The University of Maine at Augusta is offering two new, one-of-a-kind online degree programs to train students for careers in fields pertaining to public and community safety, one that will begin immediately and another that will be offered in the fall of 2022.

Students can pursue an online master of science in trauma-informed emergency management and an online associate of science in community policing. Both degrees rely on existing courses, but allow students to receive higher credentials and more education and training to better prepare them for maintaining community safety and well-being.

The 30-credit MS in trauma-informed emergency management, which launched this summer, is the first graduate program in emergency management in Maine and the only one in the U.S. that is trauma-informed. According to Program Coordinator Kati Corlew, “The program not only provides students traditional emergency management and preparedness training, but also teaches them how to plan for and help people deal with the mental, psychological, emotional and cognitive trauma they experience during crises.”

The new graduate degree will support aspiring and existing emergency managers, crisis workers, counselors, town planners, school administrators and professionals in other related fields. Student can choose concentrations in community resilience, data analytics, mental health and emergency management and preparedness; similar to the 16-credit graduate certificate in trauma-informed emergency management introduced in 2021. Faculty from UMA and other University of Maine System institutions will teach classes for the interdisciplinary program, which also includes a new capstone course. Corlew, also an associate professor of psychology, says students pursuing the master’s degree automatically earn the graduate certificate.

“There’s definitely a growing interest from employers for trauma-informed emergency management professionals,” Corlew says. “When people experience trauma in a crisis, they behave differently, so we need people who can respond to it as it happens. It also helps with preparedness, which can reduce risk and increase resilience to minimize trauma.”

The 60-credit AS in community policing, which will be offered this fall, teaches future and active law enforcement professionals how to foster relationships with the people they serve to build trust, provide comfort, prevent crime, and minimize the fear of it, says Noel March, justice studies lecturer and director of the Maine Community Policing Institute at UMA. It is the first degree dedicated to community policing in the U.S., March says.

The degree program builds on the existing certificate and micro-certificate in community policing offered at UMA. It uses existing courses and an interdisciplinary approach to instruction that can provide students with knowledge in law, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, hate crimes, community resilience, communication, cultural competency, women and gender studies, American history, computer science and art.

March says providing students a diverse educational background will make them “more holistic and well-rounded criminal justice professionals.” By offering the degree program online with asynchronous curricula, March also says he hopes the program will reduce enough barriers to attract prospective students from across the country.

“This new credential will offer students an enhanced skill set and knowledge to contribute to the safety and well-being of society,” he says.

The new master’s and associate degrees are the latest additions to the growing number of academic programs for public safety-related fields at UMA, which also includes its cybersecurity programs. Students can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, and certificates in cybersecurity, with courses available in-person and online.

Since creating the program in 2015, the university has not only expanded its academic offerings in cybersecurity, but also worked with UMS to establish the Maine Cybersecurity Center and the designated Center for Cyber Education, and created the Maine Cyber Range facility, which uses Cyberbit Range technology to create simulations of different cybercrime scenarios for training. In 2020, UMA and the University of Southern Maine launched a co-created and taught Master of Science in Cybersecurity.

In March, the UMS Board of Trustees approved spending $855,000 for UMA to keep using its Cyberbit Range security training and simulation platform at its facility for three years, as well as add ProTools to it, upgrade hardware, retain the services of a customer success manager and acquire 100 student labs for it.

“The demand for cybersecurity professionals has never been greater,” says Henry Felch, associate professor of cybersecurity and computer information systems. “With our hands-on approach to teaching students about protecting our critical digital infrastructure in numerus applications, they have skills that can be applied in the workplace on day one. In fact, many students are already completing projects for client organization even before they graduate.”

The University of Maine at Augusta is committed to its continued development and expansion of programs that provide real career solutions to Maine people, and that keep Maine communities safe.