As you progress in the field of criminal justice, you may consider earning an online doctorate degree in the subject.

Although a challenging and sometimes dangerous occupation (depending on your focus) in today’s society, the need for well-qualified personnel is growing exponentially; therefore, more colleges today are offering students the opportunity to earn an online Doctor of Criminal Justice degree to help them advance in their law enforcement career.

Doctor of Criminal Justice degree programs provide students with an advanced understanding of criminology and the wider criminal justice field. These programs can assist individuals pursue careers as faculty members, policymakers, and senior leaders in the criminal justice system.

Best Online Doctor of Criminal Justice Degree Programs - fact

With the correct credentials and experience, you have plenty of choices in criminal justice careers! These include education, research, and Homeland Security, such as an investigator, forensic investigator, or FBI Agent. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you can also establish your own security consulting firm.

These criminal justice careers are also rewarding paths because of their good salaries, opportunities to contribute to society and engage in continuing education, and good career advancement.

Many of these criminal justice professionals also enjoy fluidity in their careers, meaning the opportunity to shift careers with their current skills sets.


Interested in our picks for the Best Online Doctor of Criminal Justice Programs? If so, please check out the below schools (listed in no particular order) as you search for a doctorate in criminal justice program that will fit YOUR busy schedule, not theirs.

For those who have families and prior work responsibilities, an online doctorate in criminal justice is for you! The following points were considered when constructing this list of awesome opportunities:

  • Format availability; either 100% Online or Hybrid options,
  • Designed to combine coursework in the complexities of the court system, law enforcement and today’s correctional systems,
  • Prepares students for leadership and management positions in the field of Criminal Justice,
  • Enhances knowledge in Criminal Justice, such as in the areas of scholarly research, public relations, crime, justice theory, among others pertinent topics,
  • Provides residency and/or group project, or dissertation options, (some schools require, and some may not),
  • Ease of Credit transfers to a Doctoral program,
  • Positive student and reliable academic resource reviews of degree programs,
  • Promotes positive mentoring, ethical, and crucial life skills to impact your community through the field of Criminal Justice,
  • Regionally Accredited specific to the Criminal Justice degree
  • Various Financial Aid options,
  • Instructed by experienced faculty who specialize in the field of Criminal Justice.

To learn more, see our Methodology page.

Best Online Doctor of Criminal Justice Degree Programs


walden university


Established in 1970, Walden University makes higher education more accessible to students. Most of their programs are geared towards working professionals. Their Doctor of Criminal Justice degree is one of those.

This program is fully available online, in a way to help working professionals take a step towards further education while working towards their career. Designed for those who want to pursue leadership roles in the field of criminal justice, this PhD program equips students with the right skills and knowledge integral advancing their careers. 

Students will be able to explore contemporary theory and practice along with national and international issues found in the administration of criminal justice.

With experienced faculty at the helm, the program covers various topics within the field, including:

  • leadership theory,
  • technology and law enforcement,
  • criminal behavior,
  • human services,
  • public management,
  • and homeland security.

It is expected that students are able to come up with effective real-world solutions through integrating scholarly research with their experience. 

The program offers multiple specializations, including:

  • the General Program,
  • Emergency Management,
  • Global Leadership,
  • Justice Administration,
  • Public Management and Leadership,
  • and Online Teaching in Higher Education, among others. 



  • Higher Learning Commission


Federal Grants, Scholarships, Student Loans, Military Benefits


To be admitted into the program, you only need to fill in some basic information and create your account. After setting up the account, you can wait for your enrollment specialist to get in touch for any questions that you may have.

You are also encouraged to prepare application requirements such as employment history, academic history, and official transcripts. For program specific requirements, you need to have a master’s degree in criminal justice or related field. 


Since the program is designed for working adults, the online doctoral in criminal justice degree program can fit your needs even as your juggle your studies and career. Depending on your preference, you can opt for a course-based learning or go for tempo learning. The latter is a more flexible option as it allows you to set your own schedule and complete the courses at your own pace.

This path allows you to You can still get support from the faculty when you need it. Plus, you will get to have your own personal academic coach. If you want to complete your doctorate degree in less time, you can opt for the fast-track option. You can take additional courses and begin the dissertation process early to expedite your program completion. 

Walden also offers multiple start dates, which means you are free to choose a date that fits your schedule. You can begin the program when it is convenient for you. 


Earning a doctorate degree in criminal justice means that you have reached the highest proficiency in your chosen field. It can give you a ticket to a rewarding career in the academia.

It can also help you earn a spot in criminal justice organizations as most of them seek for knowledgeable leaders with advanced critical thinking, problem-solving, and research skills.

