We rank the best online PhD in criminal justice degree programs.
Criminal justice professionals are essential aspects of community safety. They seek justice for victims, defend the weak from violent crimes, and often develop crime prevention strategies.
While a doctorate is not the only way to enter the field, it is one of the best ways to secure advanced educational and research-oriented jobs. Doctorates, however, can be very costly. Fortunately, many colleges and universities have resorted to online learning formats, which can be much cheaper and more accessible than traditional programs.
The majority of online criminal justice degree programs contain foundational criminal justice theory courses. These courses show how to apply theoretical viewpoints to criminal investigations and law enforcement.
Additional courses look at the justice system’s law enforcement, criminal law, and civil rights protection aspects. The place of police in society is also discussed, along with the difficulties that police agencies face and the different rules that serve as guidelines for law enforcement personnel.
The demands of criminal justice programs vary from university to university. Numerous factors contribute to program lengths, such as credit hours required, dissertation, and research. However, most criminal justice doctorates demand 50–75 credits from the students that must be completed in 3-5 years.
Many online doctorate degrees from accredited institutions offer specialization courses to allow students to focus more on their professional goals.
An emphasis on behavioral sciences fills the gap between psychology and criminal justice. In addition to topics like sex crimes, domestic violence, and psychological aspects of how the judicial system affects children and adolescents, course material in criminal justice programs also examine how mental health is evaluated and assessed within the court system.
Specializations in criminal justice include:
This focus is geared toward exploring the laws, morals, and policies that govern the justice system’s evaluation and handling of adolescents.
This study area examines the psychological, sociological, and biosocial theories that underlie criminal behavior and methods for enhancing laws and programs.
The effectiveness of the US criminal justice system, including parole, probation, and jail, is the subject of this concentration. Other course topics include the ethics of institutional corrections and methods for enhancing the justice system.
Students who specialize in organizational leadership are prepared for administrative positions in the criminal justice system. This specialization’s courses examine leadership, decision-making, dispute resolution, and stewardship ethics in the criminal justice system.
Those with a doctorate are considered scholars and experts in their field of study. If you decide to pursue a criminal justice doctorate, your degree can be categorized as either academic or professional and indicates that you have advanced knowledge in this area.
This varies from a Doctor of Philosophy degree, or PhD, in that this higher-level distinction is characterized as mostly academic, and its recipients typically use the knowledge they have learned primarily to aid them in landing criminal justice careers focusing on field-related research.
Because of this, many of the courses needed for a PhD in criminal justice include the abilities required to research, evaluate, and critique issues in this particular field.
While both the Doctor of Criminal Justice and criminal justice PhD programs require students to complete dissertations, a doctorate-level dissertation is just read and assessed, while a PhD dissertation also needs to be published.Back to Top
Regardless of the discipline, a traditional doctorate degree in the US can average between $105,900 and $146,300 in public and private universities, respectively. The exact cost, however, varies largely based on factors like the school itself, the specific doctorate program, the program length, and the financial assistance or grant aid in both in-person and online programs.
The cost of online PhD in criminal justice programs may differ in some ways. According to U.S. News & World Report, the per-credit cost of an online criminal justice degree at the doctorate level falls between $550 and $1,100. The overall tuition ranges between $22,000 and $66,000.
Obviously a major deciding factor for which online doctorate programs to research is, of course, affordability. Luckily there are many affordable online doctoral programs to choose from, especially in criminal justice.
Looking for information on even more affordable degree programs? Check out our in-depth Guide to Affordable Degrees.
A growing number of highly reputable universities have hybrid or fully online doctoral programs in criminal justice. These programs are perfect for busy graduate students trying to manage their time and balancing coursework, career, and family demands. This makes an affordable online PhD programs especially attractive.
Luckily, there are several ways to ensure that online Phd in criminal justice degree programs are as affordable as possible.
Many affordable online doctoral programs in criminal justice may charge a higher tuition rate for non-state residents, but there are affordable online doctoral programs that charge a flat tuition rate regardless of graduate student state residency.
