Best PhD & Doctorate Criminal Justice Schools & Programs

If you are looking for the best PhD & Doctorate Criminal Justice Schools and Programs then the Criminal Justice Online Blog is the best place to find them. Doctoral degrees in Criminal Justice & Criminology are available both online and off.

Even though I tend to focus on online programs, I strongly feel that a proper PhD / doctorate education is in order for the aspiring Law Enforcement administrators and academicians. To me, it’s just a matter of perspective.

Top PhD & Doctorate Criminal Justice / Criminology Schools for 2019

1. University of Maryland – (College Park): College Park, MD

2. SUNY – (Albany): Albany, NY

3. University of Cincinnati: Cincinnati, OH

4. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey – (Newark): Newark, NJ

4. University of California – (Irvine): Irvine, CA

4. University of Missouri – (St. Louis): St. Louis, MO

7. Michigan State University: East Lansing, MI

7. Pennsylvania State University – (University Park): PA

9. University of Nebraska – (Omaha): Omaha, NE

9. University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, PA

11. CUNY, John Jay College: New York, NY

11. Florida State University: Tallahassee, FL

11. University of Florida: Gainesville, FL

14. Northeastern University: Boston, MA

14. University of Delaware: Newark, DE

16. American University: DC

16. Arizona State University: AZ

18. Temple University: Philadelphia, PA

18. Washington State University: WA

20. Indiana University: Bloomington, IN

20. University of Illinois – (Chicago): Chicago, IL

22. Sam Houston State University: Huntsville, TX

These ratings are not arbitrary, but rather compiled by U.S. News & World Reports. U.S. News is a very popular and trusted resource  for students and parents looking for the best colleges & universities in the country and the world. You’ll often see their magazine on store shelves. It is filled with ratings, statistics, and other useful info, however it doesn’t get published often. I highly recommend picking it up next time you see it, or even better, you can see the ratings for yourself, online – there may be a nominal fee for this service.

Top Online PhD / Doctorate Criminal Justice Schools for 2019

At present, the online doctorate level education in Criminology and related fields is not up to my standards (read : Online PhD in Criminal Justice – it’ll explain a lot). Therefore you don’t see me endorsing too many universities and colleges of that kind.

Just added…

Nova Southeastern University is offering potentially one of the first Criminal Justice PhD degree programs that is online and perhaps right on the money. Regardless, I still think you should consider your doctorate studies at a traditional setting (read the other article + comments at Online PhD in Criminal Justice for more on that). I hope that in the near future this will change and that both the traditional and online mode of learning will have the same “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” (aka career opportunities).

In the end I am looking for a Doctoral program which will serve me well in my profession and in the academic field. Thus, it is my recommendation that you consider the traditional PhD schools, before you venture out online.

The only exception to this would be a national or private college / university offering an online Criminal Justice / Criminology program. Schools like University of Maryland, Rutgers, SUNY, University of Cincinnati, Michigan State University, and an ivy league favorite, University of Pennsylvania, would be just outstanding for my online doctorate needs. For now, we’ll  just have to wait.

If you’re a quality, regionally accredited, academic institution offering or soon to be offering a PhD in Criminal Justice, please get in touch with me / participate in the discussion.

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

90 comments… add one
  • Matt Retterer

    What factors are taken into consideration when determining which school has the best doctorate program for criminal justice??

    • Radek M. Gadek


      Each organization that examines doctorate programs has their own criteria for determining which criminal justice school has precedence over another. For example, U.S. News may use statistical data and peer reviewed sources from academic institutions, non-profits, private companies, and field experts. Factors like the length of accreditation and the length of the program are considered. I’m sure additional certifications, successful student graduation rates, employment rates after obtaining a degree, and diversity of student population play a role. When I was searching for law schools I also noticed that a school had a better ranking based on the number of scholarly works each professor or instructor published.

    • Martin Duffy

      I don’t know if this helps, but I know in the case of SUNY Albany, there is — on top of very widely published faculty — a great variety and diversity of law enforcement and legal experts involved with the program as students, so grad classes really aren’t just about the professors, the seminars are very, very interesting. I’ve only been in the graduate school one year but I’ve already met police officers from the State Police, NYPD, Buffalo (a smaller city in NY), Japanese National Police, Anakara (Turkey), London metro police, and a girl who’s a crime analyst in China. Assistant Attorneys General and a local assistant DA were even enrolled in the program. It’s a very odd thing because SUNY Albany itself is a pretty mediocre university, but for some reason the Criminal Justice school is very professional and intensive. I love SUNY though, I live in New York so the tuition and fees are under $5k for me and I can commute there because I live pretty close to it.

      • Martin Duffy

        p.s. if you have any questions about Albany or graduate school in CJ in general, feel free to shoot me an email if you want! duffym at gmail

      • Radek M. Gadek

        University of Albany – SUNY (Albany) is one of the best criminal justice destinations for anyone who can get in. It is a tier 3 school, but is well regarded in fields of Business and Education, amongst others.

        I heard that the lectures and seminars are some of the best in the world, and that’s no understatement. You are a lucky guy, Martin. Thanks for the input. I’m sure many readers can benefit from it.

