PhD in Criminal Justice: Online and Campus-Based Programs

A Ph.D. program in criminal justice can help you reach the upper tiers of law enforcement and forensics work or prepare you for a teaching career. Explore the typical curriculum for a doctoral program in criminal justice. Learn about online formats for this degree, but keep in mind that online options are rare for this program. Schools offering Criminal Justice degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can I Learn in a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Program?

A Ph.D. program in criminal justice will help you hone your analytical, writing and research techniques. Your classes can prepare you to become a mentor or teacher for future criminal justice students or to advance in your current career in the criminal justice field. Doctoral courses usually cover a number of areas in criminal justice, such as law enforcement, court systems, forensic science and criminology.

Most Ph.D. programs in criminal justice culminate in a dissertation, which is an extensive research paper written on a subject of your choosing. Often, your dissertation will be expected to present a solution to an issue or problem in the criminal justice field.

Skills Taught Analytical techniques, research skills, mentoring and teaching, writing criminology
Common Courses Urban management, toxicology, ethics in criminal justice, organizational theory, trend analysis
Online Availability Online programs are rare; many online programs are more limited in their range of study and/or offered by less than reputable schools
Median Salary (2018)$61,900 (for postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers)*
Job Outlook (2016-26)12% growth (for all postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What are Some Subjects I Might Study?

Many of the courses in a Ph.D. program in criminal justice will focus on research methods, theories and writing. If you've earned your bachelor's or master's degree in criminal justice, you already might have learned about many of the basics and theories of this field. Some topics you might study on the doctorate level include the following:

  • Research methodology
  • Theories of justice
  • Criminology
  • Urban management
  • Criminal psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Ethnicity and crime
  • Ethics
  • Trend analysis
  • Organizational theory

Can I Earn a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Online?

Online Ph.D. programs in criminal justice are far and few between. Those that do exist tend to focus extensively on required courses and research. You should be cautious when selecting an online doctoral program in criminal justice because there are a number of unaccredited colleges and for-profit universities that offer this degree. Often, credits earned through these schools will not transfer to other colleges, and some employers won't recognize the degrees that these schools grant. Make sure that the college you choose for your online Ph.D. program in criminal justice is accredited by an agency that's approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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