TCU’s Department of Criminal Justice is expanding to offer students a new graduate degree: the Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology.
What’s different about this program, though, is that it’s only offered online.
In an interactive, distance-learning environment, the curriculum provides students the opportunity to be exposed to an array of criminal justice topics in a virtual classroom setting.
The master’s program is specifically designed for college graduates and working professionals who wish to further their education as well as their careers, said Johnny Nhan, director of the online master’s program.
“The program offered online allows for working professionals in the criminal justice field the flexibility to continue on their career while obtaining a graduate degree,” he said.
Among the 17 students pursuing the master’s degree, many work as police officers, detectives, probation officers or federal agents. Others, such as Jordanne Morrow who graduated from TCU in May, work part-time while they complete the program.
“I work during the day, so I am able to set aside the time to complete assignments,” Morrow said. “I just really like the convenience of the program.”
Courses are conducted through eCollege, where the professors post weekly lectures and the students participate in threaded discussions.
“What’s really unique about this online program is that most of these students are non-traditional students—or working professionals—who also bring to the table their personal experiences in the criminal justice field when writing their interactive responses,” Nhan said.
The program ensures a quality education where students are able to earn a “full-fledged TCU graduate degree at about one-third of the cost of TCU’s undergraduate tuition,” according to the program catalog.
With paying $810 per credit hour, the annual tuition of the criminal justice master’s program is expected to be around $12,150, compared to the undergraduate tuition of $38,510.
“My guess as to why this is the case has to do with financial aid being more readily available to undergrads than to grads,” said Ray Brown, dean of admission. “Often, students in these types of grad programs can receive little more than loans. Colleges, therefore, will price them at bare bones costs.”
Nhan said that the program is priced competitively with other online criminal justice programs.
“We don’t want to become one of those for-profit online courses, which has had given these kind of programs a very bad reputation,” Nhan said.
Despite being a distance-learning program, no distinction will be made between an online and on-campus degree.
In the future, Nhan said there would continue to be a limited number of spots available in the program. It is necessary to keep each cohort small “to maintain TCU standards,” he said.
“TCU wanted to make clear that when we started an online program that the sense of community stayed and transferred online,” Nhan said.