Doctorate in Criminal Justice

A Doctorate in Criminal Justice degree develops practical and theoretical skills students need to address a multitude of issues in the field of criminal justice. The degree has potential to open up opportunities in a number of areas of law enforcement, such as juvenile justice, criminal justice policy and homeland security. Criminal justice professionals with this advanced degree may also find employment in universities and educational institutes as postsecondary teachers or researchers.

If you want to become a part of this expansive field, the following guide will provide you with all the information you need, such as the approximate timeline, cost, career paths and coursework expected with this degree. Read on to find out more.

Criminal Justice Doctorate Degree: An Overview

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in criminal justice is an advanced level degree that can take up to six years to complete, depending on your personal schedule and requirements of the curriculum. The degree exposes students to a variety of courses relating to different areas of criminal justice. Students take a multi-disciplinary approach, working on heavy research-based courses such as sociology and behavioral psychology, along with delving into topics such as organizational leadership and public policy.

The degree opens up numerous career paths for graduates, largely in academia and leadership roles in the public and private sectors.

How long does it take to earn a doctorate in criminal justice online?

The amount of time it takes to complete a doctorate in criminal justice would depend on a number of factors, such as your personal scheduling requirements, format of the degree and coursework requirements by the institute. Typically, this advanced level degree would take around 3 to 6 years to complete, with an average credit hour requirement of 40 to 70 credits.

However, if you are enrolled in a part-time program, the time taken to complete this degree may be longer. In addition to that, online criminal justice degrees usually allow a certain amount of timeline flexibility in meeting the coursework and internship requirements as most students have personal and professional obligations to fulfill along with their study plans. This flexibility eventually determines the amount of time it takes to complete the degree.

What is the cost of a Doctorate in Criminal Justice Degree?

The cost of a criminal justice doctorate degree would depend on a number of factors. For instance, many colleges charge a higher tuition fee for out-of-state students. However, a lot of institutes offer a flat rate tuition for those enrolled in online programs, regardless of the state they reside in. In addition to that, technology fees are also an aspect to consider, as these typically apply to online students only. The cost of a doctorate in criminal justice would also vary between private and public schools, with private institutes typically being more expensive.

According to US News, the cost per credit for online criminal justice doctorate programs typically ranges between $550 and $1,100. Students can expect a total tuition cost of $22,000 to $66,000, depending on the factors identified above.

Should I Get a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

A doctorate in criminal justice can certainly be a step in the right direction for those who want to advance their careers in the vast field of law enforcement. These programs are mostly designed for working professionals who want to step ahead in their careers while continuing to work. If you are planning to enroll in an online degree in criminal justice, you can expect study materials such as pre-recorded lectures and online message boards that allow students to manage the pace of the degree according to their personal preferences.

Degree-seekers who want to enroll in a doctorate program in criminal justice must know that this is a long and challenging process that will require a solid investment in terms of effort, time and finance. However, the career options that this prestigious degree opens up will make all the effort seem worth it. In a field as dynamic and evolving as criminal justice, having an advanced degree can make a lot of difference, offering greater freedom of work and more potential for professional growth.

What Can I Expect from a Doctorate in Criminal Justice Program?

A doctorate in criminal justice degree provides students with a detailed look at the practical and theoretical elements of this dynamic field. Students can expect to study courses that include contemporary issues in criminal justice, history of criminal justice, policy making, leadership in criminal justice etc. In addition to that, students are usually given the option of choosing from multiple concentration areas such as emergency management, homeland security policy, public management and leadership.

Students are likely to spend around 3 to 6 years enrolled in this program, with a completion of approximately 40-70 credits.

Concentration Options

The following is a list of concentration options that criminal justice students might have in doctoral programs.

  • Behavioral Science:  This concentration exposes students to a number of topics in psychology, anthropology and sociology.
  • Juvenile Justice: In this concentration, students tackle subjects that revolve around youth crime and learn about the different ways used to lessen criminal behavior in the younger population demographic.
  • Homeland Security: As the name suggests, this concentration covers topics such as counterintelligence, cyber security and counter terrorism, with coursework in areas like international organized crime, infrastructural weaknesses and protection.
  • Organizational Leadership: This concentration teaches students about the best practices in leadership in criminal justice. Degree seekers in this concentration can expect to cover courses on ethical practices in criminal justice, current trends in criminal justice, leadership and organizational hierarchy in a criminal justice or law enforcement organization.

How to Choose a Criminal Justice Doctoral Program?

When looking for the ideal criminal justice doctoral degree, there are several factors that students need to consider. The most important aspect to take into account is the coursework. Prospective students should ensure that the degree and concentration they choose is in accordance with their career goals and personal interests.

In addition to that, students are advised to consider factors such as the cost of the degree, the format of the program, faculty, notable alumni, potential job placements and overall facilities offered by the university. Another important issue to look into before enrolling in a particular degree is the financial aid and scholarship options the university offers.

Accreditation for Doctorate in Criminal Justice Degrees

The most integral part of the program selection process for any degree should be the accreditation of the institute. Please note that if you are enrolled in a program that is not accredited, you would not qualify for any federal financial aid options. Even though there is no specific organization that accredits doctorate in criminal justice programs in the US, students should consider enrolling in programs that are accredited through organizations such as the Higher Learning Commission or the New England Commission on Higher Education.

What are the Admission Requirements for a Criminal Justice Doctoral Program?

The admission criteria for a Doctorate in Criminal Justice degree would vary from institute to institute. However, common requirements that degree seekers might be required to fulfill include letters of recommendation, personal statement and official academic transcripts. Most universities would require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, while some programs may require students to have a master’s degree in criminal justice before applying for admission into a doctorate program.

What Can I Do With a Doctoral Degree in Criminal Justice?

A doctoral degree in criminal justice can lead to a number of career paths in different areas of law enforcement. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular career paths with this degree.

Popular Career Paths with a Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice

  • Police Chief
  • Public Policy Director
  • Postsecondary Teacher
  • Homeland Security Administrator

How Much Money Can I Make With a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

The amount of money that can be earned after completing a doctorate degree in criminal justice depends largely on your chosen specialization. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Postsecondary Teachers in the country made an annual median income of $80,790 per year. Police and Detectives made an annual median income of $67,290 in 2020. The salary potential for careers in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency is also quite bright, though the application process may have requirements in addition to an advanced degree in criminal justice.

Certifications and Licenses to Consider After a Doctoral Degree in Criminal Justice

After completing a doctorate degree, students can go for different certifications. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular options available.

  • Certified Emergency Manager – This certification is offered by the International Association of Emergency Managers and requires a bachelor’s degree along with at least three years of professional experience.
  • Juvenile Services Practitioner Certification – This certification is offered by the National Juvenile Detention Association and is meant for the professional training of individuals working in the juvenile detention sector.
  • Certified Homeland and Protection Professional – This credential is offered by the Global Center for Public Safety and teaches applicants a variety of skills required in jobs relating to homeland security.