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Master in Criminal Justice Leadership

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Home » Programs » Master in Criminal Justice Leadership

Take Command of Your Law Enforcement Career

Today’s multifaceted criminal justice system demands ethical leaders who possess the critical thinking and problem-solving skills to address the complex issues and challenges of criminal justice in the 21st century. National University’s Master of Criminal Justice Leadership is designed to prepare you for in-demand careers in government at the local state, and federal levels.

In as few as 12 months, you can earn your Master’s in Criminal Justice Leadership and be ready to confidently pursue high-level positions in law enforcement management, correctional administration, security administration, criminal justice research, and teaching or training assignments.

NU’s flexible, online learning format is designed to accommodate the demanding schedules of adult learners. Our four-week courses allow you to focus on a single topic and conveniently fit learning into your busy lifestyle. If you’re ready to become a leader in criminal justice, NU is ready to prepare you with the industry-current credentials to achieve your career goals.

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The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

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100% of Master of Science in Criminal Justice graduates are employed in their related field.

Course Details

Core Requirements

  • 8 courses; 36 quarter units

An overview of criminal justice administration, the history of police administration, organizational systems’ theory, principles, ideology, and managerial practice that has shaped the criminal justice profession.

Recommended: Prior completion ofCJA 605

Exploration of the theory and application of leadership in various forms. The course will analyze leadership as a complex process and will draw upon diverse positions, ethical considerations and applied approaches, particularly in the area of criminal justice. Leadership will be evaluated from multiple dimensions and perspectives. An examination of emerging forms of 21st century leadership, influence and power, chaos, and collaboration. Students will experience using leadership problem-solving skills with real-life classroom scenarios.

Recommended: Prior completion ofCJA 608

An assessment of legal issues, legal terminology and analysis of court decisions involving criminal justice agencies; and exposure to criminal or civil liability involving wrongful death, wrongful termination, police corruption, and discrimination lawsuits.

Recommended: Prior completion ofCJA 615

A study of ethical, legal, and professional controversies, and personal dilemmas and approaches to solving those conflicts. Using a case study format, students evaluate personal values or biases and the abuse of power and authority. The course also examines police or justice practices involving cases of ethical or police policy violations.

Recommended: Prior completion ofCJA 624

An exploration of the history of the U.S. Constitution, separation of powers, and the rights and protections of the accused; an exploration of case law, the judicial system and judicial review, and the rights and responsibilities of the government and citizenry.

Recommended: Prior completion ofCJA 630

An overview course that explores the important criminological theories. The course will evaluate and compare the following theories: Classical, Positivist, Trait, Social Disorganization, Differential Association, Strain, Control, Labeling, Radical Choice, Deterrence, and Feminist theories. The course will analyze each theory and its relevance to crime in 21st century America.

PrerequisiteStudents must have successfully completed three core courses in the MCJ program prior to being enrolled into CJA 690A.

A capstone project course in which students develop solutions to identified problems. In the capstone course students will learn to identify problems or issues in the criminal justice arena and develop solutions or responses to those problems. The course will culminate with a final presented project.

PrerequisiteCJA 690A

This is the second half of the capstone project course in which students continue to develop solutions to identified problems. In the capstone course students will learn to identify problems or issues in the criminal justice arena and develop solutions or responses to those problems. The course will culminate with a final presented project.

Program Electives

  • 3 courses; 13.5 quarter units

A focus on contemporary issues related to problem-oriented policing (POP) and community-oriented policing (COP). Other topics include morale, motivation, retention, selection, recruitment, standards and training, evidence, arrest, lethal force, victim-witness, police reserves, and the cooperation of citizens in law enforcement by the criminal justice manager.

A comparison of the American criminal justice system with other systems around the world. Students will evaluate the systems of law, police, courts and corrections in 30 different countries and examine the diversity that exists in the world legal systems. Also examines and compares American and foreign justice policies.

This course examines the causes of criminal victimization and looks at theories associated with violent victimization. It analyzes the offender-victim relationship, and presents ideas on preventing violence, and on responding to criminal victimization.

