I have always wanted to pursue a master’s degree and feel proud to have received it from UTPB. This degree will also open many doors to career paths.” – Lt. James “Scott” McKown, online MS-CJAD student  

At the time of this writing, Lieutenant James “Scott” McKown is marking 30 years in law enforcement, including more than 20 years with the Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) Police Department, where he supervises emergency management, internal affairs, and investigations. With this level of experience, some might feel they know all there is to know about their profession. But Lt. McKown wanted to learn more to increase his impact and boost his career potential. He decided an advanced degree was the way to achieve those goals, and that’s when UT Permian Basin’s online Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration came into the picture. 

Lt. McKown graciously shared his time to discuss his UTPB experience, including the factors that made him realize he had found the right program, the key skills he developed that he’s already been able to apply professionally, and what makes our program manageable alongside work responsibilities. 

Expedited Program, Responsive Faculty, and an Easily Navigated Online Classroom 

Before joining UTPB’s online master’s degree in criminal justice administration program, Lt. McKown looked at other programs and nearly went with one of them. “I considered, applied, and was accepted to another degree plan,” he explained. Ultimately, he found our program was a better fit for him. “I selected UTPB because of the influence of the highly rated criminal justice master’s program and the expedited degree plan. After meeting with Dr. Fisher, I felt at ease with the program and what it offered.”  

In fact, Dr. Fisher taught one of Lt. McKown’s favorite courses during the program: “My favorite course was the qualitative research class. Dr. Fisher made this class fun and exciting.” And the rest of our program’s faculty? “The professors were excellent and were always willing to help in any way they could,” Lt. McKown said. “They were always available to assist with any questions or concerns.” 

Lt. McKown initially had some concerns about using a new learning management system (LMS) in our program, but those worries were quickly alleviated. “I did find [the online classroom] easy to navigate. I was not familiar with Canvas prior to this program and was able to maneuver through it very well. Prior to this program I had only used Blackboard and was a little anxious about Canvas, but found it was a better and more in-depth program.” 

Immediately Applicable Skills 

Lt. McKown enthusiastically shared the main benefits he’s experienced with his degree. “This program [has] helped me immensely in many areas. One area is my writing ability. The program taught us the proper ways to produce a higher standard of writing. Another way it helped was in research. In the qualitative and quantitative research classes we were taught the proper ways to research specific materials.” 

He continued: “I feel the program has helped [me] with articulation to others. In my current role, my main [responsibility] is creating and writing new processes and procedures for our police department and the emergency operations for students and staff at ECISD. I feel more confident and find it easier to write and speak to other individuals that have master or doctorate degrees. I feel much more comfortable writing policy and addressing individuals in the academic field.” 

Strong Encouragement for Potential Students 

Lt. McKown wants others to benefit from our program the way he has. “I already have recommended this program to all friends and acquaintances with a BA in criminal justice,” he explained. “The pace of the program and the expedited plan made working and attending school manageable.” Lt. McKown has even proposed the program to some who might feel it’s not for them. “[This program] has also shown my children it is never too late to attend college and the benefits of having a graduate degree. Just do it! [You] will not regret being a part of this program.” 

Join Lt. James “Scott” McKown in building new professional expertise that will benefit you today, tomorrow, and beyond. Apply now to our online Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration program!