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Rewards and Challenges of the Financial Crime and Compliance Program

By Scott Hibbard, April 2016

Utica College’s graduate program in Economic Crime Management (now Financial Crime and Compliance Management) like any other academic program, has challenging and rewarding aspects. As I write my capstone project I believe that the most challenging and rewarding aspects are mutually reflective in that surmounting challenges is its own reward. Challenges and rewards include fellow students and staff, classwork, and personal determination to complete the program.

Fellow Students and Staff

Interacting with fellow Financial Crime and Compliance (FCCM) grad students and staff can be rewarding because of the camaraderie developed in class, but perhaps somewhat challenging due to class material or lack of personal familiarity with certain class topics. The FCCM staff and students’ interest and passion in economic crime topics ensure lively forum posts, plus it is always interesting to see how staff and students apply their knowledge, skill, and background in forum posts. Students and staff are, in their own ways, already experts in their fields and pursuing the MS degree provides academic evidence of their topical mastery. This means that the teaching mode used by staff are less like ‘leader and follower’ and more like ‘guide and mentor’. Staff and students teach and learn from each other throughout the FCCM program.


It is not uncommon for students in the grad FCCM program to come from a career background that focuses on one or more aspects of the financial crime and compliance field – economic crime, law/criminal justice, accounting/finance, data analysis, risk management, and other areas. Just as they may have strong foundational or practical knowledge in one or two fields, it is also entirely possible that graduate students may be confronted with new topics. I found that I learned from my fellow graduate students and found them to be great resources in their particular fields as much as the instructors. Thus, the challenge is learning new related material and the reward is not only passing the class, but possibly excelling in it, learning how to apply new knowledge in the real world, and getting that much closer to capstone and graduation.

Sprint versus Marathon

The distinction between undergraduate and graduate education deserves mentioning, as both are challenging and rewarding. Graduate education is no less assignment-driven than undergraduate education, but the quality of work demanded and the relative absence of breaks between semesters suggest that undergraduate education is a series of sprints toward completion while grad education is a marathon. Although it seems like there is always another class to take, there is a halfway point where a graduate student begins to see the remaining classes in the program dwindle until the capstone is at hand and the finish line is in sight. The challenge is to remain motivated through the highs and lows in classwork because you enjoy the subject. The reward is the diploma you’ll receive as evidence that your hard work has paid off.

Best of luck in your future studies!

About the Author

Scott HibbardScott Hibbard is a second-year Utica College ECM Grad Student (ABT). He is scheduled to submit his ECM thesis by December 2015.

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