Seehafer comes back for online master's degree

October 15, 2003

Paul Seehafer saw a number of his colleagues return to school to pursue graduate degrees. Watching them do it inspired him to try, but he needed to find the right program. Seehafer, who has worked with the Justice Department since 1987, researched master's degree programs in criminal justice and heard about UW-Platteville's online program. He contacted coordinator Cheryl Banachowski-Fuller, and was immediately "sold".

"Cheryl made my think I could do it," he said. "It's a great program, but Cheryl definitely was the motivating factor behind me selecting UWP over Michigan State or Florida State. She made me believe I could do it, even though I'd been out of school for 20 years. She made it happen."

Totaling 30 credits offered entirely online, the master's of science in criminal justice program is a comprehensive, highly interactive solution for professionals who want a graduate degree or 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.

Seehafer had never taken an online class before and admitted he was concerned about the workload required, the level of interaction he would experience and how such difficult topics would be taught online. But, once the program got started, he realized immediately he had made the right choice.

"The level of interaction with all the instructors was great," he said. "They were always there. They responded in a very timely manner and very thoroughly."

He does encourage new students to make sure they are comfortable with the basics of a computer before enrolling in an online program. "If you're not conversant with the very basics of computer skills, waiting until you're enrolled is not the time to do it," he advised. "The program has great tech support, but you really need to know how to cut, copy and paste, move diagrams and use Excel spreadsheets-basic computer skills."

Seehafer also warns potential students to be aware of the time commitment required to complete an online master's program. "It takes a lot of time to do the readings and the papers," he said. "I was fortunate in that I was able to do some of it at work and about an hour in the morning, so I wasn't faced with four hours of work at night after getting home. This takes a real commitment of about 15 to 20 hours a week. You have to be willing to do that. Don't be disillusioned."

Seehafer, who is teaching part-time, said that the program curriculum has been very relevant in his work with the Justice Department. His research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been helpful to colleagues and he said in general he is able to look at existing research more critically.

Those interested in learning more about distance education at UWP can visit the website ( 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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