What are the racial, economic, and gender disparities of the U.S. criminal justice system? How do psychological trauma, drug abuse, and mental illness influence criminal behavior and the criminal justice system? Relevant issues including punitive versus rehabilitative approaches, family involvement, and victim advocacy are complex and constantly evolving.
Adler University’s fully online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Criminology and Criminal Justice combines a rigorous academic study of the root causes and nature of crime with a deep commitment to the fair and equitable application of criminal justice and community-focused solutions.
All of our online programs are delivered with the academic rigor and personal attention that has distinguished Adler University for more than 60 years. Our online Criminology and Criminal Justice master’s program is led by professionals with years of experience in the field.
This degree uniquely prepares candidates as socially responsible practitioners and leaders. Coursework explores the intersection of criminology, psychology, and social justice. This approach means Adler graduates are equipped to make an immediate impact by bringing together law enforcement, social services, and community leaders to develop effective, sustainable solutions to challenges.
Adler’s online Criminology and Criminal Justice program is ideal for law enforcement and corrections personnel, probation/parole officers, victim-advocate counselors, active-duty and veteran military members, and anyone else with an abiding interest in helping improve their communities and the justice system.
This leadership-focused master’s program can help graduates advance their professional standing in the field; our fully online approach means students can balance existing professional and personal responsibilities and complete this degree program around even the busiest schedules. Earn your Criminology and Criminal Justice master’s degree fully online from an institution that shares your values of social justice and community-based solutions.
Graduates of Adler University’s Master of Arts (M.A.) in Criminology and Criminal Justice online degree program are equipped with the tools and knowledge to successfully navigate the labyrinth of the U.S. criminal justice system, and advocate for safer and stronger communities. Upon completing the program, students will exhibit the following skills and competencies:
- Comprehend the theories of the causes and consequences of criminal behavior.
- Demonstrate critical thinking skills and analysis from a social justice perspective.
- Master the complexities of modern day criminal justice systems.
- Apply research methodology and analytical thinking skills to lawmaking and law-breaking.
- Analyze behavior from a social psychology perspective as it relates to crime and justice.
- Integrate skills, cultural competencies, and critical thinking to evaluate the criminal justice system.
Adler University’s online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Criminology and Criminal Justice is a 36 credit-hour program. Courses are eight weeks in length, and this program can be completed in two years with scheduled breaks.
The Criminology and Criminal Justice M.A. is offered in the following sequence of classes, including a final capstone (divided into two courses):
A “capstone paper” is the final product produced by a student in the master’s degree program. The paper is a significant work of scholarship. It demonstrates the student’s cumulative knowledge and offers an original contribution to the discipline. Using both a theoretical and practical framework, this project will allow the student to demonstrate mastery of a subject that may serve as a catalyst for future work and study. In line with the University’s mission, students will be expected to connect topics to social justice and socially responsible practice, ultimately resulting in proposals designed to improve justice. The substance of the paper is such that the creation of this project takes place in two parts.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Adler University prepares our graduates for rewarding and impactful careers in a broad spectrum of professions, including law enforcement, corrections, victim advocacy, crime prevention, and community programming. Career options include:
- U.S. Marshal
- FBI Agent
- Victim Advocate
- Law Enforcement Agent
- Corrections Officer
- Crime Prevention Policy Analyst
- Probation Officer
- Community Crime Prevention Program Developer
Please note that additional training requirements may apply. Students are encouraged to check their specific state and federal licensing requirements.
Rachel Johnston, Ph.D
- Ph.D., Criminology, Law, and Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago
- M.U.P.P., Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago
- B.S.S., American Studies, Cornell College
- Director, Chicago Youth Shooting Review Project, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
- Director of Research and Development, Chicago Police Department
- Senior Manager, Maximus Inc.
- Project Manager, LR Development Company LLC
- American Society of Criminality
- Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- IRB Chair, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
What experience do you bring to what you teach? How do you incorporate it into the Criminology and Criminal Justice program?
