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Become a leader in your field, and harness your expertise while helping to protect your community, with Capella University’s criminal justice specialization. This online PhD in Criminal Justice program prepares you to initiate positive change in the criminal justice system. It includes online course work, residencies and research that address issues surrounding criminal behavior, prevention and intervention, the penal system, and community, state, and national public policy strategies.

Our curriculum is professionally aligned, helping to ensure that you gain the knowledge required in your field. Capella has over 500 partnerships with highly recognized institutions, including world-class criminal justice organizations such as the FBI National Academy and the National Sheriffs’ Association.  Moreover, our distinguished faculty are scholar practitioners and are committed to enriching your academic, social and service learning experiences. They have tackled criminal justice issues all over the nation, ensuring you receive a relevant education. 

The Building Blocks of Your PhD

Your PhD in Criminal Justice program includes 4 integrated components: online coursework, in-person experiences (called residencies), comprehensive exams, and dissertation. Each facet of your education builds on the others to take you through your program and to your goal of a PhD.

View a sample course sequence to understand program timing and see how your coursework, comprehensive exams, and dissertation all fit together.

To learn more about this program, request more information and we will match you with an enrollment counselor who specializes in your area of study.

Degree Outcomes

With your PhD in Criminal Justice from Capella, you'll employ informed social/political strategies in the field of criminal justice. You'll also learn to lead a criminal justice organization through the application of valid, reliable and ethical research. Discover specifically what you'll learn — and how you can apply it.

View full learning and career outcomes report for this program at

People with Doctoral degrees in Public Service Leadership from Capella earn an average of $19,000 more per year than people who only hold a Master's degree.

GE Salary Project Update

Career Outcomes

Common jobs with an online PhD in Criminal Justice include adjunct or part-time faculty, correctional officer, cyber intelligence analyst, sheriff, drug enforcement officer, fire chief, law enforcement officer, polygraph examiner/operator, probation, parole, or correctional administrator or commissioner, security guard, victim specialist or youth services director. Potential workplaces include: corporate security firm, correctional facility or prison, federal government agency, land-based or online college or university, law enforcement organization, municipal court system or state government agency.

For a More In-Depth Study

With this area of study, Capella also offers a program concentration — an opportunity to delve deeper into your specific knowledge area. Your program concentration can be included in your transcript to potentially enhance career opportunities.

To learn more, call 866.933.5943, or email us. When you connect with Capella, we will immediately put you in touch with an enrollment counselor trained to assist you with specific questions and needs for your area of interest.