skypeSam Houston State University students who attend online classes may not be on the SHSU campus very often, but thanks to the university’s Career Services office, online students have access to a multitude of resources to help them consider, choose, and pursue a career following graduation.

Here are some of the ways Career Services can help online students:

Jobs for Kats ( is the “Bearkat to Employer connection,” where students and alumni can locate full-time and part-time jobs, summer work and internship positions, as well as on-campus and work-study jobs. The Jobs for Kats program also schedules interviews (on campus) for full-time jobs and internships, refers students’ resumes to potential employers, and maintains lists of employers participating in job fairs.

Online career assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), are available at no cost to SHSU students and alumni. Students interested in taking these assessments should call Career Services at (936) 294-1713 to obtain a
username and password and to schedule an appointment with a counselor to discuss assessment results and consultation. For the convenience of online students, these meetings can be conducted via Skype or phone. Career Services also provides career counseling to students, again via Skype session, by appointment on request.

Need help with online resumes or cover letters? Career Services provides individual downloadable templates on their website. Students can also download an entire package containing a guide and templates if they prefer.

A number of major/career exploration resources, once only available in print form, are now available online, including “What Can I Do With This Major”, JOB Choices, the O*NET, and The Occupational Outlook Handbook.

In keeping with the old saying “practice makes perfect”, Career Services also provides access to a program called InterviewStream©, which allows students to participate in mock online interviews… anytime and anywhere. Interview questions can be customized to align with students’ majors or career fields. Students can access this program by logging into their Jobs for Kats account (webcam and microphone required). Counselors from Career Services are available to critique these mock interviews and offer helpful feedback.

And when it’s time for the real thing, Career Services also facilitates employer-student interviews via Skype, either at the office’s Career Center or from the student’s home (if they have Skype on their personal computer), as long as both parties agree to this arrangement.

In addition to all of these resources, the Career Services office hopes to provide online webinars on various topics involving careers for the benefit of students in the near future. More details on webinars will be announced as the programs become available.

In short, SHSU is committed to providing as many career-related resources for online students as for traditional students attending classes on campus. When you are ready to begin exploring your career options or preparing to enter the job market, contact Career Services at (936) 294-1713 or for more information.

After nearly 40 years as an educator, Teri Lesesne, professor of library science, has been privy to a multitude of changes in the classroom, but she views the incorporation of online learning to be among the most profound and beneficial inclusions to date.

“At Sam Houston State University, we’ve really changed how we deliver instruction to non-traditional students, meaning students who are unavailable to attended class on campus or between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” she says. “Part of our jobs as educators is to find other ways to reach our students, and the online format requires us to think of how our course will thrive in a virtual environment.”


Dr. Teri Lesesne, professor of library science

Lesesne has been with the College of Education for nearly 25 years, and has spent the past four years teaching Literature for Children and Literature for Young Adults courses as part of the online Master of Library Science program.

Given the structure of the curriculum, Lesesne is able to view the arch of her students’ online learning evolution, teaching them one of their first online courses in Literature for Children and nearing the completion of their degree in
the Literature for Young Adults course.

“The development of some students can be profound between the courses I teach, and other times, it can be consistent; it really depends on the student’s approach to online learning,” she says. “It can be fun to see how far students have come in terms of their communication with peers or timeliness of their responses.”

Lesesne says the first priority of her online courses—as in her face-to-face courses—is to establish camaraderie and communication among her students. She says the process of forming relationships with her online students is organic and at their convenience.

“Building a community is a priority; to show we are in the course together, talking about our experiences and sharing what we’ve encountered and the challenges we could potentially face in the field of library science,” she says. “Building relationships is the way to understand that we are no longer speaking about regional problems, necessarily, because we have students from across the nation and at times, other parts of the world.”

Lesesne also encourages students to learn about her through her blog posts, Facebook and Twitter profiles, and other social media outlets.

