Online degree programs in criminology, criminal justice now available at the University of Nebraska

Online degree programs in criminology and criminal justice are now available at the University of Nebraska, providing students with flexible options to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a high-demand field.

The programs became available through the University of Nebraska Online Worldwide website this fall and can all be completed fully online. They include:

  • A Bachelor of General Studies with a concentration in criminology and criminal justice, offered by the University of Nebraska at Omaha. This degree completion program is for students 21 and older and is highly flexible and military-friendly. Up to 64 credit hours of community college credit can be transferred toward a BGS degree, and credit can also be earned for workplace-training programs and military training or service. Scholarships for active-duty military, veterans and military spouses are available, and the program’s policies support members of the military during times of deployment and adults with demanding work schedules. In a new “Military Times” report, UNO ranks No. 6 among the nation’s best colleges for veterans.
  • A Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, offered by the University of Nebraska at Kearney. This degree completion program is designed for students who have already earned an associate’s degree or completed most of their general-education courses. A highlight of the program is an internship that provides students with hands-on experience at a location convenient for them. The B.S. in criminal justice is more tightly focused on the application and policy aspects of the field, such as policing, laws, courts and corrections; the criminology component in the Bachelor of General Studies addresses behavioral and social aspects such as causes of criminal behavior and the social response to crime.

“The University of Nebraska’s programs in criminology and criminal justice have a proven track record of success – as is evident from the achievements of our graduates over the last 40 years,” said Candice Batton, associate professor and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UNO. “We’re proud to offer programs that help students reach their educational and career goals, especially those who need flexibility because of work or family obligations, geographic limitations or military service. Between the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of General Studies and Master of Science, we are confident students interested in criminology and criminal justice can find an option that fits their individual needs.”

Julie Campbell, associate professor of criminal justice and social work at UNK, said: “In these challenging economic times, it is exciting to be able to offer a dynamic criminal justice curriculum and access to talented faculty from multiple University of Nebraska campuses to a whole new student population in Nebraska and beyond. We are excited in particular about the opportunities this program provides to transfer students, professionals working in the field, and members of the military.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts sustained growth in the diverse field of criminal justice, with a distinct advantage to job seekers with a four-year degree. The field offers potential careers in municipal, county, state or federal government agencies or in private corporations in the areas of law enforcement, corrections, the court system and juvenile justice. Past graduates of the University of Nebraska’s criminology and criminal justice programs have been hired at the Nebraska State Patrol and National Security Agency, among other organizations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, by 2020 there will be about 26,000 new jobs for correctional officers nationally. The bureau projects 58,700 new jobs for police officers and detectives, and 17,100 new jobs for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists.

Meeting workforce needs in Nebraska and beyond is a key goal of the university’s online programs. The university also aims to expand its online footprint as part of it ambitious goals for enrollment growth – and new data show that online growth is continuing. NU had about 21,500 distance education students in 2011-12, a 14 percent increase over the previous year.

Of those, more than 6,000 were “distance-only,” meaning they were not also enrolled in classes on the physical campuses. That figure represents a 3.5 percent increase over 2010-11; the university aims to grow its enrollment of distance-only students as it expands access to more Nebraskans and others seeking a flexible, quality education. Online education is an especially good fit for the 290,000 Nebraskans who have completed some college but have not earned a degree.

“We’re very pleased that enrollment in our online programs continues to grow, because that means we’re succeeding in our goal to expand access to education to more Nebraskans and students worldwide,” said Mary Niemiec, associate vice president for distance education and University of Nebraska Online Worldwide director. “In particular, providing opportunities for Nebraskans who have completed some college to finish their degree is a key part of our efforts to increase educational attainment in Nebraska. We’re especially proud to be able to offer fully online options to members of the military, working adults and others who may not otherwise have access to a University of Nebraska education.”

Niemiec noted that the university is seeing an increase in collaborative online programs, whereby multiple campuses jointly provide a curriculum. For example, both of the undergraduate programs in criminology and criminal justice include classes from both UNO and UNK. According to Niemiec, this approach allows the university to offer a broad portfolio of degree programs and provide the highest-quality learning experience by drawing on expertise and resources from more than one campus.

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