Madsen Receives Master's Online

October 30, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE- Just four short years away from being able to retire from the Racine Police Department, Steve Madsen feels having a master's degree in criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville will open up a whole new world of opportunities. Currently the sergeant of operations at the Racine Police Department, Madsen graduated from UWP in the spring after two years in the master of science in criminal justice program.

Totaling 30 credits offered entirely online, the program is a comprehensive, highly interactive solution for professionals who want a graduate degree or who are looking for skills to advance to higher-level positions in their profession. Students are able to tailor the program to fit their knowledge and skills and meet their individual career goals. The biggest advantage for Madsen was that the program was presented in a format that fit his lifestyle.

"I was primarily working second shift when I was taking the courses," Madsen said. "It was perfect because I could do my homework during the day when the kids were in school."

Madsen had attempted an on-campus traditional program in the early to mid-90s and spent four weekends a semester driving down to Illinois. Eventually he had to admit it just wasn't working.

"It was burning up time that I wanted to spend with my kids," Madsen recalls. "So when I heard about UW-Platteville's online program I thought that might be do-able."

Madsen had never taken an online course before he enrolled at UWP, so he wasn't sure what to expect. What he found was a wonderful experience.

"The amount of learning is certainly comparable with a campus program," he said. "It's just that this is so much more convenient for working people with families. This type of program fits better with the adult learning style, and is very well suited for people with the discipline to do it."

Two of Madsen's colleagues at the Racine Police Department are currently enrolled in the program, and he said a third is considering it. Madsen tells them that, while it requires considerable discipline, the program enables students to work at their own pace. This means they can work ahead if they know they are going to be out of town or can "play catch up" when they return.

Madsen also says, while you don't see your instructor face-to-face during a lecture on campus, they are always available. "And, the level of interaction with my classmates was more than I ever expected," he added. "I've become friends with some of them."

The degree will enable Madsen to apply for chief of police jobs in smaller departments in the state, many of which now require a master's degree. Or, when he retires from Racine he could become a criminal justice instructor.

"This criminal justice program is really well set up," he said. "Coordinator Dr. Cheryl Banachowski-Fuller has done an outstanding job-as have the other instructors. You get as much-maybe even more-interaction with your classmates online than you do sitting in a classroom with 30 or 40 other people. That was the highlight of the experience."

Those interested in learning more about distance education at UWP can visit the website (http://www.uwplatt.edu/disted) for a complete list of degree programs and available courses. You can also call 608-342-1468 or toll-free 800-363-5460 to request an informational packet about UWP distance education.

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