What Can You Do With a PhD in Criminal Justice?

A PhD program in criminal justice allows students to learn about various crime prevention techniques, as well as the general operation of law enforcement. This will expand their career choices and qualify them for a position as a FBI agent and police chief.

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On their way to earning a PhD in criminal justice, recent graduates will be instructed on the underlying causes of crime and its direct effect on practices, policies, and procedures. Additionally, they will be educated on data collection and analysis methods that will aid in helping them design new crime fighting techniques. Furthermore, they will gain a better understanding of how the criminal justice system plays a part in social changes and positive impact within communities. Within the table below is a list of careers that tend to be filled by those individuals with such degrees.

PhD in Criminal Justice Jobs/Salary

Job Title Median Salary*(2018) Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Police Chiefs $72,337 7% (first-line supervisors of police and detectives)
U.S. Marshals $70,000 5% (detectives and criminal investigators)
FBI Agents $63,686 5% (detectives and criminal investigators)
Intelligence Analysts $66,827 5% (detectives and criminal investigators)
Postsecondary Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers $60,400** (2017) 12%

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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PhD in Criminal Justice Careers

Police Chiefs

Police chiefs are in charge of determining how their police departments will go about curbing crime in their area. They conduct meetings with police personnel and brief them on information related to current events, as well as schedule hours and assignments. Additionally, they oversee the actions of all police personnel and monitor them to ensure that they are operating as they should. While police chiefs are selected from those with high levels of experience, having a PhD will give recent graduates additional credentials that might increase their chances of getting the position.

U.S. Marshals

U.S. marshals who are working in the judicial system bring suspects to trial for sentencing and provide protection for witnesses, judges, and prosecutors. In the field, they conduct investigations on fugitives and plan for their extradition or deportation when necessary. In addition, they will work with correctional facilities to ensure the safety of prisoners and defendants in their charge, as well as assist in their transportation between the correctional facility and the courthouse. While those seeking employment typically only need a bachelor's, having a PhD will give them the educational background necessary to work on a wider range of cases.

FBI Agents

FBI agents are in charge of conducting investigations related to federal crimes. They conduct interviews with persons of interest and eye witnesses, in addition to collecting and analyzing evidence related to the crime that was committed. Furthermore, in some cases it may be necessary for agents to assist in the apprehension and holding of suspects until they are brought to trial. Through coursework on the way to earning their PhD, recent graduates will have the educational background necessary to work more complex cases.

Intelligence Analysts

Intelligence analysts are tasked with identifying potential security threats and reporting them to their superiors. While they can work for both private and public entities, individuals within this job tend to instead find employment with companies closely associated with the government or the government itself. In addition, they will use statistical tests to analyze raw data and formulate hypothesis. Individuals within this job may need to travel a good distance and there are some positions that require an additional level of security clearance. Furthermore, much like in their PhD program, they will conduct on-site investigations.

Postsecondary Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers

Postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers instruct students on various topics related to criminal justice and conduct research for their given university in some capacity. Criminal justice professors who primarily focus on research, rather than teaching, publish their findings in academic journals and other forms of media. The duties of postsecondary teachers vary depending on their field of study, but in general they are tasked with ensuring that their coursework meets state and federal requirements. Additionally, they will meet with students to discuss issues related to a given course when necessary.

While most criminal justice jobs don't require such a degree, having a PhD will improve the chances of getting a high-end position. Additionally, as FBI agents and U.S. marshals, the added education and skills learned will allow recent graduates to work on a wider range of cases.

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