If you’re looking for a career boost in the field of criminal justice, we rank the most affordable doctorate degree programs in criminology.
A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program in criminology deals with crime from a sociological standpoint. In many graduate schools, criminology is a concentration within the criminal justice program.
As a PhD degree holder in criminology, you collect, analyze, and study crime data for research purposes. Criminology PhDs often work in areas like public policy consultation and law enforcement organizational leadership.
A criminologist studies the sociological factors that may lead to criminal behavior. Students who earn a PhD in criminology will study factors impacting criminal behavior such as economic imbalance, geographic distribution, and racial inequality.
Criminology PhDs will conduct research and share findings in critical areas of law enforcement such as juvenile justice reform, crime prevention strategies, and improved internal functioning of government agencies and federal agencies.
Criminal justice professionals who earn this online criminal justice degree will also qualify for leadership opportunities in the field of criminal justice administration. This is because doctoral level criminal justice degrees prepare students to oversee criminal justice policy reform as well as oversight of police officers, crime scene investigators, and those charged with ongoing criminal investigation.
Many students who complete a PhD in online criminal justice degree program also go on to teach criminal justice at the post-secondary level. Simply stated, online PhD programs in criminal justice and criminology can lead to a wide range of professional opportunities in various criminal justice systems.
Criminology is a specific area of focus within the broader field of criminal justice. Both PhD degrees can lead to careers in law enforcement. Moreover, your course of study will begin with an exploration of criminal justice theory and criminal justice ethics. There are, however, a few key differences between criminal justice, and the criminology concentration.
The cost of getting your criminal justice degree online will largely depend on several factors. For example, state residency is critical since most public colleges and universities charge more for out-of-state students.
Nonetheless, some schools charge flat tuition for online criminal justice majors regardless of state residency. Online students will also pay an additional technology fee that on campus students do not pay.
The usual per-credit cost for an online doctorate in criminology ranges from $550 to $1,100. Students should expect to spend between $22,000 and $66,000 in total tuition.
Prospective students considering accredited online criminal justice programs may also qualify for federal financial aid. In addition, many PhD programs offer full tuition coverage as well as funding for housing, research, and even a cost-of-living stipend to qualifying students.
Moreover, there are many different PhD scholarships for students in the criminal justice field, including doctoral students in criminology and criminal justice. Nonprofit, governmental, or professional organizations usually award scholarships to students who demonstrate a combination of academic merit, financial need, leadership, and group membership.
The following graph depicts the average salaries of similar occupations to Detectives and Criminal Investigators in the U.S.
Source: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
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University of Pennsylvania’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
The University of Pennsylvania is a private university in Philadelphia. UPenn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the US and one of the most prestigious in the world. The university has four undergraduate schools and twelve graduate and professional schools.
UPenn offers a top-ranked Ph.D. in Criminology. This highly interdisciplinary program prepares students to create theoretically informed policies related to crime and justice issues. The tuition is $19,919 per year, however, most doctoral degree students will receive a comprehensive scholarship.
All Ph.D. students at UPenn are guaranteed full scholarships for their first eight semesters of study and receive a stipend and student health insurance, which makes the PhD in online criminal justice cost next to nothing.
UPenn is great for students who:
Can balance social and academic life. This Ivy League school is called “The Social Ivy” as it has the liveliest campus while remaining academically elite.
UPenn might not be a great fit for students who:
Cannot keep up with rigorous coursework. UPenn is an Ivy League school, which means the academic expectations are quite high.
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Walden University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Walden University is a private online for-profit university located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The university consists of seven colleges and one school. Walden University pioneered distance learning after two teachers wanted to make better opportunities for adult learners who wish to pursue advanced degrees.
Walden’s online Ph.D. in Criminal Justice allows students to explore contemporary practices and theories as well as international and national issues in the administration of Criminal Justice. Students are given a chance to integrate scholarly research and practical career goals. The overall tuition for a PhD in criminology from Walden is $60,103.
Since it was established, the school has been known for supporting working professionals pursuing further education.
Walden University is great for students who:
Are hoping to earn a graduate degree through an experienced distance learning program.
