A master’s program in criminal justice is generally sought by people who are interested in taking a management role somewhere in the criminal justice system or who are interested in research and teaching in the field. Because of the management focus, many of the core courses will provide the basics in business, finance, and management and computer technology.
Management roles in every aspect of criminal justice require these basics, including the command roles in law enforcement. Police captains and chiefs must be able to analyze crime data, manage budgets, handle personnel issues and understand the database systems that every police department relies on today.
Most of the management positions in criminal justice are in the public sector. Probation and parole departments, corrections facilities and rehabilitation programs are either government-run or organizations that are contracted by the government to provide these services. Understanding the basics of public administration are an important component of management in criminal justice. This will include knowledge of the budget and spending process that is unique to government. It will also require a sensitivity to the public nature of the business and the frequent exposure in the media of various criminal justice issues.
The curriculums for criminal justice master’s programs address these issues and others. There will be a class on the ethics of criminal justice, which can be a complex issue in the area of law enforcement. Ethnic and social sensitivity is a requirement for criminal justice graduate course work. Police officers and in particular, probation officers perform best when they understand the social, economic and cultural pressures that may be involved in the cases with which they come in contact. Managing people who work in these jobs requires an even more thorough understanding of environmental impact on crime.
Personnel management is also an important skill to the individual who takes his or her master’s degree in criminal justice into the private sector. Many corporations today have rightfully become very security conscious, especially those whose business operations are global in scope. An individual who joins the corporate world to oversee or overhaul a company’s security system is dealing with more than the alarms attached to the doors.
For this reason, the master’s degree curriculum will address cyber-theft and the security of online technology. Companies today spend enormous sums to protect their databases. In many cases, they are obligated by law to build layers of security into their computer systems in order to protect the privacy of their customers. There are security experts that specialize in technology security, but they also need a background in criminal justice.
They need to understand what is going on in the criminal world, what investigative techniques are necessary to identify and convict an alleged techno-thief and what the law is regarding consumer privacy. All of these issues are addressed in criminal justice graduate study. Corporate security has become as active and interesting a job market as criminal justice in the public sector. With a master’s in criminal justice, you can go in either direction.