Officer Labs: University of San Diego Law Enforcement Leadership Master’s Program

June 12, 2023
The Officer Media Group editorial team reviewed the University of San Diego Master's Program and found it a perfect example of contemporary thought leadership.

Across the nation today it’s common for law enforcement agencies to require a college degree of some type. In those places, a two-year associate degree is probably the most common, with many of them being general studies degrees. For those applicants who get a four-year bachelor’s degree, a focus in Criminal Justice is common. For an even greater number of agencies, a four-year degree is required to attain certain ranks. But at some point in the promotion process, the requirements for a higher degree - such as a master’s degree - becomes reality. For true leaders, a master’s degree with a focus on criminal justice is appropriate to the profession. Don’t assume they are all equal.

This article appeared in the March/April issue of OFFICER Magazine. Click Here to subscribe to OFFICER Magazine.

There are plenty of educational institutions across the country offering degrees “100% online.” Obviously, any educational institution you pursue a degree from should be accredited, otherwise it’s just a diploma mill. Recognized, online courses are different at each institution. Further, some institutions simply carry a better reputation, and it’s earned. What you want is a respected, accredited institution with a fully interactive online educational experience. If the graduates themselves go on to become part of the program, that says something not only about the value of the education but those who attend and complete it.

Our editorial team had the opportunity to experience portions of the master’s program from the University of San Diego ( and found it highly applicable for officers seeking to improve their levels of knowledge and thought leadership capabilities. For officers seeking promotion within their agencies or looking to take the next step in their career with another agency, the USD Law Enforcement & Public Safety Leadership master’s program is an excellent preparation and qualification tool.

To review the program, members of our editorial team were exposed to portions of the training curriculum in the virtual environment, just as the attendees would. The course material is presented in a clear and understandable fashion, organized in a way that makes sense. That is to say that the courses move from foundational topics to more integrated challenges, requiring the attending officers to not only learn the material being taught but also immediately apply it, preferably to real world challenges experienced in their jurisdictions. That operational methodology creates a learning environment that is immediately applicable and impactful in the real world. While attending the courses to earn their master’s degree, the officers use that new knowledge to benefit the communities they serve.

The University of San Diego Master’s program takes approximately two years to complete. It is comprised of ten courses, taken one at a time, with the exception of a one-unit capstone course at the end of the program. The material is a combination of downloadable “handouts,” and recorded instructional programs. The courses are fully interactive through online chatrooms and the instructors/ professors are available in the chatrooms. The instructional materials aren’t just of the USD professors but also from Chiefs across the country, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) members, representatives from city councils and more. Each course is attended by 20-22 student officers of different ranks, different experience levels, different training levels and from all different regions across the country. This allows for officers in one area to carry their experience into command leadership in a different area or region without being completely uninformed of that new area of service.

As an example of that, we interviewed Deputy Chief Brice Current of the Durango, Colorado Police Department. Chief Current had already retired as a Captain from a 110-man Sheriff’s office when he chose to pursue the Deputy Chief’s position in Durango. To keep himself up to date on contemporary best practices and knowledge of how the profession is evolving, Chief Current attended the USD Master’s program. He stated that the program was more challenging than anticipated. He further stated that, “Where academia meets experience plus perspective… that’s where the magic happens.” His outlook is that the USD Master’s program promotes exactly that: education plus experience filtered through perspective.

The Officer Media Group recognizes the University of San Diego’s program with the Tested-Field Rated award.

This article appeared in the March/April issue of OFFICER Magazine.

Sponsored Recommendations

Build Your Real-Time Crime Center

March 19, 2024
A checklist for success

Whitepaper: A New Paradigm in Digital Investigations

July 28, 2023
Modernize your agency’s approach to get ahead of the digital evidence challenge

A New Paradigm in Digital Investigations

June 6, 2023
Modernize your agency’s approach to get ahead of the digital evidence challenge.

Listen to Real-Time Emergency 911 Calls in the Field

Feb. 8, 2023
Discover advanced technology that allows officers in the field to listen to emergency calls from their vehicles in real time and immediately identify the precise location of the...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Officer, create an account today!