One challenge Lesesne and her colleagues in the Department of Library Science faced in teaching the program online was the absence of physical media, particularly not placing books in their students’ hands. As a substitute, Lesesne has utilized technological applications such as screencasts and podcasts to explain assignments and provide demonstration.

Lesesne says she forms a special bond with her online students, one based in real-world circumstances.

“I come to know my students well, including their study habits and execution of assignments, and I know they need just as much feedback and support as students in my face-to-face courses,” she says. “The benefit of the online format is students can work when they have time, and I can get back to them quickly. Students can be in touch with me any time; online students, I find, are much more comfortable sending me an email at 2 a.m.”


Online enrollment numbers at SHSU continue to soar, but what does an “average” online student look like? We ran the age and gender statistics of students registered in the Spring 2014 term taking 100% of their courses online, and here’s what we found.

Students enrolled: 2,223

1,458 female students
765 male students

Student Ages: 18-72 years old

Mean (average): 32.37
Median (middle value): 30
Mode (value that appears most often): 23

Age range and population of SHSU online students

As you can see, anyone can be an online student at SHSU.

In addition to three online undergraduate degree programs, SHSU offers 24 graduate degree programs, including one doctoral program and one special program for members of the U.S. military, as well as 22 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit

A Sam Houston State University finance professor invested long-term in teaching online, and says the return on his investment has been worth its weight in gold.

Balasundram Maniam, a professor in the College of Business Administration, was at the forefront of online learning for the college when he began teaching online courses in the Fall 2009 semester.

“To prepare for teaching online, I read a lot about what was developing in the field of education, and I saw how technology was changing things; what was available and what could be done in courses,” he says. “I had my reservations, but I soon went from a skeptic to a believer; I’m preaching online learning now.”


In November, Maniam was recognized as a Regents’ Professor by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System for his “lengthy record of consistently superior student evaluations,” and “commitment to innovation in teaching, as evidenced by his groundbreaking development of online courses in finance.”

Maniam, better known to his students as “Bala,” began teaching FINC 5310, Introduction to Institutions, Investments, and Managerial Finance, as his first online course and has continued to update the materials, presentation, and supplements of the course often through the years.

He says updating the methodology and approach of the course to keep it fresh served as a representation for teaching online in general, as the key to keeping the course relevant to students is adapting to both their personal and professional needs.

“It takes a lot of time and energy to both design and execute a course properly, and making yourself availability to students 24-hours a day, seven days a week, is part of that process,” he says. “But the students see your dedication to their learning experience, and they return your effort through quality responses and questions about assignments.”

Maniam was so confident in the resources and approach of his online course that in the Fall 2013 semester, he invited students enrolled in his face-to-face FINC 5310 course to utilize the resources of his FINC 5310 online course in addition to classroom discussions. He says students gave resounding positive feedback after accessing online course content such as streaming video lectures, notes, and supplemental readings.

“Certain aspects of face-to-face learning only give so much to students, and communication is key to their success,” he says. “Online students have the ability to pause, rewind, and review online lectures, communicate directly with me via email, and control the speed of their learning on their terms.”

-Professor Balasundram Maniam

Looking back, Maniam says the process of learning to teach online, one that he initially met with reluctance, made him a better professor.

“I saw that educators were getting more and more online, and I didn’t want to be on the sidelines; I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, keep up with the technology, and be comfortable moving forward in the future,” he says. “Teaching courses online has made me a better professor, and I really appreciate what online can do; 10 to 15 years ago I wouldn’t have thought so, but the advantages of online learning are undeniable.”

Over 130 online education enthusiasts assembled at Sam Houston State University for the Third Annual SHSU Online Teaching & Learning Conference.

With 24 breakout sessions, round-table discussions, and other opportunities for learning, attendees spent the day discussing ways to improve online learning experiences.

