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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

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Program Details

Learning Tracks

Choose the Path That 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.

Curriculum – General Program Specialization

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.

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. Are you ready to reach a higher level in your field?

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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.

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.

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.

Tuition and Fees

General Program Specialization

Curriculum Requirements Cost Total *
Tuition-Coursework 63 quarter credits  $636 per quarter hour for coursework credits $40,068^
Tuition-Dissertation  20-130 quarter credits $636 per quarter hour for dissertation credits $12,720–$82,680*
Technology Fee $165 per quarter $1,815$5,280*
Residency Fee Four Residencies $1,375 each (virtual)
$1,475 (in-person: travel, lodging and other expenses are additional)
Estimated Range:     2.5-Year 8-Year
(assuming completion in a 2.5-year timeframe) (assuming completion in an 8-year timeframe)

These are ranges of what a student can expect in terms of time and tuition cost to complete a degree. It does not include other fees, nor is it adjusted for tuition increases over time. Walden faculty has concluded that generally students who do not complete their program in eight years are unlikely to complete and only allow students to exceed that time frame when a student petitions for an extension and provides good reason for the delay and assurances that obstacles to completion can be overcome. Time is calculated using the time allowed for each semester or unit that the student completes. Students are encouraged to work continuously during the program so as not to extend the time needed to complete the degree as work can become stale and students lose focus. Students who earn two grades of “Unsatisfactory,” who repeatedly drop a course before a semester or unit has been completed, or are unable to complete in the eight year time frame, should expect that they may be dismissed from the program. Walden believes that it is in the best interest of a student who is unable to complete the degree in the stated ranges to strongly consider withdrawal or obtaining a lesser degree.

Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic such as tuition and fee increases and/or the student’s transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; writing, research and editing skills; use of external data for their doctoral study/dissertation; and/or individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations; care giving responsibilities or health issues; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; leaves of absence; and/or other personal circumstances.

Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included. Students may incur additional costs for remedial writing assistance, if necessary.

^This assumes students successfully complete their coursework on the first attempt.

Based on a 2.5-year minimum completion requirement and an 8-year maximum timeframe as outlined in Walden academic policy.

*Tuition and fees will be higher if students petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe or choose to take more expensive elective courses.

+Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition discounts. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 844-642-0198.

Paying for Your Education

Our Enrollment Specialists can help you outline a plan and find resources for funding your education.

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Program Savings

Speak with an Enrollment Specialist to learn about our current tuition savings.

Get Started Now

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.

Emergency Management

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

Global Leadership

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

Homeland Security Policy and Coordination

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

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.

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.

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.

Program Outcomes

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.

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.


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FAQ About Walden’s Online PhD in Criminal Justice


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