If you work in the criminal justice field and are seeking new career advancement opportunities, earning a master’s degree may be your best path forward. For insight on the topic, we spoke to someone who knows both criminal justice and higher education intimately. Dr. John Fisher, whose background includes work in private corrections and state probation, is the program coordinator and an assistant professor for UT Permian Basin’s criminal justice administration master’s degree program. Dr. Fisher elaborated on why a graduate credential is essential if you want to advance into a leadership role in criminal justice and why UTPB’s online master’s degree in criminal justice administration should be your program of choice. 

A Quicker Path to Career Advancement 

Dr. Fisher shared a crucial benefit of a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration for those looking to attain a leadership position. “If you want to become a chief of police, you either have to be a cop for 30 years or you have to have a master’s degree,” he explained. “If you want to be a warden in a prison, you either have to be a correctional officer for 30 years or have this master’s degree. Having the master’s degree helps you overcome the time limits and the time expectations within your career.”  

“You get paid more for the degrees, you get promoted faster for the degrees, and you’re considered a better expert because of the degrees,” Dr. Fisher added, citing one compensation example local to him. “If you have a bachelor’s degree, the Midland Police Department will pay you $400 extra a month. If you have a master’s degree, they’ll pay you $500 extra a month.” 

100% Job Placement Rate 

How successful are graduates of UTPB’s online master’s degree in criminal justice administration program in their job searches? “We have a 100% placement rate,” Dr. Fisher said. “Since I started this program in 2019, every person that graduated is working in the field and/or has gotten a promotion. I think by the end of 2023 we’ll have issued 50 master’s degrees.”  

To provide some real-life examples, Dr. Fisher referred to the “wall of fame” which spans two wall sections of his office. “Once a graduate of our criminal justice undergraduate or master’s degree program gets a job in the field, they send me their picture and I put them on the wall of fame. Most of the people on that wall have a master’s degree. A recent master’s program graduate is Kenrick, who’s from the British Virgin Islands. With our degree, he’s interviewed for and was told that it’s most likely he’s going to become the superintendent of policing for the British Virgin Islands.” 

Dr. Fisher continued: “One of the people on my wall was hired into the police department fresh out of graduate school, and instead of having to work on patrol for two years, she was automatically put into an analysis spot to where she was doing crime scene analysis and statistical analysis of hotspots and other places. She didn’t have to do that two-year probationary [period]. Within nine months, she became the investigator for the district attorney’s office. So now she’s quality control and she’s verifying the work done by the police department.” 

A Faculty of Experienced Criminal Justice Professionals and Educators 

Like Dr. Fisher, all program faculty members have had direct involvement in the criminal justice field in addition to experience as educators. “Every professor in our program, graduate or undergraduate, has at least four years’ experience in the field. We are scholar practitioners that are trying to help bring about positive social change and reform to law enforcement. We’ve all been there. We’ve all done that. We have the scars and the memories.” Dr. Fisher also clarified that that criminal justice experience is ongoing for some faculty: “Our adjuncts are currently working in the field.” 

Stronger Educational Background Translates to Better Job Performance 

Increased salary and leadership potential are considerable benefits of having a master’s degree. There’s also evidence that criminal justice professionals with an advanced degree have fewer problematic incidents during their career. “Every law enforcement commission report has stated that we need a better educated police force. Our research shows that college graduates have a lower number of ‘use of force’ complaints. There are a lower number of lawsuits against or complaints against officers who have a college education.” 

“The master’s degree program teaches you ethics,” Dr. Fisher explained. “It teaches you the theories and philosophies, and the research shows that it will make you a better law enforcement officer. You’ll have a broader aspect of the world around you. You learn diversity—diversity of thought, diversity of culture, diversity of everything in [our program].” 

“You don’t have to come here and get this degree,” Dr. Fisher concluded. “You come get this degree because you want to become a better police officer, a better correctional officer, better probation parole officer, and you want to run the agency. It’s an administration degree. We prepare you to bring change to the field.” 

Take the Next Step! 

If you’ve already completed a criminal justice-related bachelor’s degree and are ready to advance beyond your current role in the criminal justice system, our online Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration will equip you with the requisite expertise and credentials. Our program’s asynchronous online format empowers you to earn a respected graduate credential in as little as one year with the flexibility that your professional and personal commitments demand. No campus visits are required—you can access our virtual classroom 24/7 from practically any location worldwide. 

Move ahead with a master’s degree in criminal justice administration! Apply today.