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Online PhD in Criminal Justice Programs
(found programs from 4 schools)


Below is a list of all of the Online PhD in Criminal Justice Programs we could find, from over 1,800 schools across the US.

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From mystery novels to crime dramas the criminal justice system captures the public's curiosity and imagination. The PhD in criminal justice degree delves beneath the surface to help learners not only ask deeper questions about the criminal justice system - but also to answer them. The highest academic degree within the field of criminal justice, the PhD serves to foster a thorough understanding of criminal justice theory, methods of criminal justice, and the criminal justice system itself. Students emerge with the ability to independently conduct research in the field, to serve as teaching faculty in educational institutions and to work as practitioners in a broad range of settings such as public policy research institutions and government institutions.

Online Ph.D. programs in criminal justice are ideal for students who would like to continue their higher education without putting their lives on hold to attend a brick-and-mortar college. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Education's National Forum on Education Statistics, the quality of online programs and distance learning in general has increased dramatically in the last several years. In fact, a 2011 study from the Sloan Consortium shows that the growth of enrollment in online programs far exceeds the growth of enrollment in traditional schools.

Are there online Criminal Justice PhD programs?

Doctoral (PhD) programs in criminal justice are some of the last criminal justice degrees to find their way online. As a result, only a few such programs exist and with several caveats. The first is that most come with a hefty price tag, particularly in comparison to the cost of an on-campus degree. Brick and mortar, full-time doctoral programs are often free; the institutions cover the cost of tuition for accepted students while also providing a small living stipend in exchange for teaching assistant work. Further, a huge component of a traditional doctoral degree is the relationship between a student and his or her academic advisor - it may be harder to get as much from the advising process online. Additionally, on-campus PhD programs typically require only a bachelor's degree for admission - students earn a master's degree en route to their doctorate degree. Most online criminal justice degree programs require students have a master's degree to apply. Finally, as of right now, the handful of online PhD programs that do exist tend to be affiliated with institutions that are either exclusively online, or are for-profit universities. Although employer attitudes toward non-traditional degrees are changing, it's important to keep in mind that some employers, especially within academia, may have different attitudes when it comes to the online PhD.

Be prepared for a time-commitment

Online criminal justice PhD programs are a good fit for those already enmeshed in a criminal justice career in which attaining a PhD would result in a promotion or raise. For those students, the online PhD offers the ability to work and study, while increasing their career prospects. For those not already in the field and for those whose primary goal it is to secure an academic teaching position, the online PhD in criminal justice may not be as well-suited.

Students take courses on either a semester or quarterly basis and degrees take between three to seven years of study to complete, depending on the number of courses taken each semester. The first 2.5 to 3.5 years involve specific coursework while the remaining time is spent working on a dissertation. Courses are offered in an asynchronous format - students sign on, respond to message boards and read professors' notes whenever it is convenient for them. Beyond a broad criminal justice overview, online doctoral programs typically offer the opportunity for students to concentrate on subfields within criminal justice including forensic psychology, terrorism, comparative criminal justice, social psychology, juvenile justice, forensic science, and policy analysis.

Admission into an online PhD program in criminal justice requires a master's degree in criminal justice or in a related field such as criminology, political science or sociology; letters of reference; and a statement of intent. Careers with a PhD in criminal justice are varied. Many graduates go on to work at institutions overseeing security programs or within local, state or federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, or the National Security agency.

Curriculum for Online PhD in Criminal Justice

Now, Online Ph.D. courses offer everything students need to learn how to succeed in today’s competitive job market. With flexible schedules and around-the-clock access to lectures and other course materials, online students can work through challenging doctorate courses on their own terms and time. If you are passionate about the criminal justice field and are motivated enough to work independently, completing a doctorate program online can give you the skills and background you need to maximize your long-term career potential.

Criminological Theory and Crime Causation

In-depth studies on criminological theory and the nature of crime are a fundamental part of every doctorate criminal justice curriculum. Online courses on the origins of criminological theory and its evolution into modern law are usually offered as required introductory classes in the first or second semester. Understanding the science and philosophy behind popular theories on crime causation helps students learn advanced critical thinking skills they need to move on to complex courses in deviant psychology, applied research, statistics, public policy and penology. Some programs split the topic of criminological theory into two consecutive courses with a contemporary theory class following a foundations course in classical theory.

