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Why Criminal Justice Workers Should Consider an MBA

Criminal justice management is the oversight of criminal justice systems. This includes supervising and managing all the people, policies, procedures and operations such systems involve. Career roles in criminal justice management can include police chiefs, directors of law enforcement agencies, parole officers, emergency management directors and prison wardens — at the city, state or federal levels. Managers in criminal justice professions may supervise line officers, investigators, court officers, correction officers, probation officers, child welfare workers and support staff.

With such a broad array of responsibilities, criminal justice management requires that individuals understand not only all police, security and emergency disaster procedures but also organizational behavior, finance and strategic decision-making. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with a focus on criminal justice management can provide critical training and education for individuals seeking to enter or advance in the criminal justice field.

Online criminal justice MBA programs like the one offered by Lamar University often include courses in criminal justice leadership, theories of crime control and criminal justice policy. Core business studies in subjects like marketing, economics, accounting, data-driven decision-making, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and strategic management further prepare law enforcement professionals to be effective in organizational leadership roles.

Criminal Justice Management Continues to Evolve

Criminal justice programs have changed throughout the U.S. in the past few decades, as priority has fallen upon cooperation between the various parts of the criminal justice system, such as courts, correctional facilities and law enforcement agencies. In addition, local, state and federal criminal justice systems are collaborating more effectively to apprehend and adjudicate individuals who are suspected of crimes.

This collaboration dates back several decades to the passage of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. Criminal justice management took on an expanded role after the passage of the act and subsequent amendments. Criminal justice systems began to look outside of their own jurisdictions to share information with other systems that could help prevent crime.

Modern technologies are further revolutionizing how criminal justice organizations carry out myriad processes, including collaboration across agencies. For instance, vast amounts of data from multiple law enforcement agencies can be shared, aggregated and analyzed in real time, aiding in inter-agency operations and cooperation. Predictive analytics can also help law enforcement agencies like police forces forecast, prepare for and prevent both crime and negative policing incidents.

Change Management

These advancements in tech- and data-driven policing practices are developing amidst a higher degree of public scrutiny over unjust police behavior, policies and ongoing calls for reform. This environment is driving change in criminal justice management, requiring those in leadership positions to develop a closer, more collaborative relationship with the community they serve.

These leaders must also act as change agents within their organizations, transforming organizational culture, policy, policing methods and priorities. To manage this change effectively, professionals need the expertise and skill with strategic management, data-driven decision-making and leadership practices that a quality criminal justice MBA program like Lamar University’s can provide.

A Range of Career Opportunities

Crime dramas on television sometimes glamorize the criminal justice profession. In reality, the field is more nuanced than what you might see on TV. Graduates of an online MBA program with an emphasis in criminal justice management may have the chance to work in one or more of these areas:

  • Courts
  • Law enforcement
  • Corrections
  • Forensic science
  • Criminal law

Jobs in criminal justice run the gamut, from bailiff to CIA officer. Because the field is so diverse, job and salary prospects vary widely, but earning an MBA can open up more leadership career opportunities, including chances to earn a higher salary. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median 2021 salary for first-line supervisors of police and detectives was $99,330 — nearly twice the median salary for all protective service occupations (including entry-level criminal justice professions).

Robust and proactive networking, which is now a key part of criminal justice management, is one of the core practices promoted by most online MBA programs. Learning how to network is not the only reason a person interested in criminal justice management might choose to pursue an online MBA program, but it can be beneficial when it comes to understanding and leading large groups of people with specialized skills.

The diversity of the field and the abundant opportunities may lead enterprising criminal justice professionals to consider an online MBA program, not only to reinforce their skills but also to fast-track their career paths.

Learn about the Lamar University online MBA in Criminal Justice Management program.

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