Walden University might not be a great fit for students who:
Are not comfortable with self-directed learning. Programs are 90% delivered online. Thus, commitment is of paramount importance.
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University of the Cumberlands’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
University of the Cumberlands is a private Christian university in Williamsburg, Kentucky. The school is divided into four colleges and offers 45 major undergraduate programs and a variety of minor programs.
UC’s online Doctorate in Criminal Justice is technically a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies with a concentration in Criminal Justice. This program focuses on the theory and practices of organizational leadership. Students get to explore strategic leadership and learn how to guide, manage, and improve law enforcement organizations. The graduate tuition is $4,282 per semester.
This school has provided students with a world-class education for over 130 years. Academic excellence shines through in its outstanding programs, both online and on campus.
University of the Cumberlands is great for students who:
Are willing to work hard in an academically rigorous environment.
University of the Cumberlands might not be a good fit for students who:
Are looking for Greek life. There are no fraternities or sororities at Cumberlands.
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Florida International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Florida International University, a public research school in Miami-Dade County, is the fifth-largest public university in the United States (by enrollment) and the third-largest school in Florida. The school has 106 master’s, 33 doctoral, and more than 50 certificate and specialist programs across 10 different colleges and schools.
FIU offers a Ph.D. in International Crime and Justice and focuses on global areas of study within the criminology and criminal justice fields. It is the only university in Florida and one of only 40 universities in the world to hold the distinction of being a full member of the prestigious Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA). The tuition is $4,101 per semester.
FIU programs are among the best in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Florida International University is great for students who:
are looking for a diverse and dynamic campus community.
Florida International University might not be a good fit for students who:
Struggle with independent time management.
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University of Louisville’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
The University of Louisville, a public research university in Louisville, Kentucky, forms part of the Kentucky state university system. It has 12 schools and colleges and more than 200 programs, allowing students to explore a multitude of educational paths and career options.
The University of Louisville offers a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. The program prepares graduates for careers in academics, as well as in public sector organizations. Students can choose between full- and part-time study options. Standard tuition for students in a fully online program is $775 per credit hour.
University of Louisville is home to numerous Fulbright Scholars. The Fulbright Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships you can earn.
The University of Louisville is great for students who:
Are big sports fans. The University of Louisville has a robust athletics tradition.
The University of Louisville might not be a good fit for students who:
Can’t balance academics and extracurricular activities. Students juggle multiple academic and non-academic obligations at the university. Extra effort is required to excel in both.
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Florida State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Florida State University, a Tallahassee-based public research university, is a State University System of Florida senior member. The school offers baccalaureate degrees in 103 programs, master’s degrees in 107 programs, advanced master’s/specialist degrees in 6 programs, doctorates in 63 programs, and four professional degrees.
FSU offers a Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice. PhD students are trained to conduct original research that generates new insights in the areas of law enforcement, rehabilitation, and public policy. This program offers professionals the flexibility to remain employed while advancing their education. The tuition is $554 per credit hour.
FSU is known for its helpful teachers and engaged teacher assistants. Students can easily access their professors, even in some of the biggest classes.
Florida State University is great for students who are:
Looking for a university with lots of fun traditions and a very friendly student population.
Florida State University might not be a good fit for students who:
Cannot practice time management skills. Students must dedicate ample time to their studies, especially during the first year.
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Texas A&M International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Texas A&M International University is a public, land-grant, research university located in Laredo, Texas. The school has 133 undergraduate programs, 175 master’s degree programs, 92 doctoral degree programs, and 5 professional degrees.
Texas A&M International University offers a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. The course is designed to produce graduates that have the research experience, practical skills, and theoretical knowledge to assume high-level leadership roles in different areas of the criminal justice system. The per-semester tuition for Texas A&M’s graduate school is $4,489 for resident students.
Texas A&M International is noted for its welcoming community and the accessibility of professors and support personnel.
Texas A&M International University is great for students who:
Are looking for a great education at a low price.
Texas A&M International University might not be a good fit for students who:
Cannot handle a demanding course load. The academic standard is very high and there is a zero-tolerance policy for cheating.