  • Kenzie McDowell

    I am very pleased to find this page. I work for a company in close relations with Capella University however, my specialization is in teacher education. I have recently enrolled a PhD- Criminal Justice student and I was doing research to find funding and literature for him. I’m glad to see that Capella was a suitable choice for him to pursue his educational goals. Thanks for all the information! I will be referring him to this page to do some browsing of his own.

  • Fs=-kx

    Does it strike anyone else as odd that there are only three doctoral programs in criminal justice (Arizona State, Washington State, UC – Irvine) in the western U.S.?

  • jwuticgwid

    It doesn’t strike me as odd because criminology/criminal justice is a major that schools use to make money. Meaning, they offer a semi bogus degree and reap the rewards while the students get shafted upon graduation. (I know this as I have a BS in criminology and I currently make 8.50 an hour in a part time non CJ job.) The western US schools are either smart for not offering it and allowing students to major in engineering or medicine or dumb for losing out on more money they could be making for themselves.

    • drewd

      jwuticgwid, I somewhat agree with you. As a former detective, schools that offer criminal justice degrees/training don’t offer much after a B.S. None of these credits can be applied towards police officer certification. However, if you go on for your masters you will be much more marketable. Not marketable as a potential police officer unfortunately. This is because a majority of the ones in charge of don’t have formal education and have ‘small man’s syndrome.’ I personally experienced the friction created working for an insecure idiot. You can go on for a PhD or work in corrections with an M.S.

      • Joe Hetzer

        I am currently a junior in HS attending University of Cincinnati Clermont Branch through Post Secondary. I am aiming to become a Detective myself. As a post secondary student I am only taking the General Education classes as well as a few CJ to lean towards a degree. What Major(s) would you suggest obtaining in order to become a detective. My goal or hope at this point would be to go Federal, but that is a long ways off yet and I’m just looking for a general direction. Any feedback would be great thanks.

        • Jason


          I am currently a federal law enforcement agent with one of the large, three letter acronym agencies. I would not pay much attention to the original poster about CJ degrees being a bogus degree for colleges to make money. First, all colleges are out to make money plain and simple. I have a B.S. in Criminal Justice that has served me well through the years. In fact, I am making approximately $90,000 yearly. I am looking at enrolling to the M.S. of CJ at University of Nebraska, Omaha just for self-betterment. If you truly want to get into law enforcement and possibly federal at some point, the best thing you can do is not get into trouble. This means both legally and financially. You also have to understand that most law enforcement agencies, if not all, won’t hire you until you are 21 years old. Many won’t hire you until you are at least a couple of years beyond that because of the amount of responsibility placed upon individual officers. One of the best ways you can bolster your resume besides having your degree is to have military experience or corrections experience. Both show a level of maturity that law enforcement agencies look for. In closing, the only agency that I know of that generally will not take a CJ degree is the FBI. The BATFE (ATF), DEA, ICE, HSI, DSS, Border Patrol all gladly take a CJ degree. Of course you will also have to take and pass agency specific tests and physical testing. Just make sure your CJ degree is from a regionally accredited university or college. Hope this helps.

        • Jenafer Jackson

          drewd, I am an educated female in Indiana, I moved my family (husband & children) further down southern Indiana just to have a competitive advantage in the vacancies that were available in the field of corrections. I have more of a corrections mentality and ability to communicate improving the quality of life in the community by joining forces within the community and the law enforcement in the community. I have a BS in Criminology with a hands on 3 full semesters of internship at a local probation department where I actually supervised a case load independently but can seem to catch a break here to save my life. A bit frustrating when you actually consider that we are instilling in our children the importance of education and dedication to making the community better. Any form of positive feedback would be appreciated. Thank you

    • Jenafer Jackson

      I have found this to be a true statement as well. I have a BS in Criminology and cannot get past the good ol boy system that has been hindering my furthering my career in corrections. I have a 12.00 pt security officer job at a work release center without any room for advancement. What to do????

  • Jes_ducky

    I do not think that is a fair assumption. I have a BS in criminal justice and currently make $16.00 an hour as a Correctional Counselor, a job I could not have gotten without the degree. By the way, I got my degree through a western school. You can not expect to just go out and get a high paying job, you will actually have to work through the lower levels and be promotable. I have been at the same facility for 5 years, started out making $11.00 an hour and now have my own case load of 64 individuals and my own office.

  • Gina

    My concern was my desire to teach Criminal Justice at a Junior college or university. I have a AAS and BAS in Criminal Justice, am finishing my Masters in Educational Teacher Leadership and really miss the Criminal Justice aspect of my education. I Teach middle school, and want to work my way to teaching CJ in high school and eventually venture into the colleges. Do I need to get my Doctorate in CJ or should I get another masters and focus on CJ?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      In order to teach in high school you probably will be fine with a Master’s. However, I’m not to sure how you would go about that in your State. Also, Criminal Justice, as a subject in the field of Sociology, is not that widely taught in K-12 environments. College, Yes! Now for that, a PhD from a Good TO Excellent school can help. As with anything in life – considering the present economy – there’s no promises that you’ll be able to start exactly where you want to, even with a PhD.

