Online Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree to Start in Fall

Student (white male) wearing headphones and sitting on a couch with a laptop and writing down an assignment.

By Kathy Quirk

The Helen Bader School of Social Welfare plans to begin offering an online bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice and criminology in the fall semester 2024.

The new option is a response to the need for alternatives for students who are interested in earning or completing the degree in an online format, according to Alyssa Sheeran, assistant professor and graduate program coordinator.

The new program grew out of faculty discussions about changes during and after the pandemic, with many courses successfully moving online, Sheeran said.

Alyssa Sheeran, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice & Criminology

“Students have really liked those options, so we are trying to keep up with market demands. We are still going to offer our in-person bachelor’s degree, but we will also have the online option so students can do either.”

Over the past several years, there has been increasing interest in online options, she added. “We moved our master’s degree online and that has been successful. We’ve had good enrollment and good retention. We’re hoping to see something similar with the bachelor’s degree.”

Flexibility for Students

Offering the criminal justice degree online will provide flexibility for students who have career and family commitments, as well as those who can’t easily travel to campus, she added.

“We’ll be able to reach a larger geographical region so students that may not necessarily live in the area or live outside Wisconsin who are interested in the program will have the ability to complete the degree online from our institution.”

In addition to reaching out to new students the online program should be helpful in retaining or attracting students who want to complete a degree, according to Sheeran.

“It’s an opportunity to reach out to students who have maybe started their degree but weren’t able to finish because of outside circumstances.”

The program is designed to reach out to police officers, for example, whose departments require them to complete a certain number of credits, she added. “They may need to finish those 60 credits that’s required of them. This will give them that option to do so.”

The online courses will be available in asynchronous format or synchronous format. The synchronous format allows students to go online in a classroom setting and interact with instructors and classmates. The asynchronous format gives students more opportunity to work outside of a classroom setting at their own pace.

Some extra financial aid is available for the online bachelor’s degree. The Stan Stojkovic scholarship, established by professor of criminal justice and criminology and former dean of Helen Bader, will be focused on helping those in criminal justice who are completing degrees through the online program.