University News

University’s Online Graduate Program in Criminal Justice Ranked Among Best in Nation

U.S. News and World Report has ranked the University’s online M.S. in Criminal Justice program 14th in the country, and fourth for faculty credentials and training.

February 17, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

The University’s online graduate program in criminal justice has been ranked 14th in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
The University’s online graduate program in criminal justice has been ranked 14th in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Jean-Philip Precourt ’16, ’23 M.S. is a full-time police officer in Groton, Conn., working an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, along with overtime. He is also pursuing his master’s degree in criminal justice at the University of New Haven, and, because of his demanding work schedule, he’s grateful to be able to pursue his degree online.

Image of Jean-Philip Precourt ’16, ’23 M.S., a police officer in Groton, Conn.
Jean-Philip Precourt ’16, ’23 M.S., a police officer in Groton, Conn.

Precourt, who says he had an “amazing experience” as an undergraduate student, was excited to continue his education at the University. He was grateful for the opportunity to learn from distinguished experts as an undergraduate student, and he wanted a similar experience as he continued his education.

The accelerated online program also enables him – and other active members of law enforcement – to save 50 percent on their tuition. The program’s flexibility and schedule have also made it possible for him to balance his studies with his career and other commitments.

“The structure of the online master's degree program allows me to achieve my goal of pursuing higher education on my own time,” he said. “The accelerated online program makes it convenient for me to accomplish my goal in a reasonable time. I like how the faculty structure these courses efficiently, allowing students to learn four months’ worth of material in seven to eight weeks. The faculty also take the time out of their busy schedules to answer any questions in a timely manner.”

‘Advice…for growing professionally’

The University’s graduate program in criminal justice was recently ranked 14th out of 81 online master’s degree programs in criminal justice and criminology by U.S. News and World Report – rising from 48th last year. It was also ranked 13th in the best online criminal justice programs for veterans. The rankings recognize programs with strong academic foundations based on instructor credentials, student-instructor access, and graduation rates. It also honors programs’ excellence in educating learners remotely while offering career and financial support.

Image of Jordan Weisensel ’23 M.S.
Jordan Weisensel ’23 M.S.

“Our online master’s program in criminal justice is one of the highest ranked programs we offer at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels,” said David Myers, Ph.D., a criminal justice professor and chair of the University’s Criminal Justice Department. “The online master’s program offers the opportunity for working professionals and students from outside of our geographic area to receive a high-quality education from outstanding faculty. We encourage and facilitate student engagement, critical thought, and the development of analytical skills, and our faculty have both impressive academic backgrounds and extensive experience working in the field.”

The University’s online master’s in criminal justice gained especially high praise for its faculty credentials and training, ranking fourth nationwide. U.S News and World Report also ranked the University in the top quarter of programs for engagement and student excellence.

For Jordan Weisensel ’23 M.S., who hopes to become a psychologist who works closely with police officers, the faculty have been the most impactful and best part of the program, so far.

“The faculty have helped provide key pieces of advice that have been beneficial for growing professionally,” he said. “Understanding how I would fit into the process of what officers do for investigations, interrogations, and other proceedings such as court testimony allows me to know what information they are looking for, enabling me to know if I would need to disclose information due to a client having a potential for harm to themselves, others, or both, and other overlapping factors in which psychology and criminal justice are likely to intersect.”

‘Work on your own schedule’
Image of Shanise Smith ’23 M.S.
Shanise Smith ’23 M.S.

In its rankings of online master’s programs by discipline, U.S. News and World Report focused on key data in five categories: engagement, faculty credentials and training, services and technologies, expert opinion, and student excellence. It also used data that programs reported in a statistical survey and a peer reputation survey. Last fall, U.S. News ranked the University #55 in the North region in its annual college rankings, recognizing it as a top school for veterans and for undergraduate engineering programs.

John DeCarlo, Ph.D., director of the online master’s in criminal justice and a retired police chief, says the program can adapt to students’ schedules, and that they can complete it in one year.

“The program offers recent college graduates looking for their first job, as well as mid-career adults looking to advance, a truly unique experience to study on a flexible schedule with professors who are bona fide experts in their fields,” he said. “The breadth and depth of courses offered in the program will prepare students to join the ranks of only seven percent of the U.S. population who hold master’s degrees. Both our completion rate and our employment rate are astoundingly good. If you’re ready to prepare to get that first high-paying job or to advance in the job you’re already in while attending one of the finest programs in the country, this program is for you.”

Image of Megan Trafford ’22 M.S.
Megan Trafford ’22 M.S.

Among the current candidates is Shanise Smith ’23 M.S., who said when she was researching graduate programs in criminal justice, it was the University’s high ranking that stood out to her. As a new mom who also works full-time, she is grateful to be able to earn her degree fully online.

“It allows you to work on your own schedule,” she said. “I expect the program to help me achieve my career goals because not only will it provide me with the knowledge I need, but it will also be great on my resume when I am looking for a job in my field. There is a vast number of classes covered in this program, ranging from research methods to investigations, that will come in handy when I pursue a career as a criminal investigator.”

‘This program has prepared me to continue my education’

Hannah Westwood ’23 M.S. was drawn to the program by its integration of strong academics and real-world experience. She’s grateful for the connections she’s already made with her professors and with alumni of the program. She is also excited for the opportunity to take courses focused on cold-case investigations, problem-oriented policing, and e-discovery investigations – important and timely topics in the field of criminal justice.

Image of Hannah Westwood ’23 M.S.
Hannah Westwood ’23 M.S.

“This program offers classes that I have never seen in any other program,” she said. “I knew I wanted a master’s degree that focused on both strong academics and current topics in criminal justice. This program gives you the tools to be successful in the workforce and in academia. I definitely made the right choice.”

Megan Trafford ’22 M.S. was also excited about the “interesting courses” offered as part of the program. She is also grateful for the opportunity to earn graduate certificates at the University, as she has already completed a certificate in forensic psychology and expects to complete her victim advocacy and service management certificate this spring.

“The flexibility of this program has allowed me to explore my interests in these areas and to obtain more specialized knowledge which will be indispensable in my future endeavors,” she said. “Most importantly, this program has prepared me to continue my education in criminal justice, which I will be completing through the University of New Haven’s Ph.D. program beginning in the fall.”