Discussion points and breakout session topics included:

  • The Collaborate Classroom
  • The Online Research Paper
  • Five Hallmarks of Effective Course Assessment
  • Is Your Online Course Layout User-Friendly?
  • Tips for Building a Learning Community Online
  • Second Life on Bearkat Island
  • Instructional Gaming
  • Learning Unplugged: iPads in Higher Education
  • Using Twitter to Increase Student Engagement

For more information about the Third Annual SHSU Online Teaching and Learning Conference, visit, and stay tuned for more information about next year’s event.

View a “Profiles Series” television segment about the services and philosophy of SHSU Online. The program, featuring Larry King, recently aired on The Discovery Channel.

A frenzied pest has recently emerged, spreading rapidly across the southeast United States and causing headaches for homeowners, farmers, ranchers, and utility companies. Ongoing research at Sam Houston State University hopes to control the source of the outbreak, Rasberry crazy ants.

The Rasberry crazy ant (or tawny crazy ant), Nylanderia fulva, entered Texas less than 10 years ago from South America and have spread across Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Historically, the southeast Texas and Gulf Coast regions have been especially vulnerable to invasive species, such as fire ants, but crazy ants have ushered in a new set of problems for area residents.

Originally named after a Houston-area exterminator, Tom Rasberry, who first identified the insect in 2002, crazy ants are the focus of several Sam Houston State University researchers. Among these experts are Associate Vice President for Research Dr. Jerry Cook, who is also Executive Director of The Texas State University System’s Institute for the Study of Invasive Species (ISIS), and Dr. Danny McDonald, a research scientist at the institute and a SHSU biological sciences graduate, who earned his Ph.D. at Texas A&M University with a dissertation investigating various aspects of crazy ants.


Though crazy ants don’t have stingers and do not generally inflict painful bites, they are capable of causing a variety of other problems. Pets and wildlife avoid contact with the ants, grasslands can dry out because the ants feed on a sugary substance produced by insects that are beneficial to plants, and livestock have been attacked near their eyes and other body areas.

In search of warmth, crazy ants also tend to accumulate in large numbers in switch boxes and other electrical gear, which can cause short circuits and equipment failure problems for electric utilities.

Large infestations of the insects have been found in communities south of Houston such as East Columbia, Pasadena, and Texas City. To date, 24 Texas counties have reported localized infestations, with even larger areas suspected to have infestations as well. Dr. McDonald says the density of crazy ants clustered in singular infestations is enormous, far too large for homeowners to deal with on their own.

In East Columbia, for example, every home in the community is infested with blankets of crazy ants. A bed-and-breakfast operator in the town reports food left momentarily unattended on outside tables brings swarms of the ants, and equipment such as water well systems are completely coated with the insects. In nearby LaMarque, where Dr. McDonald has conducted research for two years with the cooperation of homeowners Susan and Gattis Wittjen, the ants’ numbers are similarly large. The Wittjens sweep up a dustpan full of the ants on a daily basis, and they’ve found that exterminators can provide no more than a month’s relief before the ants come back. Once, after returning from a vacation, they swept up piles of the dead insects large enough to fill an entire grocery bag!

Fortunately, the ISIS Center – based at SHSU and located in the laboratories of the university’s Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies (TRIES) – is on hand to help address the crazy ant problem. Dr. Cook noted in an interview that before the center was established, Texas and the region – so susceptible to problems caused byinvasive species – did not have an institute dedicated to invasive-species research and control.  SHSU’s expertise in this subject, Dr. Cook observes, “made it natural that we would start to develop a center, and what we’ve come up with is probably the most comprehensive center in the United States.” The need for institutes like ISIS is stark: Invasive species cause $130 billion in damage every year in the U.S., making them a continuous natural disaster.


Dr. McDonald, Dr. Cook, and their colleagues at ISIS are determined to help people in communities infested with crazy ants. They are hoping to find and implement effective management strategies quickly so as to prevent the ants from becoming as universally problematic as fire ants. With this goal in mind, finding a way to keep crazy ants from driving area residents up the wall has become a main focus of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species.

