Online PhD in Criminal Justice Programs

Criminal justice doctorate degree through distance learning

Online PhD in criminal justice degree programs, just like traditional doctoral degrees are

terminal degrees designed for learners who wish to join careers in leadership and management, consulting, criminology, public policy, criminal justice research, law enforcement, university research or teach in higher education about the tenets of the criminal justice system.

Although many noteworthy distance learning colleges offer a plethora of advanced degrees in a number of disciplines, the number of reputable colleges with online doctorate programs in criminal justice is fewer by far.

As such, if you are a prospective student, you should look carefully at the criminal justice PhD programs curriculum, accreditation, and other offerings to ensure the program will meet your educational and professional needs.

Online criminal justice PhD programs - curriculum and specializations

Although each college's curriculum may be somewhat different and unique, there are some core courses students participating in an online doctorate criminal justice program can expect:

  • Biological and psychological theories of criminal behavior
  • Quantitative/Qualitative research methodology and analysis
  • Criminal justice policy analysis
  • Theoretical applications of crime theory
  • Public safety theories, issues and concepts

One of the areas prospective students should also consider when determining what criminal justice PhD online program they will attend are the areas of specialization the institution offers; as the area of specialization is directly associated with a number of concentration courses taken as well as the student's career of choice. Some of the specializations offered in online PhD programs in criminal justice include:

  • Homeland security
  • Emergency management
  • Public safety leadership
  • Law enforcement
  • Forensic science

Students can expect the study program to take approximately 4 years for completion of all requirements. In addition to completing a scholarly dissertation, many institutions require successful completion of a comprehensive examination to acquire a Doctorate in Criminal Justice. Of course, exact testing requirements may differ by college; however, students enrolled in an online doctorate criminal justice degree should make sure to discuss this requirement with their faculty advisor significantly in advance of expected time for taking the examination.

Almost all online doctorate programs have face-to-face residencies, that take place in different locations, and at different times of the year, and each student is required to participate as part of their program completion.

Featured Colleges - Online PhD in Criminal Justice Degrees

Walden University

  • PhD in Human Services - Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Public Policy and Administration - Criminal Justice

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Business Administration - Criminal Justice
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) - Criminal Justice


Commitment to success in your doctorate program

Distance or online learning programs are not for the faint at heart. Students ideally suited for this kind of learning environment are self motivated, diligent, hard working, and are often required to manage the challenges that career, family, school, and other responsibilities bring. If you are considering an online criminal justice doctorate degree, you must also be an effective manager of your time to ensure all course assignments, examination and dissertation milestones are satisfactorily met.

A criminal justice doctoral degree online program takes several years depending on specialization and student's coursework, and culminate in individual research that leads to a dissertation and defense to faculty.

What can you do with a criminal justice doctorate degree?

Most holders of a doctoral degree in criminal justice tend to enter academia as university or college professors, but they may also perform work for federal or state law enforcement agencies in a research capacity. Specializations in forensic science and policy also offer the possibility of working within agencies in an executive role. Many graduates also find that they do work in more than one area, performing research on behalf of the government while teaching undergraduate courses, for example.

Other opportunities readily available to graduates with a doctoral in criminal justice to include:


  • Parole/ Corrections Officer
  • Professor in Public Safety or Criminal Justice
  • Community Liaison Officer
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations Special Agent
  • Diplomatic Security Special Agent

Many of the aforementioned career choices do not necessarily require a doctorate. However, those who hold one have a competitive advantage. Although rigorous and demanding, the journey to securing a PhD in criminal justice is well worth it. Those students who successfully graduate are favorably positioned for meeting the demands of the criminal justice field now and in the future.







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