USD to offer master’s degree in Restorative Justice


EXPANDING: The Center for Restorative Justice at the University of San Diego co-sponsored an event June 11, 2022, where six people shared their experience with the criminal justice system. The center plans to begin a master’s degree in Restorative Justice Facilitation and Leadership. (Credit: Aida Bustos)

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SAN DIEGO — Beginning this fall, the University of San Diego will be offering a master’s degree in Restorative Justice Facilitation and Leadership, becoming one of only a handful of universities offering such a degree and the only one in California.

The master’s program will be offered through the Center for Restorative Justice, which was launched in 2019 within USD’s Graduate School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

“Our team had observed tremendous growth in restorative justice across different sectors,” said David Karp, PhD, director of the Center for Restorative Justice and program director of the new Master of Arts in Restorative Justice.

“However, we saw this expansion happen without capacity building,” he said, explaining that programs were being started by people who weren’t equipped with the education and skill sets that they needed.

Karp said that the new master’s degree program represents “an effort to support the next generation of RJ leaders with in-depth training and education, so that they can be successful in the field.”

“This is kind of groundbreaking” and “a big step forward,” Robert Ehnow, PhD, director of the diocesan Office for Life, Peace and Justice, said of the new degree program.

Ehnow described restorative justice as “an alternative to our current system of justice.” He said that it doesn’t deny the need for punishment, but goes beyond holding someone accountable and seeks to bring about healing and reconciliation.

“In addition to learning the history, philosophy, and facilitation skills of restorative justice, we offer coursework in program leadership and multiple opportunities to put theory into practice,” said Karp, adding that the non-residential program includes seven online courses, two short courses that bring the cohort together at USD, and one travel seminar intended to show how restorative justice operates internationally.

The center also offers a three-course professional certificate program.

For more information, visit, call (619) 202-3649 or email

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