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As an advanced business degree, the MBA provides the education needed for lucrative and growing occupations in criminal justice, business, and financial operations. By providing knowledge of the business and administrative aspects of the criminal justice system, this degree often helps professionals working in the criminal justice field to advance their careers and cultivate new and in-demand skills. Meanwhile, online criminal justice MBAs give students new to criminal justice an edge over bachelor's degree-holding competitors.
The page below outlines this degree and its various potential uses. Also see below for helpful program and career choice guidance, relevant professional organizations, and available criminal justice scholarships.
What Is an MBA in Criminal Justice?
Designed for aspiring criminal justice system managers, this MBA's curriculum combines core business courses such as communications and accounting with criminal justice-focused topics such as correctional systems and criminology. This degree often prepares students for lucrative careers in law enforcement, the legal system, or the corrections system. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), top employers for criminal investigators include governments and schools.
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Grow your career, leadership, and business acumen with an accredited online MBA program.
Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Criminal Justice?
Earning your MBA online allows you to advance your career and salary in your spare time, from the convenience of home. Criminal justice MBA programs emphasize networking and often utilize internships and partnerships with local organizations, so applying to programs in your region may lead to more connections. However, online students may apply to high-quality criminal justice programs anywhere in the country.
As an advanced degree, the MBA meets educational requirements for many higher-level positions. Online criminal justice MBA programs also prepare students for upper-level jobs in the field by cultivating both administrative skills and specialized knowledge. Graduates may become law enforcement leaders such as police chiefs, wardens, or parole officers, or they may find work in forensic science, criminal law, or court systems.
Criminal justice management salaries vary widely based on position and work context, but the three sample careers described below fall in the $80,000-85,000 range.
What Can You Do With an MBA in Criminal Justice?
Detectives and Criminal Investigators
Criminal Defense Lawyer
Deputy Chief, Police Department
Online MBA in Criminal Justice Curriculum
Online criminal justice MBA curricula incorporate business administration and criminal justice coursework, but courses and specialization areas vary by program. The courses below appear on many criminal justice MBA core course lists.
Theories of Criminal Behavior
This course explores the diverse psychological, biological, and sociological causes of criminal behavior by reviewing current criminology theory on these topics. The course also touches on relevant topics such as crime prevention and corrections.
This course takes students through the criminal justice system's procedures in processing victims and protecting victims' rights. The course also looks at the potential long-term impacts of victimization.
Focused on the rapidly expanding arena of computer-related crime, this course examines costs, legal issues, and solution methods involved. Other topics include prevention, punishment, and reparation for victims.
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How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Criminal Justice Program
When choosing between online criminal justice MBA programs, many factors merit consideration. Perhaps most importantly, pay attention to accreditation standards and program reputation. Schools and employers typically view higher education institutions accredited by regional accrediting agencies as more prestigious than nationally accredited institutions. Look for online MBA programs that also boast programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and/or the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.
Consider locational factors as well. Smaller schools may talk of their positive local reputation, but they may not garner as much respect if you apply for jobs in different regions. Furthermore, attending schools within commuting distance of your home can greatly improve networking and employment opportunities. Some criminal justice MBA programs partner with local organizations and feature on-site internships which facilitate networking and boost your criminal justice resume.
Regionally accredited schools often cost more than nationally accredited schools; however, the former often provide more financial aid options for qualified students. Students who have time for full-time or a greater course load can save money by attending schools charging flat tuition rates per semester. Accelerated online MBA programs may also cost less. However, busy working professionals should consider time constraints realistically and consider programs with part-time attendance options.
Scholarships for Criminal Justice MBA Programs
Top online MBA programs can carry large price tags, but fortunately college students can pursue many financial aid avenues, including scholarships. Unlike loans, scholarships never need to be repaid, so take the time to search for and apply to need-based, identity-based, and merit-based scholarships for which you qualify. Some criminal justice MBA students may qualify for the scholarships introduced below.
Ritchie Jennings Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Funded by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), this scholarship provides financial support to students interested in anti-fraud education and careers. Applicants must be full-time graduate or undergraduate students enrolled in accredited four-year schools; interested in anti-fraud careers; and pursuing degrees related to criminal justice, business administration, finance, or accounting.
Amount: $1,000-10,000 + one year ACFE Student Associate Membership
American Criminal Justice Association Lambda Alpha Epsilon Scholarship
Who Can Apply: ACJA-LAE awards scholarships to U.S. citizens enrolled in undergraduate or graduate criminal justice programs at least two-thirds' time. Candidates must hold 3.0+ GPAs and submit a statement of educational and career goals.
Pi Gamma Mu Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Pi Gamma Mu honor society awards scholarships to members in their first- or second-year of graduate study in sociology disciplines such as criminal justice, political science, and social work.
Women in Federal Law Enforcement Regular Scholarship
Who Can Apply: WIFLE awards scholarships to women with U.S. citizenship, 3.0+ GPAs, and full-time enrollment in criminal justice or related programs at accredited schools. Applicants need a recommendation letter and must submit a 500 word essay detailing their involvement in a community project.
American Society of Criminology Gene Carte Student Paper Competition Scholarships
Who Can Apply: ASC offers scholarship competition opportunities to eligible full-time undergraduate or graduate students. Candidates must submit a criminology-related paper of up to 7,500 words.
Professional Organizations for Criminal Justice
Criminal justice students and professionals seeking education, career advancement, and networking resources often join or consult professional organizations relevant to this field. These organizations keep criminal justice professionals current by running conferences, publishing new research, and offering continuing education. Professional organizations can help criminal justice MBA students find mentorship, internship, and employment opportunities.
Since 1963, this multidisciplinary, international organization has supported criminal justice students and professionals by providing resources including conferences, programs, publications, and employment tools. ACJS influences criminal justice research, education, and policy analysis.
Dedicated to advancing criminology research and criminal justice practice, ASC maintains 14 divisions focused on relevant criminal justice topics and publishes the journals Criminology and Criminology & Public Policy. ASC also features job-finding tools, a member directory, and other networking tools.
Originally called the National Prison Association when founded in 1870, ACA aspires to improve the justice system by providing leadership and guiding principles to the world of corrections. ACA offers many resources including conferences, professional development, and publications.
The IAWP seeks to unite policewomen, support diversity, and align police work with human rights. This organization provides a relevant online reading room, runs annual programs and conferences, and grants scholarships and awards.
Designed to improve crime analysis skills and practice, IACA establishes professional standards and offers networking and training opportunities for criminal justice professionals and students.
Top Online MBA Programs in Criminal Justice
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