New criminal justice graduate program focuses on meeting student and nation need

May 2, 2017

There is a need for public safety education—and University of Michigan-Dearborn is responding.

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The new Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice, a 30-31 credit graduate degree that starts in the fall, will get students the degree needed to advance their careers.

“Hearing from students and public safety employees, there was an unmet need in the area. To advance their goals, they need a graduate degree. That is becoming increasingly common,” said Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies Director Donald Shelton.

And research shows that the increase goes beyond the state. Nationwide there’s a 15 percent increase in public safety postings that require a graduate degree, according to a recent Council on Occupational Education study.

The graduate program aims to strengthen the professional qualifications of those employed in the fields of criminal justice; to help develop research, program planning and evaluation skills in criminology and criminal justice; to enhance knowledge about working in the organization and administration roles of public criminal justice systems; and to prepare for doctoral study in criminology and criminal justice.

Shelton said a major reason for the higher level of education requirement is the need for people to understand data and how that information can assist in regulating behavior.

“In recent years, public policies and changes to those policies are data driven. We need public safety professionals who can interpret and understand data about crime and how that ought to be reflected in criminal justice policies,” he said.

The program, which has been two years in the making, will serve both those looking for advancement in academia and in a professional setting. Because of this, there is a thesis and non-thesis option.

Because of the dual focus of the program, there are different offerings to help each audience earn their degree. Courses will rotate, depending on semester, between on campus and online.

The degree also is included in the 4+1 program, which is an accelerated option allowing criminology and criminal justice majors to complete some graduate level coursework (15 credits) during their undergraduate studies with one additional year of graduate work to complete the master’s program.

Professionals whose agencies are partners with the university get 20 percent off tuition through the Community Service Personnel Scholarship. There are currently 22 university/public safety partners that range from local—like the Detroit Police Department—to national—like the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Shelton said it’s important to serve the students who will then go out and serve in the community.

“It is a dual program that was created to give options to students, depending on their goals,” he said. “We want to help them earn a University of Michigan degree, which carries weight in the professional and academic world.”

Visit the Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice webpage for more information.