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The Division of Public Safety Leadership

The Division of Public Safety Leadership’s (PSL) core purpose is to develop leaders in both public safety and community public sector organizations through teaching, scholarship, and community outreach.

PSL defines public safety organizations as federal, state and local law enforcement, fire and emergency, military, intelligence analysis, medical services, public health, transit, private security, and occupational safety. In addition, PSL includes community public sector organizations such as public health, housing, drug treatment centers, jobs development, education administration, government organizations, small business associations, industry/community relations, community supervision, legal aid, mental health, recreation and parks, and other related organizations. Leaders and aspiring leaders from all facets of a community come together to learn, form lasting relationships, build trust, and become more effective in having greater collective, positive impact.

Along with protecting life and property, and reducing and managing crime, leaders are asked to respond to increased concerns and fears, matters related to local and national security, and social conditions beyond their control. Public expectation for public safety and community services is at an all-time high. The changing role and mission of public safety and community service organizations necessitate innovative leadership approaches to providing quality service. Today’s public safety and community service professionals must meet the challenges of increased scrutiny, a highly charged political environment, public demand for lasting change, shortage of qualified personnel, and leading in a constrained fiscal environment.


To respond to these and other challenges, PSL, in conjunction with public safety executives from around the country, has established several interdisciplinary programs for public safety, military, intelligence analysis, and public sector professionals. These exceptional cohort programs are recognized nationally for their quality curricula, excellent faculty, and the success of graduates. Degree programs include:

The curricula reflect leadership, management, and liberal arts, and differ from other programs offered to public safety professionals, since the focus is not criminal justice, fire science, EMS, or an intelligence trade craft program. This focus on leadership opens the program to community professionals in the public sector.

To strike a balance between academic instruction and extracurricular projects, students are required to complete individual and group projects on behalf of their own and other organizations, applying newly acquired skills and information to the professional work environment.

Throughout the program, many students participate in workshops and seminars led by subject-area experts, political leaders, police chiefs, fire chiefs, community leaders, business executives, military officers, and others. Students participate in field study trips such as the Gettysburg Battlefield, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, and other historic sites in the region.

For information on when the next PSL cohort programs are due to start, please see the Cohort Calendar.


The Division’s reputation for conducting quality research has led to funded projects for federal, state, and local agencies. A primary focus of the Division’s research is the relationship between public safety agencies and the viability and sustainability of neighborhoods. The Division provides support to local and state agencies in evaluating federally funded projects. The Division has conducted research projects on the effectiveness of the “hot spots” community programs, the characteristics of successful first-line supervisors, the effectiveness of police district and precinct commanders, counter terrorism training needs for federal transit organizations, national training needs addressing violence against women, and the feasibility of studying the efficacy of the Secure Communities immigration program.

PSL continuously pursues new avenues for research. PSL faculty and staff have been and continue to be engaged in research on school safety, transportation safety (ports and railways), campus safety, evacuation planning, identity theft, the police response to people who have disabilities, constitutional literacy, immigration, and customs enforcement.


Renowned faculty teach in the Division of Public Safety Leadership. The faculty includes full-time and adjunct professors from Johns Hopkins University and major organizations throughout the region. The faculty combines scholars, business leaders, and practitioners that bring a wealth of practical experience and knowledge to the Division’s programs and activities. The diversity of the faculty gives a broad-based perspective to the Division’s undertakings and premier role in leadership education. Faculty members incorporate organizational, community, and national public safety issues through class discussion, projects, case studies, and field trips.

Faculty and staff are called upon regularly to serve on national commissions, work groups, and task forces. They have served on national commissions on such topics as homeland security, intelligence, profiling, recruiting, identity theft, performance of federal agencies, technology, interoperability, transportation security, accreditation, computer crime, school safety, violence against women, and more.


Since 1994, over 1,000 talented professionals, representing over 50 agencies, have received degrees from The Johns Hopkins University Division of Public Safety Leadership. They are an extraordinary group of individuals committed to making a difference in their professions and in their communities—and most earned their degree while in full-time positions and raising families. Research shows that their extraordinary professional development efforts are often rewarded: after completing their course of study, over 66 percent of alumni have been promoted. Of those who have graduated, more than 75 have achieved the rank of chief of police and two have served as fire chiefs. Other program alumni have gone on to hold leadership positions in federal law enforcement agencies, the private sector, public safety research organizations, and the military.