USFSM's new criminology master's degree program will begin this fall.

USF Sarasota-Manatee to debut accelerated master’s degree

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: May 15, 2018

SARASOTA, Fla. (May 15, 2018)University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee criminology students will soon be able to earn a master’s degree with only one additional year of study.

Dr. Sandra Stone

Starting this fall, criminology students will have the option to enroll in USFSM’s “Accelerated Master’s Degree” program to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees within five years, instead of the usual six, to save both time and tuition expense.

“We are pleased to offer this accelerated program to our qualified students who wish to expedite their studies,” said Dr. Sandra Stone, professor and interim chair of the Department of Social Sciences, which administers USFSM’s criminology programs. “This program is an option that will save both time and money, both of which are important considerations to many of our students, yet maintain the high quality of their educational experience at USFSM.” 

Also known as BA+MA, the accelerated degree program is a new opportunity for USFSM students and does not replace the campus’ existing criminal justice master’s degree program. Students who meet the criteria for the BA+MA program can register in their junior year or at the start of their senior year. Once they graduate, they will have one remaining year of coursework to earn a master’s degree.

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Dr. Murat Haner

As an added convenience, all of the program’s graduate-level classes will be held online to allow students the option to study after work or on weekends in whatever setting they prefer.

“The accelerated master’s degree option was created to encourage criminology undergraduate students with top academic records to remain at USFSM for a master’s degree in criminal justice,” criminology instructor Dr. Murat Haner said. “The program provides the opportunity for eligible students to complete both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in an efficient and effective format in five years.”

Accelerated master’s programs are not unusual as more universities and colleges explore online education and other options, but this is the first BA+MA program within the USF System to involve criminology. It comes as Florida’s Board of Governors is calling on colleges and universities to implement more online programming to make higher education more accessible.

“Having a master’s degree has become extremely important when it comes to applying for high-paying jobs. Enrolling into our accelerated master’s degree program will save criminology students the cost and study time of graduate admissions tests, applications fees and extra courses,” Dr. Haner said. “Students can take courses toward their master’s degree in their senior years and get dual course credit toward their undergraduate and master’s degrees.”

Criminology graduates often work in court houses and court-mandated treatment programs. Many become police officers, sheriff’s deputies, attorneys, social service agents and federal and state investigators. Students who pursue master’s degrees typically are seeking job promotions, career changes or greater knowledge of a particular field.

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Dr. James Unnever

USFSM’s BA+MA program will be open to criminology students at any USF System campus – in Tampa, St. Petersburg or Sarasota-Manatee – and offer the same education as regular, two-year master’s programs. The difference is that, during their junior and senior years, students enrolled in BA+MA will substitute graduate-level coursework for their undergraduate elective classes.

Students interested in the program must enroll no later than the start of their senior year. Only top students will be considered: those with at least a 3.3 Grade Point Average (overall studies) and a 3.5 GPA in criminology coursework. The program will be implemented starting fall 2018.

“The innovation of this accelerated master’s degree is a win-win,” said Dr. James Unnever, a professor in criminology and the program’s coordinator. “The communities we serve will receive a more highly trained workforce while the students we serve will save time and money – both precious resources.” 

To learn more about USF Sarasota-Manatee’s BA+MA Accelerated Master’s Degree, contact Dr. Unnever at unnever@sar.usf.edu.

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