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Find Your MBA Program

Guide to MBA in Criminal Justice

October 16, 2012 6:21 pm

People who already work in a field of criminal justice, like law administration, law enforcement, forensic science, correctional administration or security management; as well as those who are interested in a new career, could consider an MBA in Criminal Justice, which will significantly improve their job and advancement opportunities. The criminal justice MBA is one of the newest MBA programs, which demonstrates that the field of criminal justice is growing and changing significantly. Indeed, management and administration of this system is becoming vital to its success. The goal is to ensure justice prevails, by managing criminals, enforcing law and processing information in a competent and professional manner.

What We Do

Someone who has graduated from an MBA in Criminal Justice program will generally take on an administrative and managerial role in a field of criminal justice. Many students have already been working in law enforcement for many years and this degree usually qualifies them to move up the ladder and take on more senior positions. These positions can be held in juvenile detention centers, correctional facilities, law enforcement agencies, court houses and any other institution that is dedicated to enforcing the law and preventing and controlling crime.

Why It’s Hot

According to, the average salary of someone in law enforcement or criminal justice is $37,788 as of March 2015. This can rise to as much as $118,417, which is particularly true for those who hold an MBA. The field of law enforcement is changing rapidly as crime is becoming increasingly digital and international.

Work Environment

Someone who holds a criminal justice MBA can work in a range of environments. Much of the work will be done behind desks, but some will also work in the field. For instance, there are CIA Officers, ATF Agents, Crime Scene Investigators, Computer Forensics Officers, Custom’s Agents, Criminologists, DEA Officers, Homeland Security Officers, Police Detectives, INS Agents, Private Investigators, Secret Service Agents, Sheriffs, Probation Offices and US Marshall, to name but a few. This demonstrates just how varied the work environment actually is. Some will work solely in offices, others will work on the streets, others still across a range of different organizations.

How to Do It

In order to earn an MBA in Criminal Justice, you will need to hold a bachelor’s degree first. This takes around four years to complete. There are various bachelor majors that you could choose from that fit in with the MBA degree later. These include law, sociology, criminology, psychology and more. Admissions to these programs is incredibly competitive, not in the least because there are not that many schools yet who offer this program. In almost all cases, students must first pass the GMAT exam, and only those who do well on this and also show other core competencies will be accepted. It is for this reason that you should be properly prepared before starting the admissions process, and why you should apply to a variety of schools.

While there are only limited numbers of MBA programs with this specialization available at present, those that do exist are very good. One on campus program is offered by the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice. Rutgers University also offers this Criminal Justice MBA program online. This school was established by the New Jersey State Legislature in 1972. This legislature was put in place because it was clear that there was a need for a formal education program to prepare the next generation of leaders in teaching, research and public policy, specific to the field of criminal justice. The influence of the school and the impact they have had can be seen all over the country.

MBA in Criminal Justice Online

Because the MBA in Criminal Justice is often a continuation of an existing career, many programs are offered online, thereby enabling students to work and study at the same time.


#1 Online MBA with Criminal Justice Administration


Visit Liberty University

This MBA prepares students to become leaders in the field of criminal justice and business. It includes organizational administration, effective research methods as well as criminal law. It explores national and global crime issues and helps students to become involved in creating a better future by applying ethics in a professional atmosphere.

 #2 Online Criminal Justice MBA


Visit Northcentral University

Northcentral provides students with the advanced analytical capabilities and competencies to take on roles of leadership and management in institutions relating to law. They learn about the organizational and operational structures of police and other law enforcement agencies and the concepts that apply to them. Additionally, the degree looks at what can only be described as a multicultural network across the globe, and how dynamic this is in nature. It looks at the various legal codes and traditions in different countries and how these connect to law enforcement responses and criminal activity alike, as well as touching on the legal system itself and ethics. Graduates are able to work in a variety of different fields.

#3 Online Masters of Business Administration MBA


Visit Rutgers University

Get your Online MBA and be prepared for a career in Criminal Justice. Our 100 percent online and AACSB-accredited M.B.A. program gives you the flexibility to enhance your expertise—and your career—without having to put your life on hold. Top 30 “Public National Universities” (U.S. News & World Report: America’s Best Colleges), No. 10 “Schools Producing the Most Fortune 500 CEOs,” (U.S. News & World Report), No. 21 in the nation, corporate recruiter pick for best graduates (Wall Street Journal).



Pros & Cons

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to pursuing an MBA in Criminal Justice.


  • It is a field in which there will always be demand.
  • Positions are reasonably well paid.
  • You will enjoy a varied job, where no two days are ever the same.


  • It can be costly, but in terms of time and money, to complete this degree.
  • You have to be thick-skinned, as many of the people you will deal with will either be criminals or victims.
  • The risk of burnout is high, particularly as you may have to work long and unsociable hours.