An elite career credential is possible, helping you explore various career options in the public and private sectors and the academe. Some of the job positions you can consider include the following: 

  • Police chief
  • Warden 
  • Research consultant 
  • Intelligence analyst 
  • Professor
  • Consultant in law enforcement agencies 
  • Government contractor 
  • Bureau chief 

Did you know?
Walden University takes pride in various university-funded grants they offer to support doctoral research in all fields of study. The grants aim to help students defray the cost of conducting their doctoral research, including field site visits, participant incentives, or data analysis software. Some of the available funding for doctoral students include Don E. Ackerman Research Grant in Educational Leadership, Research Grant in Distance Education, Research and Applications for Social Change Grant, and Research Grant Writing (Tutorial). Other external research grants are also available. 



University of North Georgia


The University of North Georgie belongs to the University System of Georgie. It is designated a State Leadership Institution and the Military College of Georgia. One of its program offerings is the Doctor of Criminal Justice program. 

Designed to meet institution’s research needs, including the military, government agencies, and private corporations, the University of North Georgia’s Doctor of Criminal Justice program prepares students for analytic, operational, research, and investigative intelligence positions. It aims to produce well-trained:

  • researchers,
  • teachers,
  • criminologists,
  • and criminal justice practitioners. 

To earn the program, you will need to complete a minimum of 54 credit hours, but it can also largely depend on the master’s degree before admission into the terminal degree program.

Around 30 hours of those required credit hours are devoted to core courses. Meanwhile, 9 hours will account for the electives, and another 15 credit hours will cover the dissertation. Two teaching practicums are also required for the completion of the program. 



  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

TYPES OF AID: Student loans, Scholarships, Grants


To enter the program, you must have a graduate degree in social science from an accredited institution with at least a cumulative grade point average of 3.2. This includes the field of criminal justice, sociology, and psychology, among others.

Aso, you will need to submit:

  • your official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score,
  • three UNG recommendation forms,
  • professional and academic goals statement,
  • current professional resume,
  • and an academic paper or writing sample. 


The criminal justice doctorate program is fully available online. You are not required to visit the campus throughout the program’s duration. Enrollments can be done in a part-time or full-time format. You may also enjoy asynchronous online classes, which means more flexibility.

You can set your own schedule every week and take the courses at your own pace. This is a clear advantage to working professionals who need a flexible schedule to work around the demands of their career. 


The Doctor of Criminal Justice program seeks to train students for greater knowledge and skills in the field of intelligence and research studies. Graduates are expected to take on posts in:

  • criminology,
  • research,
  • academia,
  • and criminal justice.  

Did you know?
The University of North Georgia makes it easier for students to find an academic program that matches your interests and experience through a quiz. It involves questions surrounding your interests, goals, and experiences. Taking the quiz will give you a recommended program that best reflects your ideal career path based on your answers. 



liberty university


Since its establishment in 1971, Liberty University has maintained its tradition as an evangelical liberal arts institution, housing 15 colleges and schools and offering over 700 programs of study, from the certificate to the doctoral level. Around 450 of these programs are available online. 

One of these is the Doctor of Criminal Justice program. Fully available online, this doctoral program is designed for experienced law enforcement professional who are aiming for senior leadership roles in criminal justice organizations at all levels of government.

There is great emphasis in advanced research and analysis of criminal justice practices. This knowledge base is integral in helping you assess and improve government and law enforcement organizations.

The program also equips you with the right knowledge and skills along with techniques in teaching and leadership. The training comes from experienced criminal justice scholars. 

Specializations in leadership and homeland securities are an option for admitted students. The PhD in Criminal Justice can be completed in about three years.  



  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)


Military Tuition Discount, Scholarship, Grant, Student Loan, Private Loan


Prospective students must possess a master’s degree with at least a 3.0 GPA, and submit a completed admission application and official college transcripts.


Liberty University has streamlined the degree programs they offer fully online using their very own learning platform. This tool allows you to access your course content easily.

The state-of-the-art online platform lets you connect with your classmates and access numerous resources, from books, journals, and peer-reviewed articles.

The Doctor of Criminal Justice program can be earned fully online, which gives you a flexible schedule and set up, allowing you to complete your coursework at your own pace and at the comfort of your home or office, all while you are juggling your blossoming career on the side along with your desire for further learning. 


The doctor of criminal justice program offers advanced knowledge in a wide range of critical issues. Some of the topics include juvenile justice policies, advanced corrections policies, and crime causation, among others.

