Online MBA in Criminal Justice Programs

The country’s legal system has taken a closer look at itself over the last few years. A variety of past practices 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 for entry-level positions more competitive.

In addition to being socially useful, legal careers and management careers are expected to grow in the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022), the greater legal profession is predicted to grow 10 percent in the decade preceding 2031, and management positions are expected to grow by 8 percent—both faster than the predicted growth of 5 percent for all occupations. As of May 2021, legal occupations paid a median annual wage of $82,430, and management positions paid a median annual wage of 102,450.

Educational institutions in all disciplines recognize the need for advanced career training to fit into the already-established lives of working professionals or stay-at-home parents. As a result, many online MBA programs and flexible MBA programs are 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 allow students to take courses across state lines without having to move physically. 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
Texas A&M International University Online MBA - Criminal Justice View Full Profile
Lamar University Online MBA - Criminal Justice Mgmt View Full Profile

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Online MBA in Criminal Justice Degree Programs

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. By studying a range of topics in specialized criminal justice, business, and leadership, students will gain the knowledge, experiences, and skills required to quickly advance to a range of criminal justice fields.

In addition to organizational leadership, business communication, and management theory, students will explore legal trends and issues associated with law enforcement leadership and business. Graduates will be able to become skilled managerial decision-makers with positive leadership traits and develop an understanding of several aspects of control, punishment, and crime prevention.

The 30-credit curriculum includes core MBA courses such as managerial accounting; managerial decision-making; managerial economics; financial management; strategic management; and marketing management, among others. The criminal justice component challenges students to examine current criminal justice trends and study courses such as criminal justice system and policy; theoretical foundations of crime control; criminal justice leadership. The online format allows people to take courses at their own pace. Students with no previous undergraduate study in business will be required to take two leveling courses.

Location: Beaumont, TX
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
Estimated Tuition: Without leveling courses ($11,754); with leveling courses ($14,280)

Texas A&M International University’s (TAMIU) A.R. Sanchez, Jr. School of Business offers an online master of business administration program in criminal justice, providing students with a broad-based business education with criminal justice expertise. Students can expand their business knowledge and open their careers to rewarding opportunities. Blending a broad-based understanding of business operations with criminal justice expertise, the program helps students qualify for public and private sector management roles and advance in the criminal justice field.

The program consists of 30 credits and includes core MBA courses such as business research methods; strategic management; financial statement analysis; managerial economics; and financial management. Courses in the criminal justice specialization include foundations in criminal justice; white-collar crime; and cybercrime.

Graduates of the program will be ready to take up positions such as financial examiners, private investigators, correctional facility administrators, customs agents, and homeland security agents.

Location: Laredo, TX
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
Expected Time to Completion: 21 months
Estimated Tuition: In-state ($10,991); out-of-state ($30,900)

This program at Widener is unique because it is a dual master of jurisprudence (MJ) in corporate and business law and an 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, dual MJ/MBA program students 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 on 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.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as leading organizations and people; introduction to law; critical legal analysis & writing; information systems and data analytics; risk management & auditing; ethics and compliance fundamentals & the profession; corporate deviance; advanced compliance analysis; and strategic financial management.

Location: Chester, PA
Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International); Compliance Certification Board (CCB); Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Expected Time to Completion: 30 months
Estimated Tuition: MBA courses ($1,094 per credit); jurisprudence courses ($1,793 per credit)

A non-profit, Christian-affiliated school, Liberty University offers an MBA designed to provide current business, management, and entrepreneurship skills. Liberty offers more than 20 different MBA cognates, one of which is criminal justice administration. The 45-credit MBA in criminal justice administration program blends business and criminal justice acumen by preparing students for effective research methods, organizational administration, and understanding criminal law.

In addition to the 33 credits of core MBA courses, criminal justice coursework includes criminal justice integration; administration of justice organizations; and topics and trends in criminal justice. Core MBA courses include strategic marketing management; managerial finance; legal issues in business; business research methods; accounting for decision-making; international business; organizational design & structure; and global economic environment.

Graduates of this concentration will be able to take up roles in fields such as administration, corrections, casework, counseling, probation and parole, juvenile justice, and social services.

Location: Lynchburg, VA
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
Estimated Tuition: $565 per 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.

The curriculum includes core courses such as comprehensive strategic knowledge studies; managing people and teams; managerial decision-making; managing business finances; operations management; and innovation and marketing. The criminal Justice specialization explores courses such as an introduction to criminal justice; organized crime; and current issues in law enforcement.

Location: San Diego, CA
Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
Expected Time to Completion: 16 to 20 months
Estimated Tuition: $960 per credit

The level of education provided by the Union Institute & University’s MBA program in criminal justice management will provide students with a unique skill set that will make them particularly employable as police executives. Graduates earning this MBA can move through the ranks and achieve roles at the executive level, such as police chiefs, directors of law agencies, and prison wardens. With both full and part-time options available, this program offers six start dates throughout the year and can be completed entirely online with no residency requirements.

On the business side, graduates will gain skills in finance, organizational behavior, decision-making, and strategic planning. On the criminal justice side, they will learn about legal issues, police technology, cross-cultural communication, and managing organizational change.

The program’s 36-credit curriculum includes core courses such as strategic management and organizational changes; financial and accounting management; management and leadership; strategic marketing management in a digital age; and ethics in context. Courses in the criminal justice concentration include managing organizational change in criminal justice management; cross-cultural communications in criminal justice management; global management in criminal justice management; legal issues in criminal justice management; and organizational research, analytics, and innovative solution-building in criminal justice management.

Location: Cincinnati, OH
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
Estimated Tuition: $600 per credit

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 the 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 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.

Finally, though online learning programs are available in many universities, students interested in a particular school or degree program should ensure 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.

Professors to Know in Online MBA in Criminal Justice Programs

  • Melissa Baldo, JD, Lamar University

    Melissa Baldo teaches various business and justice courses through the school’s online program, including the legal environment of business. 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. Through her work as a federal prosecutor, Ms. Baldo received commendations from the director of the FBI.

  • Elizabeth Koss, DBA, Liberty University

    Dr. Elizabeth Koss has taught at 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 selling a U.S. tech firm to an international buyer. She currently focuses on accounting but is also familiar with encouraging students to blend theory and application. Dr. Koss completed her DBA, MBA, and BS at Liberty University.

  • George Young, PhD, Liberty University

    Dr. George Young is a professor in Liberty’s School of Business, where he has worked since 2004. He leads the capstone business course and those in entrepreneurship and economics. Notably, he received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

    While at Michigan State University, Dr. Young was awarded the USDA Needs Fellowship and the Cargill/Excel Fellowship. His research interests include supply chain management and geographic information systems. He earned his PhD in marketing from Michigan State University, and his MS and BS degrees from Arizona State University.

Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani

Farheen Gani is an expert in online MBA programs, having covered MBA programs in computer science, economics, healthcare management, and fraud and forensics, among others, 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).