4 Online Ph.D.s’ in Criminal Justice

The following 4 Online Ph.D.s’ in Criminal Justice programs can lead to advanced positions and opportunities for 2023.The criminal justice sector has many potential career opportunities, but some of these positions and careers are only available if you hold a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. A Ph.D. in Criminal Justice is a terminal degree and offers a detailed study of the way that the legal system, criminal behavior, and community safety policies work. If you would like to have an upper-level position in policymaking, teaching, research, law enforcement administration, and more, then pursuing your Ph.D. can open up these career options for you. The following 4 Online Ph.D.s’ in Criminal Justice programs can allow you to further your education even while working full-time.


One significant advantage of pursuing an online Ph.D. in Criminal Justice is that most online degrees allow you to continue working while pursuing your education part-time. You will find that the programs in this ranking feature minimal on-campus time. While some do require brief on-campus residencies, other degree programs can be completed entirely online. Depending on how much scheduling flexibility you have, you may be able to pursue part-time or even accelerated paths to get your degree sooner. The programs are designed to provide comprehensive education and lead to potential positions including crime analysts, criminal investigators, CIA analysts, and FBI agents.

When choosing the program that’s right for you, you should consider your desired career path and the overall focus of the program. Most of the programs on these list offer concentrations in areas like higher education, organizational leadership, juvenile justice, criminology, and behavioral science. Research and a dissertation are significant parts of these programs, and some of the programs incorporate dissertation coursework early on in your study, which can make the thesis a bit less overwhelming as you get closer to completing the degree. Most of these programs also require that you have a master’s degree in criminal justice or a related field, though some are willing to consider applicants with J.D. degrees. If you’re looking for an online program, then chances are, that at least one of the programs in this ranking will be the right fit for your schedule and your career aspirations.


While you’re on your way to earning your Ph.D. or Doctorate within your field, the editors at Online PhD Programs are already practicing doctors of their craft: ranking the best online Ph.D. programs. To be featured on our annual rankings online doctorates must satisfy four coinciding requirements: accreditation, research and scholarship doctorate certification, NSF recognition, and institutional association with peer-reviewed academia.

Each degree is then ranked using information provided – primarily – through the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. The data collected is scored through a series of weighted categories to represent seven crucial aspects of what makes an online doctorate valuable to future students. Online program quality and presence are joined by industry salaries, student reviews, degree exclusivity, costs, and completion rates to determine the best online doctorates available. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit ourmethodology page.


New Jersey City University’s Doctor of Science in Civil Security Leadership, Management & Policy was launched in 2012 and became one of the first doctoral degrees in Security Studies. The program focuses on national security, corporate security, and information assurance/cyber security. Students enter the program in July as a Learning Community of between 15 and 20 students. The three-year program is offered primarily online, though students do attend a two-week summer residency and four on-campus weekends. Upon graduation, students are prepared to hold executive-level positions in government, business, and education fields. Program graduates may also become post-secondary educators in professional security.

NJCU opened in 1927 and was the only teacher training college to offer a three-year program. Today, NJCU offers 44 undergraduate, 29 master’s, and three doctoral programs. NJCU became a National Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2009. All of the full-time and adjunct professors in the Professional Security Studies program hold doctoral degrees, professional certifications, and at least 15 years of professional security experience. Since July ‘12, seven different Learning Committees of students have formed and entered the D.Sc. in Civil Security Leadership, Management & Policy program.
Format: Online


Colorado Technical University’s Doctor of Management in Criminal Justice is designed with the flexibility that adult learners and professionals need. Much of the coursework is offered online with a flexible course schedule. Students must also attend an on-campus residential symposium. The program focuses on mentoring, action research, and practical projects, helping students develop the skills they will need to hold key leadership positions. Dissertation components are integrated into the program, and students have the option to complete their degree in three years.

Established in 1965, CTU has campuses in Colorado Springs and Aurora, CO. The university is a leader in hybrid and online learning, and in 2009, CTU’s Virtual Campus received the “Best of the Best” award in Academia and Education category of the Computerworld Honors program. The U.S. News & World Report has included CTU in its ranking of the Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs for the fifth year in a row. Additionally, CTU has been involved in the U.S. News & World Report‘s rankings for the Best Online Graduate Programs in Business, Computer Information Technology, and Engineering.

Format: Online


The California University of Pennsylvania provides students with an Online Doctorate in Criminal Justice. Students can complete this 42-credit-hour program in two years when studying online part-time. Almost all of the coursework can be completed online, with a five-day summer residency being the only on-campus requirements during the duration of the program. Program graduates will be prepared to hold leadership roles in federal, state and local police agencies, sheriff’s offices, corrections departments, juvenile justice agencies, and more. Prospective students are required to have a master’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, or a related field, though J.D. degree-holders with criminal justice experience may also be considered.

Located in California, PA, Cal U’s 294-acre campus is home to more than 100 student clubs and organizations. Cal U is also home to 18 intercollegiate men’s and women’s teams. Cal U offers a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio and students can choose from over 100 undergraduate majors and more than 50 graduate programs. Cal U online degrees such as the D.C.J. residentially, online, and as hybrid programs. In 2015 alone, Cal U awarded $5 million in scholarships and has been identified as one of the best colleges in the Northeast by The Princeton Review for 13 consecutive years. The U.S. News & World Report has included Cal U’s Graduate Criminal Justice Program in its 2016, 2017, and 2018 Best Online Programs rankings.

Format: Online


The Ph.D. in Criminal Justice at Nova Southeastern University is a 60-credit-hour program that allows students to develop specialized expertise through different tracks. Program graduates enjoy career opportunities in research, academia, and management, as well as in upper-level positions such as criminal investigators, consultants, and criminologists. Students may choose concentrations in Organizational Leadership, Behavioral Science, or Juvenile Justice. Students take three classes per semester and progress through the program in cohorts. The program includes 12 credits of dissertation work. Among other requirements, program applicants must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution and should have a 3.0 or higher GPA.

Located in Fort Lauderdale, FL, NSU offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. NSU opened in 1964 as the Nova University of Advanced Technology and soon became recognized for its distance learning programs. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has classified NSU a research university with “high research activity,” and NSU 1 of just 50 universities to hold the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. NSU’s Criminal Justice program has been ranked on the U.S. News & World Report‘s Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs and Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs for Veterans rankings.

Format: Online