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Thomas Stucky
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Last modified: Monday, February 15, 2010

New IUPUI master's degree merges expertise in public safety, criminal justice and management

Feb. 15, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has approved the state's first Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Public Safety (MSCJPS) degree program, at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Uniquely combining substantive strengths of the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the master's program promotes criminal justice with a management focus and offers the only opportunity for graduate study in Indiana in the broad and intricate field of public safety.

"Public safety in a post-9/11 world is much more complex," said Thomas Stucky, associate professor of criminal justice and director of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety program. "How well agencies respond to natural and man-made threats will depend on professionals who have management training in a crucial range of public safety, criminal justice and emergency preparedness issues."

Recent events such as the earthquake in Haiti and the Christmas Day bombing attempt, Stucky said, emphasize the critical need for public safety professionals whose tactical experiences are complemented with theoretical, analytic and management skills.

"During the past decade, we have been challenged by many significant man-made and natural events that clearly demonstrate the need for highly trained public officials," said Frank Straub, director of the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety. "To be successful, officials must be able to work across public safety, criminal justice, emergency medicine and other disciplines to help communities prevent, respond to and recover from critical incidents.

"IUPUI's Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Public Safety meets this challenge by preparing its graduates to operate and succeed in a complex environment. The Indianapolis Department of Public Safety looks forward to partnering with IUPUI to prepare future public safety executives."

An information session on the program will take place at 5:45 p.m. on May 11 in room 409 of the IUPUI Campus Center.

The degree, which full-time students can complete in two years or less, is a 36 credit-hour program and will have two concentrations: criminal justice and public safety. All students will complete a core program with a capstone course that requires students to apply their knowledge to projects for state and local agencies. This combined cohort model reflects the need for a common skill set and increased communication among criminal justice and public safety professionals.

Students also will choose 12 hours of concentration courses: risk analysis, crisis management and special topics in terrorism, disaster preparedness violent behavior, problem-oriented and community policing, contemporary corrections issues and crime prevention.

"Job prospects for graduates of the new master's program are excellent", said Stucky. Criminal justice has long been noted as a strong career choice and continues to provide significant employment opportunities. Law enforcement is among the 10 fields with the largest projected growth in salary and employment through 2014.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for public safety- and homeland security-related occupations is excellent. The field is one of the fastest growing areas of future employment.

Because graduates likely will be placed in supervision and management positions, the program is targeted to criminal justice and public safety professionals who are interested in career advancement. Recent college graduates can jump-start their professional careers with the MSCJPS, or they may also consider the school's graduate certificate program in homeland security and emergency management, a 15-credit-hour program.

Course offerings in the MSCJPS program will begin Fall 2010 with online options anticipated in two to three years. Prospective students can begin the electronic enrollment process in approximately April.

SPEA at IUPUI offers programs in public affairs, nonprofit management, criminal justice and public safety, and is ranked among the nation's top 45 schools in public affairs and administration by U.S. News and World Report. Its graduate programs in criminal justice and nonprofit management are ranked among the best in the country.

For more information about the new degree, see