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University of Arizona’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
The University of Arizona is a public land-grant research university located in Tucson, Arizona. It is a member of the Association of American Universities and the Universities Research Association, and offers an extremely wide selection of academic programs, many of which are among the country’s best. Students can choose from any of its more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs through 23 schools and 20 colleges across four campuses.
The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice offers a PhD that emphasizes emphasizes criminal justice theory, research, and policy. This program produces highly skilled criminology and criminal justice faculty and agency researchers and administrators. The graduate program has a base tuition of $12,014.
The University of Arizona offers an enormous amount of courses and degree programs to students at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
The University of Arizona is great for students who:
Enjoy a large, highly social school with tons of activities and recreational opportunities.
The University of Arizona might not be a good fit for students who:
Struggle to balance their school work and social life. Because there are so many opportunities for fun at Arizona, it’s important for you to remain on top of your studies.
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Georgia Southern University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Georgia Southern University has a flagship campus in Statesboro with additional campuses in Hinesville and Savannah, Georgia. The public research university offers more than 140 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs across its three campuses as well as its online school.
Georgia Southern offers an online Ph.D. in Criminology with an emphasis on cybercrime. PhD candidates will concentrate on training and understanding laws related to electronic devices and the internet, crimes committed using computers, jurisdiction at state and federal levels, and issues relating to the Fourth Amendment. Graduate students enrolled in the Criminal Justice program will pay a tuition fee of $358 per credit hour.
Georgia Southern University has a warm and inviting campus culture.
Georgia Southern University is great for students who:
Prefer a large school with a small feel.
Georgia Southern University might not be a good fit for students who:
Are challenged when it comes to keeping their priorities straight. With a very beautiful campus, GSU lives up to its reputation of being a party school.
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Washington State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Washington State University is a highly-rated public university located in Pullman, Washington. It offers 95 majors, 86 minors, and more than 100 in-major specializations.
The Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice & Criminology at Washington State University is designed to advance the development of criminal justice and criminology research and theory. This doctoral degree is designed to train graduate students on how best to understand and properly conduct theoretically based research involving crime and the criminal justice system. The resident tuition cost is $9,953 per semester.
Students earning their Ph.D. from Washington State University enjoy a remarkable 100% job placement rate before graduation.
Washington State University is great for students who:
Are interested in a school that takes inclusivity seriously.
Washington State University might not be a great fit for students who:
Aren’t prepared to excel in a rigorous and competitive academic environment.
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American Public University System’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
American Public University System, a private, for-profit online university system in Charles Town, West Virginia, operates through the American Public University and the American Military University. American Public offers more than 200 degree and certificate programs.
The online university’s Doctor of Global Security program allows students to explore the complicated environment of global security. This advanced degree is designed for those who are working in government agencies, NGOs, private security firms, and international security agencies. Tuition for this doctoral degree totals $50,054.
American Public University is committed to providing high-quality higher education with an emphasis on educating the country’s military and public services communities.
American Public is great for students who:
Are looking for great internship opportunities. American Public has direct partnerships with a number of hiring agencies and organizations.
American Public might not be a good fit for students who:
Students who aren’t prepared to be challenged by courses, curricula, and professors.
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Jacksonville State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Jacksonville State University is a public university located in Jacksonville, Alabama. It offers programs of study at the bachelor’s, master’s, education specialist, and doctorate levels across six academic schools. Jacksonville also offers an array of continuing education opportunities and certificate programs.
The Doctor of Science in Emergency Management focuses on administrative policies, practices, and research methods with statistics, and directly overlaps with the field of criminology. This is a particularly suitable pathway for those with an interest in both criminal justice and areas like counter-terrorism and homeland security. Applicants should hold a master’s degree in emergency management or a related field before enrollment. The tuition fee is $30,000.
Jacksonville State is noted for its friendly and welcoming campus atmosphere.
Jacksonville State is great for students who:
Are seeking personally engaged instructors and one-on-one attention from their professors.
Jacksonville State might not be a good fit for students who:
Are seeking a lively atmosphere. Both the small campus and small town make for a quiet educational experience.
