Study Courses Relevant to Today’s Law Enforcement Environment

Our 31-unit curriculum is designed and taught by law enforcement leaders

This online degree program is designed for busy law enforcement, public safety, and criminal justice professionals who are seeking career advancement or management positions and need to develop leadership and management skills. The program is also ideal for current 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.

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.

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 Criminology and Criminal Justice Issues

From street gangs to white-collar crime, transnational drug trafficking organizations to recidivism, law enforcement ethics to crime mapping technology, this program will delve into some of America’s most challenging crime problems and the issues facing criminal justice institutions. Drawing from real-world and current case studies, students will actively integrate evidence and criminological theory and then apply the skills developed throughout this program to address some of the nation’s most pressing crime problems.

Program Courses

3 units

LEPS 530

Public Safety Law

Public Safety Law

This course introduces and analyzes a series of laws and legal issues central to leadership in law enforcement and public safety. Half of the course looks outward, focusing on the legacy of constitutional law that shapes law enforcement policy. Half the course looks inward, focusing on legal issues that guide and regulate public safety organizations.

3 units

LEPS 540

Organizational Leadership

Organizational Leadership

Leadership is defined and evaluated in many ways. The concept is so complex, variable, and ambiguous that many well intentioned people often speak past each other when attempting to discuss it. Through this course, students will examine leadership through various theoretical lenses and frameworks. Each approach highlights attitudes and dispositions that have varying degrees of utility depending on the context of a given situation. By looking at various approaches to leadership, students will develop a more sophisticated understanding of the phenomenon, and thereby, increase their own abilities to influence others for the common good.

3 units

LEPS 550

Community Assessment: Crime and Criminal Justice

Community Assessment: Crime and Criminal Justice

A depth-oriented understanding of crime data, crime trends, and the crime problem is essential for law enforcement leaders. This course analyzes the four major sources of crime data in the United States, along with their respective strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, fundamental analytical procedures will be introduced to evaluate crime trends– comparatively, geographically, and over time. The course will utilize real-world case studies and real-world crime data, to best understand the reality of crime in modern America.

3 units

LEPS 590

Budget and Finance for Law Enforcement Leaders

Budget and Finance for Law Enforcement Leaders

Leadership and management in a law enforcement environment require an applicable understanding of fundamental budget, finance, and resource allocation procedures. This course will introduce and nurture these skills, along with an emphasis on contracts, negotiation, and collective bargaining.

3 units

LEPS 510

Communication for Law Enforcement Leaders

Communication for Law Enforcement Leaders

This course introduces and develops a series of communication skills essential for the modern law enforcement and public safety environment. Substantive foci include: interpersonal communication theories and techniques, written communication skills including electronic communication, report and grant writing, and communication for large audiences with an emphasis on leadership, management, and the media. Of paramount importance will be nurturing professional, efficient, and effective communication skills.

3 units

LEPS 580

Conflict Resolution and Decision Making

Conflict Resolution and Decision Making

Leadership and management in law enforcement requires effective conflict resolution and decision making skills. This course will introduce cornerstone theoretical perspectives on conflict resolution and decision-making. Moreover, skills and approaches essential to effective dispute resolution will be introduced, developed, and applied to conflicts between individuals, in small groups, and within organizations. The transcendent theme of the course is ethics; navigating contentious issues and developing and executing effective, positive resolutions requires implementing procedures that emphasize ethics, personal, and professional integrity throughout the process.

3 units

LEPS 560

Organizational Theory and Change

Organizational Theory and Change

This course provides a multiple perspectives approach to theories of organizations and change. Leadership requires individuals to discern and balance competing demands and tensions inherent in organizations. This course uses Gareth Morgan’s metaphors as lenses to think about difference aspects of organizational life. Students will apply various theories to case studies in order to develop insights for organizational change.

3 units

LEPS 570

Community Assessment: Organizations

Community Assessment: Organizations

Effective, accurate, and ethical assessment of issues in society and within organizations is essential for law enforcement leaders to develop and implement policy. This course introduces the various methods to conduct scientific research in society and to evaluate organizations, with an emphasis on action-oriented research. The respective advantages and disadvantages of each methodology will be discussed, along with the ethical considerations embedded in the research process.

3 units

LEPS 500

Critical Issues in Law Enforcement and Public Safety

Critical Issues in Law Enforcement and Public Safety

This course is an evaluation of numerous critical issues faced by law enforcement leaders in the contemporary United States. From street gangs to crime rate dynamics, transnational drug trafficking organizations to recidivism, law enforcement ethics to crime-fighting technology, this course will delve into some of America’s most pressing crime problems, as well as issues facing criminal justice institutions with an emphasis on effective public policy.

3 units

LEPS 520

Community Engagement

Community Engagement

This course presents a broad introduction to governmental structures in American society. All forms of law enforcement are embedded in government and political organizations at the local, regional, state, and federal levels. The functions and structure of these legal bodies will be presented, along with a discussion of fundamental governing principles including: separation of powers, checks and balances, and the lawmaking process.

1 unit

LEPS 599

Capstone

Capstone

The capstone course is the final course in this online program sequence. The course allows students to demonstrate achieved learning outcomes by producing a portfolio of hallmark projects, term papers, presentations, and skill-based exercises in a culminating course. The portfolio system will require students to identify and critically reflect on the major themes and learning outcomes of the entire program via a series of exemplary work from individual courses. The portfolio will be an asset for career advancement, while simultaneously serving as a tangible microcosm of the rigorous, interdisciplinary  program as a whole.