Hilbert College Global Online Blog

What Is Criminal Justice Administration?

Written by: Hilbert College   •  Nov 21, 2023
A criminal investigator looks at evidence on a bulletin board.

What Is Criminal Justice Administration?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 6.6 million incidents of violent crime occurred in the country in 2022 involving victims aged 12 or older. Additionally, 13.4 million property crimes occurred in U.S. households during that same year. Each of the victims of those crimes knows firsthand how important it is for our criminal justice system to help ensure citizens’ safety, to operate effectively and to administer justice fairly.

But not everyone is familiar with how our system of criminal justice operates. What is criminal justice administration, and what roles can individuals play in the process of administering justice? The answers to these questions reveal several rewarding career possibilities.

Anyone who is considering enrolling in a master’s in criminal justice administration degree program can benefit from learning more about the field and the careers it offers. 

Criminal Justice Administration Definition 

With a focus on crime and how society responds to crime, criminal justice administration encompasses critical components such as law enforcement, criminal courts and the corrections systems. At a high level, the administration of criminal justice includes the functions of:

  • Identifying crime
  • Conducting pretrial services and prosecuting crime
  • Adjudicating crime
  • Imposing sanctions and sentencing related to crimes
  • Carrying out sentencing through the corrections system

The definition of criminal justice administration also includes numerous important related functions and topics such as:

  • Community-based programs related to crime
  • Crime prevention
  • Juvenile justice
  • Rehabilitation
  • Public policies that affect criminal justice administration

Criminal Justice Administration Program Curriculum and Goals 

Degree programs in criminal justice administration equip students with the expertise to achieve key goals. Those goals include strengthening our justice system and ensuring the equitable administration of criminal justice.

The curriculum of a criminal justice degree includes courses that provide a rich understanding of, and expertise in, topics such as:

  • Planning and evaluating criminal justice programs
  • Identifying the causes of crime
  • Researching specific aspects of criminal justice administration
  • Policing in contemporary society
  • Budgeting for criminal justice programs
  • Administering correctional programs

A Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration degree gives students the opportunity to complete capstone or research projects. Through these projects, students are able to apply their expertise to a practical issue in criminal justice. This enables students to sharpen their critical thinking and put their research and analytical skills to work.

Benefits of an Advanced Degree in Criminal Justice Administration 

Earning an advanced degree in criminal justice administration offers several benefits.

Advance into Leadership Roles

Acquiring graduate-level expertise in criminal justice administration shows particular dedication to the field. It can also help individuals progress to leadership roles in the administration of criminal justice.

Graduate criminal justice degree programs provide students with the skills and expertise to conduct research or strengthen policies that have a direct effect on the administration of criminal justice.

Pursue Specialization within Criminal Justice Administration

Individuals who wish to specialize in a particular aspect of criminal justice administration—such as program financing, forensics or contemporary policing—can acquire skills and expertise to pursue their passion. 

Make a Difference

Those who earn a graduate degree in criminal justice administration are generally better prepared and positioned to strengthen our criminal justice system. For example, individuals who aspire to address challenges related to specific aspects of criminal justice administration (such as fairness and equitable practices) can use their graduate education to make lasting differences in how society approaches criminal justice.

Careers in Criminal Justice Administration 

In defining criminal justice administration, it’s important to note the broad span of careers available in the field. The careers described below are just a few of the positions individuals can pursue.

Emergency Management Director

Working as an emergency management director entails preparing for and responding to various disasters and emergencies. Criminal justice expertise can be valuable in this role because knowledge of law enforcement, for example, can inform the approach to managing public safety during an emergency.

The median annual salary of emergency management directors was $79,180 as of May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Criminal Investigator

Criminal investigators pursue various activities to solve crimes. They conduct interviews, analyze evidence, coordinate efforts to obtain search warrants and testify in court. They also can be responsible for directing the activities of other criminal justices professionals, such as crime scene investigators.

According to the BLS, criminal investigators had a median annual salary of $86,280 as of May 2022.

Intelligence Analyst

Working as an intelligence analyst involves activities such as identifying trends in criminal activity, researching specific issues related to crime and analyzing data related to public safety. The work is valuable in solving crimes, strengthening safety and identifying resource needs related to criminal justice.

As of October 2023, the median annual salary of intelligence analysts was about $77,000, according to the compensation website Payscale.

Federal Special Agent

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employs special agents to conduct work such as investigating organized crime, reducing cybercrime or tracking the activity of terrorists. While special agents bring their criminal justice expertise to the job, they receive additional training through the FBI Academy in areas such as firearms and specialized operational skills.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also employs special agents to address illegal drug trade. Agents engage in such activities as the analysis of evidence, the identification and arrest of suspects in illegal drug trade and keeping controlled substances off of illegal markets.

Payscale reported the median salary of federal special agents was about $86,200 as of October 2023. 

Expertise in Criminal Justice Administration Can Lead to a Fulfilling Career 

Individuals who have knowledge and skills in what criminal justice administration entails have a unique opportunity to strengthen our system of criminal justice. With the expertise that a graduate degree in criminal justice administration provides, individuals can position themselves for a variety of rewarding careers. 

If you are interested in pursuing graduate education in the field, explore Hilbert College Global’s online Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration degree program and learn how it can help you achieve your professional ambitions. Offering valuable knowledge that is applicable in real-world situations, the program can set a solid foundation for career growth. 

Start on your journey to a meaningful career in criminal justice today.

Recommended Readings

How to Become a Detective

Racial Disparities in Sentencing and Criminal Justice Reform

What Can You Do with a Criminal Justice Degree?


Criminal Justice Research Network, Criminal Justice

Indeed, “Criminal Investigator Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications”

Indeed, “What You Can Do with a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice”

International Association of Crime Analysts, About Crime Analysis

Payscale, Average Intelligence Analyst Salary

Payscale, Average Special Agent (Federal) Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Emergency Management Director

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police and Detectives

U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Victimization, 2022

U.S. Department of Justice, The Justice System

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Special Agent

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