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M.A. in Criminal Justice Leadership: Curriculum

Curriculum Details

36 Total Credits Required

The online M.A. in Criminal Justice requires 36 credit hours of coursework covering research methods in criminal justice, correctional design, ethics in criminal justice leadership, and legal and legislative issues.

The criminal justice online master’s program can be completed in just over two years, although your transfer credits and general education coursework will vary the time it takes you to finish.

Required Courses


The premise of this course is leaders must have an understanding of who they are and why they are here. Students will devote considerable time to self-examination and reflection to gain greater awareness and understanding of who they are, and how their life and professional experiences influence their paradigms and leadership qualities. There is an emphasis on attitude and emotional intelligence and how they influence leadership effectiveness and results.

This course is designed to familiarize students with the scope, function of information, and the research process within professional multi-systemic criminal justice leadership. Students will be provided with fundamental concepts and methods in the research literature, building skillsets in consuming literature by critically evaluating and reporting the body of research and statistics on issues related to multi-systemic criminal justice leadership. Critical problem-solving serves as a primary function in further shaping ideas, developing strategies, and effectively communicating solutions and change within the discipline. Students will also reflect on program objectives and personal learning and identify a direct link between the new knowledge they have acquired and their career field.

This course is a scholarly consideration of the concepts, principles, and analytical tools for effectively administering criminal justice agencies. Students will examine the critical application of strategic management skills in operational environments that are ever-changing, under intensive scrutiny by the public and media, and limited by legal, financial, and political constraints.

Those in leadership positions find themselves with a greater duty to recognize and respond to legal issues. This course examines how law defines policy in areas impacting the business of criminal justice, including due process, civil rights, equal protection, employment law, civil liability, and criminal procedure. In addition to identifying emerging law, this class addresses the political science of public policy at jurisdictional levels, including the United States Supreme Court.

This course examines the philosophies, roles, and designs in evolving correctional practices being employed through the 21st century. This will entail exploring the challenge of instilling a cultural shift within the vocation from that of containment and surveillance to one of change agent. Students will be exposed to the most current research and trends while exploring the evolution of Correctional thinking from the now infamous 1974 proclamation that “Nothing Works” to the era of Evidence Based Practices. This will involve not only a thorough look at why individuals enter into and persist in a life of criminality and delinquency, but also why those individuals desist from the lifestyle. Students will address leadership, legal, political, and financial issues impacting the effectiveness of corrections in a society with increasing demands and expectations of the criminal justice system.

This course will review and analyze popular models of ethical decision making and problems criminal justice professionals face every day. Readings, case studies, and written assignments will provide opportunities to investigate current ethical issues facing criminal justice leaders and managers in organizational settings, as well as critically apply various ethical theories and decision-making frameworks. Discussions relative to Christian vocation, applied ethics, and value-centered leadership will be explored. Weekly written assignments will demonstrate the integration of a personal and vocation ethic.

This course is designed to help students identify their own beliefs about the people they work with or who work for them, as well as to focus on the importance of understanding self/others as an integral part of any organizational change. We will examine the needs of people, responses of managers, the importance of how to discipline, alternatives to discipline, and how to work with troubled employees. Furthermore, this course examines stress from a leadership perspective by asking why and how employers should respond to mental health issues. Theory, research, and trends in employee assistance are discussed as students consider how employers can help prevent, mitigate, and respond to emotional issues impacting personnel on the job.

In this course, students will develop leadership vision and adaptive solutions, as well as build confidence as active change agents in the multi-systemic criminal justice system. The course will focus on the complex dynamics of criminal justice, including organizational, cultural, socioeconomic, and political influences. Students will explore such policies as financial forecasting, risk decisions under conditions of uncertainty, and vulnerability in managing exposure risks that further impact leadership decision-making. Students will engage in practical, scenario-based learning and develop the best-practice creative problem-solving tactics, techniques, and enhancing the skills needed to be effective leaders in criminal justice.

The Capstone course is the concluding event of the program. This course assists students in synthesizing previous coursework and research leading to greater self-reflection, application to their career field, and an assessment of their learning throughout the duration of the program. The student will present and discuss the final M.A. Capstone E-folio.

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