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Lisa Stolzenberg, Florida International University, Department of Criminal Justice

Lisa Stolzenberg, Professor and Chair at Florida International University, Department of Criminal Justice joins us today to discuss distance education.

Tell us about the distance learning programs offered at Florida International University

The Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Criminal Justice at FIU are designed for students interested in pursuing careers in the criminal justice system. It is also geared for students who intend to further their education by enrolling in law and doctoral degree programs. Criminal Justice Online at FIU is the largest in the state and has a successful track record of replicating the strengths of our top ranked onsite degrees.

What is the typical duration of each of your programs?

FIU students can expect to graduate within the same time frame as our on campus programs. Because students enter the bachelor's program as a junior, most full time students graduate within two years. The master's program is 36 credit hours. Full time students usually graduate within four semesters. Part time students can enroll in courses at their own pace in both degree programs. Students who complete our bachelor's program and earn an overall GPA of 3.2 or higher are eligible for our combined bachelors/master's program, which allow them to double-count up to 12 graduate credit hours towards both degrees. Students could then complete their master's degree in criminal justice by completing an additional 24 graduate credit hours. In other words, a student could earn their master's degree within a year of completing their bachelors.

What would you say makes Florida International University programs different and better than other comparable online programs?

In a recent article published in the Journal of Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice at FIU ranked 10th nationally in regards to the publishing productivity of its faculty members in the leading journals in criminology and criminal justice (Steiner and Schwartz, 2006). All of our esteemed faculty teach both onsite and online. We also have world class part time faculty teaching online, including judges, attorneys, police chiefs and other high ranking criminal justice practitioners who can impart their valuable real life experience to our students.

There is some debate as to whether or not online degrees are as worthwhile as traditional degrees. What steps does Florida International University take to ensure that online students are receiving the same education that they'd receive in a classroom?

Unlike other online programs, FIU does not make a distinction between the onsite versus online degrees in criminal justice. Students can enroll in both online and onsite classes at their convenience and receive the same quality FIU degree upon graduation. Additionally, our online students are guaranteed access to the same world-class faculty and up-to-date content offered at our onsite campus.

What would you say are some of the benefits of earning a degree online rather than in a traditional classroom?

FIU gives students access to an education that they may not otherwise be able to receive because of work or other obligations. It also gives traditional students the flexibility to enroll in not only more classes but also a greater variety of classes.

If a student enrolled in one of your programs was interested in finding an internship in their field in their area, do you have any means of assisting them in acquiring an internship position?

Our internship program provides students with an opportunity to observe the criminal justice system in operation. To be eligible, a student must be a criminal justice major with an overall minimum GPA of 2.0 and senior standing or completion of all core classes. Students are responsible for securing their own sponsoring agencies. They can earn from 3 to 12 credits depending on the number of hours they work per week.

Does Florida International University offer any job placement services to your students and graduates?

FIU Career Services partners with students and alumni to help them develop, implement, and evaluate their career plans. Using high-tech, high touch operations, Career Services facilitates the career search process by providing access to internship and employment opportunities with local, national and global employers.

Is financial aid available to students in your programs?

Financial aid��in the form of loans, grants, and employment��is offered for the specific purpose of helping a student meet educationally related expenses. If the student qualifies, he or she may be offered a combination of these types of aid based on financial need and the amount of funds available.

Do you have any advice for students enrolling in online classes for the first time?

Students enrolling in online courses will be expected to have moderate proficiency on a PC, be skilled in running an Internet browser, and be able to use Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). They should also be able to use File Manager/Windows Explorer. Without these skills, students will have difficulty participating in online courses. With them, students can enjoy success and benefit fully from the interactivity of online learning. At a minimum, students must have the following in order to participate in an online course: (1) personal computer, (2) internet service provider, (3) e-mail account, (4) internet browser, (5) Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), and (6) anti-virus software.

Thank you Lisa, for sharing and participating in this piece.

That concludes our interview!

For more information on the online criminal justice degree programs available at FIU Online, visit them online.

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