Criminal Justice Policy Master’s Program Celebrates Inaugural Graduating Class

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VC CommencementThe SIUE Department of Criminal Justice Studies recently celebrated the inaugural graduating class of its criminal justice policy master’s program, which launched in the fall 2018 semester. Courtney Jarrell and Alisa Weant completed the online program in December 2019.

“I chose to enroll in the program, because I knew getting a master’s would help me on the career path I want to go down,” said Jarrell, who completed two bachelor’s degrees at SIUE in May 2018 and began the master’s program a few months later. “Many federal probation departments, which is where I would one day like to work, are beginning to require master’s degrees. Even if it is not required for the department, it is still seen as a plus.”

The criminal justice policy program provides students with a strong foundation in criminal justice theory and methods, while also teaching them about innovative initiatives and focus areas. Students analyze controversial issues and examine possible future practices.

“The Department of Criminal Justice Studies established this program in order to give students the opportunity to further their studies of criminal justice policy specifically,” said Department Chair Kevin Cannon, PhD. “We believe the program will help students improve their prospects for promotion and leadership positions in criminal justice agencies.”

The 32 students currently enrolled in the master’s program have opportunities to collaborate with criminal justice professionals in the courts, corrections and law enforcement areas. The program also provides the option of gaining real-world experience through a capstone project targeting the needs of the agency where the student currently works.

“Being able to complete this program online provides our students with the flexibility to set their own pace,” added Cannon. “Many of our students are currently working in the criminal justice field. This program allows them to maintain a work-life balance and establish a timeline that works best for them.”

Though Jarrell chose to further her education before starting her criminal justice career, she still appreciated the flexibility of the program.

“I would recommend this program to others in my field,” noted Jarrell. “The staff is fantastic, you can move at your own pace, and you can earn a master’s which may help you move up in your department within a year or two.”

To learn more about the criminal justice policy master’s program, visit