Doctorate in Criminal Justice Program Guide

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June 15, 2021

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Offering career options as expansive as the field itself, a doctorate in criminal justice provides students with the theoretical and practical skills they need to address myriad issues in criminal justice. Through concentrations in juvenile justice, homeland security, and criminal justice policy, degree-seekers gain the knowledge they need for career advancement, leadership roles, and increased earning potential.

The following guide examines what students can expect from a doctorate in criminal justice program and what graduates can do with this advanced degree.

Should I Get a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

Often designed for working professionals, an online doctorate in criminal justice provides a flexible academic track, allowing learners to meet personal and professional obligations while completing coursework. Online programs often use pre-recorded lectures, online message boards, and other asynchronous tools to allow degree-seekers to navigate the class at their own pace.

Opening up a variety of career options, a doctorate in criminal justice arms graduates with the skills, knowledge, and credentials needed for careers in academia and the public and private sectors.

Most criminal justice curricula take a multidisciplinary approach. Students tackle data-heavy research in sociology and behavioral psychology while delving into public policy and organizational leadership. As this field is relatively broad, students often choose a specialization to supplement core requirements.

Opening up various career options, a doctorate in criminal justice arms graduates with the skills, knowledge, and credentials needed for careers in academia and the public and private sectors. Additionally, graduates are qualified for some of the most lucrative leadership and administrative roles in the field.

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

An online doctorate in criminal justice provides learners with an in-depth, interdisciplinary look at the theoretical and practical elements of this diverse field. Whether they want to pursue a career in public policy or academia, graduates gain the skills they need to secure leadership roles in their desired field.

Typical courses include history and contemporary issues in criminal justice, policy and analysis in criminal justice systems, and leadership in criminal justice. Additionally, degree-seekers can often choose from specializations, such as emergency management, public management and leadership, and homeland security policy.

Most doctoral programs in criminal justice require students to complete 50-75 credits. Most full-time learners graduate in 3-5 years.

Concentrations

Behavioral Science

Tackling a broad scope of human behavior, this concentration takes an interdisciplinary approach, pulling from disciplines like psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Common courses include psychological issues for children and adolescents in the legal system, sexual offenders, and gender violence.

Juvenile Justice

In this concentration, degree-seekers confront systemic issues around youth crime and learn about methodologies used to mitigate future criminal behavior. Courses often include criminal justice policy, contemporary issues in juvenile leadership, and legal and ethical issues in juvenile justice.

Organizational Leadership

This concentration covers the theoretical and practical knowledge employed in best leadership practices in criminal justice. Common coursework includes ethical practices in criminal justice leadership, current trends in criminal justice organizations, and organizational planning and change.

Homeland Security

This concentration often covers counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cybersecurity. Coursework includes transnational organized crime, contemporary issues in cybersecurity, and critical infrastructure vulnerability analysis and protection.

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How to Choose a Criminal Justice Doctoral Program

Students interested in an online doctorate in criminal justice should consider several key factors when choosing between programs. Prospective students should make sure that their chosen program offers coursework and concentrations that mirror their career goals.

Additionally, cost can play a significant factor when selecting the right school. Tuition rates and financial aid opportunities, along with some of the hidden cost-saving benefits of online learning, may ultimately influence program choice.

Programmatic Accreditation for Doctorate in Criminal Justice Programs

Even though there is not a specific accreditation for doctorate in criminal justice programs, students should not ignore the value of institutional accreditation. The best colleges and universities hold regional accreditation through organizations, such as the Higher Learning Commission or the New England Commission on Higher Education.

To learn more about the ins and outs of accreditation, check out our guide to the process.

How to Get Into a Criminal Justice Doctoral Program

Admission requirements vary among programs, but standard requirements include letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, and a personal statement. Many schools also require a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Additionally, many doctoral programs in criminal justice require applicants to earn a master's degree before enrolling.

Make sure to review all requirements before submitting an application.

What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

A doctorate in criminal justice can lead to increased earning potential and career advancement in various fields. Concentrations allow learners to tailor their degree to career interests while developing expertise in their chosen academic area. Popular career paths for graduates include postsecondary teaching and roles in public policy and homeland security.

While earning a doctorate can require a significant investment of time and money, the increase in earning potential for graduates is substantial. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professors earn a median annual salary of $80,790.

Popular Career Paths

Postsecondary Teacher Police Chief Homeland Security Administrator Public Policy Director

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

Earning potential for graduates with a doctorate in criminal justice depends on the field they choose. Many Ph.D. graduates become professors, who earn a median annual salary of $80,790.

Certifications and Licenses a Doctorate in Criminal Justice Prepares For

Certified Emergency Manager

Offered by the International Association of Emergency Managers, this certification requires applicants to have a bachelor's degree along with at least three years of professional experience. Candidates must also demonstrate expertise in all phases of emergency management.

Certified Homeland and Protection Professional

The Global Center for Public Safety teaches individuals and organizations to prevent, prepare, and respond to homeland security events. The center reviews each candidate's academic and professional experience and relevant certifications.

Juvenile Services Practitioner Certification

Offered through the National Juvenile Detention Association, this certification is for professionals working in juvenile detention. The certification process focuses on professional training and development while highlighting current best practices in the field. Applicants often hold administration positions and boast a solid academic and professional record.

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Criminal Justice Programs

What is criminal justice?

Criminal justice is the overarching term for the laws, institutions, and policies involved in all phases of criminal activity, behavior, and prosecution. Common specializations include homeland security, juvenile justice, and cybersecurity.

Is it worth getting a Ph.D. in criminal justice?

Earning a doctorate in criminal justice helps graduates gain expertise while boosting career options. As a doctorate is the terminal degree in criminal justice, graduates often qualify for leadership roles in public policy, academia, and emergency management.

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

Most full-time students graduate in 3-5 years. Part-time learners take longer, but online programs traditionally allow students the flexibility to complete coursework while keeping up with personal and professional obligations.

How much does it cost to get a doctorate in criminal justice?

The cost of a doctorate in criminal justice varies between programs. Tuition for most programs ranges from $20,000-$60,000. Financial aid opportunities can help offset these costs.

What's the highest-paying job in criminal justice?

Ph.D. graduates often pursue careers in academia, teaching the next generation of criminal justice professionals. According to the BLS, college professors earn a median annual salary of $80,790.

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