For the third consecutive year, Sam Houston State University has earned national recognition in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of online education programs.

Of the four programs SHSU submitted for review in the 2014 report, three of SHSU’s online programs received a ranking in the top 20 percent in the nation and one program garnered a national ranking in the top ten.


The overall rankings placed SHSU No. 7 among “Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs” and also earned a No. 1 national ranking in the “Student Engagement” indicator for the category.

SHSU also received national recognition with a ranking of No. 20 among “Best Online Graduate Education Programs,” No. 41 among “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs,” and No. 43 among “Best
Online Graduate Business Programs.”

The rankings effectively garnered SHSU in the top 10 percent in “Best Online Graduate Education Programs,” top 19 percent in “Best Online Graduate Business Programs,” and top 15 percent in “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.”

“SHSU Online is fortunate to work with our esteemed faculty, and we are dedicated to providing students with quality and convenient online learning options,” says Bill Angrove, associate vice president for distance learning. “We view the results from the 2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings as evidence that we are succeeding in our goals, and we will continue to work hard to further improve our services and assistance to students.”

In “Student Services and Technology,” an indicator used to determine schools’ overall rankings, SHSU ranked as high as No. 4, and no lower than No. 25 nationally, among all schools.

U.S. News & World Report rates the incorporation of “Student Services and Technology” indicator through the use of both diverse online learning technologies that allow greater flexibility for students to take classes and labs from a distance and a strong support structure providing learning assistance, career guidance, and financial aid resources comparable to campus-based programs.

SHSU Online’s service plays a key role in the university’s placement regarding the “Student Services and Technology” indicator by providing student support and highly accessible technologies and services and strong support to its students.

Moreover, in “Student Engagement,” the primary indicator encompassing 30 percent of the school’s score, in addition to SHSU’s No. 1 national ranking in “Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs,” the university earned a No. 21 national ranking in “Best Online Graduate Education Programs” and No. 28 national ranking in “Best Online Graduate Business Programs.”

U.S. News & World Report rates the “Student Engagement” indicator as programs that promote quality participation in courses and allow students opportunities to both readily interact with their instructors and fellow classmates similarly to a campus-based setting and to complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

In addition to three online undergraduate degree programs, SHSU offers 24 graduate degree programs, including one doctoral program and one special program for members of the U.S. military, as well as 22 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit

A complete listing of the U.S. News and World Report online rankings can be found at


SHSU Online Fireworks

If your New Year’s resolution includes going back to school, please contact us to talk about getting started.  SHSU Online has more than 25 fully online programs.

The online Bachelor of General Studies degree is a versatile undergraduate program that allows students to design a curriculum geared toward their strengths, goals, or professional aspirations.

Students may complete the degree entirely online through SHSU Online. Among the requirements of the degree, students must select three undergraduate minors from the following options:

SHSU Online Bachelor of General Studies Student

  • Business Education
  • Criminal Justice
  • Family and Consumer Sciences
  • General Business Administration
  • Geography
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • Spanish

The flexibility of the online format allows students to pursue their degree without sacrificing professional obligations or taking time from family commitments, and the variety of potential areas of study makes the BGS degree popular amongst online students.

A particular group of students drawn to the online BGS degree are “degree completers,” or students who did not complete their degree prior to dropping out of college. These students are often able to transfer credit hours from previously completed courses spanning a multitude of years.

Another incentive for online students to pursue an online BGS degree is the range of career options available to students upon completion of the degree. Examples include working professionals seeking career advancement, undergraduate students streamlining their enrollment into graduate school, and obtaining an undergraduate degree prior to seeking teacher certification.

The quality of the university’s online programs has consistently received praise in US News & World Report’s rankings of online education programs. This fall, due to record enrollment, SHSU Online continued to offer more online undergraduate and graduate courses to meet the demands of record enrollment and student preferences.

