Thanks in part to popular crime shows, criminal justice programs are booming across the country. And in the first-ever ranking of national online criminal justice programs by U.S. News and World Report, the University of Colorado Denver landed in the top ten. It rated ninth overall, and fifth among public institutions. Admissions selectivity, faculty credentials and student engagement were all among the factors that determined the ranking.
"Sometimes I think we're the best-kept secret in town," says Callie Rennison, associate professor and MCJ program director. But now the secret is out.
Part of the ranking is based on what other universities think of the programs. "I like that," Rennison says. "I think that they recognize that what we're doing is the right thing."
Rennison has been with the criminal justice program for seven years, and served as its director for a little over a year. Recently she published a book about criminal justice with another University of Colorado Denver staff member, Mary Dodge. Introduction to Criminal Justice: Systems, Diversity, and Change is a condensed version of what is taught in the program.
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But Rennison doesn't just write about diversity -- she sees it in the students she teaches. "Our program at CU Denver is the most diverse on campus," she says, adding that the diversity goes beyond race and gender. "We have first-generation college students, a lot of those. We have a huge Latino population, we have a lot of people who are single parents, and a lot of people coming right out of high school."
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In order to stay current on the changing nature of law enforcement, the program's faculty members meet monthly to discuss what could be done better. As Rennison puts it, "We are definitely not a stale, old CJ program." And unlike at many other universities, the CU Denver professors who teach online courses also teach in-person courses -- and both types are held to the same high standards. "Same professor, same material, same quality degree," Rennison says.
CU Denver's criminal Justice program currently offers two concentrations: gender-based violence, and emergency management and homeland security. A crime analyst concentration will also be available soon.
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