Master of Public Safety

Lead the Way

The Master of Public Safety is an online program designed for working public safety professionals who want to improve their leadership skills.

The coursework focuses on developing today's public safety leaders for tomorrow’s public safety challenges. The curriculum is relevant to law enforcement and adjacent public safety fields including the fire service, emergency management, and more.

Graduates will earn a degree from the University of Virginia, one of the nation’s top public universities, and finish the program with a deeper understanding of how to run complex organizations, negotiate and collaborate with peer agencies from the local level to the national, and build and nurture the community relationships that are vital for success.

Key Takeaways

  • 31-32 credits / 11 courses / 20 months on average to complete
  • Start dates in January, March, June, August and October
  • The core courses are offered throughout the year over five eight-week sessions. A comprehensive exam or capstone is required before graduation.
  • All core coursework is completely online and delivered asynchronously, meaning students have flexibility to access instruction and coursework on their own time in order to meet course deadlines and requirements. A weekly live session is offered in each class and recorded for those who cannot attend. Instructors support students each step of the way as they build critical skills, and students will have the opportunity to participate in discussion labs and live group work.
  • Students who have successfully completed the FBI National Academy, FBI ELEVATE, or UVA National Criminal Justice Command College may count recent graduate credits from those programs and could finish the Master of Public Safety in one year by taking one core course per session.
MPS Class Graduation

What You Will Learn

The MPS is a dynamic degree. It is designed for leaders who want to go to the next level. Sometimes that “level” might be a promotion, but most often it’s about innovation and problem-solving through thought leadership. Most of our students are primarily interested in creating greater public safety for their community.

If you think public safety is at its peak - if you think it’s good enough - the MPS might not be a good fit. We are challenging the status quo. We are leaning in and actively embracing change. The curriculum focuses on the many changing realities of modern public safety. Graduates will finish the program with a deeper understanding of how to run complex organizations, negotiate and collaborate with peer agencies, and build and nurture the community relationships that are vital for success.

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Tuition & Fees
  • Estimated cost: $18,870 for full 10 course degree. $9,435 for 5 Core Courses only.
  • Pay the same tuition rate whether you are in-state or out-of-state.
  • Students have access to financial aid, scholarships and payment plans.
  • Additional fees may apply, including course materials. Tuition rates are adjusted annually.

See Tuition Details


Lexipol Public Safety Fellowship

Supported by a generous gift from Renee and Gordon Graham, the Lexipol Public Safety Fellowship is awarded to students enrolled in the Master of Public Safety (MPS) program at UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS). See details and eligibility

UVA Community Public Service Fellowship

The UVA Community Public Service Fellowship program awards financial aid grants to a select group of graduate students from UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Darden School of Business, School of Education and Human Development, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, McIntire School of Commerce, and School of Nursing. The purpose of the program is to create an interdisciplinary community of professionally oriented graduate students who share a commitment to public service.

The fellows will form a unique, cross-professional, interdisciplinary cohort that will participate jointly in engaging activities that foster a sense of inclusive excellence while providing the cohort with knowledge, skills, and abilities to further advance their community public service professional goals.

Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship Program

New and returning students in certificate or degree programs in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies also are eligible to apply for the Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship Program

For more information about scholarships, please email

Admission Requirements & Deadlines

Deadline Information

  • To begin in the fall (August): application must be submitted by July 1
  • To begin in the spring (January): application must be submitted by November 1
  • To begin in the summer (June): application must be submitted by April 1

Requirements for Admission 

Prospective students may apply to be admitted into one of three terms (Summer, Fall, or Spring) and to be eligible must have: 

  • Significant professional experience in public safety (typically 5 or more years and supervisory experience) 
  • Either (1) a bachelor’s or graduate degree from a regionally accredited institution, or (2) a bachelor’s or graduate degree supplemented by a SCPS criminal justice program certificate
  • Bachelor’s GPA of 2.5 or higher* 

*Students with limited professional experience or less than a 2.5 GPA may petition the Program Director for an exception. 

Meeting minimum requirements and completing an application does not guarantee admission.

How to Apply 

Complete an online application.   