Visit to find out more about Bachelor of General Studies offered through SHSU Online, and see what you can do to get started.

shutterstock_88167571The Profiles Series television program, featuring Larry King, will air an episode that features a segment about SHSU Online on The Discovery Channel on Wednesday, December 18, 2013, at 6:00 a.m. CST. The segment was originally slated to air on Fox Business Network’s In View series, but an opening in the Profiles Series schedule presented the opportunity for the move to Discovery.

Sam Houston State University’s newest College, the College of Health Sciences (COHS), opened its doors on September 1, 2013, and within two months, the College’s website was launched as the initial step in establishing a prominent online presence.

According to Dr. Michael Lacourse, Dean of COHS, the College was founded on the importance of emerging technologies in the health and medical fields, and it was imperative to also incorporate the capabilities of online learning into the College.

“We want all of our courses to be developed in the digital format – including online degrees – and we plan to utilize Interactive Television (ITV) technology and hybrid courses in addition to offering courses at The Woodlands Center,” Lacourse said. “In order to make these programs a success, it is imperative to continually update our site to communicate what is currently occurring in the College.”


Visit the New COHS Site

With the establishment of COHS, it was necessary to build a website that met the immediate demands of announcing and promoting the College and its strategic themes – Preventative Health and Wellness; Professionalism; Diversity; Community Engagement; and Innovation/Research – while maintaining the flexibility to make updates without drastically changing the design. The site was also constructed to accommodate the anticipated growth and demands of incoming students.

While creating the site, special consideration was also taken into account for the ever-changing nature of the health and medical fields. The website also serves to unite the online presence of the College’s three academic units: the School of Nursing; the Department of Health & Kinesiology; and the Office of Medical & Allied Health Programs.

“Our website audience is largely composed of prospective and current students, but equally important it is also a resource for prospective and current faculty members,” said Lacourse. “I would like the site to be a resource for information on our programs within the College, as well as emerging trends and ongoing research in the field of health care. Our goal for the site is to be a resource for what is occurring in the health community, both locally and globally.”

To help establish an online community for visitors, the College features three “spotlight” sections highlighting a distinguished student, professor, and alumni on its main page. Additionally, there is a growing repository of resources for students, alumni, faculty, and healthcare professionals which include links to professional organizations and current innovations in health science programs. The individual Department pages are expected to be completed by the end of the Fall 2013 semester.

For more information and current news on the College of Health Sciences, please 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.”

The percentage of students enrolled in online classes increased dramatically this fall as SHSU continued to offer more online undergraduate and graduate courses to meet the demands of record enrollment and student preferences.

In fact, 12 percent of SHSU students are taking 100 percent of their classes online this fall. In addition, the number of 100 percent online students increased 55 percent for undergraduate students and 20 percent for graduate students over fall 2012.

“SHSU Online responds quickly to emerging student needs for online degree programs and courses,” said Associate Vice President for Distance Learning Bill Angrove.

“The number of degrees available online has been steadily increasing over the past four years. At present, the university offers 25 degree programs completely online. They include three undergraduate degrees, 22 master’s degrees, one doctoral degree, and almost two dozen graduate and professional certificates,” he said.

In addition to providing high-quality, convenient, and affordable online courses to students in Texas, SHSU is increasing its presence nationwide as a recognized name in online education. This fall the total number of fully online students reached 2,303, with students spread across 38 states.

“Students are choosing SHSU online programs and courses for a number of good reasons,” Angrove said. “Our online courses are taught by outstanding full-time faculty members committed to excellence in teaching and their commitment is complemented by interactive courses designed with a high quality look and feel that is consistent throughout a degree program.

“SHSU Online provides outstanding technical support to students and faculty which improves the online educational experience,” he said. “The combination of outstanding faculty, intellectual rigor, quality course design, and exceptional technology support makes SHSU’s online courses an outstanding value for undergraduate and graduate students alike.”