Degree and Course Requirements

To receive a Master in Criminal Justice Leadership (MCJ), which is designed to provide students with the required knowledge and competence in administration, management and problem-solving skills in the challenging and demanding careers of Criminal Justice in the fields of criminal justice administration and criminal justice research and development. Students completing the Master in Criminal Justice Leadership are exposed to both theoretical and applied models and concepts in criminal justice administration, as well as qualitative and quantitative research methods. The Master in Criminal Justice Leadership program integrates theory with practice to provide graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to address the complex issues and challenges of criminal justice in the 21st century. Students in this program develop the problem-solving and research skills as well as technological expertise necessary to analyze reality-based cases and assignments to develop strategies and solutions that are both practical and effective. Challenging and demanding careers in government at the local, state, and federal level in the administration of justice, law enforcement management, correctional administration, security administration, and criminal justice research as well as teaching and training assignments await graduates with a Master in Criminal Justice Leadership. Students must complete at least 49.5 quarter units of graduate work. A total of 9.0 quarter units of graduate credit may be granted for equivalent graduate work completed at another institution, as it applies to this degree, and provided the units have not been used to satisfy the requirements of an awarded degree.

Students should refer to the section on graduate admission requirements for specific information regarding application and evaluation.

Criminal justice is a broad field encompassing a diverse range of roles and responsibilities. From detectives and criminal investigators to social service counselors, corrections officers, and criminal justice educators, there’s a growing demand for senior-level leaders with industry-current knowledge and skills.

NU’s Master’s in Criminal Justice Leadership can prepare you for advancement in your current position or open up new opportunities in:

  • Law enforcement
  • Security & correction
  • Drug enforcement
  • Customs
  • Criminal investigation
  • State and local government
  • Community advocacy
  • Public policy

While you don’t need a master’s degree to enter the field of criminal justice, advancing to a senior-level position usually requires advanced communications, critical thinking, leadership, and technology skills. Build these credentials, and you’ll be well positioned to take advantage of the growing demand for leaders across a broad range of criminal justice careers.*

For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that industries with the highest published employment and wages for protective service occupations include:

  • Supervisors of correctional officers
  • Detectives and criminal investigators
  • Gambling surveillance officers
  • Supervisors of police and detectives

Careers specifically requiring a master’s in criminal justice can include educators such as associate or assistant professors, adjunct instructors, faculties at community colleges as well as some 4-year private and public colleges and universities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for police officers and detectives nationwide was $67,290 in 2020. Police and detective supervisors can make significantly more — a mean annual wage of $91,590 in 2017. California police officers have some of the highest salaries in the country, with an annual mean wage of $107,440.

The median annual pay for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists was $55,690 in 2020.

Overall, employment of police and detectives is expected to grow 7 percent between 2020 and 2030.

National University offers a variety of course formats, including online, on-site, and hybrid courses. In this program, you will take:

  • On-site courses – This includes on-ground, in-person course instruction, which could be either on-site or at another learning site at a specific time, place, and location. On-site courses may have course information, work, or other education-related items delivered through online environments and tools.
  • Online courses – This includes instruction that is fully virtual and online, comprised of regular and substantive interaction between students and their instructors in either an asynchronous or synchronous format. Asynchronous online classrooms provide instruction, lessons, and coursework via an online learning management system that allows students to view instructional materials each week at times of their choice. Synchronous classes require students to log in, engage, and attend at specific times and dates, leveraging web and videoconferencing technologies to provide instruction, lessons, and coursework in real time.

Please note that the modality of any course may vary from the scheduling of any program-specific courses on a month-to-month basis.

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics, on the internet, at

Program Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of National University’s Master’s in Criminal Justice Leadership program, you’ll have knowledge, skills, and capacities in the following areas:

  • Apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to real world criminal justice administration issues.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking skills to differentiate leadership approaches utilizing current and emerging leadership theories and case studies.
  • Analyze theoretical, criminological, and philosophical  foundations of criminal justice administration.
  • Evaluate the constitutional aspects of civil and criminal liabilities in modern society.
  • Evaluate leadership theory and integrate diverse leadership perspectives into real world application.
  • Appraise and determine what ethical and unethical conduct is.
  • Develop oral, written, and technological communication for criminal justice professionals.

Hear From Our Faculty

Become a leader in 21st-century law enforcement with National University’s accredited Master of Criminal Justice Leadership program. Learn more & apply online today.


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Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.