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Mercer expands criminal-justice degree offerings

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Mercer University's College of Continuing and Professional Studies plans next month to launch a reformulated undergraduate public-safety program, expanding its existing criminal-justice program on the Atlanta, Macon, Lithia Springs and McDonough campuses.

"It's a much broader spectrum of study," said Stephen Jenkins, director of admissions at Mercer University's Regional Academic Center in Henry County.

He said the new program builds upon the college's four-year bachelor's degree program in criminal justice, and will better serve the nation's future and current public safety officials.

"Before, we just focused on those who wanted to be in the criminal prosecution point of the field," Jenkins said. He said changes to the degree reflect the changing landscape of public-safety careers.

"In order to best prepare our graduates for new public-safety challenges, we revised our current foundation courses to provide a much broader base of knowledge," said Lynn Tankersley, assistant professor of public safety and one of the degree's designers. "The response from public-safety agencies and professionals has already been tremendous."

The expanded degree program, according to Jenkins, is designed with public-safety officials in mind. Courses are offered in a non-traditional format with online classes and on-site classes in the evenings.

"The new program makes our students' degrees more marketable," Jenkins added. "You can still take the same track to law enforcement, but you can also take another track that will allow you more diversity."

He said he believes the revamped program will provide students with cross-training in homeland security, cyber security, forensics, emergency management, terrorism, leadership and multi-cultural issues.

"Students will have more opportunities in the arena of public safety, because they are not specialized in one area," Jenkins said. "It allows our students to be more creative when they are choosing a position, and it gives them more of a choice."

Course descriptions can be viewed at the Mercer University web site through the College of Continuing and Professional Studies' Undergraduate Degree Programs link.

The deadline for priority admission into the program is Aug. 1, with a general admission deadline of Aug. 17 for Fall Session I, which begins Aug. 24. The deadline for priority admission for Fall Session II is Oct. 1, with a general admission deadline of Oct. 19. The second fall session begins Oct. 21.

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