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M.S. in Law Enforcement & Public Safety Leadership

SMIP Transfer Credit

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Recognized as one of America's Best Online Programs by US News & World Report


PERF Senior management institute for police (SMIP) Graduates

Take the next step in your leadership development by earning your master’s degree in Law Enforcement Leadership – 100% online

Designed for current law enforcement professionals who want to grow and lead, this 100% online, leadership-focused master’s degree program builds upon the excellent training you received throughout the SMIP program, with a practical curriculum designed specifically for law enforcement professionals who want to continue their leadership journey and enhance their promotional opportunities.

Through a unique partnership between the University of San Diego and the Police Executive Research Forum, anyone who has completed SMIP in the last five years has the opportunity to earn 6 graduate-level units that can be applied toward completion of the MS in Law Enforcement & Public Safety Leadership (other admission requirements apply). The 6 units of transfer credit will be applied to the following two courses:

There is a $79 per unit fee for the credit validation service, and you will be required to submit a 5-6 page professional paper discussing the three most impactful leadership skills that you learned through SMIP. Your paper will be reviewed and given an academic grade as part of the credit validation process. You will also be required to submit proof of SMIP completion.

As a SMIP graduate enrolling in the MS-LEPSL program, you will save the cost of tuition for the two courses listed above. When those classes are offered, you will enjoy a 7-week break in your course load. (If you are planning to use financial aid to fund your degree, you will not be eligible to receive funding for any term in which you are taking less than 6 units. Please plan to self-fund your tuition for the terms in which you’ll be using transfer credit.)


At a Glance

20 Months
31 Units
$679 with discount
September 3
August 2

Build on Your SMIP Training While Exploring Current Issues in Law Enforcement

As a student in USD’s online MS in Law Enforcement & Public Safety Leadership program, you will delve into some of America’s most pressing public safety issues while learning practical management and leadership skills specific to law enforcement, including:

  • Organizational leadership frameworks, and how to influence others for the common good
  • Constitutional law and how it shapes law enforcement policy
  • Budget, finance and resource allocation
  • Collective bargaining and contract negotiation
  • Communication techniques, including interpersonal dialogue, written/electronic communications, report and grant writing, media relations and communicating to large audiences
  • Techniques for successful community engagement
  • Dispute and conflict resolution skills that emphasize ethics, personal and professional integrity
  • Research methods for conducting community and organizational assessments
  • Analytical procedures for evaluating crime trends

Who Enrolls in the Program? MS in Law Enforcement Leadership


Program Structure

In its entirety, USD’s online MS in Law Enforcement & Public Safety Leadership is a 31-unit program designed to be completed in 5 semesters (20 months). Coursework is taken year-round, with three 14-week semesters each year. Each 14-week semester consists of two courses running for seven weeks each back to back, allowing you to focus on one course at a time.

When a course for which you have transfer credit is scheduled, you will enjoy a 7-week break.


Benefits to SMIP Graduates

I was thrilled to hear that I could use my POST Command College experience as credit towards my Master’s degree at USD. I can confidently say that the LEPSL program is highly relevant to modern policing practices and that I have used weekly LEPSL assignments and research to generate work-related products in my daily job, and vice-versa. This course has been very valuable to me in my ongoing professional development as a law enforcement leader and has me feeling confident and prepared.

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.

The University of San Diego Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership program has had an immediate and profound impact on me. From my first course through my last, examples of the real-world practical value of course material were apparent. In addition, the course material was adapted as current events centering on civil unrest and policing during a pandemic evolved. Throughout the program, active discussions concerning civil unrest and policing during a pandemic allowed professionals from law enforcement and public safety professions across the country to discuss their unique perspectives and share their challenges, equipping one another with alternative methods to address unique conflicts head-on.

The LEPSL program has been a great experience and has taught me some very relevant information about law enforcement. The discussions between fellow students and the instructors is very progressive and forward thinking.

I was a bit apprehensive about being able to balance academics and work, and I am glad I made the decision to attend USD. The LEPSL program has current relevant topics and coursework that carries over into my profession.

What I learned during my master’s coursework in LEPSL broadened the way I look at real-world issues. LEPSL emphasizes the importance of community partnership in today’s role of policing. There is no doubt the teachings of my experienced professors helped me achieve success in my career.

When I heard that USD was offering this program, I was nervous, excited and proud. Nervous that I was about to start a program and unsure of the demand with my job, excited about the thought of obtaining a Master’s degree from such a prestigious university, and proud once I was accepted. The program is very manageable with my work schedule and now that I am over half way through, I look forward to putting USD on my resume. The staff is extremely helpful and has made the entire experience one that I would recommend for anyone!

Growing up in San Diego, I was already familiar with the prestige of a USD degree. When I learned about the online program for law enforcement, there was no doubt in my mind that this was perfect for me. Programs like this one reinforce the emotional, academic and ethical practices of what is considered “good policing” by teaching the importance of professionalism, open-mindedness and the framework of ethical community policing.

Creating change within my field is what inspires me to study, even when I have had a long shift. I believe that having more knowledge will not just give you a career advantage; it will make you a better person. What I like about this degree program is that it is very contemporary, teaching students current issues that face today’s law enforcement leaders. The leadership skills we’re developing from this program can be used in any career field.

When I began exploring schools and programs, I had two requirements. I wanted to find a program from a reputable brick-and-mortar institution, and I wanted a program that would actually benefit me personally and professionally. I found that program at USD. The curriculum is real-time and applicable to my everyday work. Additionally, the Professors are knowledgable, have street credibility, and many of them are still working in law enforcement or public safety. I recently promoted to Lieutenant and LEPSL program was a huge reason I felt confident and prepared for the testing process. If you’re looking for a graduate program that greatly benefits you, your career, and your promotability, look no further than the USD LEPSL program!

My goal is to advance my law enforcement career by being promoted through the ranks, and having a master’s degree – especially one from a top-ranked university like USD – is going to help me assume more leadership responsibility. If you want to advance your law enforcement career and move into a leadership role as a sergeant, captain, or commander this program is right for you.

I had reached a point in my career where I felt stagnant. It was beginning to affect my career as well as my personal life. I began doing some research on various programs and came across USD. The advisers were great and helped with every question I had. Once enrolled I enjoyed the program from the start. I found it challenging and enlightening. It began to give me a different outlook on my life and career. The faculty was excellent. The curriculum was easy to follow and well structured. Since completing the program I have been promoted to Sergeant and also serve as our Union President. Thank you!!!

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