    • Jennifer

      Gina, I have two AS degrees (one in Law Enforcement), a BS degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and Masters in Forensic Science. I’ve been teaching at the Community College Level since 2000. California Community Colleges allow instructors to teach courses in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement/Corrections, etc., with an AA/AS in the field + 6 yrs of experience in the field; a BS in the field + 2 yrs of work experience in the field; or, with a Masters in the field, and no work experience. Feel free to email me if you have questions. Regards, Jennifer.

      • David

        Jennifer, I have my B.S. in Criminal Justice and am currently 9 units away from having my M.S. in Criminal Justice Leadership. What area do you teach at in California. Do all community colleges consider a teaching candidate with a Master’s and no field experience?

      • CeCelia

        Jennifer, I have two MSCJ one in Policing and the other is Law (Criminal and Constitutional). However, I have no practical experience in the field. Can you please tell me more about some opportunities to teach CJ on the undergrad level in California? Thank you.

  • Rob

    “But, there is only one program I sort of approve of: Capella University.”

    Capella University? The same Capella University that has 82 registered complaints with the Better Business Bureau in just 36 months?

    “BBB processed a total of 84 complaints about Capella University in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total of 84 complaints closed in 36 months, 30 were closed in the last year.”
    ( )

    Incidentally, how much time did you say you had as a law enforcement officer, Mr. Gadek? Or law enforcement trainer? Or law enforcement educator?

    That’s what I thought.

    If you are searching for a PROPER law enforcement education, find a curriculum that interests you, make sure the school you choose is accredited (you can check the schools at ), study hard, and, above all ENJOY yourself. If it isn’t fun, you won’t learn.

    Best of luck.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I do appreciate your feedback Rob, but I think you are missing the point. There are tons of schools that have pending and resolved complaints with the BBB. This includes many reputable schools, too. Online for profit-schools need to re-evaluate their practices, that’s for sure.

      I think your pompous remark to what you call “my lack of experience” is unfounded. You have no clue what I do within the field and rubbing what you don’t know in with “That’s what I thought” seems dominative (a good or a bad trait, I guess). Before you gave me a cyber beating, did you read this post? –

      On the good note, I agree that accreditation matters a lot, and by searching for it on my site, you will find me pushing regionally accredited schools to those who are academically precocious and those who need to take it a little easier. I feel that people need to do due diligence when picking their degree program and that includes researching other factors, like the BBB ranking and complaints on file.

      Please read the other 80% of this article and you’ll notice that “sort of” is further explained in the lines below and the lines preceding it. You clicked on Best Criminal Justice PhD programs; not Master’s, not Bachelor’s (there are plenty of wonderful schools for these). There are not that many PhD programs online and those who choose to go for their PhD online may not have that many choices (ie. living/working in a rural area). At the time of this article, more than a year ago, Capella University was the ONLY regionally accredited university that had a PhD in Criminal Justice Administration (with a present A+ ranking with the better business bureau). Now, and I’ll add this to this post, Nova Southeastern University released a PhD program that I think is worth a look at.

    • Skylar

      Actually, Rob, you are partially correct in your mention of Capella University receiving 84 complaints per more investigation on the issue. The BBB confirmed that a majority of the complaints were due to the fraudulent sweepstakes firm claiming to be a part of the Capella University (specifically using Capella University’s address and other identifying information).

      Check the BBB site now and you will mention Capella University has an A+ rating and has notified people that “Fraudulent sweepstakes has been taking place using Capella University’s name and address. A letter is sent along with a check. The check title is “Capella Services Inc” and lists Capella University’s address. Capella Inc is not associated in any way with Capella University. Capella University informed the BBB of this on 9/16/2011″. Capella can’t control fraudulent organizations throwing the university under the bus in terms of filtered BBB complaints- which belong to some sweepstakes company and NOT Capella University.

  • Nancy V

    I am currently a senior in college and am very stressed trying to figure out what graduate school to attend to obtain a Masters in Criminal Justice. I live in New York but I am debating on which graduate schools to look at and what ranking really do matter and are legit when it comes to picking the best grad school for criminal justice. I would appreciate any help, Please and Thank you!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Rankings do matter as does accreditation, quality of program offerings, and location. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice is top notch. I would start looking there. SUNY at Albany is another great option.

      You live in proximity to so many great colleges. New York has a few as do other neighboring states.

      • Nancy V

        Would attending the number one school for criminal justice significantly work as an advantage when it comes to job opportunities after I graduate with a Masters degree in C J?

        • Radek M. Gadek

          It can, but doesn’t necessarily have to. It all depends on the person/review panel hiring you. I think that there’s a sense of prestige going to one of the best Criminal Justice schools and those in the industry should know of at least their regional schools (we can hope that’s the case, right?).

          I think the programming and seminars available at John Jay College of Criminal Justice are really educational and practical. They are one of the best at what they do in the Criminal Justice academia, but despite that, it’s probably the grades, GPA, and of course, your moral fiber that will be the determining factor no matter what school you graduate from.

