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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Combined Public Administration/Criminal Justice master's program offered at NMSU

The departments of government and criminal justice at New Mexico State University are offering the chance to earn a master of public administration and a master of criminal justice degree in a single program, said Peter Gregware, head of the criminal justice department, and Nadia Rubaii-Barrett, director of the MPA program.

joint master's degree program will be offered for the first time in the upcoming fall semester, with applications for the program accepted until July 1, they said.

The joint degree program will offer a combination of courses in public administration and criminal justice, with students able to get joint credit in such courses as research methods, statistics, budgeting, ethics of law enforcement and the nature of crime, they said.

The program also offers the choice of writing a thesis or performing an internship to fulfill degree requirements, they added.

"We see the demand for this joint master's program expressed in professional publications across the country," Rubaii-Barrett said. "Police departments and corrections institutions often promote from within. But, unless people have adequate training, they often are not effective in administrative positions. On the other hand, when people are brought in from outside law enforcement, they may have sufficient administrative skills, but they may not have a sufficient understanding of law enforcement issues," she said.

"I think it's important to give our students options, especially at the graduate level," Gregware said. "Combining these two majors doesn't encumber us and it gives more options to students -- it's a win-win situation."

Previously, if students wanted the training provided by the MCJ degree, which requires 39 credit hours, and the MPA, which requires 42 hours, they had to pursue each degree separately. At 57 credit hours, the new joint degree program allows them to earn both degrees in much less time, Gregware and Rubaii-Barrett said.

Justin Mullen, a graduate student in NMSU's criminal justice department, with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, said he plans to switch to the new program in the fall.

"I've been in the MCJ for a year and I decided I wanted the MPA as well. Dr. Barrett told me about this program, which saves about 24 hours," he said.

"I'm interested in administering a not-for-profit organization like Families and Youth Inc., which offers counseling, life skills classes, tutoring, even its own electronic bracelet program. These services take the burden off traditional probation programs and there are numerous programs like FYI out there. But I still want to stay in the criminal justice field," he said.

"The advantage of this program is that it gives you a lot of critical and analytical skills and a foundation in the issues of the criminal justice field. Another great thing is that it offers an internship program. So you can do your internship in the criminal justice field and get some experience before you go into the field," he added.

Kelly Kuenstler, district office manager for the District 3 district attorney's office, who currently is enrolled in NMSU's MPA program, said she also is interested in the joint degree program.

"I think it would be very useful for administrators in the district attorney's office, public defenders' offices, the courts, the prison system or probation offices," she said.

For more information on the joint MPA/MCJ program, contact, the NMSU government department at (505) 646-3951 or the criminal justice department at (505) 649-3316.