SHSU Online’s focus on quality and value in online education has not gone unnoticed. Once again this year, as in years past, the university achieved high results in US News & World Report’s rankings of online education programs. In addition, ranked SHSU the most affordable online university in Texas, and the fourth most affordable in the nation in its “Most Affordable Online Colleges” report.

SHSU also ranks in the top 25 in the Guide to Online Schools’ 2013 Online College Rankings. In addition, the university has been honored, for the second year in a row, as a “Military Friendly School,” a recognition of its status among the top 20 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that are doing the most to help U.S. military service members, their spouses and veterans as students.

“Attention to quality and excellence in course development and technology support helps explain why student participation in online courses offered by SHSU continues to grow,” Angrove said. “Also, SHSU has committed to optimizing the university’s website for search engines and providing improved usability for prospective students. This commitment should help SHSU Online to see even greater growth in the future.”

Read the article at Today @ Sam!

SHSU-Military-FriendlySHSU Online is proud to announce Sam Houston State University has been named a 2014 Military Friendly School.

Following an annual review of 12,000 schools across the nation, the distinction places SHSU among the top 15% of schools nationwide via a data driven survey administered by Victory Media, a veteran-owned business and publisher of G.I. Jobs and the Guide to Military Friendly Schools. The survey and its findings are independently certified by Ernst and Young.

SHSU is proud to serve our military and honored to be a 2014 Military Friendly School, offering a variety of online undergraduate and graduate degree programs for our servicemen and women.

For more information about our services, programs, and assistance offered to military students, visit

Sam Houston State University received recognition as having another banner year in quality online education, collectively receiving five national awards throughout 2013 for online educational programs.


In January, SHSU received continued praise in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of online education programs from nearly 700 schools across the country.  SHSU’s Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security earned a national ranking of No. 2 among “Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs,” and received acknowledgment in three additional categories:

In one of the indicators used in determining schools’ overall rankings, “Student Services and Technology,” SHSU performed especially well. In the case of all the categories reported above, SHSU ranked as high as No. 6, and no lower than No. 23, among all schools.


In July, a new, non-profit site, Affordable Colleges Online, ranked SHSU fourth in the nation in the sites “54 Most Affordable Online Colleges” report.

According to their site, Affordable Colleges Online set out to rank the top 54 colleges who provided students the most affordable online programs combined with successful placement at high-paying jobs upon graduation.

To determine their rankings, Affordable Colleges Online analyzed current and comprehensive national data sets from the most reputable sources. These sources include National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and The Carnegie Foundation.


To finish the year,, a consumer group that publishes online college rankings and online university ratings based on affordability and credibility, ranked SHSU’s Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security #20 among all competing options nationwide.

The site, founded in 1989, established their “Best Buy” ranking on a national survey of 77 regionally accredited universities that offer 115 different online master’s degrees in computer science and IT. The survey covered a wide range of computer science majors, including information systems, database mining, information assurance and technical communication. The rankings highlight the 45 best affordable online degrees in this field.

Congratulations to SHSU faculty and the staff at SHSU Online for their hard work and commitment to quality online education.

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-CampusMyth 1. An online degree is not as meaningful as a “face-to-face” degree. The only difference between an online degree and a “face-to-face” degree is the delivery method.  Rather than sitting in a classroom or lecture hall, students listen to lectures in mp3 format, communicate in discussion boards, and perform their assignments at their preferred location.  This delivery platform allows students to fit their courses based on availability, work schedules, and other life responsibilities.

To a considerably lesser extent, it’s like driving to the library to check out F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” or reading the book on your tablet; either way, the end result is the same.

Degrees through SHSU Online are the same accredited degrees as offered on campus, simply presented in a format available to those who would not be able to pursue it otherwise or do not have the schedule to allow it.

Myth 2. Online Degrees are trendy and aren’t popular with employers.