          Overall, I still think that the answer is YES, because you may receive opportunities available only to top educated graduates that others may not; especially at highly selective and competitive agencies. The operative word is “may” – as really everything is dependent on you and how much you will strive to purse the career you want.

          Sorry for the philosophy babble, but I think that’s the best way – not most succinct – to explain the nuances of going to a great school, like John Jay.

  • Nancy V

    P.S Thanks for the reply! I appreciate it!

  • Kimberly

    I cant choose between John Jay College, Rutgers University and University at Albany for a Masters in Criminal Justice, any help from anyone would be great!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      All are wonderful schools. It’s tough to pick. I would still apply to ALL of them, and other criminal justice schools, just in case.

  • RWR

    Let me start off by saying that this is a wonderful site and I have found the wealth of information very helpful. My question is this: I am currently working on my Masters degree in CJ through Troy University’s ecampus and I will graduate in May. I am considering going on to earn my PhD if at all possible, but I’m not sure if I will be able to get in to a good program. While I easily maintain a 4.0 gpa in my graduate studies, my undergrad work is nothing short of shabby. I did not care about college when I was younger and my grades reflect that stance. I have not taken the GRE yet, but I did take the MAT (to gain admittance to Troy) and scored a 429. I’m not sure how this compares to the GRE in relation to score.

    In short, do I have a reasonable shot of getting in to a decent PhD program? Thanks

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Sounds like a pretty decent resume, but you’re right, the lack of good grades in your undergrad years can be detrimental. I highly recommend providing an addendum to the application explaining why those grades were the way they were.

      Many colleges and universities won’t accept MAT (Miller Analogies Test), nor will they use it as a comparison to a GRE. The Graduate Record Exam is the golden standard and I highly recommend getting that out of the way.

      I think you have a reasonable chance of getting into a good to and excellent PhD program, granted you have great references, a compelling statement, an addendum explaining your grades, and the great grades from grad school… oh and the GRE, of course. Make the application count and apply to numerous schools, but you already know that : )

  • Bill

    Hey Radek, you graduated from Boston University right? I am on my 3rd class now in the MCJ program and I am currently taking Analytical Methods….its kickin my butt! What was your toughest class in the program?


    • Radek M. Gadek

      I would have to say the ones I didn’t read the material in… lol

      But really, Analytical Methods and Research Methods were probably two of the most work intensive.

  • Lisa

    Do you have an opinion on the CJ PhD program that Indiana University of PA offers? I would really like to complete my PhD online but I do share your concerns about the schools offering them at this point.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I stand by my story, so no “good” opinions or “go for it” cheers. Traditional and respectable is the “flavor of the day.”

    • John beam

      That’s not an online school…

  • John W

    What do you think about the PHD Programs offered at Walden’s University?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      No way, at least that’s the case for me.

  • Justin Ovaska

    This is a great website blog. I am looking to apply in fall of 2012 for my PhD in criminal justice. I have Bachelor’s in Psychology from Bridgewater State University and Master’s in Criminal Justice from Curry College in Massachusetts. I currently live in North Carolina and have 9 years of experience as a law enforcement officer. What schools do you recommend for the North Carolina area for PhD programs in the criminal justice field? I really like the online option at Nova Southeastern since I may not have the option to relocate that far.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Hey Justin,

      I haven’t had a chance to get to write a post on Best Criminal Justice Schools in North Carolina. The research takes time, and I don’t want to misinform my readers, but maybe you can consider the NC State University System for your online degree needs. I’m pretty sure one of the top universities in North Carolina has an online program, but not quite sure on the PhD. There aren’t that many school Nationwide that offer an online PhD in Criminal Justice.. at least not yet.

      • Chris

        East Carolina offers a very credible and good Masters Degree in Criminal Justice online and was on of the first in the the state to offer a completely online program in CJ. However, while I was getting my Masters there I asked my professor who I worked with and who chaired my thesis about them ever getting a doctorate in CJ and he said that there just wasn’t enough students interested that would justify a Ph.D in CJ. Now, the best options I have seen in NC that are close to a Ph.D in Criminal Justice is UNC-Charlotte’s Ph.D in Public Policy (you can earn a concentration in CJ Management) and NC State’s Ph.D in Public Administration with a Justice concentration. However, I have not found an online program in NC in CJ.

  • CJM

    I would hope that you included Kaplan University’s on-line programs for criminal justice and criminology. KU offers certification, BA, and MSCJ programs–all of which are very good. They are working on introducing a PhD program, but I believe this will take time to incorporate as a permanent offering to prospective students.

  • Sean


    Hi – I’m back with another question for you. I’m not sure if you remember me from your other blog regarding online PhD’s, but we conversed a bit on there. You convinced me (along with other research) to stop attending Capella for a PhD and I have since started a second M.S. in Criminal Justice with the University of Cincinnati. I’m a quarter done, and hope this degree will carry a good bit of weight.

