A new master's degree program at The University of Texas-Pan American is opening up new avenues for criminal justice majors this fall.
UT Pan American is now offering a master of science in criminal justice, which is a cooperative degree program with The University of Texas at Brownsville.
Mark Danstzker, graduate program director for the Department of Criminal Justice at UTPA, said the program was created to meet the increasing demand in the Rio Grande Valley.
"There are so many people in the Rio Grande Valley who have bachelor's degrees in criminal justice," said Danstzker, "but the only way they can be promoted at work is with a master's degree.
Juan Morales, 47, of Mission, is currently enrolled in the program and said he is looking into become an administrator with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "It's a brand new program, and I'm expecting there will be a lot of heavy studying involved," said Morales. "This is what it takes to get ahead."
Valarie Soto, 28, also from Mission, said she has always been interested in pursuing a master's in criminal justice.
"I was always fascinated with police work," the graduate student said. "I just feel so lucky that I can pursue my master's without leaving the Valley."
Soto said she is hoping to teach criminal justice at a university or at the federal level.
Currently 24 students have been accepted into the master of science in criminal justice degree program for the fall semester, and Danstzker is predicting the number of applicants to increase throughout the year.
The 36-hour program was approved for UT Pan American by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board with the understanding that the program would be conducted in cooperation with UT-Brownsville.
According to Danstzker, courses will be available at UT-Brownsville as well as UTPA. Students interested in entering the criminal justice master's program must have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field, a grade point average of 2.5 in their last undergraduate semester, and a minimum score of 800 on the Graduate Record Examination.
For more information, contact Mark Danstzker at 956/381-2339.