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Herzing Success Stories
Mike Tusken

From Beat Cop to Police Chief

Achieving a dream, thanks to flexible education

The Problem: A Gap in Education

Mike Tusken has been with the Duluth Police Department for 24 years. Starting his career as a patrol officer, he’d risen through the ranks until he was the deputy chief of the patrol division. By the time then-Police Chief Gordon Ramsay was ready to move on in his career, Tusken had been the department’s No. 2 guy for almost a decade. It was clear  who would be the logical successor.

One snag: To meet the criteria for the new position, Tusken needed a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Tusken knew if he wanted to replace Ramsay as chief someday he’d have to return to school. However, working 60-plus hours per week with calls around the clock, as well as spending time with his wife and three kids, made the dream of finding time for school hard to realize.

Mike Tusken

Mike Tusken


The education and instruction I received at Herzing were top-notch. The university was attuned to my timeline and career goals and diligently worked with me to meet them.

The Solution: Online Learning with Herzing University

When he found Herzing, Tusken was impressed that he could do his entire degree online while still enjoying the perk of forming connections with faculty on the university’s Minneapolis campus. The flexibility made it possible for him to better utilize his time.

“Online learning allowed me to work on my schedule,” Tusken said. “I could work at night, on lunch breaks and write papers on vacations—you name it. I found a pace that worked for me and was able to prioritize my studies.”

Plus, Herzing University’s Badge-to-Grad initiative allowed him to receive credit for his wealth of professional learning experience. His extensive career as a police officer already made him a subject matter expert. 

“I probably could have taught the narcotics class,” Tusken joked. “I had already completed so much service training and workshops, on top of all the cases I’d worked, so I knew I didn’t want to be bogged down by redundant material. Instead, Herzing allowed me to receive credit for the areas I already knew well so that I could focus on learning new, progressive aspects of the criminal justice system.”

The Result: Becoming Police Chief

Tusken threw his name into the ring for Duluth police chief after being named interim chief in January 2016. In May 2016, less than a month after graduating with his bachelor’s in criminal justice, he was appointed chief of the Duluth Police Department.

For the new chief, furthering his education had always been a goal, but until Herzing, no university had provided the infrastructure for him to attain it. Now, Tusken has had such success earning his bachelor’s that he is considering returning to Herzing to earn his master’s degree as well. He’s also recommending the Badge-to-Grad initiative to officers in his department. “The education and instruction I received at Herzing were  top-notch. The university was attuned to my timeline and career goals and diligently worked with me to meet them.”

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