    In any event, my other question for you. I know there is a lot of hype on here about this new PhD from NOVA in Criminal Justice, but do you still think it will be highly accepted for teaching positions at universities? Or, do you think it would be more beneficial to get a PhD from a normal university, such as the University of Akron, in a different but associated field? I ask because I’m awaiting to see if I get accepted into the University of Akron’s PhD in Urban Studies and Public Affairs (which is basically a Public Administration degree), and it is very interdisciplinary, meaning I think they will allow students to take a good deal of sociology courses for it. Do you think that would still be more beneficial then the actual CJ from NOVA? Or with the M.S. from Cincy do you think it won’t matter? Akron is a lot cheaper, but NOVA would be much easier considering you don’t have to actually go there for classes. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

    Thanks again for all your information.


    • Radek M. Gadek

      Great move to University of Cincinnati! Yes, it carries weight in the industry and academia.

      Nova Southeastern University seems to be the only reputable school offering a Criminal Justice programs that is not grounded on Public Administration core. I think Nova would be a very good choice. However, I still think that if you would like to teach at a university level, you should heavily consider attending a reputable on campus program. University of Akron, based on a quick look, seems to be fairly reputable. Their graduate Public Affairs program seems to be ranked in the top 100 according to US News & World Report.

      Ask yourself this question: what is it that you would like to teach at a college or university? Would you feel passionate about that?
      Perhaps that’s what you should consider before going for your PhD.

  • Elda

    Hello Mr. Gadek,

    What can you tell me about Argosy University’s online MA in Forensic Psychology? I ended up enrolling at the University of Cincinnati’s MS in CJ (I’m graduating in June with a BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Portland State University).
    I selected UC mainly for two reasons (1) ranking (UC is currently ranked #3 in graduate studies in CJ while Argosy University is unranked), and (2) type of degree: I understand that a Master of Science holds more “weight” than a Master of Arts degree.
    In addition, I don’t know if I should pursue a PhD or a second Master’s degree (in Forensic Psychology which is my passion).

    Thank you for your feedback.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think I responded to a similarly phrased question here..I can’t tell you much, because I haven’t gone there, nor would I want to attend. The two schools you are mentioning are different; “like night and day” — the other I would like to go to, heck I was even accepted. When going for your degree, especially a graduate degree, only consider schools that are on the same level or better than the school you previously attended. Use websites like US News to gauge which schools carry weight behind them, and which don’t (I saw in the previous comment that you already do that. So, kudos in that regard).

      I think there are Forensic Psychology degrees online, especially on a graduate level.. I can remember – somewhat – that a few reputable or very reputable schools have those.. I just can’t remember which ones.

      Google Search Hint (copy and paste… modify as needed): forensic psychology degree online
      that will give you a general look at online degrees in forensic psychology from only .EDU domains, not all results are great, but after a cursory look-up, University of North Dakota (a well ranking school in the nation) shows up… As a starting point, that’s pretty good there.
      Then you can use this to narrow your results even further, before you get inundated with schools that you may not want to attend: forensic psychology degree online -argosy -walden -devry
      Notice we are now using the minus sign to tell the search engine not to return queries with these words in them. I think, just on the first page, I found 3 fairly reputable schools that offer online programs in your desired discipline.

      I hope this helps. BTW when you’re done with your Master’s, and moving on to a PhD, I recommend brick-and-mortar (on campus) schools, although Nova Southeastern University has a promising program from what I’ve been hearing.

      • ForensicGrad

        Mr. Gadek:

        Why such negativity towards a school you know nothing about? You even state you do not attend/did not attend/plan to attend Argosy, so how can you pass judgement? So pompous! People need to look at what the school can do for them and not the credentials of the school. There are plenty of people that graduated from as you call them reputable, brick and mortar, schools and are unemployed or are totally incompetent. As well as there are plenty of people that went online to the schools you seem to be turning up your nose to, and are super successful and intelligent. Look at Argosy DC’s PsyD program and the credentials of the practitioner-scholar faculty. Enough said!

  • khan i

    I am entering the PhD. programme in portland state university, criminology and criminal justice. I am police officer and have 15 years of policing do you rate the programme as the major is basically Public policy and specilaistaion criminal justice policy, pl advise.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Portland State University is a pretty decent school and is part of the Oregon State University system, but as you said yourself, this is a Public Policy based program rather than a Criminal Justice one. If that’s what your PhD aspirations are, I think it’s a good pick.

  • Amanda

    I plan on sending in an application to George Mason’s graduate program in Criminology, Law and Society within the next couple years after I’ve completed my undergraduate work, but I’m not sure which would be the better option: a Masters or a PhD. My goal is to become an FBI Special Agent and maybe one day I would consider a management position. Would you recommend the PhD over the Masters, or would either educational route be fine? I like the idea of getting my PhD because I want to learn as much as I can, but is it worth it?

    Thanks for your feedback!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Good question. I think a PhD is worth it, but is it necessary? Many FBI Special Agents have Bachelor level education, but, I think to be competitive a Master’s degree — and above — can be very helpful.

    • Emily

      Hi Amanda,

      Sorry if I am getting back to you late. I was accepted to GM’s PhD program without funding which is apparently the norm there. I would warn against even applying. If you want to be in the DC area look at American or Maryland.

