In partnership with Bisk Education, the University of St. Thomas launched its first fully online degree program, a Master of Arts in Public Safety and Law Enforcement Leadership, on Monday, April 29. The program is designed to serve a variety of law enforcement and public safety professionals seeking advanced skills and knowledge to become leaders in their fields.
In 2012, St. Thomas selected Bisk Education, founded in 1971 and located in Tampa, Fla., to assist in developing and delivering online programs. University Alliance, a division of Bisk, has partnered with top-ranked regionally accredited universities such as Villanova, Notre Dame, Scranton, Florida Tech and Michigan State to deliver online degree and professional certificate programs.
“St. Thomas selected Bisk Education as its online vendor of choice because of a mutual interest in offering rigorous academic programs online for graduate students,” said Dr. Sue Huber, executive vice president and chief academic officer at the university. Bisk Education and its university partners have surpassed 450,000 online enrollments.
The Master of Arts in Public Safety and Law Enforcement Leadership is a program of the university’s College of Education, Leadership & Counseling. The college has offered a campus-based Master of Arts in Police Leadership for nearly 50 years and has prepared numerous peace officers for a wide range of leadership roles in local, state and federal agencies. The online program, renamed for the wider audience it attracts, follows the same curriculum standards and is taught by many of the same instructors as the on-campus program. Online students receive the same diplomas as on-campus students.
Eleven courses are required to complete the master’s degree, for a total of 31 credit hours. Courses such as Foundations of Leadership: Intellectual and Ethical Traditions, Public Safety Law, and Community Building and Dynamics of Community Organizations provide in-depth leadership and research knowledge in public safety administration, federal and national policy making, and the dynamics of community relationships. Students learn the leadership and critical-thinking skills that will position them for career advancement.
"Our Master's degree program is ideal for a variety of law enforcement or public safety officials," said Dr. Deb DeMeester, director of public safety and law enforcement leadership programs. "Whether they seek to advance within their current department or agency, or move into a new role with another agency, students will develop the skills necessary to advance the common good – and to lead others in doing the same."
Each course is eight weeks long with six start dates each year. Students and instructors communicate, network online, and complete assignments and tests through technology powered by University Alliance. Instructor-led videos introduce topics such as strategies for solving community problems and understanding federal and national policy making, and students discuss and debate issues using interactive group study tools and online discussion boards.
The online classroom is accessible 24/7 from any Internet-ready device, including mobile phones and tablet computers.
A second fully online degree program in the College of Education, Leadership & Counseling – Master of Arts in Special Education-Autism Spectrum Disorders – is currently being developed and is expected to open in fall 2013. That program will offer four tracks: master’s degree, master’s degree with licensure, licensure only, and certificate.
The St. Thomas program manager for the Bisk programs is Dr. Mary Reichardt. She has taught at St. Thomas since 1988 and now serves as the university’s first director of online education. Among her other accomplishments, Reichardt has published 13 books on literature and in 2008 was among the first recipients of the John Ireland Presidential Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Teacher/Scholar.
Reichardt’s office is located in Room 321 in the new faculty services wing of Aquinas Hall. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 962-6040.