Graduate Certificate Programs in Criminal Justice Administration and Management - Campus and Online Programs
Updated: December 6, 2022
Graduate certificate programs in criminal justice provide college graduates with professional training in the leadership and management of law enforcement agencies and in other areas of the justice system. These programs are offered by accredited colleges and universities, typically through an academic division that has other graduate and professional training programs. Indeed, many criminal justice certificate programs overlap with master’s programs in the field and confer graduate credits that can be applied towards the completion of master’s degree in the future.
Criminal justice graduate certificate programs require applicants to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, although applicants with master’s and doctoral degrees are also eligible. Many programs have additional academic prerequisites, and some are designed specifically for professionals who are already employed in law enforcement. Most, however, are designed for a broad array of college graduates who are interested expanding their knowledge of the criminal justice system while cultivating skills that have practical applications in law enforcement administration. These programs typically consist of four, five, or six graduate courses that can be completed in as few as twelve months of part-time enrollment.
Criminal Justice Administration and Management Explained
The term criminal justice refers to the policies and systems put in place by federal, state, and local authorities to maintain order, enforce laws, and fight crime. Broadly, it encompasses law enforcement agencies, criminal courts, and correctional facilities. Criminal justice administration professionals oversee policy evaluation and implementation, budgeting, and staffing, while providing agency leadership and institutional oversight.
Working in the field of criminal justice administration and management requires knowledge of the law, criminology, victimology, social science research methods, policing procedures, and contemporary issues in law enforcement and crime deterrence and remediation, as well as leadership, communication, and management skills. Criminal justice administration professionals can work in a variety of roles that typically involve overseeing and coordinating the efforts of court and corrections officers, detectives and law enforcement officers, child protective service personnel, administrative staff, and others with roles in the criminal justice system, such as social workers, lawmakers, politicians, and public health professionals.
Identifying and Classifying Graduate Certificate Programs in Criminal Justice
Graduate certificates represent a subset of post-baccalaureate credentials conferred by accredited institutions of higher education. A graduate certificate program typically consists of a small cluster of master’s-level courses that provide practical, career-oriented training and instruction in a narrow field of study. Criminal justice graduate certificate programs offer professional training in the knowledge and skills required to advance into leadership, management, and administrative positions in law enforcement and other areas of the larger criminal justice system.
Programs classified as criminal justice graduate certificate on GraduateCertificates.com provide a curriculum of graduate coursework designed to prepare students for careers in criminal justice management and administration. Students who complete these programs receive a certificate of completion rather than a degree and remain eligible to pursue further graduate training in criminal justice and in other fields, typically with the benefit of graduate credits that may be applied toward earning a master’s degree.
Criminal Justice Administration and Management Graduate Certificate Coursework
There are variations by school and by program in required and elective coursework for criminal justice graduate certificate programs. Similarly, the names of courses vary by program. However, there are several core topics in criminal justice that are typically covered in a graduate certificate program curriculum. These include: criminology and the study of law, criminal behavior, and societal responses to crime; the history, function, and structure of the legal system and criminal justice agencies; theories of law enforcement and their practical application through law and policy; leadership skills for criminal justice administrators; and the use of social science research methods to evaluate and reform policing and crime policy.
Additionally, most programs include a course that covers contemporary issues is law enforcement, such as race, gender, restorative justice, and/or cybercrime. The list of courses below draws on actual graduate certificate program curricula to provide a representative overview of what students can expect from a criminal justice certificate program.
- Foundations of Justice Administration
- Criminology & Crime Policy
- Criminal Justice Administration & Ethics
- Leadership Fundamentals
- Critical Issues in Law Enforcement
- Race, Gender & Justice
- Translating Research into Criminal Justice Policy
- Community Policing
- Rehabilitation & Reintegration
Online Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice Programs
Distance learning has become integral to higher education, both as a means of expanding the reach of an academic program to students who live outside commuting range of the school offering the program, and to provide students who would prefer not to commute to a campus for classes a more convenient and flexible alternative to campus-based programs. Online programs use distance-learning technologies to deliver lectures, coursework, and other instructional materials to students at their homes, offices, and anywhere else that has secure internet access. Students in an online program typically participate in online discussion groups and have direct access to instructors and academic support services via a learning management system (LMS) deployed by the school offering the program.
However, not all online programs are alike. There are, for example, two main modes for delivering online coursework: synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Synchronous instruction includes live-streamed lectures, real-time virtual class meetings, and other types of learning that require students to be logged on to a program’s LMS at specific times.
Asynchronous instruction does not have a real-time component. It encompasses all types of learning that can be accessed on-demand and can be completed whenever students are available to log on to a program’s LMS, including pre-recorded lectures and class meetings. While programs that use only asynchronous instruction offer greater scheduling flexibility than program that employ synchronous instruction, some students may prefer the structure that having regularly scheduled class meetings provides.
Another key consideration when researching online program is campus visits. There are many criminal justice graduate certificate programs that are 100% online and do not require any campus visits. However, some online programs required students to attend one or two campus visits for orientations, seminars, workshops, and other types of instruction that benefit from the in-person experience. Programs that require more than two campus visits per year are classified as campus, hybrid or blended programs by GraduateCertificates.com and are not grouped with online programs because they are typically impractical for students who do not live within commuting range of the school offering the program.
Examples of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Criminal Justice
The following examples are meant to provide an overview of the types of graduate certificate programs in criminal justice that are offered in an online format by accredited colleges and universities.
Boston University has a Criminal Justice Graduate Certificate program that can be completed entirely online or through a mix of campus-based and online courses. The program, which is offered through BU’s Metropolitan College and the university’s Department of Applied Social Sciences, consists of 16 credits of graduate coursework that can be completed in as few as eight months. The program is designed for college graduates who hold a bachelor’s degree and are interested in law enforcement policy-making positions, as well as professionals whose work intersects with criminal justice policy, such as social workers, mental health practitioners, and public health professionals. Credits earned in the certificate program can be transferred into the Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) program offered by BU. For more information on this program, visit BU’s Metropolitan College at www.bu.edu/met/.
The University of Maryland offers a Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice Administration through its Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. The program is 100% online and does not require any campus visits. Students in the program complete a four-course curriculum that confers 12 graduate credits, all of which may be applied toward a Professional Master’s in Public Safety Leadership and Administration program offered by the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. The program requires a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field for admission. For more details on this program, visit the University of Maryland’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ccjs.umd.edu.
The University of the Cumberlands has an online Criminal Justice Management Graduate Certificate program that does not require any campus visits. The program consists of four graduate courses that cover topics in criminal justice management, justice administration, leadership, and contemporary law enforcement issues. To qualify for admission to this program, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.0 or higher on a four-point scale. For more information about this program, visit the University of the Cumberlands at www.ucumberlands.edu.