Most Affordable Online Ph.Ds In Criminal Justice

Updated January 13, 2023

A ranking of the most affordable online Ph.D. in criminal justice degrees. Programs are customizable and career-focused. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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If you’re interested in shaping criminal justice policy, look no farther than one of the most affordable online Ph.D.s in Criminal Justice.

Criminal justice is the system used to identify, apprehend, judge, and punish crimes. It’s a complex field that’s vital to any society. It’s also a field constantly in need of leaders who can solve problems, implement programs, and positively impact crime policy. A Ph.D. in Criminal Justice can give you the tools to successfully fill this role.

You’ll build skills in critical thinking, research, analysis, program implementation and evaluation, teaching, and beyond. By earning your degree, you’ll open the door to careers in academia, research, and administration.

What kind of Ph.D. in Criminal Justice should you get?

The most common terminal degrees in Criminal Justice are the Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice and the Doctor of Criminal Justice. Both will prepare you to become an influential leader in the field. However, a Ph.D. may focus more on research and academia, while the DCJ may focus on practical approaches to criminal justice issues.

If you already have a specialized interest in the field, you may want to choose a program with a concentration that appeals to you. Alternatively, select a program with a professor conducting research on a topic that piques your interest.

These degrees are available in traditional and online formats. Online programs appeal to many students because of the freedom to pursue your education anytime, anywhere. If you’d like to look into other affordable online programs, browse our list of the Most Affordable Online Graduate Schools.

How much money do people make with a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, criminal justice and law enforcement postsecondary teachers earn a median salary of $61,900. The top 90% earns $124,180.

Supervisors of police and detectives earn a median salary of $87,910, while emergency management directors bring home about $74,420 annually.

Other careers suited for a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice offer widely varying salaries, depending on the agency or institution that employs you. Each of the jobs listed above are growing about as fast as average, with jobs expected to increase by 8% over the next decade.

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What can you do with a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice?

A Ph.D. in Criminal Justice prepares you to work as a professor, conduct research for an agency or think-tank, or work in criminal justice administration and management. You may also choose to pursue an executive-level security role in government, business, or administration.

You’ll be prepared to investigate and analyze crime, potentially for agencies like the CIA and FBI. You may pursue a career in law enforcement, work in probation or juvenile justice, or serve as a victim’s advocate, but these roles do not require a Ph.D..

What are the requirements for a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice?

For most of these programs, you’ll need to hold a master’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. Several programs have GPA requirements, with some expecting a minimum GPA of 3.0 or even 3.5. Additional requirements may include test scores, letters of recommendation, an essay or personal statement, a resume or curriculum vitae, a writing sample, and/or an interview.

Once admitted to the Ph.D. program, you’ll complete courses in research methodology, statistics, criminal justice theory and policy, teaching, and contemporary issues in criminal justice. After completing core coursework, some programs require you to complete a comprehensive exam to advance to candidacy. You’ll then develop expertise in an area of interest, conduct original research, and write a dissertation.

Most Affordable Online Ph.D.s in Criminal Justice Degrees

To help you jumpstart or advance your criminal justice career, we’ve put together a list of the most affordable online Ph.D.s in Criminal Justice. We’ve extensively researched total tuition costs, and every program on this list is accredited. To ensure both quality and affordability, we used trusted sources like:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • U.S. News and World Report
  • Princeton Review
  • Official university websites and course catalogs

So, if you’re ready to play an important role in criminal justice and looking for a convenient, affordable way to get there, these are the programs for you.

#1 Most Affordable Online Ph.Ds In Criminal Justice

California University of Pennsylvania

  • California, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California University of Pennsylvania, a public university, offers an online doctor of criminal justice. The program builds expertise in criminal justice, preparing graduates for careers in research, academia, and management. The online format makes it easier for working professionals to balance doctoral coursework with their other responsibilities.

Doctoral studies highlight the most advanced knowledge in the criminal justice field, including theories, practices, and research methods. Candidates can often choose a specialized concentration that prepares them for a specific career. Doctoral students write and defend a dissertation to demonstrate their mastery of criminal justice.

California University of Pennsylvania at a Glance:

Location: California, Pennsylvania

Admission Rate: 97%

Total Doctoral Programs: 2

Total Online Doctoral Programs: 2

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,288

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $13,932

Percent Awarded Aid: 97%

Percent Awarded Loans: 71%

Average Tuition
Retention Rate
Admission Rate
Students Enrolled
Institution Type
Percent Online Enrollment
64% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 Most Affordable Online Ph.Ds In Criminal Justice

Nova Southeastern University

  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Nova Southeastern University, a private university, offers many online doctorates, including a Ph.D. in criminal justice. The program prepares learners with the knowledge and skills required for careers in research, academia, and leadership. The program's online format provides flexibility for working professionals. Doctoral students may be able to work full time while in school.

Study at the doctoral level emphasizes theoretical and methodological issues in criminal justice. Candidates work with faculty advisors to choose specialized courses and prepare for the workforce. Doctoral students also complete a dissertation that contributes original research to the criminal justice field.

Nova Southeastern University at a Glance:

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Admission Rate: 80%

Total Doctoral Programs: 37

Total Online Doctoral Programs: 9

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $19,665

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $19,665

Percent Awarded Aid: 100%

Percent Awarded Loans: 49%

Average Tuition
Retention Rate
Admission Rate
Students Enrolled
Institution Type
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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