Online PhD Programs in Criminal Justice & Criminalistics

Online PhD in Criminal Justice & Criminalistics programs may enable working professionals to explore advanced concepts and research in the fields of criminal justice, criminology, or criminalistics. Criminal justice refers to the system of law enforcement, courts and jails. It includes the institutions in government that uphold social order, deter and mitigate crime, and sanction offenders.

Within criminal justice are the subcategories of criminology and criminalistics. Essentially, criminology is the study of crime, while criminalistics refers to the larger field of forensic science.

Online PhD in Criminal Justice programs may be available in each of these categories, allowing students to deepen their understanding of a specific area of interest. Students might also pursue one of several concentrations, further tailoring a course of study to support individual goals.

Online Criminal Justice and Criminalistics Masters Programs Informationwritten by Rana Waxman

Why Consider Online PhD Criminal Justice Programs?

Most online PhD in Criminal Justice programs explore current theory and practice in areas such as policing, corrections and juvenile justice. They might also delve into national and international issues relevant to the administration of criminal justice. With a substantial emphasis on study and inquiry, students may learn to integrate scholarly research with personal experience. As a result, they may be prepared to create effective solutions to real-world problems.

Cultivate Expertise: An online PhD in Criminal Justice may have three or four components. Online coursework (varies by program), in-person residencies, comprehensive exams and a dissertation. Each facet may build on the other to refine your knowledge and expertise.

Flexibility: With online PhD programs in criminal justice, you may be able to check your e-mail and bulletin board at any time convenient to you in your own home. This may allow you

to integrate higher education into your current schedule.

Work With a Team: Online study does not mean you learn alone. In some programs, you are paired with an advisor who is there to support your study and research goals. Contact may be consistent through online office hours, video conferences, email and other tools. Chat rooms, messaging services and group projects may also connect you with peers.

Apply What You Learn to Your Career Path: You may have the chance to apply theory from classes to the research you conduct, and, to any current work environment

Network: Many online criminal justice schools schedule brief residencies. These could be for orientation purposes. They provide the chance to meet faculty, advisors and other classmates

Self-pace: In some cases, you may be in a class of one, able to pursue your degree on your own time and at your own pace



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Types of Online PhD in Criminal Justice & Criminalistics Programs

There are several types of online PhD in Criminal Justice & Criminalistics programs. At this level of study, most students will want to align their doctoral degree with professional and personal interests. This might be administration, education or psychology.

Online PhD Programs in Criminal Justice

The Online PhD in Criminal Justice is a post-master's program of study and research. Applicants to some programs may be expected to have a master's degree in criminal justice or a closely related discipline. Other programs may be designed for students who have a master's degree in a discipline that is not in criminal justice.  

In a general online PhD in Criminal Justice program, students are likely to discuss several key themes. These might include national security and cybercrime. In addition, online PhD students may evaluate the root causes of crime and its impact on criminal justice policies, practices and procedures. As a result, graduates may be prepared to manage human resources as well as to synthesize theory and research to bridge past trends with current points of view.

Some online criminal justice schools expect students to complete 54 to 96 credits. Most of these may be allotted for what may be called the ‘required’ or ‘substantive’ core, plus any elective courses. Some examples of core coursework is listed below.

  • Risk Factors for Criminal Behavior
  • Leadership Theory
  • Human Services
  • Technology and Law Enforcement
  • Homeland Security
  • Public Management

The remainder of the credits may be set aside for research methods and dissertation topics. These latter courses tend to help learners to apply data analysis techniques and research design methods to pursue their own scholarly research in criminal justice. They might also enable graduates to evaluate the role of the criminal justice system as it links with social justice and positive social change. 

Online PhD in Business Administration-Criminal Justice

As an alternative, students interested in a research degree in management might choose an online PhD in Business Administration with a focus on Criminal Justice. Applicants to some programs may need to meet one of the requirements below.

  • Have a completed masters degree in business management or business administration
  • Completed a masters in a specialized area of business (e.g. finance) plus a bachelors degree in business
  • A completed masters degree in any field and a bachelors degree in business

Requirements vary by school.

This type of program is usually designed to enhance know-how and professional skills relevant to leadership and management in business, government, and policy and advocacy organizations. In addition, students are expected to develop a firm grasp of criminal justice.

Possible coursework could cover topics including organized criminal gangs, delinquency and criminal justice and institutional corrections, and research-based leadership strategies. Like the PhD in criminal justice, the PhD in business administration requires a sequence of core courses. The difference is that these courses highlight business communication, finance, strategy and business statistics. From there, students would generally be required to take courses that address criminal justice. These could include violence among teenagers, illegal narcotics, and a study of the U.S Penal System. Students might also take courses that examine police tactics and best practices of criminal investigation. Students may then examine how they might apply their business administration knowledge to advance the criminal justice field.

