UHV to offer new criminal justice graduate program

Community members and undergraduate students majoring in criminal justice at the University of Houston-Victoria have requested that the university add a graduate degree in the field, and soon they will have that option.

Elise Hendricker

The university will begin offering a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice this fall after recent approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, said Elise Hendricker, chair of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences’ Social and Behavioral Sciences Division and an associate professor of school psychology.

“This new graduate program is a great opportunity for our current and prospective criminal justice students who want to take their education a step further,” said Beverly Tomek, interim dean of the school. “As the university grows, we continue to look for ways to serve our students.”

The program has been a few years in the making, Hendricker said. While UHV offers a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in criminal justice, students requested a more streamlined program.

“What we found was that students wanted a more focused master’s degree,” Hendricker said. “Even though the concentration was beneficial, they wanted to see a more focused criminal justice graduate degree.”

Beverly Tomek

Ismael Gutierres, who graduated from UHV in spring 2019 from the honors program with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and a minor in psychology, said he plans to apply to the graduate program. He has requested the graduate program since his time as an undergraduate student, he said. He works as an alternative response investigator for Child Protective Services in Victoria.

“I am very excited for this program, especially because it is online and catered to working professionals,” Gutierres said. “It’s convenient, and I know a lot of people in local law enforcement have been waiting for a graduate program in criminal justice here. It’s exciting.”

The program will consist of 36 hours and can be completed in two years for full-time students. All courses will be offered online, but the school plans to have flexible options for course schedules once there are enough faculty to teach the program in a face-to-face setting, Hendricker said.

“I’m really proud of the progress the school has made by providing this degree not only for our students, but for our community,” Hendricker said. “Those who already are employed in a criminal justice field will be able to earn their master’s degree in the subject from UHV.”

Sara Zedaker

The program will offer courses focusing on courts, white-collar crimes and policing, said Sara Zedaker, UHV assistant professor of criminal justice.

The program isn’t just for police officers, she said. UHV graduates also have pursued careers with agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Secret Service, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Department of Homeland Security.

“Courses are broad enough so that everyone, including those who want to become a supervisor in a law enforcement field, can learn what they need to get to the next level in their field,” Zedaker said.

To learn more about this program, contact Zedaker at

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.

Amber Aldaco