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New Mexico State University

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New Mexico State master's of criminal justice courses to be offered on the Web

New Mexico State University's Criminal Justice Department will begin offering graduate-level courses on the Web this fall for students across the state who are interested in pursuing a master's degree in criminal justice.

pportunity is intended to serve primarily students who are unable to relocate to Las Cruces and wish to enroll in graduate courses leading to a degree," said Peter Gregware, criminal justice department head. "Our goal is to offer the entire degree on the Web and we are processing the accreditation papers which will allow us to do that."

"We wanted to get the courses started and ready for people to enroll for the fall semester. We anticipate accreditation approval by North Central next spring," Gregware said. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is the regional accrediting agency.

New Mexico State offers the only master's degree in criminal justice in the state. The Web-based courses are part of the university's push to increase distance education opportunities in New Mexico.

"There are many hardworking criminal justice professionals working in communities throughout New Mexico who cannot leave their work or families to attend New Mexico State. This gives them a chance to continue their education without leaving the jobs and communities to which they are dedicated," Gregware said. "Most students majoring in criminal justice want to contribute to society, and this gives them an opportunity to advance themselves as well as providing an increased ability to address some of our community problems."

New Mexico State's criminal justice department was founded in 1962 and is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the nation. Its undergraduate program is the largest program in the College of Arts and Sciences and its graduate program is one of the largest at the university.

Students graduating from the department are prepared for careers in law enforcement, institutional corrections, probation and parole, juvenile justice, victim assistance and industrial and institutional security.

"This department has an award-winning faculty who really care about their students," Gregware said. "Those that have graduated from the master's program at the university have had wonderful things to say about the knowledge they gained and we plan to give the Web-based classes the same content and care we give to residential classes."

Jim Breckenridge, a special agent with the Secret Service and a 1999 graduate of the program, said, "The learning experience, for me, at NMSU was great. I met professors who took the blinders off and made me experience a whole new world."

"My studies in the criminal justice master's program have directly impacted my ability to be promoted into federal law enforcement," said Mitzi Wyatt, a federal pre-trial services officer who plans to complete her master's degree in May 2002.

Two Web-based courses will be offered in the fall 2001 semester, two more the following spring and two or three next summer. The fall classes are Criminal Justice Research Methods (CJ501) and Nature of Crime (CJ511).

The research methods course includes instruction on how to apply the principles of research to evaluate and sort through statistics and political claims about crime. The course covers how to identify and design research that produces reliable information and how to anticipate the unintended consequences of public policy.

In the "Nature of Crime" course, students will examine issues related to the definition, measurement and causes of crime. The focus is on theories that broaden the understanding of deviant and criminal behavior. Biological, psychological and sociological theories are examined.

The courses offered each semester are delivered over the Internet using the WebCT platform to deliver a variety of assigned readings, exams, research papers, critical commentary on readings, learning exercises, discussion forums and real-time chat groups. The course work leading to a degree can be completed in three years.

Students who are interested in the criminal justice Web courses will need to apply to the graduate school and send basic information about themselves to the criminal justice department.

For more information call (505) 646-3316 or check out the Web site at http://crimjust.nmsu.edu.