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Graduate certificates have seen a dramatic increase in popularity due to the minimal time commitment necessary to complete the certificate and the immediate return on the student’s investment as it relates to job placement and/or promotion.

shutterstock_176126174Sam Houston State University’s College of Education offers nine online graduate certificates, allowing students to pursue a variety of specializations in targeted fields that can stand alone or be used in combination with a master’s degree, where applicable.

For example, the completion of the online Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising, consisting of 15 credit hours, represents half of the required credits necessary to receive a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration, should the student decide to seek the degree. Students could enroll in the master’s program following the completion of the certificate and be halfway to completing the degree.


Dr. Matthew Fuller Assistant Professor

Matt Fuller, Ph.D., the academic advisor for the Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising, says of the 49 students enrolled in the certificate program, 41 students are pursuing the certificate in tandem with the M.A. in Higher Education Administration.

“When people look to obtain a graduate certificate, they want to know the program that is being offered is vigorous, and that the program will highlight a professional focus,” he says. “We have top-notch faculty teaching programs in our certificate program, and we have seen tremendous success resulting in the completion of the certificate.”

Fuller says 89% of students who completed the certificate accepted a new job or a promotion in their current position as a result of the completion of the certificate.

The success and student interest of the certificate program has guaranteed at least one new certificate, “Assessment in Institutional Research,” available Fall 2014.

For more information about online graduate certificates, visit

SHSU’s Computer Science Department continues to merge innovative technology into both online and classroom environments, allowing for a range of comprehensive and interactive projects for students.

Utilizing Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate, professors in the department have cultivated an immersive learning environment and have received rave reviews from students.

ShashidharDr. ShashidharDr. Narasimha (Karpoor) Shashidhar, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, continues to integrate technology applications such as Blackboard Collaborate into his online and on-campus courses. These applications create an immersive experience for students and add another element of interactivity to courses, resulting in increased student engagement.
Shashidhar is dedicated to investing the time to create and edit videos, record lectures, and produce other supplemental materials including digital forensics tools to upload into Blackboard. Shashidhar says his efforts are rewarded by increased levels of comprehension from students.

“My students feel more empowered; they are now interacting more actively on the discussion forums in class and are confident in posting questions and asking for help when needed,” he says. “They are happy to know that their instructor is investing time and effort to enhance their learning and they return the favor by working harder to perform well in the course.”

Shashidhar is incorporating these methods in COSC 5330 – Malware Analysis, COSC 5325 – Organization System Security, DFSC 5330 – Cryptography, and DFSC 1317 – Introduction to Digital Forensics courses this semester.

BennettProfessor Andy Bennett, director of the Center of Excellence in Digital Forensics, monitors emerging technology trends used in higher education and says the use of technology in the classroom allows instructors to increase learning comprehension and interactivity from students.

“The feedback we receive from students is that asynchronous instruction is all well and good, but Blackboard Collaborate provides us with a mechanism to communicate synchronously and better deliver information to our students,” he says. “Using Collaborate takes preparation, but it’s the closest we can get to teaching in person using an online platform. We’ve had a lot of success using the program.”

Blackboard Collaborate, a comprehensive online learning and collaboration platform, allows students to participate in real-time, synchronous course activities and discussions. Students may access Blackboard Collaborate both on their computers and on their mobile devices in real-time, allowing them to interact with their professor and classmates.

Bennett encourages his colleagues to reach out to him if they are interested in utilizing technological resources such as Blackboard Collaborate in their courses, and feels the tools add another dimension to the learning experience.Bennett says the faculty in the Department of Computer Science actively solicits student responses regarding the use of immersive learning applications, and the reactions from students are consistently supportive.

In fact, the department’s dedication to technology integration and online learning helped earn the Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security program a national ranking of No. 2 among “Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs” by U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of online education programs from nearly 700 schools across the country.

“I’m really advocating the use of Collaborate on campus; we’ve got to use these tools in classrooms across the university and get the word out to the entire faculty,” he says. “As educators, we do our best to get in the heads of our students to understand what makes them learn; ultimately, this is a potential gateway to that goal.”

