“I would recommend online learning to anyone who is employed, has a family, or other responsibilities. I always felt like I did not have time to go back to school, when in fact, I did.”

–Laura Hall, online MS-CJAD student 

A criminal justice veteran, Laura Hall began to reconsider her plans as her retirement from a long-held position grew closer. Deciding she’d like to continue working in a related field, Hall understood that having a master’s degree would give her more professional options, and she chose to pursue an online Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration with UT Permian Basin. “I love my career in criminal justice and wanted to stay on this same path,” she explained. And Hall has already put what she’s learned to use in her current position.

Hall was gracious enough to share her time with us and tell us about her experience earning an online MS in criminal justice administration from UTPB, including what she considers the best part about our program.

Planning for the Next Phase of Her Career

“Within the next five years, I will be retiring from the only job I have really ever known in adult probation,” Hall said. “I am currently the assistant director for the Ector County Supervision and Corrections Department (Adult Probation). When I retire, I will still be young enough to work and needed to expand my opportunities.”

Thinking ahead, Hall has embarked on completing her master’s degree online with UTPB with the intention of passing along her wisdom to tomorrow’s criminal justice professionals. “I know having my Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration will help me with my future goals. I want to teach in the criminal justice field at the collegiate level, so I know this progression in education will help me fulfill this goal.”

Challenges Lead to Career Enhancement

Hall admitted to experiencing some challenges when she started her degree: “My first class in the CJAD online program was somewhat overwhelming,” she explained. “I am a person who loves to write, but the amount of writing in this program blew me away. However, the constant research and writing has allowed me to understand that putting your thoughts and ideas to paper [doesn’t] mean anything unless you have research to back you up.”

Hall quickly discovered the broader benefit of putting effort into her courses. “Contemporary Legal Issues in Criminal Justice Administration was particularly interesting to me. I found the information in the class to coincide with parts of my current job along with [the course] Civil Liabilities for Criminal Justice Administrators. These two classes helped me with my current position.”

The Benefits—and Best Part—of Earning a Degree Online

Hall has no concerns about the effectiveness of an online program versus a campus-based program. “I think I learned just as much online. There has never been a time that I did not receive an answer to any question I had either by email or discussion post. The professors were very responsive, respectful, and solution-oriented. If I had any questions or concerns, they were addressed very quickly.”

Hall has experienced some benefits specific to the online format in her program. “The online classroom is very simple to use. The Canvas orientation was helpful when I first started the program,” she explained. “The best part of earning this degree online is the simple fact that I do not miss important things going on in my life. If my child has a sporting event or we have a family function, I can attend without hesitation because I control my own study time.”

Professional and Personal Development

Hall is pleased with what she has learned and feels strongly about communicating the value of her program to other aspiring criminal justice professionals. “I would certainly recommend UTPB’s Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration to others who are wanting to join the criminal justice administration field. The CJAD program has helped me incorporate better leadership and educational skills within my work agency. It has also made me develop a better time management plan, personally and professionally.”

“The CJAD program has completely exceeded any expectations I had,” she added. “I am challenged every day in this program to expand my own beliefs and thoughts on areas within the criminal justice field. It has helped me identify ways to improve personally and make our agency more efficient and successful.”             

Parting Advice

Hall offered some final words of advice for prospective students of the online MS in criminal justice administration program. “I would tell them to read, read, read. Don’t just read to find answers, read to help yourself understand topics that you don’t know about, even things that seem to not interest you. Reading and doing the research helps open your mind to ideas and thoughts you may have never been taught or learned. Keep an open mind when you disagree with a classmate or professor. Be open to hard discussions and willing to listen to alternate viewpoints.”

Join Laura Hall in planning for future success in the criminal justice field. Apply today to our online Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration program.