Lee News

Lee Online Launches Criminal Justice This Summer

Lee University Online will launch criminal justice as its newest major beginning this May, in cooperation with the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department of Lee’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Lee is designing this online offering with working adults in mind, specifically those looking to begin, extend or expand their law enforcement careers or pursue future graduate study. Criminal justice degrees are in high demand across the country, and according to a 2010 study of the American Sociological Association that demand is forecast to increase in the coming decades.

Criminal justice has been a successful minor offered to Lee behavioral and social science majors for years. Lee alumni can currently be seen on the job as police officers in Nashville and Cleveland, corrections officers in multiple locations, and even as graduate students in the halls of Cambridge University, one of the world’s oldest schools of criminology.

With this kind of success, a fully developed major has been “much requested,” according to Behavioral Sciences Chair Dr. Jeff Sargent.

“We know there are a number of people in local and national criminal justice agencies who will benefit from [this degree],” Sargent said. “Our faith-integrated expertise is uniquely prepared to deliver this program to a new audience.”

The program will offer either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science track with a choice of two emphases: Corrections or Criminology/Juvenile Justice. The academic degree will be an extension of Lee’s sociology program and the dream of Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Arlie Tagayuna.

“Our program is designed to develop the key knowledge, values and ethical considerations that are significant in becoming successful managers and leaders in the criminal justice system and related human services vocations,” Tagayuna said.

For Lee Online’s top administrator Executive Director Dr. Joshua Black, it’s a case of mission-meeting mandate: “Criminal justice programs have been trending in recent years as the need for police and corrections officers grows in our country, so we know there is a demand. However, this is more than just institutional growth; it is about meeting a need in our communities. It is about living out Matthew 25:35-36 by caring for and empowering others.”

Lee President Paul Conn echoed this sentiment, “At Lee, we try to deliver academic programs that prepare our students for lives of service. Criminal justice is an important program that has not been offered here, and we are pleased to add it.”

Local partnerships are already developed with the Cleveland (TN) Police Department and the Bradley County (TN) Sheriff’s Office to offer a local, faith-based alternative for many officers looking to complete their undergraduate degree. The program is designed for both the brand new student and the transfer who may be bringing with him/her a completed associate’s degree.

The 120-hour degree consists of the school’s general education core (36 hours), religion core (15 hours), specialty area with selected emphasis (51 hours), and 18 hours of electives selected by the student.

“This is an exciting time for Lee University,” Black said. “We can reach out to the world in a very different way through our criminal justice degree.”

Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Dr. Matthew Melton concurred: “A degree in criminal justice isn’t about law enforcement; it’s about coming to grips with a marginalized and forgotten part of our society. Our mission at Lee University is to train responsible citizens for redemptive service. Our program in criminal justice will help prepare graduates to serve among people who very much need the light of hope in their lives.”

With the current state of policing in the U.S., Conn believes a criminal justice education with a Christian worldview is of paramount importance: “The blending of justice and mercy has been a goal of the church for 2,000 years. Its importance has never been more crucial than now.”

The new criminal justice cohort will begin May 9, 2017, and is pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
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