University of the Cumberlands is partnering with Bluegrass Community and Technical College to create an academic pathway that will grant law enforcement officers in Kentucky a bachelor’s degree. 

The Department of Criminal Justice Training (DOCJT) recently announced a new initiative – called Educating Heroes – aimed at benefitting trained law enforcement professionals.  The new program will allow recruits from throughout the state to enter the Law Enforcement Basic Training Academy while earning an associate’s degree from Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) simultaneously. Recruits will be granted 45 credit hours for completing the DOCJT’s 20-week academy and at the same time earn 15 credit hours from BCTC’s online occupational technical studies program. 

“DOCJT is not only a leader in training, but also professionalism, and this program demonstrates the department’s unwavering commitment to serving those who serve us,” said Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley, during a press conference announcing the program. “Educating Heroes will provide lifelong benefits for recruits and a powerful incentive to help law enforcement agencies attract new talent in our competitive economy.”

Secretary Tilley said close to 300 recruits go through the academy each year on their way to becoming law enforcement officers. The initiative is a way to invigorate the recruitment and retention of law enforcement officers across Kentucky. 

The initiative also led to a partnership between BCTC and University of the Cumberlands allowing students to have a direct path to a degree beyond the associate’s level. 

The Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree, earned completely online through BCTC, can then be transferred to University of the Cumberlands, allowing officers to earn another 60 credit hours in criminal justice, thereby completing a bachelor’s degree. Cumberlands’ program is 100 percent online, allowing officers to maintain their service in the field while furthering their education and promotability. 

“BCTC is honored to partner with the Department of Criminal Justice Training and University of the Cumberlands to help provide educational opportunities for law enforcement officers across the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Koffi Akakpo, President of BCTC. “Our partnership has provided an amazing educational opportunity for those who sacrifice so much and put their lives on the line each day.”

Dr. Christopher Leskiw, Vice-President for Academic Affairs at University of the Cumberlands, says the program should have an immediate impact on law enforcement agencies throughout Kentucky. Officers can complete their associate’s degree and a few weeks later be on their way to completing their bachelor’s degree at the most affordable private university in the Commonwealth. 

“It’s exciting to see new partnerships such as this enabling hardworking Kentuckians, especially those who serve our communities, to find more opportunities in the classroom and the career field,” Dr. Leskiw said. “There is no doubt this initiative will encourage more students to seek out law enforcement as an honorable, stable career choice.”

Leskiw also said students who complete the criminal justice program at Cumberlands and who earn specific certificates through DOCJT's Career Development program, are eligible to earn transfer credit hours toward their Master's in Justice Administration degree at University of the Cumberlands furthering the impact of the initiative.

To learn more about the new initiative, visit