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UC Offers New Master’s program in Justice Administration

Williamsburg, Ky. - University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) department of criminal justice will offer a master’s program in justice administration (MJA) this fall. The criminal justice faculty opted to add the program based on increased interest from students as well as from criminal justice personnel serving in the Williamsburg area. Justin DeCecca, chair of the department of criminal justice, recognizes the growing need for additional education within the field.

“More recently there has been a growing recognition of the need for continuing post-baccalaureate education for the growing population of criminal justice professionals in diverse venues. Graduates of our program will leave with enhanced knowledge and critical thinking skills that will serve them well in their professional careers, enabling them to better serve their communities as law enforcement officers (federal, state and local), correctional and probation officers, juvenile justice workers, and homeland security personnel,” DeCecca said.

The MJA program is intended for both pre-professional students and those who are already working in the criminal justice field. The program will be offered completely online, allowing students to work, study and interact with the professors based on their own professional schedules.

“Criminal justice professionals work varied and often unorthodox shifts, including midnights, holidays, 24-hour, rotating nights and days, and weekend shifts,” DeCecca said; “Faculty are committed to working with these nontraditional students by offering online course delivery methods and allowing the students the ability to study and often interact with faculty during odd hours.”

The new program will also allow students the opportunity to correspond with experienced criminal justice personnel throughout the nation, giving them the chance to see how larger state and federal agencies operate. According to the department, the program’s curriculum is arranged around the conventional prerequisites and training that is needed for students to thrive as criminal justice professionals.

The master’s of science in justice administration will be comprised of 31 credit hours. There will be five areas of specialization in the program, each containing six credit hours. The five specializations include law enforcement, corrections, homeland security, juvenile justice, and a proposed concentration for Kentucky law enforcement. Each of the five concentration options will also require a common core curriculum of eight courses (or 24 credit hours) along with a capstone project, worth one credit hour. While the program in entirely online, students will have the option to present their capstone project on campus.

The program’s faculty members are also working with the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice to allow Kentucky law enforcement officers to transfer credit for professional development hours that they have accumulated throughout their careers.

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for both criminal justice and judicial administration professionals continues to grow. From 2008 to 2018, the number of corrections and homeland security officers is anticipated to grow by nine percent; the number of police officers is expected to grow by 10 percent; and the number of probation and parole officers is expected to grow by 19 percent. Data gathered by WorkForce Kentucky indicates similar growth rates for new professional positions in Kentucky. According to DeCecca, there seems to be a growing trend for these kinds of positions to require baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate credentials, especially as graduate degrees continue to become more popular for professional advancement.

“The MJA program provides students with a strong foundation in the knowledge, skill, and critical thinking that is required in the various careers served by this discipline,” DeCecca said; “It also prepares in-service professionals for leadership positions. For all of its candidates, the program nurtures essential professional attributes, providing students with a broad knowledge-base of the criminal justice system and fostering the professional dispositions and ethics required for successful leadership in justice administration.”

Located in Williamsburg, KY, University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; nine pre-professional programs; nine graduate degrees, including two doctorates, a specialist, and six master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs.

Article Provided by Kristin Gotch, University of the Cumberlands Multimedia & Athletic Services Summer Assistant