  • James Crawford

    I just reviewed the current list of PhD Criminal Justice/Criminology schools on U.S. News and World Report. There are a few now listed that were not on your previous list. The inclusion of George Mason & University of South Carolina especially made me happy since I have been looking at these schools. I am curious why Georgia State University’s program did not get included on the peer survey that determined the ranking. Here is the list.

    1. University of Maryland – (College Park): College Park, MD
    2. SUNY – (Albany): Albany, NY
    3. University of Cincinnati: Cincinnati, OH
    4. University of Missouri – (St. Louis): St. Louis, MO
    5. Pennsylvania State University – (University Park): PA
    5. University of California – (Irvine): Irvine, CA
    7. Florida State University: Tallahassee, FL
    7. Michigan State University: East Lansing, MI
    7. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey – (Newark): Newark, NJ
    10. CUNY, John Jay College: New York, NY
    11. Temple University: Philadelphia, PA
    12. Arizona State University: AZ
    12. Northeastern University: Boston, MA
    12. University of Florida: Gainesville, FL
    12. University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, PA
    16. University of Delaware: Newark, DE
    17. George Mason University – Manassas, VA
    17. University of Nebraska – (Omaha): Omaha, NE
    19. American University: DC
    19. University of Illinois – (Chicago): Chicago, IL
    19. Washington State University: WA
    22. Indiana University: Bloomington, IN
    22. Sam Houston State University: Huntsville, TX
    22. University of South Florida – Tampa, FL
    25. University of South Carolina – Columbia, SC
    26. University of Central Florida – Orlando, FL
    27. University of Texas – Dallas
    28. Indiana University of Pennsylvania – Indiana, PA

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Thanks for the update..

    • John

      Georgia State has a new PhD program for Criminal Justice. They had the Bachelor and Master levels for several years, but it’s probably too early to tell where they will fall in the rank and file.

  • Sharon Gordon Mullane



    • Skylar

      Sharon, unlike Capella and a few other blended universities that make the student show up in person at least 1/3 of the time, all of the “pure” online universities are being attacked left and right by academics and hiring organizations due to the amount of fraudulent organizations that are willing to get paid to do ALL OF THE WORK relating to an online university such as Nova. Check out and there are hundreds of other fraudulent and bogus groups that will complete your entire Degree program for $$$ (some of which may include an exchange of financial aide refund in exchange for their services, which is a horrible shame).

      • Radek Gadek

        I think Sharon means that this is the only Criminal Justice PhD purely online. Other schools offer an online Public Administration PhD with a CJ component. NSU offers a PhD in CJ online.

        NSU has a strong traditional presence and is ranked on sites like USNews. It’s the eight largest, not-for-profit, private university in the nation. At least that’s what the “About” page says. It’s regionally accredited, too. Nothing extraordinary in terms of overall programmatic rankings, but the fact that it offers a PhD in Criminal Justice online is a boon for sure.

        I agree that “pure” online colleges and universities are attacked by academia and employers. I can’t really blame them.

        But, awesome universities that have a brick-and-mortar presence, yet offer a degree 100% online are able to graduate well educated [future] professionals. When I “went” to Boston University for their online Master’s in Criminal Justice, I had the pleasure of chatting with classmates who are at different echelons of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, probation and prison systems, courts, etc. I had a blast. The fact is that there are many people, including criminal justice professionals, who go to school in a non-traditional way, obtain employment or gain through promotions. I know these kinds of people. Sometimes, “online” is the best way to go. I feel that within this decade the public and employer perception will change considerably.

        As for cheating, it can happen on campus or online. Although I can’t argue that in a perfect world you can have some wiz-kid do your whole degree online in exchange for $$$. Whether online or on campus, people who take on a degree and cheat their way through are really cheating themselves out of an education.

        Thanks for sharing the website and participating in the conversations throughout the site. It’s much appreciated.

  • Jennifer Tripp

    I am currently studying sex trafficking of children for my thesis work. I want to continue and get my PhD, but I am not sure what degree would work better for my interests. I live in Califonia and want to attend a campus and not online. What private and public colleges offer PhD programs in my state?

  • Salih Alexander, Esq.

    I’m an attorney in Virginia. I have a BA in English from Delaware State Univ., a M.Ed. in Special Education from Regent University, and a JD from Widener Law (DE Campus). I was accepted to UCincinnati’s online MS in CJ and George Mason’s Ph.D. in Criminology. However, GMU is near DC and thus an expensive place to live, I have only a part-time job offer up there, and I’m not getting any funding…plus they told me if i do well, it will take 4-5 years. I was recently offered a new attorney position and was also offered an adjunct professor job at a local university teaching paralegal studies and criminal justice.

    I’m wondering if I should do UC’s program over GMU for 5 reasons: 1) UC’s reputation, 2) UC’s MS is shorter, 3) I have never studied CJ; I’m a criminal defense attorney who has taught paralegal/CJ courses and worked as a special ed teacher, a hearing officer, a GED instructor, and a therapeutic mentor for at risk kids…I have touched the system but haven’t studied it. I am not impressed with the variety of course offerings at GMU., 4) I have a job in this area (southeastern VA near Norfolk / Hampton), and 5) I am already able to teach adjunct and it seems like a JD/MS would be sufficient for most college teaching jobs at the 2 and 4 year level.

