Search Google Appliance


Advance Your Career

Christy Ray took a close look at her future with the Beaverton Police Department and concluded she needed a college degree if she ever wanted to advance.

Her dilemma: "I'm in my 40s and I don't have time to work full-time and go to class."

Three years after enrolling, and without taking a single class on campus, Christy Ray has a bachelor's degree and a certificate in advanced crime analysis.

Ray says she found an elegant solution in Portland State's online criminology and criminal justice program. Three years after enrolling, and without taking a single class on campus, she has a bachelor's degree and a certificate in advanced crime analysis.

More importantly, she received a promotion. She now crunches statistics and develops strategy as a crime analyst for the department, working on ways to prevent crimes by finding patterns and potential targets.

"It helps us become more proactive," Ray says about her job. "Let's say there's a rash of car thefts, and it looks like it's one guy with the same M.O. Hopefully, we can catch him sooner."

While online learning may not be for everyone, it meshed well with Ray's lifestyle and personality.

"I'm pretty independent," she says. "I'm not one of those people who needs the social interaction piece – actually going to class."

She says she got all the personal attention she needed from professors through online appointments and interaction. "You can find the interaction if you need it," she says.

She attributes her success in part to a criminology class taught by Prof. Kris Henning, who is a professor in PSU's Criminology and Criminal Justice Division. Henning, who helped launch the online degree program, is nationally known for his work on dissecting crime data and sharing his research with local law enforcement agencies.

When Ray, who had been an administrative assistant, applied to be a crime analyst at the Beaverton force, she included samples of work she did in Henning's class.

"That," Ray says, "is what tipped the scales."