Financial Aid

  • Nellie Martin Carman Scholarship Fund – An award of up to $2,000 for those who study in the state of Washington. Around 30 awards are granted each year.
  • North Carolina Sheriffs Association – Available to Criminal Justice undergraduates who are NC residents and full time students. The grant must go towards the cost of tuition.
  • SFSB – David E. Maccianti Memorial Scholarship – Available to those who wish to enter a career in law enforcement.
  • Islamic Scholarship Fund – Grants that encourage Muslims to take part in post-graduate education in a field relating to social sciences, humanities, law and liberal arts. Deserving students are granted between $1,000 and $10,000.
  • Out To Protect Scholarship – Offered to students who are a member of the LGBT community and wish to become involved in law enforcement through a basic training program. The scholarship aims to provide positive role models for those who are “out”, as this will break down stereotypes about LGBT communities. Additionally, it recognizes the courage required in order to “come out”.

Career Paths

You have many exciting career options with an MBA in criminal justice. Here are some of the most popular and rewarding career paths for those seeking a criminal justice MBA:

  • First line supervisor of detectives and police. This involves working in law enforcement management detectives, police offers and more. You will be the administrator in various investigative process, ensuring that the agency is working properly. You will coordinate and manage investigations, keep reports and logs, offer training, monitor performance, authorize promotions and transfers and more. To do well at this job, you must have strong communication and organizational skills.
  • Prison warden. This involves managing correctional institutions across the country. Your role will be to make sure everybody is safe. This can be a highly stressful position, and it is highly likely that things will get out of control from time to time, which you must be able to manage. As a warden, you will plan policy, administer funds, maintain the build and be a leader to other staff members. You will also be responsible for hiring new people, making decisions in terms of prisoner placements and transfers, provide work programs and education for prisoners and more. Essentially, you will be the public face of the institution, meaning you will also have to deal with the media.
  • Criminologist. These crime professionals normally work in local, state and federal law enforcement. They work on studying and analyzing the behavior of criminals so as to determine their motivations. Once you have determined a common criminal pattern, law enforcement then will use that information to assess future criminal situations to prevent these events from occurring. Most federal and private industry organizations today want their criminologists to hold a master’s degree in criminal justice or behavioral science, but an MBA focusing on criminal justice should be sufficient to enter the field.
  • FBI agent. The US government is always looking for highly educated and qualified law enforcement candidates to help it conduct FBI investigations around the US. The main jobs of FBI special agents are to investigate federal crimes. Some of what you will do includes interviewing sources and doing FBI surveillance. This might include doing wiretapping that has been authorized by a court or working entirely undercover. FBI agents also often do arrests, raids, search warrants and other types of risky activities. The majority of FBI agents have a strong background in criminal justice, political science, computer science or accounting.
  • Military police officer. Military police must protect both the lives and property of all enlisted personnel by enforcing relevant regulations and military laws. They also must deal with criminal matters on military bases. A military police officer goes on regular patrols, interviews witnesses, victims and suspects in criminal investigations and does crime scene security processing. To become an officer in the military police, you usually need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in the area of criminal justice. The armed forces have raised their standards in the last decade, and most likely you will find strong demand with an MBA.
  • Border patrol agent supervisor. These are the law enforcement officers that work for US Customs and Border Protection. They are mainly charged with patrolling both the Mexican and Canadian international borders, as well as the coastal waters around Florida. While you do not need to have a particular degree to work in the Border Patrol, it is very helpful to have a degree in criminal justice, and having an MBA with a criminal justice focus can help you to working into supervisory roles quite rapidly.
  • Private investigator. A person in this profession will look for vital information about financial, legal and personal matters. A private investigator can offer many types of legal related services, including verifying statements and backgrounds of people, looking for missing people and more. Most professionals in this line of work have to have several years of law enforcement experience, and many have graduate educations. Many in the private investigation field may work as corporate investigators, which often involves working in finance, accounting and business, so having an MBA is especially helpful for entering this competitive field and earning promotions.
  • Customs agent. These federal employees work for US Customs and Border Protection, and are responsible for enforcing all US customs laws for all products and individuals that enter and leave the US. These agents work at every airport, seaport and land border crossing to make sure that to detect and confiscate any smuggled goods or people who are entering the US illegally.
  • Court administrator. You will be managing the operations of a courthouse and ensuring the proceedings of the public and attorneys are coordinated properly. You will be responsible for the court budgets and perform accounting jobs, also ensuring it operates within the law. You will also deal with administration, including jury and pretrial services and assigning different attorneys. While this job can be done with a bachelor’s degree, rather than an MBA, it is becoming increasingly common for courts to require a master’s degree. Additionally, if you do hold an MBA, you will be more likely to receive higher pay and you will be more likely to be promoted. As dealing with revenues and budgets become increasingly important within court administration, there is a particularly high demand for those with an MBA, as they have a specific education to business management, enabling them to deal not just with the law, but also with regular administration.

Further Reading

Suggested Websites

Six websites with helpful resources for those working in field relevant to an MBA in Criminal Justice

Take the First Step

In an increasingly global, competitive marketplace, having MBA-level management and leadership skills are absolutely critical to your career progression. With a top level, online MBA degree, you will become a business leader who can run a leaner, more efficient business, create a better business dynamic in your company, and also discover new, better paying business opportunities to expand your career.

Use our website to learn about all of the online MBA options available to you today.