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Criminal Justice Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice

School of Public Service Leadership

Work to Solve Tough Societal Problems

Prepare to tackle society’s most difficult challenges. Capella’s online PhD in Criminal Justice degree builds on your existing skills, opening doors for you to pursue a variety of careers in leadership roles—conduct policy and scholarly research, accept academic appointments, or consult to positively impact criminal justice systems and society. Combining a strong theoretical focus and practical application, our interprofessional curriculum focuses on understanding and applying ethics, situational awareness and analysis, and decision-making based on evidence. 

What to Expect

  • Online & In Person
  • 14 Core Courses
  • 4 Elective Courses
  • 3 Dissertation Research Seminars
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Dissertation

Classes Start April 9th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

Admissions Requirements » | $50 Application Fee

What You’ll Learn

Study Criminal Justice Theories

Evaluate criminal justice theories and see how they apply to criminal justice research.

Examine Democratic Principles

Critically analyze democratic principles as they apply to criminal justice.

Assess What’s Working

Learn to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of criminal justice organizations using valid and ethical research.

Assess Accountability

Analyze legal, ethical and diversity accountability in a criminal justice context.

Make Research-Informed Decisions

Use valid, reliable, and ethical research to make policies and solid decisions in criminal justice.

Communicate Professionally

Communicate in a manner that is scholarly, professional, and consistent with the expectations for your profession. 

Program Features

Our program offers additional benefits you might be interested in.

Scholar-Practitioner Faculty

Learn the latest in theory and practice from a doctoral faculty who are actively engaged in the criminal justice field.

Relevant, Real-World Learning

Learn through our immersive media simulation, Riverbend City, to develop and practice your skills in a risk-free environment.

Convenient, Flexible Learning

Access our engaging, online learning environment anytime, anywhere, with any device—set your own schedule while meeting deadlines.

Learn to make practical, field-ready decisions based on research.

Because our curriculum is research-based and practically applied, you’ll gain the foundational knowledge you need to make effective, evidence-based decisions in the field that are based on research and not popular opinion

Cost & Learning Format

Online education isn’t one size fits all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

Our original learning format offers extra structure for those who want it.  We'll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$697 per credit, 96 total quarter credits, 20 max transfer credits

Get the Details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.

Ways to Save

At Capella, we believe your education is an investment in your future. It’s also an investment within your grasp. Your goals are achievable—there are more ways to save than you might think. 

10% Military Discount

Military service members and their spouses could be eligible for a discount.

Transfer Credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools. 

Employer & Association Discounts

Many employers and organizations partner with Capella to offer tuition discounts. Talk to an enrollment counselor to learn more. 

Learning online doesn’t mean you’ll learn alone. 

From day one, you’ll interact in a multidisciplinary courseroom that mimics the real world. You’ll be paired with an expert instructor and writing coach who’ll help you develop the skills needed for success.

Accredited & Respected

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

Sample Courses

The online PhD in Criminal Justice curriculum gives you the critical and analytical skills to develop strategies and policies for criminal justice administration. You’ll conduct original research and evaluate current issues and systems. 

Dissertation Research Seminar

Allows you to work extensively on your dissertation topic, methodology, literature review, and research plan from the beginning of your program. 

Support to Reach the Finish Line

Our doctoral curriculum is designed to give you dedicated support early in your program—so you can be confident in the steps to completing your degree. 


Enhance the skills you develop in your program coursework through these intensive, onsite experiences with students and faculty. 

Some of the courses you will take:

Course Number Course Title
CRJ7025 Justice, Security, and Democracy
CRJ7035 Criminal Justice Policy and Administration
CRJ8015 Assessing Criminal Justice Theory
CRJ8025 Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice
CRJ8045 Analysis of Crime Data


Concentrations let you hone in on your specific area of interest that can get you even closer to your exact career goals. The concentrations you earn will be included on your transcript.


Learn the philosophy of punishment and the scope of corrections programs, such as probation, parole, incarceration, and treatment.


Deepen your understanding of crime prevention, treatment programs, and criminal justice system interventions.

Higher Education

Prepare to teach using your personal teaching philosophy and applying ethical decision-making, multicultural competence, and more.

Continuity Management

Apply research and theory to inform policy and practice to design and manage resilient systems.

Faculty & Support

You’re never going it alone at Capella. Our dedicated faculty and support teams are waiting to guide, help, and advise you through every step of your educational journey.

Enrollment Counselors

These folks are superstars. We hear it from our students (and grads). They’re here to help find a program fit and set you up for success.  


Our distinguished faculty members hold top credentials in their fields. They’re here to teach the knowledge and skills you’ll need, now.

Doctoral Advising

A doctoral degree takes special effort. It's why we offer expert support at every step to keep you moving forward toward your goal.

Career Center

For this team, it’s more than résumés and interview tips. It’s about thoughtful and strategic career planning—beyond graduation.

Relevant Blog Posts

Whether you’re considering a return to school, exploring new career paths, or seeking ways to improve your job performance, the Capella Blog has relevant articles to support your goals.

The Growing Use of Technology in Criminal Justice

Technology has become a key factor in helping to solve crimes more efficiently and effectively.

Move Forward in Your Career

Here are just some of the career options you could explore with our online criminal justice doctoral degree.

Related Job Titles to Explore*

  • Full-time, part-time, or adjunct faculty
  • Drug enforcement officer
  • Law enforcement officer, detective, investigator, or commander or chief
  • Case worker or probation and parole officer
  • Victim specialist
  • Sheriff
  • Crime scene investigative unit manager
  • Probation, parole, correctional administrator or commissioner
  • Correctional treatment specialist
  • Research personnel within law enforcement
  • Consultant to the justice system or law enforcement
  • Intelligence specialist

Related Employment Settings to Explore

  • Land-based or online college or university
  • Law enforcement organization–state, local, federal
  • Correctional facility or prison–state, local, federal
  • Municipal court system
  • Department of Corrections
  • Federal government agency
  • Drug enforcement administration
  • U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services
  • U.S. Department of the Interior
  • U.S. Secret Service
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. Army

*These examples are intended to serve as a general guide.  Many factors determine what position an individual may attain, and Capella can’t guarantee a graduate will secure any specific job title.

You May Also Be Interested In

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals. 

Ready for the Next Step?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.