Study Courses Relevant to Today’s Law Enforcement Environment
Our 31-unit program is designed and taught by experienced criminal justice professionals
This nationally-ranked online criminal justice degree program is designed for experienced law enforcement, public safety, and criminal justice professionals who hold, or are seeking, management positions and wish to develop their leadership and management skills. The program is also ideal for law enforcement leaders nearing retirement and preparing for their second career.
In this program, you will learn leadership and management skills, ethical practices, and legal and policy matters that will inform your choices as a member of a public safety or law enforcement agency. Completion of all the courses in the prescribed curriculum of ten 3-unit courses and the 1-unit Integrative Capstone course, for a total of 11 courses and 31 units, is required to successfully complete this program.
Prior to beginning your first term, you’ll be required to complete the program orientation course, which generally takes about 6-8 hours. The course is self-paced but is mandatory. Please plan your schedule accordingly.
View the list of courses below, or download a PDF of all courses included in the MS in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership program.
At a Glance
A leadership degree designed specifically for law enforcement, the MS-LEPSL program is ranked by US News & World Report as one of the best online criminal justice master’s degrees in the country.
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Program learning outcomes
The curriculum is designed to achieve the following learning outcomes, in addition to the graduate learning outcomes shared across all of USD’s Master’s level programs.
Promoting Ethical and Effective Leadership for Law Enforcement and Public Safety Organizations
Effective and ethical leadership is essential to the future of American criminal justice and the safety of our communities. Our Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership degree program will nurture a series of leadership skills that represent the most current best practices for encouraging integrity and creating a culture of ethical awareness within law enforcement institutions. From process-based conflict resolution, to evidence-driven decision making, to effective leadership actions in a challenging and dynamic criminal-justice environment, our nationally recognized experts and criminal justice practitioners will cultivate both a theoretical and practical understanding of ethics in modern law enforcement.
Developing Law Enforcement and Public Safety Knowledge and Skills for the 21st Century
Leadership in contemporary law enforcement is challenging and complex. Institutions that thrive often have leaders who possess strikingly diverse skill sets that include practical, professional, administrative, and leadership components. Our Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership degree program will cultivate the analytical skills, critical thinking strategies, communication abilities, legal awareness, and financial and budgetary competencies essential for effective management in law enforcement and criminal justice.
In addition, students will assess cutting-edge law enforcement technologies for improved organizational effectiveness and policing impact. Other law enforcement technologies, such as database and crime analytics will be taught in order to identify trends, hot spots, and appropriate community-based public safety responses and strategies. This program will provide a well-rounded series of practical skills that are vital both within and beyond the modern law enforcement environment.
Engaging in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Institutional Assessment and Change
This program not only builds the skills to look outward on social and criminal justice issues, but also to look inward at our own public safety institutions. Critical reflection and assessment of law enforcement institutions, in the context of its own dynamic environment, is essential for law enforcement leaders. Collectively, we will learn and practice the research methodologies and statistical tools for ethical, efficient and effective institutional assessment that will shape and refine our criminal justice system in the coming decades. Concepts of data-driven decision making will strengthen the organizational effectiveness and advancement potential of program participants who seek professional advancement and promotion within these public safety agencies.
Critical Understanding of Modern Criminal Justice Issues
From unmanned aerial vehicles to crisis communication, social media to recruitment and retention, biometric technology to the changing landscape of use of force, this program will delve into some of America’s most challenging crime problems and the issues facing criminal justice institutions. Drawing from real-world case studies and evidence-based best practices, students will actively integrate and apply the skills developed throughout this program to some of the nation’s most pressing law enforcement challenges.
A WORD FROM CAPTAIN MICHAEL LOARIE
Mike Loarie is a retired Captain with the Escondido Police Department, and an instructor with the University of San Diego’s 100% online Master of Science in Law Enforcement & Public Safety Leadership program. In this video, he talks about the practical application of the program curriculum.
What a fantastic program and instructors. I learned a lot about leadership and shared it all in the academy with the newly hired deputy sheriffs. This program is second to none, and very the courses/assignments made me think outside of the box.
