College of criminal justice offers online masters degree

Students who wish to earn a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Leadership can now do so over the Internet through the college of criminal justice at SHSU.

The program first began in the fall of 2001 but was scrapped early in 2003 due to problems with students attempting to break through firewalls. Yet, the demand for a distance-learning course quickly built up again and prompted the Criminal Justice Department to bring the program back.

“We had a lot of interest especially from students who work full-time and students who live out of state,” said Criminal Justice Graduate Program Coordinator Doris Powell. “There are many students who need an online course because they can’t make it up here to get into a classroom.”

The program currently has only five students enrolled but is taking applications and hopes to increase in size for the fall semester.

As one of the leading criminal justice colleges in the nation, the faculty and staff of SHSU were some of the first to create an online course in this concentration.

“We really had to do it completely from scratch,” Powell said. “We just got together and worked closely with the faculty of the weekend classes to come up with the curriculum we wanted to cover.”

Since it’s introduction, many other universities, such as the University of Houston, have created online criminal justice programs much like the one first started here at SHSU.

“Compared to other universities our program is very competitive,” Powell said.

Students who choose to go through the online masters program are not required to complete a thesis but must take a capstone course instead.

“The capstone course the students take is CJ688, which covers things like emergent issues in criminal justice,” Powell said.

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“It’s the final course and is really used to retest what they’ve learned throughout the program.”

All classes are held on line through Blackboard, and students are not required to interact off line with professors or other students if the need never arises.

“Students are not required to meet with professors or the other students offline, but they are able to come in and speak with someone if they need to,” Powell said.

The program does come at an additional cost but so far it doesn’t seem to be a big issue with the students.

“There is an additional cost of $303 along with tuition and fees, but the students of the online program aren’t charged some of the fees other students have, such as the HKC fee,” Powell said. “So far, students seem to feel it is worth it.”

This time around, the program has performed up to the department’s expectations, and there are no plans to change anything so far.

“There really aren’t any improvements to make,” Powell said. “We’re going to stick with the same curriculum. All we need is to get more applicants.”

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