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NIU celebrates first graduate of new program focused on applied management in public safety

February 27, 2013
NIU President John Peters and John Gosciniak at the December commencement.

NIU President John Peters and John Gosciniak at the December commencement.

NIU’s innovative Bachelor of Science in Applied Management (BSAM) with an emphasis in public safety recently celebrated a significant milestone – the graduation of its first student.

John Gosciniak of Naperville served as a marshal at the university’s December graduation in recognition of his high academic achievement in the program.

The BSAM in Public Safety provides a pathway to a bachelor’s degree for students and working public safety officers who hold Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees in fields such as criminal justice, fire science and emergency management.

Traditionally, the AAS was considered a “terminal” degree – designed primarily to prepare a graduate for employment rather than transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. However, many police departments now require officers to have a bachelor’s degree to move up the ranks, and many municipalities require all new hires to have bachelor’s degrees.

“This degree was designed with input from many police and fire chiefs,” said Meryl Sussman, director of adult programs in NIU’s outreach division.

“We wanted to provide a path to a bachelor’s degree that fit the lives of working public safety officers,” Sussman added. “That’s why the program features eight-week classes held one evening a week at Oakton and Harper community colleges.”

While that formula has proven popular with many working public safety professionals, the recent economic downturn broadened the new program’s appeal to include traditional-aged college students such as Gosciniak.

Meryl Sussman

Meryl Sussman

“Students like John are looking for innovative ways to build on their AAS degrees, to continue on to a bachelor’s degree, and to make themselves as competitive as possible for any available openings in the public sector,” Sussman said.

Gosciniak says the timing couldn’t have been better for him.

Considering other schools for transfer after he completed his AAS in criminal justice from College of DuPage, he happened to visit a friend at NIU.

“I thought, ‘Hey, I’m here – why don’t I just go over to advising?’ ” he said. “They said, ‘We’ve got this new program,’ and everything fell into place from there.”

Gosciniak says he was particularly attracted to the BSAM’s focus on management in the public sector – a good addition to the technical skills of his AAS degree.

His advice to other BSAM students: take advantage of the individualized advisement offered in the NIU program. “Working with an adviser will make sure you really look at what credits you get,” he said, “because sometimes there are hidden gems in there.”

Advisers can direct students to select courses that bring added benefits, said Gosciniak, who found that he was very close to completing a minor in sociology.

Designed for working professionals with AAS degrees in criminal justice, law enforcement, fire science and emergency management, NIU’s BSAM-Public Safety program builds on foundational knowledge and takes it to the next level, providing new pathways for career advancement and further education.

The interdisciplinary program combines managerial and leadership courses from the College of Business with public sector leadership courses from the Division of Public Administration and the departments of Sociology and Political Science.

For more information, contact Cathy Cradduck at (815) 753-5008 or [email protected].