Earning this program can help you open a door of opportunities to lucrative careers, including:

  • crime scene investigation unit manager,
  • professor,
  • lead detective or investigator,
  • security analyst,
  • police chief,
  • university administrator, and many others. 

Liberty emphasizes professional and academic excellence and, thus, students develop their critical thinking skills and organizational leadership skills necessary for success as criminal justice professionals.

Did you know?
Liberty University is considered as one of the largest nonprofit universities in the country. This means the institution is not in the business of gaining profit and revenue. They do not have to pay dividends to shareholders. Instead, the money they gained are invested in their online degrees. As a result, you are able to enjoy low tuition rates. Apart from the competitive tuition rates, Liberty University also provides resources and scholarships for students who attend their online college programs. 



National 5


National University is an online university based in San Diego, CA. They specialize in the virtual learning experience. National takes pride in providing all students with a convenient and flexible format to suit everyone’s needs.

As a criminal justice professional, you must be a team player to protect and serve the public. Through NU’s doctoral program, you can learn how to optimize your leadership and people skills and gain valuable knowledge used to solve today’s problems in the field of criminology.

You will receive a comprehensive understanding of civil and criminal liability and criminal justice theory. You may also choose to specialize in policing/law enforcement, homeland security, or white-collar crime. You can expect to hone your research skills, as well as administrative skills related to public safety.




Grants, Scholarships, Veterans Benefits, Tuition Assistance at Work, Private Education Loans, Payment Plans


To enroll in National University’s doctoral program, you must have your master’s degree from an accredited institution. You may complete your online application, at which time you will be given a personal identification number to access your account. You will also need to submit your official transcripts.


At NU, you can easily complete your doctoral program completely online. As you receive the same challenging and comprehensive learning program as on-campus students, you will have the convenience and flexibility to study at times that are good for you. There will be no residency or group project requirements for this degree option.

Courses begin every week. At National University, you are a classroom of “one;” therefore, faculty members can give you the personal attention you deserve.


Upon graduation, your online Doctor of Criminal Justice degree will provide you with many opportunities for career advancement, such as a Postsecondary Instructor, an Agency Administrator, Faculty Director, or Corrections Administrator.

While only 3% of people in the United States own a doctorate degree, let National help you reach your highest potential.

Did you know?
National University takes pride in the institution’s one-to-one teaching model, where students receive individualized feedback from the faculty. It is inspirational modeling that allows you to meet course and program outlines. 





Cal U was founded in 1852. As they continue in their history of providing academic excellence, their motto, “Building Character. Building Careers.” still holds true today. The exceptional faculty at Cal U are experienced in their field and are dedicated to helping students from all walks of life achieve success, academically and personally. 

The university offered the first regionally accredited professional doctorate in criminal justice. An online Doctorate degree in Criminal Justice from Cal U will provide you with many opportunities to enhance your career.

They offer this subject through an online format; however, a summer residency will be required before graduation.

You can expect to engage in coursework, such as:

  • Leading Criminal Justice Agencies,
  • Using Theory to Improve Criminal Justice Practice,
  • Improving the Administration of Juvenile Justice,
  • Police Management,
  • Corrections,
  • Advanced Criminal Law,
  • and Forensic Science.

If convenience, flexibility, and affordability are important to you, Cal U is the school for you. Without a doubt, you can expect the same quality education that all on-campus students receive.



  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education


Loans, Grants, Student Employment, Scholarships, Military Benefits


Submit your graduate application online along with the $50 non-refundable application fee. As each graduate program has different undergraduate coursework requirements, in criminal justice, you must have a master’s degree in criminal justice or a related topic (see website for a list of acceptable degrees) with a minimum GPA of 3.5.

Also, you will need to submit:

  • your official transcripts,
  • a current resumé stating your professional and academic achievements,
  • two letters of professional recommendation,
  • a personal statement
  • and a writing sample.

Please be aware of specific deadlines pertaining to your doctorate program in criminal justice.


Cal U makes it easy to earn your doctorate degree through its online distance learning program called “Desire2Learn.” You’ll need an up-to-date computer with a high-speed Internet connection.

Through the program, you can access your assignments and easily interact with fellow students and professors. Your support staff is available to answer your questions.


Through Cal U’s online doctorate program, you can expect to graduate with a deeper understanding of policy implementation and evaluation within the criminal justice system.

You will also learn how to deal with real-world situations, along with perfecting your leadership and management skills to gain the promotion you deserve as you play an integral role in the betterment of today’s society.

The program can prepare you to take on various leadership roles in different fields, including federal, state, and local police agencies, sheriff’s offices, corrections departments, and juvenile justice agencies. 

