Online Doctorate in Criminal Justice

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Criminal Justice

Join a collaborative approach to a criminal justice degree

Work with expert faculty, focus on professional development and consult with working practitioners.

Take a leadership role in our changing society with PennWest’s online Doctorate in Criminal Justice.

Built on PennWest California’s unique graduate program, this online program focuses on professional development and practical approaches to contemporary criminal justice issues.

The program includes one five-day summer residency on campus (or virtually) followed by two years of part-time, online study. During this time, you will strengthen your skills with in-depth analysis and policy evaluation and implementation, and you will deepen your understanding of real-world concerns such as federal consent decrees, police use of force, wrongful convictions and reducing recidivism. After passing a comprehensive exam, you will develop a doctoral research portfolio based on theory and applied research relevant to your career.

You’ll graduate with the skills you need to advance as a professional in this high-demand field.

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Completed Application Deadline:

  • Summer 2024 - January 18, 2024
  • Summer 2025 - January 21, 2025
Expert Faculty

Learn from expert faculty who understand modern criminal justice issues because they have real-world experience that supports their lectures.

Flexible and Affordable

Earn this advanced degree while you continue to work as a professional in your field.

100% Online

This program is 100% online with a 1-week residency.

Fast Facts


The DCJ program is the first regionally accredited professional doctorate in criminal justice in the country.




100% online with 1-week residency


Graduate Admissions

Start Terms:


Careers and Salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for those with doctorates in Criminal Justice are expected to grow faster than average over the next 10 years.

What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

  • Teach future generations of criminal justice professionals.
  • Work in the fields of law enforcement, behavioral or forensic science.
  • Create policy on the federal or local level.
  • Advance in your career.

Graduate Outcomes

  1. Develop applied decision-making and organizational leadership skills that can be used to address a variety of major contemporary issues in criminal justice.
  2. Develop cultural competence as applied to community policing and community relations.
  3. Support ethical practices in various criminal justice settings to ensure fairness and avoid consequences for organizations.
  4. Develop training needs assessment tools, the ability to deliver training programs effectively, and the skills to measure outcomes.
  5. Demonstrate an expert knowledge of the real-world practical aspects of substantive and procedural law relative to problems and issues in criminal justice.
  6. Apply criminal justice theory to a wide span of issues facing today’s criminal justice leaders.
  7. Assess critically the needs of the field of corrections and the juvenile justice system to ensure justice, minimize recidivism, and rehabilitate offenders and delinquent minors.
  8. Critique the criminal justice system in order to develop plans that can be implemented with the view toward achieving justice more often.
  9. Construct and execute criminal justice plans designed to minimize civil liability exposure with a particular emphasis on constitutional policing and corrections.
  10. Critique the criminal justice system in order to develop plans that can be implemented with the view toward achieving justice more often.
  11. Evaluate and interpret evidence-based data effectively and apply results in unique criminal justice-related situations.
  12. Appraise and select appropriate technologies for finding, retrieving, and analyzing evidence-based literature for the purpose of utilizing in a wide range of criminal justice settings.
  13. Prepare various forms of professional memoranda incorporating Bluebook-style citations and references for laws and other legal sources.

Admissions Requirements

  • Earned master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution (or foreign equivalent) in criminal justice, criminology or a cognate discipline such as law (criminal justice-related LL.M.), anthropology, sociology, psychology or public administration. J.D. degree with demonstrated professional experience in criminal justice will also be considered.
  • Minimum grade-point average of 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) or foreign equivalent, with required graduate-level coursework in academic research methods, and graduate or undergraduate coursework in criminal law, criminal procedure, criminal justice, corrections and the court systems.
    Note: The prior criminal justice-related courses may be waived based upon actual training and experience.
  • GPA between 3.00 and 3.49 with demonstrated patterns of significant professional accomplishment in the field of criminal justice
  • Current resume, including academic and professional achievements
  • Two professional recommendation letters dated under a year old
  • Personal Statement
  • Writing Sample

The Power of PennWest

PennWest’s three campuses, California, Clarion and Edinboro universities, have been delivering award-winning online programs for more than 20 years. You’ll graduate with a degree from Pennsylvania Western University, completely supported by the expertise and community of learners on our brick-and-mortar campuses.

Flexible. Affordable.
Designed to Meet Your needs.
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