Graduate student Jacob Foster is not quite ready to end his academic career when he graduates with his master’s degree in criminal justice sciences this spring.

He originally enrolled at Illinois State as an undergraduate student in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences nearly six years ago and has enjoyed his time conducting research and learning ever since. He is now finishing up his second year as a master’s student and plans to attend Arizona State University in the fall to begin working toward his Ph.D., pursuing a career as a professor.

“I liked the idea of being able to do research that has an impact on society,” he said. “I started thinking about what it might be like to be a professor and keep moving forward. The faculty had a really positive impact on me, and made me think about how I want to be able to create that same kind of impact on students in the future.”   

Foster’s experiences both inside and outside of the classroom have influenced his research interests and professional goals overall.

He found himself hooked on the process of conducting research after taking a methods course with Dr. Mike Rossler, and has enjoyed working with other faculty members on projects throughout the department as a graduate student. He will be presenting a paper at a conference in November with Rossler and is currently working on finishing two separate papers with Dr. Miltonette Craig and Dr. David Lane.

His specific research interests are concentrated around policing, exploring topics that include use of force, recruitment and retention, and occupational attitudes. This semester, most of his attention has been on completing his thesis, which focuses on identifying factors of depolicing (why officers disengage from proactive police work). He plans to defend his thesis toward the end of April. 

Foster also completed an internship with the Bloomington Police Department at an earlier point in his academic career, where he was able to see what it was like to be a police officer firsthand through observation, rides, and interviews.

On campus, he is involved in the criminal justice honor society and CAST Council. Off campus, he enjoys helping with volunteer work for the Snyder Shriners 5K Race.

“It’s hard to pinpoint a single favorite memory of my time here. I’ve been at ISU for almost six years now. I think I’ve enjoyed my time the most in my master’s program, where I’ve developed a lot of strong relationships with faculty and the cohort. There’s a lot of comradery when you spend so much time with these people every week.”

Looking toward the future, he hopes to make a positive impact in the field of criminal justice.

“In our department with these students, there’s future police officers, judges, lawyers, correctional officers. These are the people who are going to be directly interacting with the public. An opportunity to create such a positive impact on future criminal justice practitioners is a really great feeling.”


Foster will attend Arizona State University next fall, which holds one of the top-ranking post-graduate programs in his field.

He said that his acceptance to ASU was an indescribable feeling.

“I think once I got the news that I was accepted, I was smiling all day,” he said. “My goal is to be a professor, and I want to do two things—research and teach. Arizona State is a great place for me to achieve that and I know it’s going to be an exciting and difficult challenge to look forward to.”

Foster did have some advice for students interested in continuing their academic career.

“What’s most important is identifying your goals and figuring out exactly what you want to get out of a program,” he explained. “Before deciding on a program that best suits you, think about how it can advance your interests, consider the makeup of the faculty members, and learn of shared research interests.”

His advice to students overall, at any level of study?

“Never let anything or anyone stand in the way of what you want to accomplish.”  

Want to learn more about the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences at Illinois State University? Visit the department’s website for more information.