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Criminal Justice Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice

School of Public Service Leadership


Criminal Justice professionals tackle some of society's most difficult challenges. Working with courts, correctional facilities, and policing institutions, they step into different situations, evaluate what’s happening, and find solutions that will serve individuals. The work they do serves the general public in a way that is beneficial to all. A career in this field is grounded in the ability to understand and apply ethics, situational awareness and analysis, and decision-making based on evidence.

Capella’s online PhD in Criminal Justice gives you the opportunity to build on the skills you already have and prepares you to lead in your career. This program combines the rigor you need to learn with a strong theoretical focus and real-world, practical application. And you can personalize your learning with a concentration that lets you focus on an area that fits your career goals.

Program Highlights:

  • Learning online doesn’t mean learning alone. In Capella’s PhD in Criminal Justice, you work with a team of experts seasoned in this field who will help you develop foundational skills you’ll need to be successful throughout the program—and in your career.
  • Discover, develop, and strengthen your unique leadership style. Capella offers you self-assessment and interactive, consistent contacts with faculty who can help you discover and develop your leadership skills.
  • Gain credible, concrete proof that you’re learning and developing market-ready skills. Complete personal assessments that will help you identify your strengths and your opportunities for improvement.
  • Engage in immersive simulations that incorporate your leadership and communication styles. Rich media and simulated real-world scenarios help you apply theory and practice critical thinking to solve problems.
  • Achieve your goals faster, saving you time and money. Your research experience will be grounded in credit-bearing dissertation research seminars, which allow you to start your dissertation from the beginning of your PhD program. This in turn can save you time and money by helping you complete your degree faster.
  • Apply what you learn directly to your career path. You will have the chance to apply an evidence-based understanding of the changing field in ways that inform the research you conduct. This in turn applies to the knowledge you gain, growing into your unique take on theory and implementation of the concepts associated with action, application, and management.

The criminal justice doctoral program is supported by faculty who are experienced criminal justice professionals—they’ve tackled criminal justice issues and have extensive experience in organizations such as the FBI-NAA, state and local agencies, the Secret Service, the U.S. armed forces, and others. Their dedication and support can help you achieve your career and personal goals as a leader or scholar in criminal justice.

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.

Personalize Your Degree With a Concentration

A concentration gives you a unique learning path based on your personal and career goals. Concentrations are designed to integrate theory with real-world application for personalized learning without adding additional coursework to your program. 

  • CIKR Concentration—Address the hazards that threaten the well-being of society with the Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR) Concentration. 
  • Corrections Concentration—Learn the philosophy of punishment and the scope of corrections programs, such as probation, parole, incarceration, and treatment.
  • Criminology Concentration—Deepen your understanding of crime prevention, treatment programs, and criminal justice system interventions.
  • Higher Education Concentration—Apply teaching theories to meet the needs of diverse adult learners within today’s higher education settings.

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.

Career Outcomes

Common jobs with an online PhD in Criminal Justice include adjunct, part- or full-time faculty, law enforcement officer, detective, investigator, or commander or chief, court officer, crime scene investigative unit manager, correctional administrator or commissioner, consultant to the justice system, or law enforcement.

Detailed Program Information

Get all the details about cost, courses, requirements, and more.

Download the GuidedPath Specialization Guide »

Classes Start November 6th

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. 

Admission Requirements »  | $50 Application Fee (waived w/promo FALL17)

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 online-learning format that guides you along. You pay per credit; we set 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.

Discover Military Benefits »

Transfer Credits

We can accept many transfer credits from regionally accredited schools. 

Learn about Transfer Credits »

Employer & Association Discounts

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

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 holds 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 resumes and interview tips. It’s about thoughtful and strategic career planning–beyond graduation.

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.