Regents approve MCJ degree

The CU Board of Regents made the Master of Criminal Justice degree at UCCS official during a meeting earlier this month.

For more than 13 years, the UCCS School of Public Affairs offered the Master of Criminal Justice degree but relied on faculty at CU Denver for program oversight and degree granting. With the recent addition of tenure-track faculty supplemented by full-time instructors, UCCS now has the capacity to offer the degree independent of the Denver campus. The curriculum, as delivered by UCCS faculty, meets the standard of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

By unanimous vote at a Jan. 8 retreat, the CU Board of Regents agreed.

“We need people in southern Colorado who have an understanding of the theory behind the actions taken by criminal justice systems,” Terry Schwartz, associate dean, School of Public Affairs, said. “The master’s program in criminal justice prepares them for the challenges ahead in law enforcement, courts, corrections and policy making,.”

Schwartz explained that when UCCS added the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice in 2007, it began the process of building the college’s instructional base. The addition of Katie Kaukinen, associate professor, School of Public Affairs, and Lonnie Schaible, assistant professor, School of Public Affairs, and three full-time instructors gave UCCS the ability to offer the master’s without additional expense and without reliance on CU Denver.

Schwartz said there are 28 students currently enrolled in the program with additional enrollment anticipated, making it the second master’s degree offered in the School of Public Affairs.

The Master of Criminal Justice will likely attract students already working in the criminal justice field, often as a police or sheriff’s officer, in state or federal corrections or in parole. The degree is often important for individuals who seek to move into leadership positions. Schwartz cited Colorado Springs Police Department Deputy Chief Rod Walker and Colorado Department of Corrections Warden Susan Jones as alumni of the Master of Criminal Justice Program who hold leadership positions within their respective organizations.

The change is effective immediately and will help eliminate student confusion and streamline procedures, Schwartz said.

“Many of the individuals who enroll in this program are already working in the criminal justice field,” Schwartz said. “What UCCS can provide them is the tools they need to analyze situations from multiple perspectives and to develop a good conclusion that engages the surrounding community. There are no silos in successful leadership.”

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