Online degrees are popular with students across a wide demographic because it allows them to pursue their education according to their availability and at their preferred location. You can do your assignments after work, on your lunch break, or whenever your schedule allows, day or night.

According to a recent survey by Inside Higher Ed, online enrollments have steadily increased in the U.S., and as the cultural investment in technology continues to progress, there is no reason to believe online learning won’t continue to gain popularity.

Employers also value online degrees, as evidenced by articles such as Employers on online education from CNN and Online Degrees Don’t Impede Job Searches from U.S. News & World Report.

As you will see in more points below, taking classes online shows personal and professional ambition and a great deal of dedication; how are these not positive qualities in a prospective employee?

Myth 3. Online courses are only for computer-savvy students.

Basic online usage and an understanding of how websites work is more than enough to get you started. It’s just like anything else; the more exposure you have to something, the easier it becomes.

And you’re not alone; we have a dedicated staff available via email and a call center from 7 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday. Visit our “Contact Us” page to touch base with us however you would like; we’re happy to answer your questions.

Don’t let your fear of technology stand in the way of your degree.

Myth 4. When taking online classes, you have to figure it out for yourself.

Taking classes online, like physically attending class, allows you to ask the instructor questions, discuss topics with other students through discussion boards, and take additional time to absorb course material.

Online and in-person courses are similar in that you will get out of them what you put in. If you are proficient with your assignments, you may be able to finish work early, or within the timelines of the instructor, you can take your time with assignments.

It is the student’s responsibility to complete their work, but help is never out of reach!

Myth 5. Online classes are easier than “face-to-face” courses.

Many students say pursuing their degree online is the most difficult thing they have done in their professional life, but they also say it is the most rewarding.

Taking classes online requires a great deal of discipline and a desire to succeed, and many students learn a lot about themselves while pursuing their degree online. Whether students are procrastinators, early birds, or on par with the syllabus, it takes a lot of effort to earn an online degree.

For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit

Sam Houston State University has been ranked fourth in the nation by Affordable Colleges Online’s “54 Most Affordable Online Colleges” report.affordable-online-colleges

According to their site, Affordable Colleges Online set out to rank the top 54 colleges who provided students the most affordable online programs combined with successful placement at high-paying jobs upon graduation. Colleges were ranked on their net price, the number of graduates who earned more than $31,000 as their average starting salary, their status as fully accredited, four-year not-for-profit institutions, and their provision of at least one online or distance learning degree program in the 2012-2013 academic year.

To determine their rankings, Affordable Colleges Online analyzed current and comprehensive national data sets from the most reputable sources. These sources include:

  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing post-secondary data. NCES focuses on academic, demographic, financial, classification, and other key data areas.
  • Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The most comprehensive source of datasets on colleges, universities, technical schools, vocational schools, and more.
  • The Carnegie Foundation. Provides detailed classifications of colleges based on degrees offered, financial status, and other institutional differences. The Carnegie Foundation also conducts numerous studies to ensure accurate representation of students and faculty in its datasets.
  • A leading provider of career-related data on a national, state, local, and individual basis. PayScale’s team of statisticians continually refines data collection methods to maximize accuracy and integrity.

SHSU offers 24 online degree programs, including 21 graduate degree programs and three undergraduate programs. In the Spring 2013 semester, 1,940 SHSU students from 38 states across the nation opted to take 100 percent of their courses online.

SHSU Online, which supports the work of the university’s faculty in bringing their students the highest-quality online education possible, is proud to celebrate SHSU’s outstanding performance in AffordableCollegesOnline’s rankings list!

For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit


It’s the first day of summer. You want fun in the sun and an online degree, too?

Have the best of both worlds and see what educational options Sam Houston State University offers in the summer term. We have online undergraduate degrees, online master’s degrees, and more to further your education without compromising your lifestyle or schedule.

Enjoy the summer, find a program that’s right for you at, pack for the beach, and take Sam Houston with you.

Register for classes by July 8 and see what you can do to get started today!