The difference between an MBA and a master’s in criminal justice

More citizens are incarcerated in the U.S. than in any other country in the world. Over 6 million adults are locked up, on probation or on parole. This dramatic count affects not only those who are incarcerated or who are under community supervision, but also their families, their larger communities, and those who work in prisons, jails, rehabilitation and community centers, child and victim protective service agencies, and beyond.
mba in criminal justice vs ms
Criminal justice professionals are needed to keep citizens safe, uphold the law, advocate for victims of crime and help rehabilitate offenders. Challenges, like considerable incarceration rates, also put pressure on those in criminal justice to think about broader policy and operational issues that impact balancing facility, patient and inmate needs with the limited availability of resources. These civil servants may pursue master’s degrees in order to expand their knowledge, fulfill career transitions, and teach within community colleges.

Law enforcement, victim advocacy professionals and community college educators looking to obtain a graduate degree have multiple options to consider, including:

The field of criminal justice is always evolving due to constant changes in policy, technology, and leadership. When policy related to drug-related crimes was changed, for example, there was a dramatic drop in the federal prison population. Similarly, new administration at the federal level brings new challenges to the profession, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions now advising the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes. Graduate criminal justice education helps individuals better understand the potential impact of changes like these, both on the overall criminal justice system and the organizations they work in— further, this coursework helps to build students’ analytical, technical, research and communication skills.

MBA in Criminal Justice and MBA in Criminology

Those who seek an MBA in Criminal Justice or an MBA in Criminology will learn a more general curriculum with core coursework in business, including Accounting, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management.

Students may benefit from expertise gained in courses like International Business, Strategic Management, and Economic Principles; however, these courses may not be framed with the typical criminal justice (or public sector) managerial hierarchy and leave less room for students to focus on courses specific to the criminal justice field. While these topics of study may not traditionally be thought of as necessary for career advancement within criminal justice, they can be beneficial for professionals who want to advance into more administrative roles. Someone seeking a prison or jail warden role, for example, would need to consider how to oversee a facility’s financial operations, including budgeting, payroll, etc, as well as the managerial practices of its staff.

Additionally, some MBA in Criminal Justice or MBA in Criminology programs may require students to have an undergraduate background in business, otherwise they may need to take additional prerequisite courses prior to starting the ascribed curriculum.

MS in Criminal Justice

Those who prefer a curriculum focused almost solely on criminal justice coursework and are interested in shaping criminal justice policies, research and procedures may be better suited to earn a Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ). The MSCJ focuses on the field, challenges and policies of criminal justice, providing a curriculum that covers subjects such as administration, terrorism, ethics in criminal justice systems, corrections, youth and delinquency, civil rights and conflict resolution.

Students in an MSCJ program will gain a comprehensive understanding of the effects of diversity on the lives of people within the context of contemporary issues of justice. Relating Social Structure Theory to recidivism rates, for example, can help aspiring correctional officers and victim advocacy professionals alike to better understand their relationship to each other as well as the relationship between criminal justice systems and the communities in which they operate. The ability to apply this understanding to such a broad-based field will help graduates of MSCJ programs to improve their communities and develop impactful solutions for complex challenges.

With a focus on criminal justice theory and a comprehensive curriculum that leaves room for electives in topics such as psychology and public policy, MSCJ graduates will be well-prepared for a variety of leadership roles in law enforcement, victim advocacy, corrections and teaching.

The Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice at Lynn University

Because many MSCJ degree seekers are currently working full-time and have non-traditional schedules, Lynn University offers an MSCJ program that is entirely online. Additionally, our MSCJ program can be completed in as little as one year, enabling students to earn their degree without putting their careers on hold.

The passionate researchers and educators who comprise Lynn’s MSCJ faculty are eager to share their real-world experience in law, law enforcement, crisis negotiation and research with their students.

Ranked among the “Most Innovative Colleges” in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report, Lynn University is the premier place to develop expertise for solving some of the biggest challenges facing the criminal justice system.

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