Earning an online PhD in criminal justice as opposed to a traditional on-campus doctorate degree makes it possible to save money on expenses like housing, transportation, and certain campus fees.
Online PhD programs also make it possible to continue working in your field, which means you can complete your degree program while still earning a living. This can ultimately reduce your dependence on student loan debt.
If affordability is a particular concern, and it is making you reluctant to pursue a PhD in criminal justice program, you may be able to take advantage of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and loans.
For more information on financial aid, visit the Federal Student Aid website. It is especially important that you choose an online program that is accredited in order to qualify for financial aid.
Many schools offering an online PhD in criminal justice also have assistantship opportunities for their graduate students. Assistantships may give teaching opportunities in exchange for tuition waivers and a stipend. Each school is different, so you will need to check into the online criminal justice doctorate degree program you are interested in.
Bottom Line: Affordable online PhD in criminal justice programs are possible when you factor in things like in-state tuition, financial aid, grants, and assistantships.
The following graph depicts the average salaries of Law Enforcement Workers for each percentile in the U.S.
Source: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
SVG Attribution: Wikipedia
Tuition + fees
Walden University is one of the best online universities and is mainly preferred by non-traditional students. Walden was established as a teacher’s college and later expanded and now offers more than 100 affordable majors from certificate to graduate level degrees.
The online PhD in Criminal Justice program costs $636 per quarter hour, making it one of the most affordable criminal justice doctorates. Criminal justice policy, public management and leadership, global leadership, emergency management, criminal justice administration, and homeland security policy and administration are just a few of the specializations available through this curriculum.
Students at Walden University, regardless of major, receive financial and academic support from the university, thanks to their vast financial aid opportunities and 24/7 student support services.
Walden University is great for students who:
Have jobs and other obligations and cannot attend traditional on-campus classes.
Walden University might not be ideal for students who:
Prefer to have constant face-to-face interactions with their peers and advisors.
Tuition + fees
The University of North Georgia is the seventh-largest university system in the United States. UNG is also known for its affordable on-campus and online degree programs. In addition to being affordable, students from all majors and degree levels at UNG have various financial aid opportunities, such as scholarships, student discounts, and more.
The University of North Georgia’s online PhD in Criminal Justice in Intelligence offers a $303 flat rate per credit hour fee. This degree produces the most qualified criminal justice professionals, ready for analytical, operational, research, and investigative intelligence positions. Students will learn in a cohort model, which helps them develop collaboration skills.
With strong relationships and smaller campuses combined with the chances and resources of a major school, UNG gives students the best of both worlds.
The University of North Georgia is great for students who:
Want to personalize their degrees and obtain one-on-one attention from advisors.
The University of North Georgia might not be the best fit for students who:
Want to attend a party school. UNG is a dry campus.
Tuition + fees
Liberty University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Liberty University is one of the top private Christian colleges in the United States, grounded with a liberal arts foundation. While Liberty offers on-campus degree programs, they are vastly known for its vast online offerings because of their affordability.
Liberty’s online PhD in Criminal Justice program costs $595 per credit hour for students enrolled full-time and $650 for part-timers. Liberty’s criminal justice curriculum allows students to transfer up to 50% of their credits, making it very transfer-friendly. Each student is required to select one of three specializations from the list, which includes general, leadership, and homeland security. Due to its Christian focus, this program attracts many individuals.
They consistently approach all disciplines with a faith-based perspective.
Liberty University is great for students who:
Want to maintain a deep connection with God.
Liberty University might not be the best fit for students who:
Do not want to attend a conservative college.
PennWest is the second-largest institution in western Pennsylvania and is known to have a rich history, tradition, and reputation for academic quality. It represents the best of the past as well as the promise of the future. Non-traditional students thrive at PennWest, thanks to their affordable and accessible online degree programs.
PennWest’s online Doctorate in Criminal Justice program is one of the fastest and most affordable criminal justice degrees. Students can engage in coursework that examines the intricacies of the criminal justice system with an emphasis on present-day issues. Reduced recidivism rates, police misconduct, and federal consent decrees are examples of this.
Although most of the course material is offered online, students must participate in a one-week summer residency at some point throughout the program.
