from the South Texas College of Law. Notably, through her work as a federal prosecutor, Ms. Baldo received a commendation from the director of the FBI.

  • Elizabeth Koss, MBA, Liberty University

    Elizabeth Koss has taught in the Liberty University School of Business since 2015. A licensed CPA, Ms. Koss has worked in various leadership positions for public, non-profit and private clients. She was involved in several acquisition efforts, including a sale of a U.S. tech firm to an international buyer. She currently focuses on accounting but is also familiar with how to encourage students to blend theory and application.

  • George Young, PhD, Liberty University

    Dr. Young is a professor in Liberty’s School of Business, where he has worked since 2004. He leads the capstone business course, as well as those in entrepreneurship and economics. Notably, he received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and during his time at Michigan State University (where he earned his PhD in marketing), Dr. Young was awarded the USDA Needs Fellowship and the Cargill/Excel Fellowship. His research interests include supply chain management and geographic information systems.

Admission Requirements for MBA programs in Criminal Justice

Program admissions requirements vary by institution, but having demonstrated interest in business or criminal justice can be helpful for admission into certain MBA programs. Students should speak to an admissions officer to understand the specific requirements for each program, but there are general requirements students may encounter in their application process.

Admissions departments may require:

  • Proof of undergraduate degree in business, criminal justice, or a related field
  • Undergraduate transcripts with proof of minimum GPA (e.g., >3.2)
  • Proof of required prerequisite coursework or experience
  • Statement/essay of personal interest
  • GMAT/GRE scores (some programs may waive these, especially if a candidate has other graduate-level degrees or significant professional experience.)
  • Letters of reference
  • TOEFL scores for foreign students

Accreditation and State Authorization

Accreditation is a process that benefits students interested in enrolling at certain universities, and companies and agencies interested in hiring well-qualified graduates. Accredited schools are those which demonstrate that their programming is taught to a certain expectation for quality and relevance, and also provide other assets such as career placement, qualified faculty, and alumni and community support. Students in search of quality programming and companies in search of quality graduates should take accreditation into consideration.

The two most common accrediting organizations for higher education programs in business are the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Both groups focus on continuous improvement, attention to quality of classroom instruction, and verifying that correct, industry relevant information is being delivered. On an institution-wide level, more than 3,000 colleges and universities seek accreditation from organizations approved by the Council for Higher Accreditation (CHEA).

While certification is not required to work in criminal justice, students, graduates or professionals can seek membership in professional organizations in order to keep their knowledge relevant, and to network within the field. Those in criminal justice can pursue certifications and professional membership through the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences or Alpha Phi Sigma, a national Criminal Justice Honor Society affiliated with ACJS.

As a final note, though online learning programs are available in many universities, students interested in a particular school or degree program are should make sure each program is authorized to operate in their state of residence. This ensures that correct state education standards are followed to earn appropriate state licenses, provide recognized credits, and that any contractor delivering online programs in a state for a school follows correct protocol. This information can often be found on program websites, by speaking with an admissions counselor, or by checking to see if the program is an NC-SARA participant.