New LUO degrees for public service, policy

Liberty University’s Helms School of Government has rolled out four new online degree programs for students who wish to further their careers in public service and policy.

Interim Dean Ron Miller said these programs were created with the “mid-level professional” in mind — someone who is already in a public service career but aspires for more. 

“It really is designed for people who have a need for the credential but do have the opportunity to break away from their jobs or families to travel and spend all of their time on campus,” Miller said. 

The new wave of programs consists of two bachelor’s degrees and two doctoral, the first of which is a Doctorate of Philosophy in Public Policy.

“These are for people who are looking to advance in their careers,” Miller said. “We are really looking for those midlevel professionals who want to find a more prominent role in the area of public policy.”

There are five specializations available to choose from: education policy, economic policy, social policy, foreign policy and national security policy. Over 114 students have been accepted into the program already, and Miller said there are more lining up.

“Our distinctive is our biblical worldview,” Miller said. “All of our courses are reinforcing all the things that we’ve already built on in undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Miller believes cultivating leadership is key to nurturing a biblical worldview, which is why leadership is built in to all of the Helms School of Business’ programs.  

“Leadership is, oddly enough, not something that comes naturally,” Miller said. “There are styles and methodologies in leadership that can be taught.”

The new criminal justice doctoral program is no exception to this philosophy with a specialization devoted to leadership.

“We recognize that it’s not enough to train good police officers. We need to train good leaders for our criminal justice organizations,” Miller said. 

There are two undergraduate programs coming online as well — fire and public administration.

In crafting a program for administration, Miller said the important thing was to keep the experience accessible.

“When you look at people who work in fire services, many of them are looking to be fire chiefs,” Miller said. “But these are people who don’t have the opportunity to break away from what they’re doing to spend time on a college campus.”

This is why, as with all of the programs, the Bachelor of Arts in Fire Administration is 100 percent online and does not require residential intensives. 

“In between their time they devote to emergency response, there is time for them to pursue continued professional development,” Miller said. “We wanted to come up with something to help people who are already working in the fire services area who want to be leaders.”

The new fire administration program features instruction from highly respected professionals who are in the field, including the city of Lynchburg’s fire chief, Gregory Wormser, and former U.S. Fire Administrator and Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. 

As part of the school’s commitment to accessibility, LUO offers emergency response personnel a 25 percent discount on tuition that can be combined, or “stacked” with other tuition benefits.

A bachelor’s degree in public administration is the fourth and final degree program coming to LUO in the spring. The degree will focus on training students for the jobs that make government run.

“Not everybody runs for office. Not everybody is an elected official,” Miller said. “In police and fire departments) there are people who are great managers and administrators, and that’s where the jobs are.”

Miller said the goal of a fire or public administration degree is not merely job placement, but for students to take away a Christian worldview and influence their workplaces.

“When you (are) looking at what the culture shaping institutions are … there really is a need for a pipeline of Christian scholars to influence in the marketplace of ideas,” Miller said.

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