NAU gets approval for new degree programs in Indian Country criminal justice, building science

April 19, 2019

Northern Arizona University now has two new degree programs on the books as well as the creation and reorganization of two academic departments.

At its meeting earlier this month, the Arizona Board of Regents approved an Indian Country criminal justice (ICCJ) bachelor’s degree—the first such degree to be offered in the country— and a master’s degree in building science. Additionally, they also said yes to creating the Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science (APMS), which combines the established physics program with the incoming program in materials science.

Karen Pugliesi, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said the new ICCJ program builds on the strengths of the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice and the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies. In creating this degree program, faculty worked with the Native American Advisory Council at NAU and Navajo Nation leadership to ensure the curriculum meets local needs and can be delivered online.

NAU, which has students from 127 Native American tribes, has one of its strategic goals to be a leading university serving Native Americans and Native American communities. This program will provide training and education for Indian Country criminal justice professions, including tribal law enforcements, officers from federal agencies, judges and others, providing an education that looks at doctrines, laws, rules and institutions unique to Indian Country as well as the understanding of these communities, peoples and cultures as they relate to the practice of criminal justice. The online degree program will be available this fall; apply now through NAU Online.

“The faculty experts we have in these areas collaborated to design a distinctive, first-of-its-kind degree that will prepare graduates for work in various criminal justice fields in tribal nations, Native American communities and bordering areas,” Pugliesi said. “Our faculty recognize the unique challenges of criminal justice practice in such contexts and responded with a degree program that will serve a need across the country.”

The master’s degree in building science, which will begin courses in the fall semester, is part of the Department of Civil Engineering, Construction Management, and Environmental Engineering. Diane Stearns, interim dean of the College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences (CEIAS), said students in the program will develop expertise in the technical performance of buildings, materials and systems and convey best practices in engineering, architecture, construction, public policy and the environmental and applied sciences, all of which will help graduates become leaders who can optimize the modern build environment.

The new program also will help strengthen industry partnerships that NAU’s internationally recognized construction management program has developed. Apply for this program now through NAU’s Graduate College.

The new APMS department, which will be in CEIAS, is partly a response to a new degree approved in April—a doctorate in APMS, of which professor Gabe Montaño is the program director.

“After extensive discussions and voting over the last year, the faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy decided to restructure and redefine their academic programs to better meet the needs of students and future employers, and to rebrand their research efforts to be more competitive for external funding opportunities,” Stearns said. “We are excited to continue the support of our outstanding students in these competitive and high demand fields.”

With ABOR approval, the physics program merged with materials science to create the Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science, joining CEIAS, and the Department of Astronomy and Planetary Sciences was rebranded, still as part of the College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences. All current academic majors, minors and graduate programs will remain as they are, and NAU is looking at new programs in APMS, in addition to the doctorate program starting in the fall.

For more information about applying to the doctoral APMS program, visit NAU’s academic catalog. To learn about NAU’s astronomy program, including undergraduate and graduate degrees and research opportunities, visit the department’s website.