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Explore our PhD in Criminal Justice

Make a greater impact within your organization and your field with Walden’s online PhD in Criminal Justice, one of the first online criminal justice doctoral programs available to meet the needs of working professionals. You can attain a new level of credibility and influence with an online PhD in Criminal Justice.

Whether you want to pursue leadership roles within the field or begin a career in criminal justice education, our criminal justice PhD program can give you the skills and knowledge you need to embrace exciting new career opportunities.

In this online program, you’ll explore contemporary theory and practice as well as national and international issues in the administration of criminal justice. Taught by seasoned doctoral-level faculty with practical experience in the field, coursework spans topics such as risk factors for criminal behavior, leadership theory, human services, technology and law enforcement, homeland security, and public management. Walden’s online PhD in Criminal Justice gives you the opportunity to integrate scholarly research with your experience to create effective solutions to real-world problems.

Four academic residencies that support your progress at key points in your doctoral journey. Residencies are designed to enhance both your development as a scholar-practitioner and your ability to effect positive social change.

Program Savings

Receive up to a $5,000 Grant if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on November 29, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

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General Program and Specializations

Choose the path is right for you:

TRACK I: Choose this track if you have a master's degree in criminal justice or a related field.

TRACK II: Choose this track if you have a master's degree in a discipline other than criminal justice

General Program

Examine expert theories on the root causes of crime and explore how historical events have affected and shaped the criminal justice system.

Track I Track II

Emergency Management

This specialization can prepare you with the skills you need to effectively lead, motivate, and manage others during times of crisis.

Track I Track II

Global Leadership

Gain insight into how to lead effectively in the international environment—particularly in developing countries or regions.

Track I Track II

Homeland Security Policy and Coordination

Examine how protective measures and policies can be implemented without infringing upon individual rights and freedoms.

Track I Track II

Justice Administration

Students pursuing this specialization have the opportunity to study the risk factors associated with criminal behavior as well as how history has shaped the modern criminal justice system.

Law and Public Policy

Through this specialization, students explore how past and present legal decisions influence the creation of public policy.

Track I Track II

Online Teaching in Higher Education

Explore the unique attributes of adult learners, teaching and learning theory, trends in higher education, and the key elements of instructional design and delivery.

Track I Track II

Public Management and Leadership

Gain leadership and interpersonal skills that can help you be a competent leader, shape public policy, and inspire and motivate your employees.

Track I Track II

Admission Requirements

Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.


Four academic residencies support your progress at key points in your doctoral journey. Residencies also strengthen your scholarly and professional connections.

Earn Your Master of Philosophy Degree Along the Way

Walden understands the rigors involved with preparing for your doctorate. To signify how far you’ve come on your journey, you will be eligible to be awarded a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree upon completion of program requirements, prior to completion of your dissertation.

Walden is one of a few universities that offer this advanced research master’s degree. Highlight your academic achievement and show employers and others that you possess comprehensive knowledge in your field of study.

Your Doctoral Journey

At Walden, we’ll guide you every step of the way with a comprehensive suite of support resources designed to help you confidently pursue the finish line, including our Doctoral Degree CoachTM. Since being founded in 1970 for working professionals who want to make a difference, our university has grown to become the No. 1 granter of doctoral research degrees in the U.S.1 Are you ready to reach a higher level in your field?

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Fast-Track Option

Walden offers a Fast-Track Option. Students can complete their doctorate in less time by taking advantage of this path. With the Fast-Track Option, students take additional courses and begin their dissertation early to expedite their path through the program.

A Personalized Guide to Completing Your Doctorate

Earning your doctorate requires commitment, perseverance, and hard work. You can do it, and Walden is here to help—with our Doctoral Degree Coach™.

  • Map and Track Milestones: Break your research down into manageable, sequential steps. See where you are, what’s ahead, and what you’ve already accomplished, all in one place.
  • Meet Weekly Targets: No more guesswork. Set prompts based on your to-do list and receive reminders and updates directly to your inbox.
  • Connect With Faculty: Stay on the same page and keep your progress on track. With shared access to your dashboard, your chair can easily guide you through your checklists, goals, and timelines.
  • Access Helpful Resources: Quickly find support from the right person at the right time. Our comprehensive resource guide points you in the right direction—no more frustrating searches.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of Walden’s online PhD in Criminal Justice program, you will be prepared to:

  • Evaluate the root causes of crime and its impact on criminal justice policies, practices, and procedures.
  • Evaluate philosophies on managing human resources in criminal justice organizations.
  • Synthesize theory and research on the historical trends and current perspectives in criminal justice.
  • Apply data analysis techniques and research design methods to scholarly research in criminal justice.
  • Evaluate the role of the criminal justice system in advancing social justice and positive social change.

What’s the Career Impact of Earning a PhD in Criminal Justice?

Earning your PhD is the ultimate intellectual feat, signifying that you’ve reached the highest level of proficiency in your field. In academia, PhDs are highly valued. Criminal justice organizations of all kinds seek knowledgeable leaders with advanced critical thinking, problem-solving, and research skills.

What Can I Do With a Criminal Justice PhD?

With a criminal justice doctorate, you’ll gain the respect, influence, and credibility that come with an elite career credential. Open the door to advancement and new opportunities in leadership, consulting, and higher education. Career options span the public and private sectors and academia, and include:

  • Professor/instructor
  • Government contractor
  • Intelligence analyst
  • Research consultant
  • Consulting to law enforcement agency
  • Bureau chief
  • Warden
  • Police chief

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

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FAQ About Walden’s Online PhD in Criminal Justice


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