Did you know?
Taking pride in the quality of education they offer, Cal U is considered among the best public universities in the country. This is supported by numerous awards and rankings they have accumulated over the years since its establishment. The university has been named as one of the best schools in the Northeast by Princeton Review for 17 consecutive years.

The Graduate Criminal Justice Program was recognized as among the Best Online Programs by the U.S. News and World Report for four consecutive years (2016 to 2019). It is also one of the schools considered as veteran and military-friendly, with recognitions from GI Jobs’ Military-Friendly Schools, Military Advanced Education, and Military Times EDGE – Best for Vets. 


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Criminal Justice? 

Criminal justice refers to the laws, procedures, institutions, and policies at play in the commission of a crime, whether it happens before, during, or after. It centers around two ideas – that criminals and victims of crime have certain rights and that criminal conduct should be prosecuted and punished by the state according to a set of laws. The modern concept of criminal justice revolves around developments in legal theory, social science, politics, and all the changes in legal systems. 

The current criminal justice system consists of four parts:

Each component has specific subcomponents and functions. But criminal justice professionals usually move between components due to the interrelated functions of these components. The interactions between these components affect the outcomes among the criminal justice populations, including current and former offenders.

The criminal justice system is underlined by the laws and their implementing rules and regulations. The law enforcement officers not only enforce applicable laws but also provide a wide range of service functions, including those related to non-crime situations.

Such diversity of functions rationalizes the breadth and depth of online coursework, from public administration, health sciences, and human resources to international crime, criminal profiling, and public safety.

What is a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice? 

A Ph.D. in criminal justice often focuses on high-level aspects of the field. It is designed for those who want to achieve deeper knowledge that is integral to advanced positions in relevant government and private organizations.

The typical doctorate in criminal justice programs, including core courses in:

  • terrorism and intelligence,
  • theories of crime,
  • corrections policy,
  • transnational organized crime,
  • and juvenile justice policy.

There’s also a strong emphasis on the development of advanced skills in research methods, organizational leadership skills, and mental health. The criminal justice field is among the most demanding fields, too, so students of online doctorate in criminal justice must be physically and mentally fit, too.

Many online doctorate in criminal justice programs have several components in their curriculum, too, including didactic coursework that prepares students for a successful criminal justice career in their field of specialization.

Professional development opportunities, such as internships in community organizations and/or working alongside academic researchers, are also offered. The best doctorate in criminal justice online programs also provide excellent student support services aside from assistance in applying for federal financial aid.

Many doctoral programs also emphasize the development of knowledge and skills of diverse criminal justice systems, including criminal law and criminal justice policies in other countries. Other programs may even offer study-abroad opportunities as part of their professional development program.

How can you earn an online Doctor of Criminal Justice degree? 

Many higher learning institutions offer a doctor of criminal justice degree. There are some universities that make the program fully available online. Applications are usually made online, provided that you have met all their requirements.

One of the primary requirements to enter the program is to have a master’s degree in criminal justice or related fields. To earn the degree, you must complete the required coursework and dissertation that comes along with it. 

What career path can you follow after completing the online Doctor of Criminal Justice degree program?

Many graduates of the doctorate in criminal justice degree programs went on to work in higher positions in the federal government as well as in the private sector. The best online doctorate in criminal justice programs prepares students for jobs like:

  • government contractors,
  • bureau chief,
  • consultants to law enforcement agencies,
  • research consultant,
  • police chief,
  • warden, and many more.

Some found positions in the realm of education as professors and instructors. 

The great thing about earning a doctor of criminal justice online degree from an accredited university is that it’s 100% accepted by employers!

Even your doctoral degree diploma won’t even have “online” printed on it, and there’s no need for it, as online doctoral programs have the same academic quality as their on-campus counterparts. Besides, the criminal justice field emphasizes both professional and academic excellence and less on the mode of delivery.

Are there specializations in the Criminal Justice degree program? How do you choose one? 

It is possible to specialize in certain areas of criminal justice. Some of the available specializations include education, leadership, homeland security, law, public policy, justice administration, emergency management, and public management and leadership, among many others. It is good to note, however, that specializations vary from university to university. 

Do I need a Doctor of Criminal Justice degree to become a Lawyer?

No, you do not need a Doctor of Criminal Justice degree to become a lawyer. To become a lawyer, you must obtain a law degree (Juris Doctor) from an accredited law school and pass the state bar examination. However, a Doctor of Criminal Justice degree may be helpful if you want to specialize in a particular area of law, such as criminal justice.

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