SHSU online Criminal Justice tops rankings

Sam Houston State University’s online Criminal Justice graduate program was recently named No. 1 in the country according to U.S. News, World Report and the Journal for Criminal Justice.

This is the second year in a row that SHSU earned the title, beating out Boston University and the University of California at Irvine. SHSU was the best out of 60 schools that were evaluated across the country. The rankings are taken from many different factors such as: value and quality of education, instructor credentials and training and the largest factor being student engagement.

“Once our university decided to develop and offer online classes, it also developed an extraordinary support system,” SHSU Criminal Justice professor Dennis Longmire said. “SHSU’s online computer support team has been very helpful throughout the entire process from the beginning of our online programs.”

Longmire believes the quality of education between online and in-person Criminal Justice courses are parallel.

“From day-one the model of online pedagogy used at SHSU has been held to the same academic standards as our ‘on-the-ground’ classes,” Longmire said. “Students enrolled in the online programs are held to the same expectations as those taking their classes in the conventional format. Of course, the technological sophistication of the online delivery programs has evolved significantly over the years but the philosophy of education associated driving these programs has remained consistent. Students enrolled in any/all classes are held to the same standards regardless of the method of delivery.”

For many students, the credentials of a Criminal Justice degree from SHSU specifically are enough to land a job.

“Going to Sam Houston, alone, helped me get into the role I currently hold,” SHSU Criminal Justice alum Joshua Benson said. “SHSU’s name and criminal justice program opened opportunities, gave credibility and helped me rank high among other applicants.”

Benson spoke highly of SHSU’s online program, but believes that online classes limit some of the ‘real world’ experience.

“When I attended the program, a thing I noticed was that there were not any prior law enforcement professors, and nothing I did in class is what I did in the real world,” Benson said. “I took the online classes for the convenience factor, but having a professor who was passionate about the subject matter made a big difference. Overall I loved my experience at Sam Houston and with the criminal justice program.”

Benson is currently a special agent with the Texas Department of Public Safety and works with a newer team covering human trafficking in Houston. Hired in July with the DPS, he began his career as a conditional hire, and then went to the academy after his graduation in August.

According to the SHSU website, Criminal Justice and Victim Studies majors have increased by 22 percent since Fall 2011. Between 2016 and 2017, 737 students received degrees from the department.

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