PennWest’s immediate and lasting influence, thanks to its outstanding faculty, in-demand degree options, and a sizable and active alumni network.
Pennsylvania Western University is great for students who:
Thrive in a diverse campus environment.
Pennsylvania Western University might not be the best fit for students who:
Want to have personalized attention from their advisors.
Tuition + fees
Since 1889, Saint Leo University has offered a vibrant community of committed learners while also serving as a location where Christian students can meet their educational goals. SLU, a private institution with a liberal arts foundation, offers associate degrees and undergraduate and graduate education in various subject areas.
One of its graduate degree offerings is the online Doctorate in Criminal Justice, which allows students to choose between Education and Homeland Security. Students will delve deeply into the managerial and leadership skills that will enable them to lead teams and facilitate discussions in the criminal justice field. Students will learn how to run federal, local, and state government agencies.
Saint Leo excels at welcoming domestic and international transfer students. In addition, Saint Leo is pleased to embrace students of all religions and backgrounds.
Saint Leo University is great for students who:
Like to think outside the box and do not want to attend a really large university but still want to feel like they are in college.
Saint Leo University might not be the best fit for students who:
Dislike small-town life or the sense of community.
Tuition + fees
Top-ranked for its social mobility, Keiser University provides traditional and non-traditional students a tailored education to help them with the educational and professional foundation necessary to succeed. Keiser is also one of the most affordable private universities in the United States.
The online PhD in Criminal Justice is one of the most affordable PhDs from private universities. This PhD guarantees that graduates are adequately prepared to participate in criminological roles emphasizing theory, research, and administration of justice. Criminal justice graduates will be prepared to contribute to the academic and applied areas of criminal justice and criminology.
The personalized attention given to each student is Keiser’s greatest feature.
Keiser University is great for students who:
Thrive in small class sizes.
Keiser University might not be the best fit for students who:
Are low academic performers and unwilling to further their professional development
Tuition + fees
Arizona State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Arizona State University is a highly-ranked public research university, offering over 800 academic fields and majors, from certificates to graduate degrees. While ASU’s campuses are very large, it’s somehow not enough to cater all current and prospective students. As a result, ASU expanded and adopted online learning formats.
One of ASU’s online degrees is the PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice created to generate professionals in academia, research, and administration with strong backgrounds in criminology and criminal justice. This degree helps students develop the skills necessary to address problems and offer solutions relevant to political, economic, cultural, security, and other criminology and criminal justice challenges.
Every degree program has a section on entrepreneurship where they show students how they might create, improve, or expand their own company.
Arizona State University is great for students who:
Thrive in large-sized classes and open to engaging with diverse people.
Arizona State University might not be the best fit for students who:
Do not have self-control. ASU is a large campus, and strong self-control is a must to avoid getting involved with the wrong crowd.
Tuition + fees
Nova Southeastern University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Nova Southeastern University is a top school for diversity and inclusion. With graduates from more than 117 different nations and recognition as a Hispanic-serving University (HSI), Nova Southeastern University is a dynamic, multicultural institution that constantly aspires to improve.
NSU’s online PhD in Criminal Justice costs $1,240 per credit hour. While this may seem expensive, those accepted into the program should expect to receive financial aid that will substantially reduce the total program cost. The program offers three specialties: Organizational Leadership, Behavioral Science, and Juvenile Justice.
Students have one-on-one access to the lecturer because of the small class sizes.
Nova Southeastern University is ideal for students who:
Thrive in small class sizes.
Nova Southeastern University might not be the ideal option for students who:
Are not committed to their studies.
Tuition + fees
Students at Texas A&M International University, a part of the Texas A&M University System, are prepared for leadership roles that are becoming increasingly complicated and culturally diverse. TAMIU offers a learning setting based on a strong academic base in the humanities and sciences. The University also works to advance global study and knowledge across all academic fields.
The hybrid PhD in Criminal Justice at TAMIU is among the cheapest degrees for criminal justice professionals. Students will participate in a hybrid learning format during their first semester. After completion of the first semester, students can decide to take the coursework left entirely online. Students will be mentored to undertake research on crime, criminology, and criminal justice in addition to being given teaching opportunities and the pedagogy for online training.