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New Jersey City University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
New Jersey City University is a public school in Jersey City. It is organized into four colleges offering 41 undergraduate studies and 27 graduate degree programs. The school is the only teacher-training college with a three-year degree in the country.
New Jersey City University offers criminal justice and criminology students a focused Doctor of Science in Civil Security Leadership, Management, and Policy. The program helps students develop and improve best practices in civil security with a focus on topics like national security, cyber security and defense, emergency management, homeland security, criminal justice, and strategic planning. Students will pay a tuitiion fee of $60,813 for the full degree program.
The campus is beautifully structured, and the school has a very diverse student body.
New Jersey City University is great for students who:
Are focused on their education. New Jersey City University is a very studious environment.
New Jersey City University might not be a good fit for students who:
Don’t prefer to attend college in an urban environment. Jersey City is the second most populous city in the state of New Jersey.
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Colorado Technical University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Colorado Technical University is a private for-profit university owned by Perdoceo Education Corporation. Colorado Technical University offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs. Popular programs include its degrees in nursing, tech, business, and accounting.
Colorado Tech also offers a doctorate in homeland security. This online program is designed for those who are seeking leadership roles in national security. Students will develop expertise in strategic analysis as it applies to homeland security. Students will pay $540 per credit hour.
CTU is an excellent school with great professors and resources if students need extra help.
Colorado Technical University is great for students who:
Are working full-time. Its extensive online degree offerings make Colorado Tech a good option for working adults who must balance professional and educational priorities.
Colorado Technical University might not be a good fit for students who:
Do not thrive as independent learners. Many programs include self-paced learning components, which means you must be proficient at managing your time.
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Saint Leo University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Saint Leo University is a private Catholic liberal arts university in St. Leo, Florida. The school offers 49 distinct undergraduate degrees, concentrated into 40 majors across 18 broad fields of study.
Saint Leo University offers a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice with a Homeland Security specialization. This program provides an advanced study for those who are interested in advancing their criminal justice careers into areas such as agency leadership, policy consultation, or post-secondary education. Students will pay a tuition fee of $850 per credit hour.
Online and on campus students receive identical education and degrees at Saint Leo. No distinctions are made between those earn their degree online or in person.
Saint Leo University is great for students who:
Are working adults and are returning to school after a long break. Saint Leo helps lapsed students pursue degree completion.
Saint Leo University might not be a good fit for students who:
Prefer a large university with a wider variety of academic offerings.
Saint John's University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
St. John’s University is a private Roman Catholic university located in the Queens borough of New York City. The university consists of six colleges and schools offering over 100 bachelor, master, and doctoral degree programs as well as an array of professional certificates.
St. John’s University offers a doctorate in Criminal Justice and Homeland Security. Compliant with criminal law and affiliated with criminal justice organizations, the criminal justice online program prepares students for executive leadership positions within law enforcement, academia, public or private security firms, and government agencies. Students will pay a tuition fee of $1,400 per credit.
St. John’s University is a great school to attend because of its supportive Vincentian community. Though St. John’s is a Catholic-affiliated school, students note that the campus is welcoming of students from all backgrounds.
St. John’s University is great for students who are:
Self-motivated and passionate. Because of its location in NYC, St. John’s is also an ideal school for those who are looking for great networking opportunities.
St. John’s University might not be a good fit for students who:
Have financial constraints. The cost of the school itself and the cost of living more generally in New York City make the residential experience at Saint John’s somewhat costly.
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Liberty University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Liberty University is a private Baptist university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees through residential and online programs. Students can choose from the school’s more than 700 programs of study.
The online Ph.D. in Criminal Justice program at Liberty University is designed to provide students with a wide variety of concentration-specific opportunities. The degree in criminal justice curriculum is from a uniquely Christian perspective. Students will pay a tuition fee of $595 per credit hour.
Service members enrolled in Liberty University pay only $300 per credit hour for specific doctorate pathways.
Liberty University is great for students who:
Are interested in faith-based learning experiences.
Liberty University might not be a good fit for students who:
Are seeking a secular, residential education experience.