    Which one would you recommend? GMU’s PHD or UC’s MS online?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Argh a dilemma… a terminal degree from a well ranked program, but far and at a greater expense, or a Master’s degree from a top ranked program, but not a PhD and it’s online. Also 4-5 years at GMU or 1-2 years at UC.

      Your five points seem to point you in the right direction. You already have a terminal degree: the hard earned JD. Ask your self this: “do I need a PhD in order to grow or given my academic and work background I can definitely swing it with a Master’s?”

      I’m not even going to tackle the online issue, but still recommend for most to do their PhD studies at a brick and mortar school for lack of good / great schools offering a terminal degree in Criminal Justice or Criminology online. As for the Master’s (online), I don’t feel that would be a problem. One of the most respected Criminology programs at University of California – Irvine Campus is purely online – there’s no on-campus option and they said there won’t be. So, saying that, I would be confident getting my Master’s in CJ or Criminology online, but a PhD at a brick and mortar school (at least until viable options become available).

      Both programs are great… of course one better than the other — both schools are well performing, too — but I think you sold yourself on University of Cincinnati over George Mason University, which, given your circumstance, may be a good sell. Ultimately, you’re responsible for a huge decision like this and I hope it’s the right one for you. Let us know how things go.

    • Tony Hayes

      Hello mr Salih Alexander, Esq
      I am a newly admitted CJ student at Nova Ms program. And I thought I reply to your post on UCinn. I had applied and did not get in this month for Fall. The course may be shorter but you will be take 2 courses per term in 8 weeks.
      I am currently preparing for the LSAT and hope we could network
      cheers. I live in Canada

  • Zaakiya Cuellar

    I am a 19 year old female going on 20 years old on December 24th, who is pretty much stuck at a non-accredited vocational school (Los Angeles Trade Technical College) and who wants to earn her doctoral degree in criminal justice: law enforcement. Will I be too old to become a police detective by the time I earn my doctoral? And are there any 12-year universities I can transfer to in California that I can stay at for a total of 10 years or more to work my way up from an AA degree to a doctoral degree? What steps should I take to get to a doctoral degree in criminal justice: law enforcement?

  • Kiki C.

    Hi! Thanks for this blog, it’s very helpful for me.

    I am considering a PH.D in Criminal Justice, and due to life circumstances, online is really the only option for me – even though I agree with your reasoning for approving more of the brick and mortar schools! I’m interested in hearing more about why you “sort of” approve of the Capella University program. What factors, for you, are on the “approve” side, and what are on the “do not approve” side?

    I’ve actually attended Capella for another degree (I have a Masters from a brick and mortar in one field, and a Masters from Capella in another field), and had a great experience there. In addition, my career really took off after the Capella degree (I got an administrative position at an Ivy League).

    Thanks for considering my question! Again, I’ve found this blog to be full of great information.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Hi Kiki,

      “Sort of” means, not fully and I listed Capella as it was the only school (at the time of writing that post) that offered “something” close to a n online PhD in Criminal Justice, but not as direct as Nova Southeastern University does now. It’s a big difference to take on Public Policy / Administration with a concentration in Criminal Justice — like at Capella — and take on Criminal Justice or Criminology by itself — like at Nova. Also Capella is expensive and for-profit schools get a bad wrap now a days. As you said, there are those who take degrees at for-profit school like Capella University and are successful in their careers and promotions, but in the scope of it working for most people I think Capella will still get the “sort of” rating for me.

  • Elda

    Hello again Mr. Radek,

    Well, as it turned out I did not attend University of Cincinnati’s online MS in CJ nor Argosy University’s online MA in Forensic Psychology. Instead, I selected George Washington University Master’s in Paralegal Studies (the program is associated with GW Law School). I am glad GW accepted me as the program is highly selective (I live in the DMV area). My undergrad is in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Portland State University. Moving forward…I think I would like to continue with a PhD program after I earn my Master’s degree. However, because the program at GWU does not offer statistics or research methods (as most traditional Masters do), should I get a second Master’s degree (this time my choice would be Univ of Cincinnati)? Also, I know that you encourage prospective doctoral students to attend a brick-and-mortar school, I don’t have the luxury of attending traditional classes for another 4-5 years…so I would have to select an online PhD degree in CJ. What are your recommendations?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Hi Elda,

      George Washington University is a stellar school. Congrats on getting in!

      If you need statistics and research methods courses perhaps you can take them at GWU instead of spending time and money on another Master’s. Also some schools will allow you to take necessary prerequisites prior to your PhD studies (if you hold a comparable Master’s degree in most cases). As for a PhD in Criminal Justice, but online, there’s only one school at this time that has my attention: Nova Southeastern University.

      • Elda

        Hi Radek,

        Thanks for your comments :-)

  • Sharon Gordon Mullane

    WELL, GANG………….




    • Elda

      Thank you Sharon for your feedback and congratulations on getting admitted into the program! I already contacted Nova Southeastern University and am awaiting a response.

