BY EVAN KREUZINGER // DEC. 10, 2012 //

The Criminal Justice Department’s master’s of arts program is in only its second year, yet it has already proven to be a great success.

Curry's Criminal Justice Department’s master’s of arts program has proven to be a great success after just two years of existence.
Curry’s Criminal Justice Department’s master’s of arts program has proven to be a great success after just two years of existence. // CURRY.EDU //

Because of drastic state funding reductions in the Quinn Bill—a Massachusetts law that provides officers salary increases based on degrees earned—fewer active officers are returning to college.

So, Curry adapted and reorganized to offer a new master’s program in criminal justice. Students take just two courses per eight-week term, which enables Curry to charge a fixed price of only $17,450 a year, compared to the traditional undergraduate tuition of $31,900. The program consists of 31 credits.

According to Professor Jennifer Balboni, co-director of the master’s program, the pricing strategy was devised to better compete with less expensive state school programs. But that’s not why the new program is successful, Balboni said.

“The faculty is very committed, and as a result the program has been very strong and successful,” she said, adding that it is active on both the Milton and Plymouth campuses.

The program is designed to prepare students for the criminal justice field by integrating and applying the four major cornerstones of the program: public administration, ethical leadership, problem solving and innovation. In each area, students learn about different theories and methods and how to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to what they do in the field. Students improve their skills in the areas of communication, collaboration, planning and evaluation, Balboni said.

Carrie Hormanski, 24, had a lifelong dream of working in the criminal justice field. She earned her bachelor’s at Curry and landed a job with the Pawtucket (R.I.) Police Department. But to advance within the department, she realized she needed to further her education.

“I do find the courses help me think of new ways to do things at work,” said Hormanski, noting the “Leadership in the 21st Century” course, which deals with interdepartmental personality assessments. “The courses have helped me to consider new alternatives to handling issues at work.”

About half of the approximately 80 students in the program are Curry graduates, and nearly all students are currently working as police officers, probation officers, corrections officers or counselors, she added.

The program includes a second-year group research project in which students partner with an actual agency, such as the Boston Police Department, and conduct research and analysis around a particular topic.

Of course, it’s not just police officers that see value in the program. Dawn King, 56, works for The Women’s Addiction Treatment Center, an in-patient center in New Bedford for women who have been ordered by a court to go through drug addiction treatment. A 2005 Curry graduate with a degree in psychology, King said she returned to the college to become more familiar with the criminal justice system.

“I find the courses to be very informative and helpful in the area of leadership and problem solving for changing the current way the criminal justice system is implemented,” she said.

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