My areas of expertise are in law enforcement, police management, surveillance, and violence prevention. I have worked as a practitioner, a convener of public agencies, and a researcher. I worked in the Chicago Police Department’s Research and Development Division for over a decade, and was recently involved with a multiagency collaboration of public agencies in Cook County and the City of Chicago. I have conducted research in violence prevention, policing strategies, and surveillance. My varied experiences allow me to bring multiple perspectives of the criminal justice system to the classroom.
My background as a student is probably just as important as my professional experience. I think about that student experience and my students when I design curriculum and courses, and when I teach particular classes. I want to make things easily understood, intuitive, and fun.
The Research Methods course that I teach has a cumulative final project. It involves creating a mock response to a solicitation from the federal government, related to justice or advocacy. It directly reflects what I did all the time creating grant applications.
How does this program differ from programs offered by other schools?
Our program is tied to the philosophy of one individual, Alfred Adler, who had very specific ideas about community psychology and the impact of communities on the health of the individual. This philosophy can be applied to professional work in criminology or within the criminal justice system. When individuals are trained to think Adlerian, in given interactions, they are thinking about the health of the individual and how the actions of the institutions they represent impact an individual’s health.
We are not looking for people who just want a master’s degree to qualify for promotion. We want people who are passionate about the need for social change and have a strong desire to work toward change in their professional and personal lives. Our students leave this program with a different perspective that they then take with them into the field.
How are social justice, social responsibility, and Adlerian ideals part of criminology and criminal justice?
Social justice and social responsibility are relevant to every aspect of criminology and criminal justice. The criminal justice system affects so many individuals—not just people who are arrested and processed by police, but also victims, victims’ families, whole communities, and the multitude of people who work directly or indirectly with the system. There are many, many opportunities to advance justice on an individual level.
For example, the policing profession is currently “under a microscope” given a number of questionable incidents involving police-citizen contact, such as Freddy Gray in Baltimore; Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; and Laquan McDonald in Chicago. A significant outcry from the public about the perceived unfair handling of these cases has had an impact on how many communities view the police, which has, in turn, had an impact on the way police view the communities they serve. Police-community relations in many parts of the country were already strained, and these types of developments have only served to increase the divide. Without community support, police are less effective, and without police support, communities suffer from crime and disorder.
Training current or aspiring police officers in the concepts of social justice and social responsibility could have an impact on the field more generally.
- An officer who is taught to understand their profession from a viewpoint outside of the police community can be much more effective than an officer who sees the community as the enemy.
- An officer who believes in working for the good of the community can impact their departments from within, by modeling positive community relations and starting conversations with their colleagues.
Similarly, police are residents in the communities they serve, and by being part of the community outside of their profession, they can help work toward mending relations on both sides.
How do program faculty support students?
One of the ways we support students is through the availability and responsiveness of our faculty. Students often find that faculty members are more responsive than they had anticipated. Faculty members focus on recognizing and seizing opportunities to help students expand their thinking, and work directly with students to address any questions or concepts students may be struggling with.
We recruit faculty from diverse backgrounds that are directly relevant to criminology or the criminal justice system. Students receive support from individuals who may have things in common with them or who may be from completely different backgrounds. Interaction with our diverse and experienced faculty allows students to learn about subjects beyond the course work.
What excites you about what you teach?
It’s exciting to contribute to and witness my students’ “ah-ha” moments. Having previously designed traditionally structured curriculum, I’m thrilled by the opportunity to be more creative with online teaching. There are so many new ways to approach students with different learning styles, and new ways students can contribute to a class.
Is there a specific course you’re most excited about?
I’m excited about a course we recently developed on concepts of justice. It not only exposes students to the theories of justice, but it also gives them an opportunity to demonstrate how to apply those concepts to advocacy. The early feedback from students is that, while the material may be a bit challenging, it has opened them up to thinking about “justice” in ways they had not previously considered. Bringing something entirely new to the curriculum is rewarding not only for me as an administrator and a teacher, but also to the students, most of whom have not had this type of course material in any of their previous educational experiences.
Program FacultyEddie Gordon