  • Scott


    I have just found your blog and I am very interested in hearing your opinion. I live in Maine, where we do not have a lot of college choices and even less choices for PhD programs. I have my AS in CJ from a local Community College and will be graduating in May with my BS in CJ. I am looking for a PhD program that may be close to my area or online (preferably). I have been working as a Police Officer for a dozen years and can not afford to quit to get my degree. My goal is to teach at the college level someday, so the degree needs to be from an accredited/reputable school. Also I would prefer to find a school that will accept me without a Master’s Degree. I know I am asking a lot, but any advice you can offer would be very helpful.


    • Radek M. Gadek

      At the moment, given your aspirations, a reputable brick and mortar school would be your best bet.

  • David

    Is there any way you could post a list of smaller schools offering a Ph.D in Criminal Justice?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I’ll try to do that after I complete some planned updates for the site. This involves quite a lot of research and won’t happen until sometime in 2012.

  • NI

    I need to know this rather urgently: Which of the above schools will allow a doctoral in criminal justice while waiving the requirement of a GRE? Any suggestions?

    This blog has been really informative.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      As far as I am aware, a large majority of higher learning institutions require a GRE. The fastest, and definitely the best, way to find that out is to go to the PhD program page of the college or university.

  • Al


    Are PhD’s and doctoral programs pointless if you do not want to teach in the field? I just want to be a competitive candidate when I apply for a law enforcement job. I am working on my MS in CJ from Cincinnati but am not sure what I should go for afterwards.

  • Lunell

    Which Graduate schools for women and minorities in criminal justice would you suggest?

  • Gary

    What do you think of someone applying to a great on campus PhD program that earned their MS online but from a well regarded school? I will be finishing my MS in CJ online from MSU and plan to apply to the top doctoral programs like Maryland and Florida. Do you think I will be at a disadvantage? BTW I had a 3.9 GPA in college and an bachelors in criminology that was earned on campus

    • Radek Gadek

      The high GPA helps a lot. The school name and program are top notch at MSU. So, you should feel no qualms about applying to UM or UF just because you got your MS online. I certainly wouldn’t.

  • Future PHD

    Hey Radek,

    What is your opinion on Texas State University (San Marcos) criminal justice PHD program? I was created 4 years ago, so how is it looking for 2013-2014? Any info you can provide is appreciated. I am thinking of going there and need your opinion.

    • Radek Gadek

      I’m not that familiar with the program at Texas State. I do know it’s one of the best public schools in the nation.

  • Grad Student

    Radek! What about Texas state university, is it any good? Answer my question instead on deleting it. Do your job

    • Radek Gadek

      I answered your question after trudging through about 300+ comments that are left on my blog every week. All comments are placed in a moderation que. Otherwise you would have chaos on this blog.

      “Do your job” – are you kidding me? Do you have me for someone that will bow down to you because you had to stay in line just like everybody else. I don’t owe you anything. Get over yourself.

      I answer questions and comments that I want to answer and when I have time to answer them. I get tons of questions from thousands of people. I don’t expect much, but most people are certainly much nicer and more appreciative than you.

      • Grad Student

        Thank you for answering me. Sorry about the “do your job” part. I dont expect you to bow down me, so maybe when I finish my PHD you have my permission to do so, jk. Sorry for getting on you like that, your good

        • Radek Gadek

          Thanks. I wish you all the best in your academic endeavors (:

  • Isaac

    I know this may be a bit old but I was wondering where UMASS Lowell ranks, if it ranks at all? Their PhD program began a year ago (they had a Masters program before then) and I am curious to know how good it is.

  • James Crawford

    Help, I need some advice. Criminal Justice is my passion. The incredible amount of social research to draw from is astounding. In 1995 I received my BS from Bluefield College in Virginia and 2013 I received my MA from the American Public University. I really want to pursue a PhD to perform further research and teach. My research interests include Juvenile Justice, Crimes against children, Technology Crimes, and Drug-related crimes. A paper I composed for my Master Drug class was examining how Drug Cartels are recruiting tech-savvy youth out of high school or college to all the drug business to thrive in a technologically evolving world. However, here is my dilemma: lack of experience.

    I have spend 13+ years in a call center, both as a manager and as a rep, in a variety of fields (cellular, collections, legal, and medical-related). The closet I have come to a CJ related position is as a Collections Investigation manager overseeing 3 offices across the country for 4 years and then as a Collections Investigator & Warrants Clerk at a law firm for 2 years. The work dealt with consumer debt and fraud. Do I really have the kind of experience a) PhD programs would find desirable to have as a PhD candidate, and b) if was able to complete a PhD program would a college find me an attractive addition to their teaching staff?

    Your advice would be grateful.

  • DJ Shingles

    Due to my family dynamic with 3 small children, I’m stuck in the Memphis area for a while. There are no traditional schools in the area who offer a PhD or Ed.D in Criminal Justice which leads me to my only option, online.

  • Trina Nycol Brown

    Thank you so much! I’ve been looking for an online PhD in Criminal Justice for over a year. I’m was so happy to find that NSU has a program. I can’t thank you enough for this invaluable information!

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