Victim-Services-Management-SHSUThe College of Criminal Justice is launching an online Master of Sciences program in Victim Services Management this fall, “the first program of its kind to be offered in the nation,” said Dr. Cortney Franklin, chair of the Victim Services Management program committee.

“We are so excited about the prospect of equipping victim service providers with the scientific tools and practical skills needed to effectively interface with victims of crime,” said Dr. Franklin. “As it currently stands, a limited number of quality graduate programs offer a certificate in victimology, but students are only taking one or two courses that focus on these important issues. Our program provides graduates with necessary criminal justice systems exposure and then focuses extensively on victimology, victim service provision, advocacy and advanced topics in the study of crime victimization. These include elder abuse, child maltreatment, violence against women, and human sex trafficking.

“Master’s courses are taught by a core group of faculty with more than three decades of collective teaching and advocacy experience. As a result, our graduates will complete the program with more advanced knowledge of crime victimization and strategies for effective practical intervention and benefit from the resources our faculty can provide. This ultimately enhances their marketability and benefits crime victims.”

Graduates who complete the Master of Sciences degree in Victim Services Management will be prepared to work with victims through direct services, organizational management and social policy development for such programs as rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers, or other victim service agencies. Additionally, victim advocates in municipal law enforcement agencies or prosecutor’s offices would be appropriate candidates for the degree.

Delivered exclusively online through two 15-week courses per semester, the program can be completed in two years. Courses also prepare graduates for writing state and federal grants, evaluating advocacy program effectiveness, and critical consumption of relevant information including government reports and scientific studies.


Dr. Cortney Franklin

“Because this degree is tailored to victim advocates and the like, candidates are uniquely positioned for financial support,” said Dr. Franklin. “The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program ( offers scholarships for survivors and existing victim advocates. Students can also compete for University scholarships after their first semester.”

The program combines scientific research, theory, and evidence-based practices with practical application in the field. The class sequencing culminates with a capstone course, which examines the coordination of victim services among both government and advocacy organizations, like law enforcement, medical service professionals, mental health service providers, and advocates in rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters.

“First-responders often face significant challenges in providing victim-centered services because each organizational representative has institutional priorities that may be at odds with other key players and not always be focused on the victim,” Dr. Franklin said. “Consequently, advocates become frustrated and victims suffer. This capstone course prepares graduates for dealing with these situations and for effectively managing multiple, often competing interests. Graduates complete the program with versatile skills and victims can benefit from that investment.”

To be considered for admission, applicants must complete the graduate school application and submit their GRE scores, official degree transcripts, personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and most recent resume. “In vetting candidates for admission in this way, we are upholding the academic integrity of a program that is being offered by a department ranked among the top four in the nation,” said Dr. Franklin. “We are eager to harness that scholarly excellence in educating existing and future victim advocacy professionals to enhance victim-centered responses.”

SHSU faculty members, continuing to embrace and cultivate emerging technologies, are integrating the capabilities of Interactive Television (ITV) into courses to improve the distance learning experience for students.

ITV is a platform that utilizes videoconference technology to allow an instructor to teach and seamlessly communicate with a group of students attending the course from a remote classroom in real time. Through the use of streaming video technology, the professors and students in two separate locations are able to communicate directly, either by asking questions or receiving feedback.

SHSU Student using ITV technology on laptop

The program effectively broadens the student-professor dynamic for distance learners and allows more students to have access to a higher quality course.

Julie Combs, director of the Center for Research and Doctoral Studies in Educational Leadership, says she is excited by the way ITV has effectively brought a physical presence to online learning.

“I have used ITV over a period of several years in the Education Leadership doctoral program, and I am very pleased with all that we can do to share information with students,” she says. “I think the biggest advantage of ITV is that it allows students from many different regions to join a class in a face-to-face format.”

Since the university adopted ITV technology several years ago, faculty accessibility and ease of use has been a point of focus for SHSU Online employees.

Currently, there are seven rooms at SHSU-The Woodlands Center (TWC) and the main campus that are ITV ready. Four are in TWC and the other three are on the main campus – in the Lee Drain Building, the Teacher Education Center, and the College for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Matthew Fuller, assistant professor and coordinator of Higher Education Administration, has used ITV for two semesters and says the technology has acted to bridge the geographical gap for students in distance learning environments.

