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.
Earning a PhD in criminal justice teaches you to dive deeper, so you can ask the tough questions about the criminal justice system - and also answer them. A PhD is the highest academic degree within the field of criminal justice, and helps you better understand criminal justice theories, methods of criminal justice, and the criminal justice system itself.
Students finish their programs with the ability to independently conduct research in the field, to serve as teaching faculty in educational institutions and to work 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 traditional, full time college.
Are Online PhD Degrees Offered in Criminal Justice?
Doctoral (PhD) programs in criminal justice are some of the last criminal justice degrees to be available online. As a result, only a few such programs exist. There are a few issues with these programs, though.
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 for you to get as much from the advising process online as you would in person.
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.
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.
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.
How Long do Online PhD Programs Take?
Online criminal justice PhD programs are a good fit for those who already have a criminal justice career, and getting 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 online 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
- a statement of intent.
Careers with a PhD in criminal justice are varied. Many graduates go on to oversee security programs or manage 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 Programs
Online Ph.D. courses offer everything you need to learn 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 the curriculum for every criminal justice doctorate program. Online courses on the origins of criminological theory and how it became modern law are usually 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 criminal justice system, studying how they work is important for all criminal justice students. While undergraduate criminal justice curriculum usually covers how the court works, 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.
Career Options for PhD Graduates in Criminal Justice
With a PhD in criminal justice, you have a broad swath of careers to choose from. By the time you complete your degree, you will have an idea of the types of jobs that interest you. You can choose from areas like legal positions, correctional officers, FBI agents, law enforcement, or you can always go the academic route and dedicate yourself to research and teaching if that interests you more than field work.
Many people who earn their PhD in criminal justice will go on to work in academia or research labs. This is a popular choice because you will be privy to and instrumental in groundbreaking developments that can have huge impacts on the field of criminal justice. For example, you could research things like the impact of incarceration on children or how police officers use offender tracking systems. Criminal justice researchers are a vital tool for police departments, criminal justice groups, and the public.
Academia is not your only option. One of the biggest benefits of holding a higher degree is that you will have a leg up on the competition. Employers are always searching for experienced, knowledgeable candidates and a PhD will help your resume shine. Policymaking is another area that Criminal Justice PhDs will often excel in. They will use their degree to help create new laws and figure out effective procedures for enforcing current laws in either a governmental or private policymaking organization. Some will even run for a public office! Having your PhD will open up all of these opportunities for you.
Having a PhD may also increase your salary and help you earn a better living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for a postsecondary criminal justice teacher is $68,980 per year. Intelligence analyst is another position that pays well in this field. According to O*Net, analysts make $78,120 annually. Interested in being involved in policymaking? Political scientists make around $114,290 annually, but that may vary depending on the organization that you apply to.
Recommended Criminal Justice 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.
Featured Online Programs:
Online programs may not be available in all states
Traditional On Campus Programs:
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.