The top-notch education, the unrivaled campus, and the competent teachers.
Texas A&M International University is great for students who:
Can keep up with a demanding curriculum.
Texas A&M International University might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer to study in a tight-knit community and small towns.
Tuition + fees
University of Central Florida’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
The University of Central Florida, a comprehensive research university, is committed to serving the diverse and growing people of its surrounding towns and its technological corridors and international partners. In addition to providing high-caliber instruction, UCF also offers degree programs with very low tuition fees.
The online PhD in Criminal Justice investigates criminal justice issues from many perspectives and levels. Students will receive rigorous training to prepare them for academic, research, and consulting careers. In-state students pay $369.65 per credit hour, and out-of-state students pay $1,194.05 per credit hour.
The diversity of UCF is its strongest suit. Not just the diversity in the people but the diversity in the ideas, clubs, and possibilities students may choose from.
UCF is ideal for students who:
Thrive in huge crowds.
UCF might not be the ideal choice for students who:
Frequently require academic assistance.
Tuition + fees
St. Thomas University is a Catholic university immersed in a setting that is bursting with diversity, steeped in tradition and opportunity. The University has a long history of Catholic academic success and is forward-thinking in its approach; it embraces new ideas and technologies and conducts remarkable research programs across a wide range of fields.
STU’s online PhD in Ethical Leadership offers a Criminal Justice specialization designed for professionals seeking a broader doctorate in criminal justice. The degree is grounded on knowledge of leadership within the criminal justice system. Students pay a flat rate per credit hour fee of $700.
The engaging, gratifying, and career-enhancing activities that give students access to internships and job placement opportunities.
St. Thomas University is great for students who:
Are academically motivated and accepting of different cultures, perspectives, and beliefs.
St. Thomas University might not be the best fit for students who:
Expect a pool of financial aid opportunities.
Tuition + fees
University of Arizona’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
The University of Arizona, a top-100 international university in the nation, is consistently acknowledged for its superior academic offerings. UofA always puts its students first and allows them to work with distinguished academics to address pressing issues and improve the world via ground-breaking research.
UofA’s Global Campus offers a Doctor of Psychology in Criminal Justice degree that focuses on how criminals think. Students learn how to apply psychological concepts to solve challenging problems in crime and justice on a practical level.
Students may tailor what they learn thanks to the diverse degrees that are available.
The University of Arizona is great for students who:
Want to participate in a competitive academic environment.
The University of Arizona might not be the best fit for students who:
Attend a more centralized community.
Rutgers University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Rutgers University is a top-ranked university for the country’s most diverse public research colleges. Rutgers is committed to providing instruction that upholds the highest levels of excellence in conducting ground-breaking research.
The online PhD in Criminal Justice at Rutgers prepares students to master independent scholarship and research to a high level. Graduates will be well-equipped to significantly advance their knowledge of crime and justice and pursue employment in academia and other research institutions that examine crime and its effects on individuals, families, and communities.
The endless opportunities for networking and research.
Rutgers University is great for students who:
Have what it takes to thrive in a diverse and very large community.
Rutgers University might not be the best fit for students who:
Are not willing to devote the time necessary for studying for their classes.
Tuition + fees
Florida International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Florida International University is a pioneer in online education and is far ahead of other universities in offering majors that lead to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. As a top-tier research institution, FIU strongly emphasizes research as a vital part of the university’s mission.
FIU offers an affordable online PhD in International Crime and Justice. Although this terminal degree option’s coursework is primarily offered online, students are encouraged to spend as much time on campus to take advantage of the many networking possibilities and join criminal justice organizations. Students of the criminal justice online program can regularly take advantage of opportunities for professional development and workshops to advance their knowledge and abilities.
Required Credits: 75
Completion time: 3-5 years
The ability for students to work and study while attending FIU is one of its strongest features.
Florida International University is great for students who:
Are accepting, open, and eager to engage in new activities.
Florida International University might not be the best fit for students who:
Prefer not to attend a commuter school.