by Alana J. Mauger
Montgomery County Community College’s Board of Trustees took action on Monday to approve modifications to the College’s Criminal Justice Studies program (CJS) to better align it with industry and transfer trends.
The modification will transition CJS from a 63-credit Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) career-track program to a 64-credit (A.S.) transfer-track program.
“Most Criminal Justice career paths today require a bachelor’s degree, either explicitly or as a marketplace reality,” explained Benn Prybutok, director of Criminal Justice Studies, Fire Science and Emergency Management programs at MCCC.
For example, a bachelor’s degree is required to secure work at most federal investigative agencies, probation or parole officer positions, and as a minimum credential for technical or criminal intelligence analyst positions. Increasingly, municipal and state law enforcement candidates must have an associate’s degree in hand for employment consideration, but they won’t be competitive on promotion lists without a bachelor’s degree.
“Approximately two-thirds of MCCC’s CJS graduates go on to pursue four-year degrees, if not immediately upon graduating, then at a later point in their careers,” said Prybutok. “We also see many mid-career law enforcement professionals returning to college to complete an associate’s degree or to progress toward a bachelor’s degree.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook cites that protective service occupations are expected to grow by 11 percent through 2020, with the fastest growing jobs occurring in the areas of private security and private detective and investigation.
Enrollment in MCCC’s CJS program has more than doubled over the last decade and is popular among both traditional and non-traditional (adult) students. The program is offered at both MCCC’s Central Campus in Blue Bell and West Campus in Pottstown, as well as online. In addition, CJS classes are popular among high school students at several dual enrollment partner schools.
According to Prybutok, the CJS curriculum modification will help the College to identify and prepare all students who intend to study criminal justice, and not just those who declare a CJS major.
“We know that an additional and significant number of MCCC students are Criminal Justice majors in everything but name, having declared themselves as Liberal Studies majors (recently changed to an A.A. degree) in order to facilitate eventual transfer to a four-year institution,” he explained.
To further facilitate seamless transfer, the modified CJS program is designed to comply with the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s new Transfer Agreement Oversight Committee (TAOC) template for two-year institutions.
For more information about the Criminal Justice Studies program at MCCC, visit mc3.edu/academics.