UHV criminal justice program earns national ranking

Many of the students pursuing criminal justice degrees at the University of Houston-Victoria aren’t typical college freshmen, and the program is designed to take their needs into account.

That’s one reason the UHV Bachelor of Science in criminal justice program was ranked 17th in the nation in the Center for Online Education’s 2016 Best Online Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice list.

Jeffrey Di Leo

“These students often are military veterans who already have careers in law enforcement or corrections and are looking to move up,” said Robbie Hawkins, a UHV associate professor of criminal justice and director of the undergraduate criminal justice program. “Most of them are on rotating shifts, which means they can’t make it to face-to-face classes, so the online program is exactly what they need.”

In its ranking of UHV, the Center for Online Education stated the program focuses on helping students understand criminal behavior as well as crime prevention methods and rehabilitation procedures. The list also recognizes UHV’s use of online platforms to reach students and the availability of technical support.

In addition to these factors, Hawkins said UHV’s criminal justice degree also is set apart because of the excellent faculty. Keith Akins, an associate professor of criminal justice, has a background in terrorism research. In addition to faculty members, the university also hires adjunct instructors who have experience in law enforcement, including administrators in the Victoria Police Department and the Houston area.

“UHV’s undergraduate criminal justice program is an excellent example of how higher education can have a positive impact on our community,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “Law enforcement professionals are instrumental to the safety and order in our society, and UHV is committed to helping these men and women be equipped for success as they serve and protect our community.”

Because the students often are employed in law enforcement or corrections, there are times when the students have the latest information about new legislation or regulations that impact the field. They share the updates with instructors, Hawkins said.

“There’s nothing typical about teaching criminal justice,” he said. “Our students are out there every day. They do dangerous work, and they bring those experiences to the classroom. There are times when the students teach us as much as we teach them.”

To learn more about the bachelor’s in criminal justice program, contact the UHV School of Arts & Sciences at 361-570-4201 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.