CBCS News

Department of Criminology offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration (MACJA) degree

The University of South Florida’s Department of Criminology offers a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration (MACJA) degree that is designed for working professionals in the criminal justice field. Classes take place on Saturdays throughout the academic year. The degree can be completed in a rigorous five semesters of classes which are mostly independent work.

Since the first graduating cohort in 2008, there have been 159 graduates, representing 50 different criminal justice agencies. The MACJA program supports the BSC college goal of helping to solve real world problems. Seven of the spring 2013 graduates have been promoted recently.

Jeff Peake attributes his pursuit of a higher education to making him a competitive candidate for promotion with the Pasco Sheriff's Office. To be eligible for promotion, the Pasco Sheriff's Office requires completion of a ranked sergeant/lieutenant test and a related assessment exercise. The matrix points to total a promotional score include education, specialized experience, specific courses and tenure with the agency. The highest matrix points are attributed to a master's degree.

"Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco is a very big supporter of college education," said Peake. "He is now making it a requirement to take future promotional tests."

Since graduating, Peake has been promoted to lieutenant of the special operations division at the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. In his new position, Peake is the liaison with Pasco County Emergency Operations Center and oversees all patrol-based specialty units, such as canine, STEP, motors, marine, environmental crimes unit, SWAT and CMT.

While completing USF’s MACJA program, Peake was transferred to the major crimes unit and promoted to patrol lieutenant. Prior to that, he worked in the economic crimes unit.

"When I began the MACJA program, I was the sergeant in the economic crimes unit," said Peake. "I have proudly passed that torch on to Sgt. Ross, who currently oversees the unit and recently graduated from the MACJA program with me."

When Justin Ross first began the MACJA program, he was a detective in the economic crimes unit. At the end of his first semester, Ross was promoted to patrol sergeant. He was ranked number three after his first promotion. At the start of Ross’s last semester, in January 2013, he was promoted to his current position, sergeant over the economic crimes unit. This position’s responsibilities include supervising a detective unit.

"The sheriff has made it known that he feels education is important,” said Ross. “I feel being enrolled in the program played a part in the decision to promote me."

The MACJA program provided Ross with the knowledge required to manage units, conduct research to address identified problems and make proposals to the chain of command.

"I feel my work is a direct result of the knowledge I gained through the MACJA program," said Ross.

Another spring 2013 graduate, Amy Jacques says her experience through USF’s MACJA program was instrumental in developing the skills needed to fit her new career. Jacques began the program as a supervisor for a juvenile diversion program. She felt that working directly with law enforcement would better suit her skills and would be a better frame of reference for the topics presented in the MACJA curriculum. Jacques has since been selected for a victim advocate position at the New Port Richey Police Department.

"I believe the program is set apart from other programs," said Jacques. "Not only by having a schedule that is conducive to the schedules found in police work, but by offering courses that are relevant and structured so that lessons translate seamlessly into practice."

Jacques uses what she learned in the MACJA program every day, from critical thinking skills to analyzing situations and knowledge of policy and procedure. Most importantly, USF’s program allowed Jacques to continue being an employee, a mom and a wife while obtaining a master’s degree that would ultimately make her more marketable in the workforce and bring many more opportunities.

"The true benefit I have found is the confidence and feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing such a demanding program," said Jacques. "It wasn’t easy and that’s what makes the end result and being where I am now so rewarding."