New Degree's a Home Run

Thursday, June 12, 2008

For those thinking of a new career, a promotion or preparing for a Ph.D. program, the University of West Georgia and the Department of Sociology and Criminology are stepping up to the plate with a new Master of Art degree in Criminology.  The program offers the only graduate degree in the state that is designed as a comprehensive and broad based program in criminology.

The new graduate degree program begins this fall at the Carrollton and Newnan campuses where classes are scheduled one evening each week. An Information Session will be presented Saturday, June 21, at 10 a.m. at the Newnan Center and registration is open with limited space at both locations.

Department Chair Dr. Jane McCandless, professor of sociology, and faculty spent several years developing the program.

“I am very happy that we are able to offer courses that lead to a Master’s degree in Criminology in Newnan and Carrollton,” said McCandless. “This program will be of great benefit to professionals in the field of criminology as well as the citizens of the state of Georgia.”

Candidates for the program include those who wish to have a career in federal law enforcement or the Georgia Bureau of Investigations; those who desire to move to upper level management in their current agency; those interested in court administrative positions and cabinet level positions and those who wish to pursue a Ph.D to teach or conduct research in the field.

The unique program differs from the Master of Art in Criminal Justice degrees offered by Albany State, Armstrong Atlantic, Clark Atlanta, Georgia State and Valdosta State Universities because its focus is not only on criminal justice.

Courses for the fall semester in Carrollton include Ethics and Criminal Justice, Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice, Principles of Criminology, Conflict and Resolution and Delinquency/Family and Community.

Courses for the fall semester at the Newnan campus cover Terrorism and Law Enforcement Leadership. Dr. David Jenks, associate professor of sociology and criminology, will be teaching a course in Newnan.

“The most exciting thing about this new degree program is that we will be able to provide students with the knowledge, skills and abilities they will need to become leaders in the field,” said Jenks. “Student and community response has been extremely positive. People have commented that the program is long overdue in this area and they welcome the opportunity to advance themselves in their current positions or prepare themselves for future careers.”

Surveys were sent to law enforcement and nonprofit agencies to gauge the interest of the communities in the program. Cathy Wright, director of the Newnan Center, said the response to the survey she sent to surrounding counties that included Troop and Fayette was unexpected.

“I was stunned,” said Wright. “We sent surveys to 137 agencies and we got back a good many responses, 102 in all. They were overwhelmingly positive. There is a real need out there.”

Prospective students must apply to the UWG Graduate School, which requires a Graduate Record Examination score of 800 or more, letters of recommendation, a 2.5 undergraduate grade point average and an autobiography.  Provisional admission is possible and tuition rates are $158 plus fees.

Sheriff Terry Langley said he would be more than happy to put some of his employees in the degree program.

“It is like a light at the end of the tunnel for employees who hope to move up,” said Langley. “It takes a lot to get ahead and it would help with promotion. We are always looking for ways to educate and to train. I am certainly willing to encourage my employees to get into this program if they wanted to.”