Capella University

PhD - Criminal Justice

Future leaders in public safety, law enforcement, or the U.S. penal system could prepare for their career goal by enrolling in Capella University's Ph.D. in Criminal Justice program. Find out more about this online doctoral degree program here.

Official Program Name:

Ph.D. in Criminal Justice

School Offering Program:

Capella University

Degree Level:


Program Prerequisites:

Those interested in entering the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice program at Capella University should hold a master's degree in social services or a related area. They might have experience in law enforcement, security, courts, or the legal system. Applicants to Capella University who are under 24 years of age must have completed at least two years of college or have active military status; some programs may have additional admissions requirements.

Program Description:

The curriculum of Capella University's Ph.D. in Criminal Justice program focuses on leadership theories and research methods in public safety, criminal behavior, and law. Topics covered in specialization courses include the psychological, biological, and sociological factors of criminal behavior, criminal justice legislation and legal policies, analyses of some constitutional amendments, current research in and theories of violent behavior, causations of crime, and correctional institution structures and rehabilitation processes. The program's research-based core curriculum emphasizes the development of leadership skills through studies of theories, concepts, and practices in areas of public safety and social science. In addition, students are guided through the dissertation process in a series of research courses.

Learning Format:


Total Credits Required:

120 credits.

Financial Aid Available:

Capella participates in several federal financial aid programs including the Federal Pell Grant Program and Federal Stafford Loan Program. Capella is also eligible to certify Veterans Educational Benefits and can provide information on other non-federal loan programs.

Capella-funded scholarships are also available in select disciplines, such as the Robert C. Ford Human Services Scholarship and the Helene Krivosha Scholarship for education students. There are also external scholarships offered specifically to Capella students, such as the Go the Distance Scholarship.

Tuition, Financial Aid & Start Dates

Since every student is different, there isn't a "one size fits all" for school information. Start dates and tuition often vary between selected programs, and financial aid opportunities are unique to each student's circumstances. Complete the form to the right to get the most up-to-date and accurate information based on your selected program and circumstances.

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Required Courses for a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice:

Degree program and course requirements are subject to change. Contact Capella University to confirm the most accurate information before enrolling in a program.

Core Courses

  • PSL 8002: Collaboration, Communication, and Case Analysis for Doctoral Learners (4 credits)
  • PSF 8601: Contemporary Public Safety Leadership (4 credits)
  • PSF 8603: Management and Leadership Theory (4 credits)
  • PSF 8604: Interagency Collaboration on Significant Events (4 credits)
  • PSF 8606: Diversity Issues in Public Safety (4 credits)
  • PSF 8106: Epistemology of Practice Knowledge (4 credits)
  • PSF 8100: Fundamentals of Social Science Research (4 credits)
  • PSF 8122: Quantitative Research Methods in Public Service (4 credits)
  • PSF 8123: Advanced Qualitative Research Methods in Public Service (4 credits)
  • PSF 8124: Advanced Study in Research Methods in Public Service (4 credits)

Specialization Courses

  • PSF 8350: Sociological Theories of Crime (4 credits)
  • PSF 8358: Law and Legal Foundations (4 credits)
  • PSF 8362: Criminal Justice Policy Analysis (4 credits)
  • PSF 8374: Current Research on Violent Behavior (4 credits)
  • PSF 8376: Correlates of Crime (4 credits)
  • PSF 8377: The Penal System: Its Role in the U.S. Society (4 credits)

Elective Courses

  • Approved Graduate-Level Electives (32 credits)

Residency Requirements

  • Three 4-day weekend experiences
    • PSL-R 8921: Ph.D. Colloquium Track 1 (non-credit)
    • PSL-R 8922: Ph.D. Colloquium Track 2 (non-credit)
    • PSL-R 8923: Ph.D. Colloquium Track 3 (non-credit)

Dissertation and Exam

  • HS 9919: Doctoral Comprehensive Examination (4 credits)
  • HS 9960: Dissertation Courseroom (5 quarter credits each)
    • Students must register for ED 9960 a minimum of four times

Post-Graduation Opportunities

Career Paths:

Upon completion of Capella University's Ph.D. in Criminal Justice program, graduates could be apply the leadership and management skills they might have developed in the program to supervisory or executive positions in a variety of professional settings. They could work for law enforcement agencies, government organizations, security firms, public safety centers, or detention facilities. They might also choose to become college instructors or consultants in the field.

Positions graduates could pursue include:

  • Criminal research specialist
  • Penologist
  • Court administrator
  • Corrections facilities manager

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