The College of Criminal Justice is launching an online Master of Sciences program in Victim Services Management this fall, “the first program of its kind to be offered in the nation,” said Dr. Cortney Franklin, chair of the Victim Services Management program committee.
“We are so excited about the prospect of equipping victim service providers with the scientific tools and practical skills needed to effectively interface with victims of crime,” said Dr. Franklin. “As it currently stands, a limited number of quality graduate programs offer a certificate in victimology, but students are only taking one or two courses that focus on these important issues. Our program provides graduates with necessary criminal justice systems exposure and then focuses extensively on victimology, victim service provision, advocacy and advanced topics in the study of crime victimization. These include elder abuse, child maltreatment, violence against women, and human sex trafficking.
“Master’s courses are taught by a core group of faculty with more than three decades of collective teaching and advocacy experience. As a result, our graduates will complete the program with more advanced knowledge of crime victimization and strategies for effective practical intervention and benefit from the resources our faculty can provide. This ultimately enhances their marketability and benefits crime victims.”
Graduates who complete the Master of Sciences degree in Victim Services Management will be prepared to work with victims through direct services, organizational management and social policy development for such programs as rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers, or other victim service agencies. Additionally, victim advocates in municipal law enforcement agencies or prosecutor’s offices would be appropriate candidates for the degree.
Delivered exclusively online through two, 15-7-1/2 week courses per semester, the program can be completed in two years. Courses also prepare graduates for writing state and federal grants, evaluating advocacy program effectiveness, and critical consumption of relevant information including government reports and scientific studies.
“Because this degree is tailored to victim advocates and the like, candidates are uniquely positioned for financial support,” said Dr. Franklin. “The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP.org) offers scholarships for survivors and existing victim advocates. Students can also compete for University scholarships after their first semester.”
The program combines scientific research, academic theory, and evidence-based best practices with practical application in the field. The program culminates with a capstone course, which examines the coordination of victim services among both government and advocacy organizations, like law enforcement, medical service professionals, mental health service providers, and advocates in rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters.
“First responders often face significant challenges in providing victim-centered services because each organizational representative has institutional priorities that may be at odds with other key players and not always be focused on the victim,” Dr. Franklin said. “Consequently, advocates become frustrated and victims suffer. This capstone course prepares graduates for dealing with these situations and for effectively managing multiple, often competing interests. Graduates complete the program with versatile skills and victims can benefit from that investment.”
To be considered for admission, applicants must complete the graduate school application and submit their GRE scores, official degree transcripts, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and most recent resume. “In vetting candidates for admission in this way, we are upholding the academic integrity of a program that is being offered by a department ranked among the top four in the nation,” said Dr. Franklin. “We are eager to harness that scholarly excellence in educating existing and future victim advocacy professionals to enhance victim-centered responses.”