What is the criminal justice career academy?

The Criminal Justice Career Academy is a small learning community of Minnesota high school students taking introductory and foundational criminal justice courses. It is a faculty-led initiative in the Department of Criminal Justice at Minnesota State University, Mankato.  This career academy strives to implement the following objectives:

  • Improve high school students’ access to the 4-year college.
  • Provide early introduction to the field of criminal justice and related fields.
  • Improve emotional and cultural intelligence within the collegiate environment.
  • Reduce race and gender barriers to criminal justice careers
  • Establish an inclusive environment for students of color who often experience barriers to early college courses.
  • Provide motivation for college admissions, retention, and graduation.

Students who participate in Criminal Justice Career Academy are linked to peers, professors, and community partners in the field of criminal justice and related fields to help foster academic and career growth.  To this aim, MSU-M faculty will operate as a team, functioning as a community of practice that focuses on students, student learning, race and equity, and effective implementation of all aspects of the career academy program.

Need for the Criminal Justice Career Academy

  • Ability to partner with the school districts and superintendents.
  • Build recruitment efforts to increase student enrollments in criminal justice.
  • To assist in building diversity in the criminal justice field.
  • Provide opportunity for underrepresented students to engage in university level courses at their high school and build confidence.
  • Data has shown that high school students who participate in PSEO courses and then continue to Minnesota State University, Mankato finish their degrees in a shorter amount of time and with less debt. 

Enrollments, College Credits, & Exceptions

While career academy will vary in size, it is structured to enroll up to 40 students per semester, 80 students per academic year. Career Academy cohorts will start the Fall semester of their junior year and will matriculate through summer following their senior graduation. Each semester students are provided with a 3-credit course, which will generate up to 12 college credits.  Students are able to complete these courses within the regular school -day. There will be other opportunities to earn further college credits in summer programs, which is a separate proposal. 

High School Requirements

Students enrolled in Career Academy will also maintain the typical routine within a comprehensive high school and require administrator and counselor support.  Students may also participate in required and elective high school courses outside the academy, as well as other school-wide activities such as clubs and sports.  Logistically, Career Academy would be held in local high schools with the options for students to join the course via Zoom during the standard block high school scheduling. This will allow students to earn PSEO credits while meeting the requirements of the high school curriculum during the school-day.