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Board of Regents approves criminal justice program as UNG's first Ph.D.

Dr. Douglas Orr is exactly the kind of professional UNG will seek to attract to its new criminal justice Ph.D. program. He spent three decades in law enforcement before earning a Ph.D. at Washington State University so he could teach in higher education. Orr takes over as head of UNG's Criminal Justice Department on June 1.

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) first Ph.D. program will help meet a growing national demand for criminal justice instructors.

On May 12, the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents approved a doctoral degree in criminal justice with a concentration in intelligence that is scheduled to launch in fall 2021 at UNG, pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. It will become the second criminal justice Ph.D. in Georgia. The other is at Georgia State University.

"This degree is hugely significant for UNG because while we have three existing doctoral degrees, this is our first Ph.D. and represents a significant benchmark in the growth of research and graduate programs at the university," said Dr. Chaudron Gille, UNG provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs.

The program will train intelligence analysts, who can go back to their law enforcement agencies and implement research-based policies that can lead to better results. Those who earn the degree also can teach criminal justice at the university level. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of postsecondary teachers in criminal justice is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026.

A recent survey of UNG's Master of Science in criminal justice students showed 87.5% were interested in a Ph.D. program in the field, and 75% of those were "very interested" in the possibility of studying at UNG. Nearly all respondents pointed to cost and online availability as deciding factors.

"The online nature of this Ph.D. program will attract working professionals already established in their careers and communities, catering to the lifestyles of upcoming generations and adding a mixture of flexibility for working professionals," said Dr. Douglas Orr, who takes over as head of UNG's Criminal Justice Department on June 1 after previously serving as assistant department head.

The cohort-based program will focus on applied research and require 54 hours of coursework, including 15 hours of dissertation courses, with the ability to complete it in three to five years. All students will be required to complete two teaching practica and write and defend a dissertation.

The program will be well-positioned to attract workers who spend a 30-year career in law enforcement and have a desire to teach in higher education upon retirement. That was the case for Orr, who worked in law enforcement for three decades before earning a Ph.D. in criminal justice at Washington State University. He is eager to lead UNG's new doctoral program.

"A practitioner who has worked in law enforcement not only understands the rule, they have lived the exception," Orr said. "They can teach other people coming through the criminal justice field about how theory differs from practice."

In addition to preparing those who can teach criminal justice, the degree is designed to meet the intelligence and research needs of military, federal, state, and local governmental agencies, private corporations engaged in intelligence and security fields, and others interested in developing greater knowledge about the field of intelligence and research studies.

With the additional degree, UNG's criminal justice program will offer associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, including its Public Safety Academy that allows students to earn a bachelor's degree while earning Peace Officer Standards and Training certification.

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