Court Process and Institutions

Because courts play a major role within the broader criminal justice system, studying how they work is essential to all criminal justice students. While undergraduate criminal justice curriculums usually cover general court functions, Ph.D. programs look at specific issues and laws that govern how the courts are run on a day-to-day basis. Some of the issues these courses explore involve judicial processes, interpretation and implementation of constitutional law, financial and social costs of capital punishment, victim justice and system flaws. Learning more about the purpose of courts and how they work prepares all criminal justice students for thinking about justice in terms of how it is defined by the law and not necessarily by the public.

Advanced Research Methods and Statistics

Although detailed knowledge of psychology and other social sciences is a big part of criminal justice programs, Ph.D. students are also expected to gain a deeper understanding of scientific research methods and statistical techniques. Intermediate courses in statistics and research teach students how to collect, analyze and present new criminal justice data as well as how to apply it to current criminal justice procedures and crime prevention principles. Most positive changes within the criminal justice system can be traced back to research studies and statistical evidence. Ph.D. students who are interested in high-up management and executive positions need to understand research and statistical methods in order to do their jobs effectively.

Criminal Justice Policy

Courses in criminal justice policy and administration explore the challenges associated with combining research, criminological theory and political trends into proposals for positive changes within the many departments of the criminal justice system. While many other courses in online Ph.D. programs focus on the study of the origins of crime and the role of law enforcement in crime prevention, classes in criminal justice policy take a broader look at the role of crime in the modern society. By discussing the effect of communities, political leaders and the media on public policy development, courses in criminal justice policy help students understand how new criminal justice initiatives are created.

Criminal Laws and Procedures

Because criminal law is a vital part of the criminal justice system, many online programs include advanced studies of criminal laws and procedures in their core curriculum. Building on the basics students learn in undergraduate years and in classes on the U.S. courts, Ph.D. courses in criminal laws and procedures focus on complex topics that include controversial cases, civil rights, the appeals process, probation and recidivism. While courses in criminal laws and procedures are essential for students who want to work in criminal courts and penology, all criminal justice professionals need to understand the process offenders go through when they are arrested and the role criminal courts play in crime prevention.

Check out these resources

The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (http://www.sccjr.ac.uk/) provides high quality research about the creation, application and assessment of criminal justice policy. The General Blog of Crime (http://www.generalblogofcrime.com/) is run by a group of grad school friends who happen to be criminologists. They cover all aspects of crime ranging from news and politics to the issues of the death penalty and wrongful convictions. The United States Department of Justice, http://www.justice.gov/, is the nation's "primary federal criminal investigation and enforcement agency" and has significant opportunities for criminal justice research.

Please feel free to contact the schools using the links below. You should try to contact multiple schools to get a good range of programs to compare, since they often differ widely in terms of tuition, admissions requirements, and even how truly "online" they are. We tried to restrict this list to the programs that appeared to be all, or nearly all, online, but it’s still best to confirm the details directly with the schools.


Henley-Putnam University (San Jose, CA)
Online Programs Offered:
Doctorate - Strategic Security (online)
Northcentral University (Prescott Valley, AZ)
Online Programs Offered:
D.B.A. - Criminal Justice (online), D.B.A. - Homeland Security (online), Ph.D. - Criminal Justice (online), Ph.D. - Homeland Security (online)
Walden University (Minneapolis, MN)
Online Programs Offered:
PhD Counselor Edu/Supervision - Forensics (online), PhD Counselor Edu/Supervision - Trauma/Crisis (online), PhD Human Services - Criminal Justice -CB (online), PhD Human Services - Criminal Justice -SD (online), PhD Public Policy - Criminal Justice (Course) (online), PhD Public Policy - Criminal Justice (Mixed) (online), PhD Public Policy - Homeland Security (Mixed) (online), PhD Public Policy - Homeland Security (online), PhD Public Policy - Terrorism/Peace (Course) (online), PhD Public Policy - Terrorism/Peace (Mixed) (online)
zCapella University (Minneapolis, MN)
Online Programs Offered:
Doctor of Philosophy - Public Safety: Criminal Justice (online)

Are we missing any schools or programs? If so, please let us know! We appreciate your help in making this the best directory of Criminal Justice Degree Programs on the web. You can send us an email at schools@criminaljusticeprograms.com.