Associate of Applied Science in Criminology and Justice Studies

Kent State University
Approval Status: 
Comment Period: 
Wed, 02/06/2019 - 9:00am to Thu, 02/21/2019 - 9:00am


Stark State College writes to express its concern over Kent State University’s proposal to create an Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminology and Justice Studies. The University rationalizes its proposal by citing research that indicates police officers with a college-level education reap the benefits of that education through enhanced job performance and greater advancement opportunities. We certainly do not dispute this research. However, the proposed degree program is almost identical to the programs that have been in place at Stark State College for nine years. Kent State’s proposed curriculum includes justice studies, corrections, mathematics, criminal law, humanities, science, issues in law and society, criminology, English composition, sociology, fine arts, and either a sequence in criminology courses, or a Peace Officers Academy concentration. Our Associate of Applied Science in Police Science degree includes introduction to criminal justice (the equivalent of “justice studies), corrections, mathematics, humanities, science, criminology, English composition, sociology or psychology, and the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA). Our Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice includes introduction to criminal justice, corrections, mathematics, criminal law, humanities, science, criminology, English composition, sociology, and courses in policing, criminal procedure, cultural diversity, and juvenile delinquency. The Associate of Arts is 100 percent transferable to Kent State University, articulating directly into their program. The Kent State proposal indicates that the proposed degree program would be available at each of their campus locations, or in an online/hybrid format. Therefore, it would be in direct competition with the well-established programs at Stark State College, which are also available at several of our campuses as well on online and in the hybrid format. Stark State serves Stark, Summit, and surrounding counties. Consequently, Kent State’s projected enrollment of 28-57 students in the proposed program within the next 4-years could prove to be devastating to Stark State’s enrollment in their programs. We encourage KSU-Stark to partner with us on our existing degrees through articulation agreements to their bachelor's degrees.

Community colleges fit the need of students looking to pursue educational and workforce programs in a way that traditional universities do not. Eastern Gateway Community College provides quality, student-centered higher education that is more affordable than traditional universities and aids in the support of those students seeking associate level programming. Seeking the associate degree at a community college allows the student an affordable education while exploring career options. Part of the mission of community colleges across Ohio is to deliver two-year degrees to students who, for a variety of reasons, may not have access to pursue their education at a four-year university. As costs continue to rise, community colleges offer the most affordable way to pursue a degree and create an educational pathway to gain a Bachelor’s degree, reducing the amount of overall debt a student would incur. Students also get more support at a community college. At Eastern Gateway Community College, there continues to be a rise of non-traditional and first generation students who are attending college for the first time, or who have taken some college coursework in the past but did not complete. Many such students can get overwhelmed by a university setting and large class sizes. Many students in these circumstances need the one-on-one support a community college can offer when facing these unique challenges. Eastern Gateway Community College offers hands-on advising and strong transition programs to aid in the development of our students. Community colleges offer a chance to improve upon an underwhelming high school record. For others, it is an opportunity to get extra academic guidance and support. Community colleges often have smaller class sizes. The priority of the faculty is teaching, not research. At Eastern Gateway, there are many support services, including mentoring programs and organized study groups to help with retention and student success. This support can give students the credentials they need to get admitted to, and succeed at, a four-year institution. Eastern Gateway and other community colleges can be strong partners with four-year institutions to provide a transfer population of students wishing to begin or continue their studies at the two-year level, and then finish a four-year degree at a university. However, Eastern Gateway and other community colleges specialize in offering two-year degrees, such as the AAS in Criminal Justice, for their unique student population, and these two-year programs align with the important mission of community colleges.