  • Unofficial transcripts from all previously attended colleges and/or universities attended, demonstrating excellent academic performance. Applicants who are offered admission will be required at that time to submit official transcripts of their undergraduate degree prior to attending the University. Offers of admission are not binding until official transcripts are received and verified. 
  • TOEFL, IELTS scores (if applicable)  
  • Statement of Purpose describing your reasons for pursuing the degree, your future career plans, and other aspects of your background which may aid the admission committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. (approximately 500-750 words)  
  • Resume detailing professional experience, education, and other relevant accomplishments. 
  • Two letters of professional reference that address the applicant’s suitability for graduate study.  
  • No application fee required!

Begin Your Application

Program Components

All coursework (core courses and approved electives) must be completed with a grade of B (3.0) or better in order to count towards the degree. Students may retake a course if they get below a B (3.0). All requirements must be completed within five years of starting the program.

Core Courses (5)

All core courses are offered each semester. Elective offerings vary by term.


This course explores public safety leadership concepts and essential approaches needed in forging lasting, collaborative relationships with the public they serve. Students will analyze complex social and security issues. While maintaining a mindset of sociocultural awareness and sensitivity, students craft solutions to those public issues by applying advanced knowledge of public safety planning, management, and response.


This course will explore the Constitution as the ethical compass that guides the work of public safety professionals and cement a fundamental understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the subsequent 27 amendments to the Bill of Rights. Students will read each provision closely and discuss their views as to what the framers' intended at the time of ratification, and how the courts have subsequently interpreted its meaning. Particular emphasis will be placed on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th Amendments and their applicability to public safety policy and operational strategy. Students will develop a detailed understanding of both the powers and limitations that arise from the Bill of Rights, and closely examine the evolution of the rule of law that frames and guides their work.


This course will examine joint operations and incident command for complex events, both planned and unplanned. Particular emphasis will be placed on command structure, continuity of operations, public safety response to community/public health emergencies, occupational health and safety, local systems and resources, inter-agency cooperation, and communications and technology support. Students will also engage the various law and policy issues that inform public safety responses in this critical sphere and will apply their knowledge through scenario-based exercises.


This course focuses on the application of dialogue and deliberation skills and principles in the context of public safety. Students will gain understanding and practice in engaging communities in dialogue and deliberation around such challenging issues as inequality and power; interactions in the aftermath of tragedy; officer fear and anger; historical, political, and economic divides; implicit biases and stereotype threat; and the importance of building coalitions across boundaries.


This course examines public sector budget planning, analysis, execution, and management. Students will develop a detailed understanding of the legal aspects of public employment law, and the short and long-term impact of recruiting and retaining talented employees. Special emphasis will be placed on the means by which evidence-based strategies may be applied to determine the appropriate number of resources to deploy to normal and complex operations.


Additional Components

Elective Courses (5)

Students can complete a set of restricted electives from a variety of fields. Again, students who have successfully completed graduate coursework for the FBI National Academy, FBI ELEVATE or UVA National Criminal Justice Command College can count those credits toward the degree.

Students can also choose to take electives drawn from these graduate certificate programs in UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies:

MPS-specific electives are also available and are designed to complement the core courses: 

  • PSPS 6005: Practical Applications of Risk Management in Public Safety Operations 
  • PSPS 6015: Practical Application and Understanding of Data for Public Safety Managers

Students can choose to “concentrate” electives drawn from these graduate certificate programs in UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies and thereby earn a “concentration”:

A concentration in the MPS program is defined as 15 credits from a single graduate certificate area’s core courses, supplemented by approved electives from the same area as needed (when the core curriculum is less than 15 credits). The current core courses and approved electives are described elsewhere in the Graduate Record (see School of Continuing and Professional Studies: Certificate Programs).

Comprehensive Exam or Capstone

In their final semester students have two paths to complete the degree: take and pass a one-credit Comprehensive Exam in the core of Public Safety or take a two-credit capstone course that includes a written paper and video presentation.

Meet the Faculty

Mark Hoover

Mark Hoover

Assistant Professor, Master of Public Safety Program and Director, National Criminal Justice Command College