“ITV has been reliable and the DELTA Center staff has made this technology very easy to use. I have used it to teach doctoral level classes in law, curriculum, and assessment in higher education,” he says. “I have tried some interactive group work where students on one end of ITV prepare something to present to the entire class.”

Not only has ITV improved the quality of education for distance learners, it is now easier than ever to incorporate into courses. If you are interested in utilizing ITV with your course(s), contact Graphics Designer Derrick Alexander at .

Living room in SHSU Online's gamingSHSU Online‘s Instructional Multimedia Group works with faculty to provide students with personalized and contextualized online learning experiences through the use of interactive gaming.

Using gaming technology such as Unity and Photon Cloud, a 3D game engine and server, and Second Life, a virtual world where thousands of users interact with players across the world, the group collaborates with faculty members to create instructional multimedia, immersive environments, and simulation models for their online courses.

Jennie Powers, graphics coordinator for the SHSU Online Instructional Multimedia Group, says the fusion of a complex technological landscape and a strong online culture created an opportunity for educators to cater to students in a familiar setting.

“We are beginning to use online gaming technology as a vehicle for collaborative activities, as well as for reflective exercises, ” she says. “We construct each educational game or simulation to meet learning objectives outlined by professors who are seeking innovative methods to provide their online students with interactive experiences comparable to the activities of face-to-face students.”  Continue Reading…

SHSU Online
recognizes individual student needs in distance learning environments and is committed to providing a variety of distance learning options.

Our online degree programs, which utilize the Blackboard Learn system, include a range of disciplines that prepare students for rewarding careers. Correspondence courses, online teacher certification, and continuing education programs are available, in addition to the below degrees.

  • Online bachelor’s degree programs
  • Online master’s degree programs
  • Online doctoral degree programs

With programs ranging from criminal justice to business, education to technology, and history to instructional leadership and technology, SHSU’s online programs cater to a diverse group of disciplines that can lead to exciting professional opportunities.

SHSU Online continues to add courses annually while providing expert technical support via email or phone six days a week.

Online correspondence courses offer another opportunity to earn college credit without stepping inside a classroom. Students can learn at their own pace and chose the times and locations to study. This service is highly beneficial to everyone from individuals continuing their college education, teachers seeking certification or additional study in their fields, or anyone wishing to broaden their education. Unless specified, each correspondence course is equivalent to three hours of college credit and includes a comparable workload.

Finally, SHSU Continuing Education offers courses and condensed studies on campus and online through partners such as ed2go,, and The Center for Legal Studies. Below are some of the correspondence courses available.

    • Standardized test preparations
    • Business strategy for particular industries
    • Hobbies and creative fields

Courses are designed to meet individual learning goals, which can enhance opportunities for career progression, help achieve a lifestyle change, or share a learning experience with others.

SHSU staff members are ready to help by answering any questions or providing additional information and advice to help choose a class.

Students now have the ability to earn an online Bachelor of Business Administration degree in General Business Administration via SHSU Online!

The degree was formally adopted following a recent approval at the Texas State University System Board of Regents meeting.

The SHSU Online catalog now includes 26 degrees and 21 certificates that can be completed entirely online.

Come see what SHSU Online can offer you!

With a variety of universities advertising a “military friendly” campus, it can be overwhelming for active military and veterans to decide where to pursue higher education.

To prevent confusion, Sam Houston State University has assembled a list of eight reasons we truly are “military friendly.” Continue reading

No matter the time, date, or location, SHSU Online offers students the ability to pursue their educational goals through the College of Criminal Justice.

Tess Johnson, marketing coordinator for the College of Criminal Justice, says the college has put an emphasis on the quality of their online degree programs with the support of their nationally recognized faculty.

“I think our courses are very interactive, and our faculty is comprised of professionals who are experts in their field and bring a great deal of real-world experience,” she says.  “The courses are dynamic, and we have faculty who provide lectures and videos into the online classroom and make the most of technology.” Continue Reading…