Patrol Sergeant Nevin Long of the Knoxville Police Department works nights, weekends, and swing shifts, a challenging schedule for someone who wanted to finish his college career.

Long accomplished what seemed almost impossible.  At 37 years old, he walked in commencement exercises on December 15th at McKenzie Arena.  He was awarded The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice.

And he did it all online.

It’s been a journey for Long, who began to take college classes in 1993.  This time he wanted a traditional university environment he could access online, and he decided on the UTC program.  With his degree in hand, he’ll earn a significant raise and he can more easily apply for promotions.

“When you work 50, 60, 70 hours a week, it isn’t feasible to go to a campus for classes,” Long explained.  “It takes more time to complete the coursework online, because you must cover all the reading and research on your own.  But online courses are far more compatible with my work schedule.”

Long is one of four students who graduated this semester as part of the first cohort of students.  They began the online program in January 2011.  The UTC completion program is designed for working professionals including police officers, those in probation, parole and corrections and victims’ services.  It also serves traditional students who cannot transfer to a university because there is not a criminal justice program in their area.  It is one of the few online criminal justice programs offered at the undergraduate level nationwide.

In this degree completion program students complete their first two year years of college, including their general education, at a community college or another institution.  T hey can then complete their bachelor’s degree in criminal justice totally online from UTC.

For instance, Tom Moore began his law enforcement career as a Tennessee State Trooper and retired after 30 years as Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety.  He is currently a private consultant who works for U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he serves as a trainer for first responders.

Moore graduated from high school in 1972 and he earned an associate’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University in 1986.  He took college classes at various times during his career, but he found it difficult to finish his undergraduate degree because of career and family obligations.

A resident of Smith County, Tennessee, Moore considered higher education options closer to his home, but he decided he liked UTC’s program the best.

As one of the mature members of the cohort, Moore occasionally expressed a different opinion based on his experience in the field.  He enjoyed exchanging ideas in dialogue with his classmates.

“I would recommend this program to others.  It opens up people’s minds,” Moore said.

Long agrees with Moore, saying he would recommend the program to others.  And he goes one step further.

“I’m hoping UTC creates an online master’s degree in criminal justice.  I’d be very interested,” he said.

For more information about the Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice, email Dr. Helen Eigenberg Helen-Eigenberg@utc.edu , Professor and Head of the UTC Department of Criminal Justice and Legal Assistant Studies, or call 423/425-4135.

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