Doctoral programs are highly specialized and involve more intensive study than bachelor’s or master’s degree programs. Depending on the program, it can take anywhere from five to seven years to earn a doctorate degree. Certain programs only require applicants to have completed a bachelor’s degree while others will also require a master’s degree in criminal justice as a condition of admission. You’ll also have to meet certain requirements with regard to GPA and GRE scores and you may need to provide letters of recommendation with your application.
We have 34 doctorate degree programs in our database.
After admittance to a doctoral program, students can begin their coursework, which typically consists of between 48 and 53 credit hours. The types of classes you can expect to take may include quantitative research methods, criminal justice ethics, criminal justice administration and policy, and advanced criminological theory. Once the coursework is completed, students must successfully complete a series of comprehensive exams to gain candidacy status. Doctoral candidates must then work toward the completion of their dissertation.
The dissertation may be on any topic of the candidate’s choice, including expansion of research conducted as part of a master’s thesis. Once the dissertation is completed, the candidate must present his or her research in an open forum as a condition of earning the degree.
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Career Opportunities with a Criminal Justice Doctoral Degree
Generally, doctorate programs are designed for students who are interested in conducting their own research in the criminal justice field or teaching at the university level. Organizations such as the American Society of Criminology and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences are designed to foster scholarly research in the criminal justice field, and they also offer professional development for doctoral candidates.
There are also a number of opportunities beyond the scope of research for individuals with a doctorate in criminal justice. For example, you could pursue a career as a consultant for a private company or for a government agency such as the Department of Justice. You may also find job opportunities with agencies that shape public policy, including the RAND Corporation and the American Civil Liberties Union. A PhD in criminal justice can also prepare you for a career in public safety, social services, international relations, criminal law, and environmental law.
Before You Get Your PhD in Criminal Justice
Completing a doctoral program in criminal justice can be extremely rewarding but it also requires a significant investment of time and money. While earning a PhD can make you more marketable and open up higher-paying career opportunities, there are a vast number of jobs in the criminal justice field that don’t require an advanced level of education. In addition, you should keep in mind that a doctoral degree in criminal justice may not be sufficient for certain careers such as forensic psychology or forensic pathology, which require a PhD in psychology and an MD, respectively. It’s important to evaluate what your interests are carefully to ensure that a doctorate degree will benefit your career development.