Personalize Your Online Criminal Justice PhD with a Concentration

Some online PhD programs in criminal justice offer areas of emphasis. For those who prefer to focus their study and research on a specific area of interest, it may be wise to choose a concentration. Along with core courses in criminal justice, a few courses in the themed area are taken.

Emergency Management: Students who pursue a track in emergency management may take courses in risk assessment and mitigation. Coursework could cover key federal policies related to issues such as evacuation, relocation, and recovery efforts.

Global Leadership: A focus in global leadership may discuss topics such as management, strategy and policy development. Coursework may help students grasp how leaders build community change, assess needs and resources and improve sustainability.

Homeland Security: The homeland security track is likely to examine how protective measures and policies can be implemented. Core coursework might discuss public policy, terrorism legislation and the U.S. Constitution.

Justice Administration: A concentration in Justice Administration might provide insight into today’s crime trends, and emerging solutions to crises. Students may explore theories of criminal behavior along with cybercrime and the legal responses to these and other issues.

Law and Public Policy: Students who pursue a track in law and public policy may examine diverse print and electronic resources available for legal research. Coursework may foster a grasp of how the law is used to inform the creation of public policy.

Public Management and Leadership: A focus in public management and leadership is likely to discuss strategy, public policy and change. Topics of study might span performance, finance, and policy implementation.

Organizational Leadership: Students who aspire to lead in various organizations might pursue a focus in organizational leadership. Along with best practices, coursework is likely to cover topics such as power and influence, budget, conflict resolution and strategy.

Behavioral Sciences: A focus in behavioral sciences is likely to address issues such as violent behavior prediction and assessment. Students might also explore different types of violence, offenders, and abuse, along with the practices used in mental health courts.

Juvenile Justice: The juvenile justice track may cover the current challenges, legal and ethical issues that face leaders in juvenile justice. Some courses may address juvenile justice policy, while others might focus on gangs, violence, drugs and delinquency.

Corrections: A concentration in corrections might explore the philosophy of punishment and the scope of corrections programs. For instance, probation, parole, incarceration, and treatment.

Higher Education: A focus in higher education is designed to provide those who want to teach the tools to translate their expertise into the language of instructional design and delivery. 

These are just a few examples of potential concentrations. Schools vary, so contact them directly to learn more about what focus areas may be available.

Criminology vs Criminal Justice

Criminal justice and criminology are two distinct options when it comes to your choice of online doctorate degree. Criminology is the study of criminal behaviors, ethics, leadership and crime causation. As an interdisciplinary field, coursework might draw from sociology, psychology, biology, law and anthropology. While criminal justice deals with crime and studies the police, court and prison systems, criminology deals with things like the motive behind criminal activity. Criminologists study criminals to get to the underlying causes of crime and ways to prevent or control it.

Online PhD Programs in Criminology

Students interested in a terminal degree in criminology might examine two options. One is an online PhD in Criminology. Students who pursue this route are likely to explore crime prevention, treatment programs, and criminal justice system interventions through a research focused approach. The other is a Doctor of Psychology.

Online PsyD in Criminology

As an alternative to the PhD, students who want to explore criminal behavior might pursue an online Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) Criminology and Justice Studies. Criminal psychologists also study criminals, but their focus is on an offender’s thoughts, intentions, actions and reactions. While forensic psychologists may be called in as diagnosticians once an offender has been caught, a criminologist might develop criminal profiles to help identify potential criminals before they are apprehended.

Students in a PsyD Criminology program might take advanced courses in the biological bases of behavior and family systems theory. Along with these topics, courses might cover diagnosis and treatment methods of adult psychopathological disorders and personality theory. From there, specific types and classes of crimes and behaviors are likely to be addressed. A sample is itemized below.

  • Juvenile Justice and Juvenile Delinquency
  • Crime, Mental Health and Mental Illness
  • Modern Criminological Theories and Current Applications
  • Relationships Among Criminality, Drug Use, and Addiction
  • Evaluation of Criminal Justice Interventions

Find Accredited Online Criminal Justice & Criminalistics PhD Programs

Online PhD in Criminal Justice & Criminalistics programs are available through regionally accredited online criminal justice schools and traditional universities. Accreditation is a voluntary process where a school is vetted by an outside agency. When it meets or exceeds standards set in areas such as student services, faculty, curriculum and finances, it is given a stamp of approval. Contact programs directly to learn more.

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Whether your path is research, education, administration, or behavior sciences, choose from the list of online PhD in Criminal Justice programs now.

We make it easy to compare programs, especially if you refine by subject. All you do is choose criminal justice or criminology from the menu bar and a list of programs is generated. From there, connect directly with the providers using the on page form.


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