Criminal Justice program to implement new master’s degree

This fall, criminal justice majors will have the choice to pursue a graduate degree online.

“We’re very optimistic about the program,” said Dr. Wayne Thomason, department head of criminal justice. “We think there’s a very strong demand and interest from our graduates and we’re very excited to work with the people from Southeast (Missouri State University) to make this happen.”

On April 16, Thomason traveled to Mountain View, Mo., to meet representatives from Southeast. Instead of a 6-hour drive for one, both parties decided to meet halfway to finalize a coordinating plan to implement the first criminal justice master’s program at Missouri Southern.

“We’re both very excited and they seem enthusiastic about working with us to make this master’s degree program available to our students and also the other students around the four-state area that we serve,” Thomason said.

For eight months, Southern has prepared for this agreement with Southeast, and Thomason said it’s a well-needed and a long-awaited improvement.

“We have recognized the need for master’s level training for a couple of years, but any time you’re working in the academic area things take time to materialize,” he said.

For some students the news of a master’s program is welcomed.

“I might consider it,” said Linda Cline, senior criminal justice major. “I was thinking about transferring to Pittsburg State (University) because I know they have it, but now I might stay here.”

Nickoli Boruff, freshman criminal justice major, said someday he would like to earn his master’s here as well.

“Not right now, but hopefully in the future-depends on how money goes,” he said. “I’ve got a ways to go, but it’s cool that they have (the program) now. I might look into that.”

Thomason said Southeast’s justice program is similar to Southern’s and it will “be a good fit.” While Southern students will have the opportunity to work with Southeast instructors, Southeast students will share the same experience with Southern instructors. Additionally, Thomason said the benefits continue with the program offered online.

“Students will be able to work on their master’s without having to quit their jobs or quit prior commitments that they have,” he said. “It will open opportunities both academically and professionally. It opens a lot of doors for people in their professions and allows them to move up in their organizations, and allows them to seek out new professions if they’re interested.”

The program will offer six hours every semester, smaller class sizes and more opportunity for research in whatever field of study. However, the instructors for the classes have not been chosen yet.

“We are looking at that,” Thomason said. “We have some potential faculty based on the courses they have but we’re not sure who will be teaching those classes.”

Thomason said he sees this online program benefiting not just this area.

“This really has the potential to benefit people all over the United States and all over the world,” he said.