Jackson State expands criminal justice offerings

Jan 16th, 2018

Jackson State Community College launched an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice geared toward students who want to enter the workforce early and law enforcement officers who want to advance their careers.

The program was recently approved by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Jackson State's accrediting agency. The criminal justice program was created through a concerted effort with local and area law enforcement agencies.

"There was a lot of interest when we met with law enforcement leadership from across West Tennessee," said Dr. Nell Senter, Jackson State's Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences. "This program was created in response to that and the interest in criminal justice among our students."

The degree includes two tracks: corrections and law enforcement. The corrections track provides courses on probation and parole, the juvenile justice system, and correctional counseling. The law enforcement track offers courses on criminal investigation, understanding terrorism and tactical talks.

Both include classes on mental health aspects, report writing and internship opportunities.

One of the new classes, understanding terrorism, is expected to be taught by an experienced FBI agent. Jackson State will develop as many as 10-13 new courses over time as the first group of students move through the program. Students in the program will also take four classes that are already required for the criminal justice associate degree, which is a transfer pathway.

The criminal justice associate of applied science degree program is designed for students who wish to begin working in criminal justice fields immediately after community college. It is also for those already employed in law enforcement but want to advance.

"They may need a college degree in order to advance in their career or just wish to pursue more training," Senter said.

And unlike the school's criminal justice associate degree, which lays the groundwork for a bachelor's degree at a four-year college, the associate of applied science degree is designed to be completed in as little as two years. "It is an instrumental way to get college courses for criminal justice and still get into the workplace as soon as possible," she said.

The program will begin initially with 10 to 15 students. Senter said that number is expected to grow over time based on the interest already shown by students and community members in the program.

"There has always been a tremendous amount of interest from our students in criminal justice," she said.

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