Online Undergraduate Courses Help Criminology Students Graduate – UMSL Daily


The online courses enabled Cara Sampson to earn her BA in Criminology, Criminal Justice and Sociology and a Minor Certificate in Trauma Studies at UMSL. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Bride Cara Sampson moved her 10-year-old daughter from Georgia to Sullivan, Missouri last August, bought a foreclosed home that needed major work, and continued to prepare for her undergraduate degree. To say she was a little short on time would be an understatement.

However, the flexibility of the online courses offered at the University of Missouri-St. Louis helped Sampson stay on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminology, criminal justice, and sociology and a minor certificate in trauma studies.

UMSL’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers all of its undergraduate courses online, resulting in a bachelor’s degree entirely online.

“When I first looked at the schools, the idea that the UMSL Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice program was ranked fourth in the country by US News and World Report hooked me,” a- she declared. “But because of my life and my schedule when I first moved here, without the opportunity to take four online courses last semester, I wouldn’t have been able to go full time. “

The department has offered online courses for a number of years, said Finn-Aage Esbensen, E. Desmond Lee full professor of youth crime and violence and department chair.

“We realized several years ago that we needed to offer online courses to serve our students, stay competitive and increase enrollment,” Esbensen said.

Since 2009, the department has more than tripled both its course offerings and the number of registrations for online courses.

“We started to develop courses,” he said. “We have started offering undergraduate courses and steadily increasing the offerings each semester.

“Our faculty really appreciate the online mode of delivery, but work hard to ensure that the online experience is the same or similar to the classroom experience and is not diluted anyway. “

It works. Online courses continue to be popular with new ones being added every semester.

“All of our online classes fill up, usually before our on-campus classes, so there is a demand,” Esbensen said.

Sampson, who hopes to complete her undergraduate degree in May 2015, said she plans to continue alternating with online and on-campus classes.

“I like the flexibility that online gives me, and with my schedule I need it,” she said. “But I also love the opportunity to be a part of campus and interact with others, and that’s what campus classes offer.”

Once she graduates, Sampson plans to enroll in UMSL’s master’s program in psychology. She would like to work in a prison or correctional school as a counselor.

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