An innovative new online master’s degree program developed jointly by the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences will prepare public safety officials for careers in a rapidly changing landscape.
Set to launch in fall 2020, the Master’s of Professional Studies in Public Safety Leadership and Administration (PLA) is designed to meet the needs of professionals in a broad array of careers, including law enforcement, corrections, public safety education, juvenile justice, social services, disaster preparedness and more.
The curriculum is a response to a growing need for advanced training in leadership, policy, and law for police, public safety officials and other public servants. Courses including Ethics in Criminal Justice, Building Partnerships with Criminal Justice Agencies and Public Image Management and Policy Solutions will be taught by sociologists, criminologists and law professors from both institutions.
The program is funded by The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower) which leverages the sizable strengths and complementary missions of both campuses to strengthen Maryland’s innovation economy, advance interdisciplinary research, create opportunities for students, and solve important problems for the people of Maryland and the nation.
“Law enforcement faces challenges in the twenty-first century that we couldn’t have anticipated just a few decades ago. Advances in AI technology and predictive policing, the emergence of social media and increased public scrutiny, and increased coordination between local, state, and federal agencies—these all have an impact on public safety,” said Associate Professor Rashawn Ray, PhD, of the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland College Park. “We designed this program alongside law enforcement professionals and criminal justice practitioners who are dealing with new phenomena and working with members of their communities every day to keep people safe.”
While working toward the master’s degree, students will earn two graduate certificates—one in Criminal Justice Administration and one in Leadership in Diverse Organizations. Both the graduate certificates and the Master’s degree can be completed in 15 months. All courses are online to give students flexibility, as many who enroll are likely to be working professionals.
“I think for someone who aspires to leadership in their department—whether it be police, or investigative, or immigration—having this credential will help you stand out and gain the respect of those you’re dealing with,” said Michael Greenberger, JD, a professor at Maryland Carey Law. “This kind of advanced degree will lead a candidate to stand out in the application pool.”
Lester Andrist, PhD, the program coordinator at College Park, said the advanced degree in public safety couldn’t have come at a better time. “Given the central role that public safety professionals play in our communities and given new and emergent challenges to public safety like domestic terrorism and climate change, advanced education and training for these professionals couldn’t be more important.”