Criminal Justice Doctorate Degrees

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Criminal justice professionals are vital to the safety of our communities. They protect vulnerable individuals from violent crimes and they seek justice for victims. Entry-level professionals in this field often work on the frontlines as police officers or probation officers. Criminal justice professionals with experience and an advanced degree may work in classrooms to educate the next generation of professionals, study forensic psychology to better understand a perpetrator’s motives, or make vital discoveries in labs that reveal important crime details.

While the job outlook varies by role, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an overall upward trend in this field. For example, the BLS projects the need for information security analysts to grow 32% between 2018 and 2028.

This guide covers important information for prospective criminal justice doctorate students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

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Criminal Justice Doctorate Programs

The time it takes to earn a doctorate in criminal justice varies by program and course load. However, many graduates complete this degree in four years. Some programs place a cap on how many years you can take to complete the program, so make sure to research your prospective school’s policy. Most programs also require a capstone project, which may involve solving current criminal justice problems.

Many online doctorates in criminal justice are designed with working professionals in mind, offering classes in the evenings or on weekends. Additionally, some online programs don’t require any scheduled class meeting times; rather, you watch pre-recorded lectures and engage in online discussion boards at your convenience.

Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice Courses


    This theory course moves beyond a master’s theory course. Students analyze ways to apply theories to current criminal justice practices. Learners form their own opinions on which theories can enhance the field and which theories could hurt the field.


    This course explores foundational information about laws, in addition to the factors that influence the creation of laws. With rules and regulations frequently changing, it is up to criminal justice leaders to stay informed.


    This course helps learners discover best practices for conducting studies and interviewing victims and perpetrators. Students also learn to apply found data to current practices.


    In this course, learners study real-world examples of legal cases. Students evaluate outcomes by applying theories to case studies. The course relies heavily on reading and discussion with peers.


    Criminal justice leaders must know how to mitigate risks and solve unexpected problems. This course teaches learners how to create crisis management plans. Learners also study past crisis cases and come up with improvements.

  • Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice Career Outlook

    Earning a criminal justice doctorate prepares you to work in lucrative, in-demand positions. For instance, the BLS projects jobs for information security analysts to grow 32% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals enjoyed a median annual salary of $98,350 in 2018.

    What Jobs Can You Get With a Criminal Justice Doctorate Degree?

    Graduates with a doctorate in criminal justice can work in roles such as forensic science technician, criminal justice and law enforcement teacher, and information security analyst. We cover several common jobs and potential salaries for graduates below.

    • Forensic Science Technician

      These professionals oversee criminal investigations, particularly the processes of gathering and analyzing evidence. They also document crime scenes by taking photos and drawing sketches. Forensic science technicians must possess an eye for detail to carefully conduct thorough investigations and look for hidden clues.

      Median Annual Salary: $58,230

      Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 14%

    • Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teacher

      Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers are usually employed at public and private colleges and universities. However, some high schools also hire teachers for this subject. These individuals inspire the next generation of criminal justice professionals, so they must maintain current knowledge of this ever-changing field.

      Median Annual Salary: $78,470

      Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 11%

    • Information Security Analyst

      Information security analysts oversee computer and network security on behalf of an organization. They educate staff about the latest security threats and keep anti-virus data up to date. These professionals also provide their expertise to help solve digital crimes, like data breaches.

      Median Annual Salary: $45,125

      Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 5%

    • Emergency Management Director

      These individuals oversee emergency response plans and develop ways to help communities recover from natural disasters and other emergencies. Emergency management directors also identify risks and brainstorm ways to prevent issues from occurring.

      Median Annual Salary: $98,350

      Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 32%

    • Forensic Psychologist

      Forensic psychologists examine human behavior and discover what drives violent crimes. They may work for the government or as consultants for various firms. These psychologists often evaluate suspects and determine whether they are mentally able to stand trial.

      Median Annual Salary: $69,453

      Projected Growth Rate (2018-28): 14%


    Frequently Asked Questions

    • What Is a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

      A doctorate in criminal justice provides theory-based knowledge for professionals who wish to work in leadership or research roles within the criminal justice field. Classes cover topics like research methodology, best practices for gathering evidence, ethics, and criminal justice laws. You typically must possess a master’s before pursuing this degree.

    • What Can You Do with a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

      Graduates with a criminal justice doctoral degree can work in roles such as emergency management director, information security analyst, forensic psychologist, forensic science technologist, and criminal justice teacher. Since this versatile degree opens up opportunities for multiple jobs, consider your interests and personality traits when choosing a job. For example, if you enjoy working one-on-one with individuals, you might like working as a forensic psychologist. If you prefer collecting data, you might want to gather crime scene evidence as a forensic science technician.

    • How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice?

      It typically takes students four years to earn a doctoral degree in criminal justice, but it can take as few as three or as many as six years. The rate at which you earn this degree varies depending on your personal schedule and the curriculum requirements. For example, some programs require only 90 credits, while others comprise 120 credits.

    • What Salary Can I Earn with a Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice?

      Salaries vary by experience, job, and location. However, pay typically ranges from $60,000 to $100,000. According to BLS, information security analysts are some of the highest-paid professionals in this field, earning an annual median income of $98,350 in 2018. Meanwhile, forensic science technicians earned median yearly salaries of $58,230 in 2018.

    • Why Should I Get a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

      Earning a criminal justice doctorate allows you to work in high-paying and fulfilling careers. In fact, many employers place a salary limit on what you can earn with just a master’s degree. Empowering yourself with more education allows you to lead others in the field, and passionate and educated individuals can help keep communities safe for even the most vulnerable people.

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