Online criminal justice school ranks top in the nation

The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s Online Degree Program was ranked the number one program of its type in the nation by independent website, lending credibility to earning an online degree.

The website researched all regionally accredited online universities and created a ranking of the top programs.

The criminal justice school began offering its online degree program in fall 2010 and now enrolls more than 500 students in bachelor's and master's degree programs.

The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice online education manager Daniel Zorich said the accolade reflects how well the school built the online program.

"(The Criminal Justice School) would like to mirror exactly what we do on campus in terms of the quality of the instruction," Zorich said. "We tried to take the materials developed by our top-notch faculty and make them work in an online environment, adding other elements to it that would engage those students."

He said the online program implemented features such as video lectures and discussion boards to keep students involved with each other and the instructor.

"I've been teaching here as a part-time faculty member since the late ‘90s," Zorich said. "I find the (online) classes that I develop and teach are much more engaging than the classes that I taught face-to-face."

Criminal justice professor Andrew Clemency said the online degree program maintains the rigor of a classroom environment and allows students to work under their own schedule.

Clemency said many of his students worked full time, had children or were in a different state or country.

"A lot of people are not in a position to drive to campus every day and take conventional courses," Clemency said.

He said he works hard to make his online classes as close to a classroom experience as possible.

"I do a lot of work in ASU's recording studio," Clemency said. "I record video tape lectures as part of all my online classes so the students see me, hear from me and hopefully benefit from the experience that I bring to the process."

He said it's very important that an online instructor is available to quickly interact with students at any time.

Criminal justice senior Alicia Young transferred to the online criminal justice school after obtaining her associate's degree.

Young said she needed to earn her bachelor's degree in order to support her four children.

"It made it a lot easier for me, being a single mom at the time and trying to do my schedule and functions with the kids," Young said. "(The online classes) give you more flexibility."

She said the online school allowed her to complete work in a timely manner and ensured she wouldn't miss classes because of other responsibilities.

"With kids, I really couldn't be in class a lot," Young said. "My kids would get sick or I'd have to go pick them up and I'd end up missing class time. A lot of that stuff you can't make up because it's in-class participation and you're basically at the will of whatever happens in your day."

Young secured an internship through the U.S. Marshals Service and went on to gain employment.

"(The online criminal justice school) gave me everything that I needed to be able to have my life, take care of my family, do my job and still be able to do my homework," Young said.

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