UNT Dallas launches first-of-its-kind graduate degree linking criminal justice and mental health

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DALLAS (June 23, 2024) — Recognizing the urgent need and critical challenges facing the criminal justice system, the University of North Texas at Dallas (UNT Dallas) Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology is introducing an innovative, first-of-its-kind Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Mental Health Policy.

This 100% online graduate program offered nationally by UNT Dallas is now accepting applications and will launch in the Fall 2024 semester. The last day to apply is Aug. 5; classes begin Aug. 26.

North Texas criminal justice, public safety and mental health professionals unanimously support UNT Dallas’ launch of the new master’s degree program.

“Unfortunately, our jails and prisons have effectively become the largest provider of mental health services in the nation,” said Robert W. Francis, Senior State District Judge of the Dallas County 4-C Re-entry Court.

The mental health crisis in North Texas and across America affects the police, the courts and the correctional system. It intensifies violence, fuels addiction, worsens homelessness, and increases volatile jail and prison populations. As a result, the need for new policies, strategies, and solutions has never been greater.

“This new concentration offers a dynamic and forward-thinking approach to addressing mental health issues in every facet of policing and the criminal justice system,” said Angela Shaw, Assistant Chief of the Dallas Police Department. “It will solidify UNT Dallas as a pioneer in reimagining public service and setting a new standard for creating mental health policy.”

The cutting-edge program will elevate current and future leaders in the criminal justice profession, including law enforcement officers, court and legal professionals, corrections officers and other public safety practitioners.

“I believe this specialization will not only enhance the educational experience for students but also contribute to the broader societal goal of creating a more informed, compassionate and effective criminal justice system,” said John Creuzot, Dallas County District Attorney.
Students will be provided with extensive knowledge and the analytical skills necessary to effectively manage the enormous challenges that mental illness presents in the administration of justice.

“Individually and collectively, our faculty’s experience, expertise and dedication make UNT Dallas uniquely positioned to offer this degree,” said Dr. J. Eric Coleman, Senior Lecturer and Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ) Program Coordinator in the UNT Dallas Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology.

“This new and novel approach in criminal justice education will no doubt be a catalyst for the rest of the nation,” said David Brown, former Dallas Police Chief.

Learn more about this unique, groundbreaking degree here or scan the QR code:

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