I have to say in my 24-year law enforcement career, this experience ranks up there with the FBI National Academy as one of the most rewarding and insightful ones of my career and life. The program learning outcomes of LEPSL have equipped me with the tools needed to advance, not only in my career but also in my personal life. The program critically addresses the challenges arguably facing law enforcement in modern times, it covers the inward examination of the organizations, and conflict resolution to name a few. It is highly recommended for ALL law enforcement leaders, both present and aspiring ones, who care about the profession and are committed to the improvements needed as we face today’s challenges, and diligently focus on rebuilding relationships and trust with the public we swore to protect!
I have been involved with two Master Level programs in the past five years. This program is by far the best program I have seen. The Professors and staff truly care about you and your learning experience. If you are looking for a great program look no further, you’ve found the best.
For those who say they don’t have the time or ability to continue their education, I wholeheartedly disagree with them. The LEPSL degree is not only manageable, but its applicability to real-world career dynamics has also already paid me dividends! The interaction with top-notch professors and students alike adds to the value this program delivers. I am so glad I took the leap to pursue my master’s degree and believe the same is true for anyone that puts forth the effort!
There is a huge focus on relevant and timely issues that are affecting law enforcement today, and that really differentiates this program from many other criminal justice programs. I also like that the class is mostly composed of high-ranking law enforcement officials. Their feedback in the course is just exceptional. The stuff that you can get from their experience is tremendous – you don’t get that in normal classes.
The LEPSL program at USD is both challenging and rewarding. I started the program at the end of my law enforcement career and couldn’t be happier about the decision. I love the interaction with fellow students throughout the country and enjoy the feedback provided to me. I find the coursework challenging, contemporary, and interesting. I highly recommend the program.
As a past President of the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association (HAPCOA), I first became aware of LEPSL during our annual conference in Los Angeles, CA. Having been enrolled in other graduate-level programs, I was immediately impressed with LEPSL’s progressive and relevant curriculum. I’m currently only a few courses away from graduation and wish I would have known about this program years ago. As a career 35-year law enforcement leader, with both local and federal government experience, I unequivocally endorse this program for aspiring law enforcement leaders.
When I completed POST Command College, I was motivated to further my education. After researching a variety of master’s programs, I learned that the University of San Diego offers graduate level credit for Command College coursework that was transferable to the MS-LEPSL program. I definitely recommend this program to those who are desirous to promote. Managing a contemporary police agency is a complex, demanding profession that requires a motivated and educated individual. The MS-LEPSL program prepares you for these challenges and responsibilities.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the LEPSL program. While there are other Master’s degree programs out there, I believe the LEPSL program is the most applicable to a career in law enforcement. Everything I learned has been very practical and relevant to my career goals. The online format is very flexible, I was able to do my schoolwork on my own time and at any time of the day (or night!). I highly recommend this program to anyone wishing to improve their leadership capabilities and advance their careers.
I am convinced that the skills amassed throughout the program were largely responsible for my appointment to Chief of Police. From all-inclusive budgeting practices to reformist community engagement ideologies, I have successfully applied those principles toward the transformation of an agency starved for change.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who teaches the MS-LEPSL program?
We often say our faculty is our secret sauce. Students appreciate the extensive criminal justice and leadership experience of our accomplished practitioner faculty, who collectively have a diversity of professional experience in law enforcement and military leadership. Please view our faculty page for complete profiles.
Do you accept transfer credit from professional leadership training programs?
Yes! USD has entered into formal partnerships with several law enforcement training and professional development organizations to make it easier for graduates of those programs to seamlessly transition into the LEPSL program. Current transfer credit opportunities include:
FBI National Academy (up to 12 units)
FBI-LEEDA’s Trilogy (6 units)
PERF’s Senior Management Institute for Police – SMIP (6 units)
California POST’s Command College (12 units)
California POST’s Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute (6 units)
San Diego County Regional Leadership Institute (6 units)
Marine Corps University’s Command and Staff College – CSCDEP (6 units)
We are constantly evaluating new partnerships – check the transfer credit page on this website for more details.
Does the program have to be completed within 20 months?
The curriculum schedule functions on a carousel system, meaning that if you miss a course you will have to wait for the rotation to complete before jumping back in. Each course is offered once every five semesters. We encourage you to speak with an enrollment advisor or your program coordinator if you think you might need to take a leave of absence.