2 Academic Program Approval & Review / Massachusetts Department of Higher Education



Will only programs titled “criminal justice” be eligible under the new guidelines?

Yes. At this time, the standards are the same.

Can we have two criminal justice programs at the same level, one that is designed for officers seeking Quinn Bill benefits and one that is not?

No. Institutions may not offer a Quinn Bill approved and a non-Quinn Bill approved Criminal Justice program. There would be many problems with such a dual-track, and it would be especially harmful to those students who decide to be police officers after completing the non-approved program. Two programs would also make it impossible for municipalities or Board of Higher Education staff to know whether a program is approved. Our recommendation to the institution is that the program not seeking approval should be titled something other than Criminal Justice or Law Enforcement, e.g., Protective Services, Criminology, Justice Studies, etc. that will clearly differentiate the programs.

What happens to students in a criminal justice program prior to its approval under the new Guidelines?

It depends on when the student enrolled in the program and whether or not the program had Board of Higher Education approval under the PCIPP statute prior to January 1, 2004.

  • Students who were enrolled in approved Criminal Justice or Law Enforcement programs prior to January 1, 2004, would be eligible to apply for PCIPP benefits upon graduation, whether or not the program is approved under the new Guidelines.
  • After January 1, 2004, students must graduate from a Criminal Justice Program approved under the new Guidelines in order to be eligible for PCIPP benefits.


Are the standards the same for online courses and programs?

Yes. At this time, the standards are the same.

Standard C, Indicator 5, calls for two-thirds of the faculty in Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs to hold an earned doctorate (Ph.D.) in criminal justice or a closely related discipline. What does it mean to have a Ph.D. in a “discipline closely related to criminal justice?”

There is not a standard answer to this question, as degrees in the same discipline may have different foci or specializations. Factors such as the substance of the degree, the degree holder’s research areas, depth and breadth of study in criminal justice at the graduate level, and the level of involvement of the faculty member in criminal justice academic associations and professional organizations, contribute to the field being considered closely related to the field of criminal justice.

Is an Ed.D. or a J.D. with a Master's in Criminal Justice the same as a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice?

Generally, for the purposes of meeting Standard C, an Ed.D. or a J.D. with a Master's in Criminal Justice is not considered the equivalent of a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. Institutions have the opportunity in their applications to make the case for specific individuals who have credentials other than the Ph.D.

Application for Approval

Will the Board of Higher Education provide instructions for institutions to use in submitting application materials?

Yes. The instructions will assist with the submission of applications. Applications should be submitted on a CD and in hard copy. One catalogue should be sent to the Board of Higher Education with the hard copy and the fee. Whenever possible, online links to supporting material should be included with the application you have burned to a CD.

Do we need to submit a separate application for a program offered completely online?

Yes. In addition, a program offered completely online must have at least one year in operation prior to seeking approval under the Guidelines in order to provide the learning outcome and comparability data required under Standard B 3.

When submitting an application, whose name should be on the cover sheet?

The cover sheet to the application should be submitted by the President or Chancellor of the institution. The program profile should have the name of the primary liaison for the review.

If the program has had a recent external review, should the report of that review be included?

Absolutely, as should the institution’s response to the review. A favorable external review may help to expedite the review that the Board of Higher Education will undertake.

When should students be counted as declared majors for the purposes of Standard C, Indicator 6?

Students should be counted as majors whenever they declare their major field or program. At most institutions, that can be as early as the first semester of the freshman year. The institution’s policy should be provided with the application. The determination of criminal justice majors should be consistent with that of the institution as a whole.

Should students taking criminal justice courses throughout the entire year (including summer terms) be included in the criteria under Standard C concerning full-time faculty teaching core courses and in determining full-time equivalent criminal justice majors?

The goal of this standard is to ensure that Criminal Justice approved programs meet the standards as outlined, regardless of when or where they are offered. The standards are flexible enough to account for academic calendars that are different from a traditional semester system, e.g., quarter systems, programs that run year-round, etc. There is no exclusion for students or faculty who enroll or teach in summer sessions.

Are there separate forms for Standard B for graduate programs?

Separate forms were not provided for graduate programs. The forms should be adapted to meet the criteria and reflect the curriculum of graduate programs.

Technical Suggestions

How should I add hyperlinks?

When entering email addresses or Web site addresses, be sure to type a space immediately after the address, which triggers Microsoft Word to make it into a hyperlink.

How do I fill in checkboxes?

Because our priority was to have hyperlinks and spell-check active on the application, we had to “unlock” the forms and thus could not make checkboxes active. To fill in a checkbox:

  • You may delete the appropriate checkbox and type an “X” in its place, or
  • If you want to lock the form so that you can check boxes by clicking on them, do the following:
    • Go to the View Menu > Toolbars > Forms.
    • Click on the padlock icon to “lock” the form.
    • Click on the appropriate checkbox(es).
    • Click on the padlock icon again to “unlock” the form. This will allow you to continue using hyperlinking and spell-check on the remainder of the form.
How should syllabi be submitted under Standard B?

As much as possible, syllabi should be submitted electronically with the application, and links to syllabi should be included.

Review Process

When will reviews occur?

Most reviews will occur in October and November. Board of Higher Education staff will check with the Criminal Justice campus liaisons to determine dates that will work for the Board of Higher Education, the reviewers, and the institution.

How will teams be established? How many members will they have?

Teams will be selected by Board of Higher Education staff in consultation with institutions and will comprise individuals from institutions outside of New England. The size of the team will be determined by the size of the program and other factors, e.g., whether the program has undergone a recent program review, issues presented during that review, etc. Most teams will have two to three members, though at institutions with multiple campuses and/or criminal justice programs, there may be more reviewers.

Why is a site visit necessary?

The purpose of the site visit is to validate the institution’s self-study. The majority of reviewers’ time on campus will be spent verifying information found in the application and asking questions that arose during the initial electronic application review. This is difficult to do without visiting the campus for a site visit.

How long will the site visit last?

For single program/single campus reviews, the site visit will usually involve, at most, one day. The day can go from noon of one day to the noon of the second day, or begin in the morning and run one full day. Multiple programs and/or multiple campus reviews will usually extend over at least two days to ensure that reviewers meet faculty and students at all program levels and locations.

Will the Board of Higher Education or the campus develop the schedule for the visit?

The Board of Higher Education provides a site visit checklist for the visit. The campus will revise the schedule to fit its own needs and the schedules of its personnel, but the final schedule must be approved by Board of Higher Education staff before it is sent to reviewers.

What are the institution’s responsibilities in relation to the review and reviewers?

The Board of Higher Education provides a site visit preparation checklist that makes clear the institution’s responsibilities.

Meetings & Events

Mar 11

Executive Committee Meeting

Mar 13

Evidence-Based Policy Making Advisory Council Meeting

Mar 14

Student Advisory Council Meeting

Making Headlines
Join Us on X!