Texas A&M University-Commerce now offers a competency-based Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Law Enforcement Leadership specifically for first responders, law enforcement and peace officers with existing work experience, police academy training or other certifications. This degree is the first of its kind in the state of Texas, and the second competency-based degree to be offered at the institution.
“This program was designed with future employability in mind,” Dean of the University College Yvonne Villanueva-Russell said. “Leaning on the work experience and expertise of two dozen law enforcement practitioners within a 100-mile radius of Commerce, Texas, an advisory board provided concrete suggestions about the most imperative skills police officers seeking employment or promotion need to master. These insights were structured into a customized curriculum, building upon what students have learned in their TCOLE certification and real-world experiences, to provide them with value-added knowledge that can be applied to the ever-changing and practical realities of policing in the 21st century.”
Courses are offered in an accelerated, self-paced format so students can move swiftly through areas of the course they already have mastered through prior training and can, therefore, focus more attention on topics that are new and challenging to their existing knowledge base. TCOLE certification is recognized as ¼ of the credits required, enabling students to complete their degree at reduced cost and in a shortened amount of time. Peace officer tuition waivers and financial aid are available to qualified students.
“I am pleased that we now have a second competency-based bachelor’s degree in the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an Emphasis in Law Enforcement Leadership,” A&M-Commerce President Mark Rudin said. “This flexible and affordable online degree program is another way A&M-Commerce is transforming lives by providing a relevant, personalized education to diverse learners.”
Commerce Fire Department Captain Gabriel Wittkopf is currently enrolled in the program.
“I feel truly blessed to be a part of the program,” Wittkopf said. “Knowing I can work on each class in the evening or within time off creates the opportunity for me to complete this bachelor's degree. For a working public servant, time is crucial and the knowledge gained from each class has been both educational and applicable to real-world challenges. I appreciate TAMUC for expanding their degree options for the working adults.”
With the working-students in mind, accessibility was key in the development of the degree plan. Students enroll in a subscription-style process, taking a minimum of two courses per 7-week term. Tuition is $750 per term (for Texas residents), which includes all fees and textbooks.