Criminal justice administrators aim to evaluate, analyze and construct policies that help make a positive difference in the academic and public sectors of the justice system. Graduates are better equipped to build careers in research, academia, and program and policy development.

Focuses of criminal justice administration doctoral programs

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in criminal justice administration is the most common doctorate in the field. Coursework for a Ph.D. program includes advanced seminar courses that cover specific elements of criminal justice, law enforcement, management, public policy and other components of the discipline:

  • Homeland security
  • Race, class, gender and crime
  • Crime scene forensics
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods, including statistics
  • Emergency management
  • Forensic psychology
  • Juvenile justice

Ph.D. students typically choose an area of specialization and focus elective coursework and research on a topic within that area.

Distance learning options are also available, allowing students around the country to access similar advanced training. Typically, an online Ph.D. in justice administration involves periods of intensive, on-site study called residencies. Most residencies take place on a university campus and offer students a chance to familiarize themselves with research resources, consult with specialists and network with colleagues who share related academic and professional interests.

Earning an online doctorate in justice administration

Most doctoral programs require a master's degree and acceptable GRE scores for admission. Many institutions also ask for a CV, letters of recommendation and a copy of your master's thesis or other academic writing samples. Check with your school for specific admissions requirements.

The duration of any given program depends on various factors, including status as a full-time or part-time student and length of dissertation research and writing, among others. Programs can last anywhere from three to six years, or more. In most cases, students begin with core and elective coursework before moving on to the dissertation phase of the program. Dissertations are developed in collaboration with faculty advisors, typically involving original research on a problem or question in the field.

Finding a suitable online Ph.D. in criminal justice administration requires in-depth upfront research. Browse the programs below and request additional information from prospective schools.