CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia State University will offer a new master's degree for law enforcement officers hoping to move their way up the ranks.
The master's degree in law enforcement and administration is geared toward police officers and workers in criminal justice agencies who have an interest in "the administrative and supervisory aspect of law enforcement," said Walter Stroupe, chairman of WVSU's criminal justice department and director of the graduate program.
The new degree, which received official accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission in late February, will begin this fall, WVSU President Hazo W. Carter Jr. said Wednesday. The university hopes to take up to 30 students in the program's first year.
"This is more of a practical, functional degree," Stroupe said.
Students will take evening classes, and the coursework will be about half classroom-based and half online, he said.
The program will operate on a cohort model, which means a select group of students will enroll at the same time, take the same courses and all graduate within two years.
Stroupe expects that by using the cohort model, West Virginia State will lose fewer students through attrition.
In West Virginia, law enforcement administrators don't need extra certification, and are usually elected or appointed, Stroupe said. They still are required to undergo additional hours of training every two years, he said.
The new program could help to "professionalize" law enforcement in West Virginia, Stroupe said. That's not intended as a knock on police agencies, but "if you're going to be perceived as a professional, you need advanced education," he said.
Police and other law enforcement agencies have issued letters of support for the new master's program, he said.
Reach Davin White at davinwh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254.