Tasked with investigating and solving crime, these professionals spend their time gathering diverse types of information about crimes and suspects. Daily activities may include interviewing, surveillance, and records research. Detectives and criminal investigators may work at local, state, or federal levels and may specialize in areas such as cyber crime or missing persons. Detectives and criminal investigators made a median annual salary of $85,020 as of May 2018, and the BLS projects 2.5% growth in detective and criminal investigator positions during 2018-2028.
Top Online MBA Programs in Criminal Justice
Are you ready to discover your MBA program?
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.
Online MBA Programs for You
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
Tasked with defending alleged criminal clients in court, criminal defense lawyers review evidence, complete legal research, and represent their clients in court. This involves questioning witnesses and victims brought forward by the prosecution. Criminal defense lawyers need excellent analytical, research, and communication skills. These lawyers’ salaries average about $80,000 annually, according to PayScale, and the BLS projects 6% growth in lawyer positions from 2018-2028.
Deputy Chief, Police Department
Deputy police chiefs assist the chief of police in police department management. Duties include hiring, training, evaluating, and disciplining police department staff and providing other administrative support. Deputy chiefs need considerable relevant work experience, degrees in criminal justice or related fields, and on-the-job training. Deputy chiefs also need skills in leadership, professionalism, program development, and collaboration. PayScale data places deputy police chiefs’ median salary at about $82,000 annually. The BLS projects 4.8% growth in careers for police and detective supervisors between 2018 and 2028.
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.
See More Top MBA Programs
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
How We Rank Online MBA Programs
Want to know how we create our rankings? We assess schools based on academic quality, affordability, online flexibility, and student success.
Accredited Online College Programs
Online MBA programs offer a flexible path to a prestigious professional degree. Explore opportunities with this guide to the top-ranked U.S. programs of 2021.
Accelerated MBA programs help working professionals advance their careers without leaving work. Learn more about the top accelerated online MBA programs.
Earning an MBA should increase graduates' purchasing power, not cost them an arm and a leg. Learn more about the most affordable online MBA programs and how to apply.
Search Programs by Concentration
View schools and degrees from across the country.
Find the right program to advance your career.