Best 15 Ph.D. In Criminal Justice Programs 2024

January 26, 2024 | Admin

PhD in Criminal Justice

If you are considering your Ph.D. in criminal justice these options of some of the top schools in the nation can help you make your decision as clear as possible.

Who Can Pursue Their Ph.D. In Criminal Justice? 

The exact qualifications can vary between school, program, and specialty. Applicants who are pursuing a doctorate degree will have a minimum of a Bachelors’s degree, experience in the field they desire to become an expert in, several recommendations, and a solid educational past at minimum.

Top 5 Ph.D In Criminal Justice Programs

Rank School Location
1Rutgers UniversityNew Brunswick, New Jersey
2Florida State UniversityTallahassee, Florida
3Cuny John Jay College New York City, New York
4Michigan State East Lansing, Michigan
5Sam Houston StateHuntsville, Texas

Is The Effort Worth it To Obtain a Ph.D. In Criminal Justice?

The short answer is yes, if you are considering it then you likely have already asked yourself the questions and understand the personal value of the degree. People who earn the Ph.D. In general, are leaders in their field and often the type of thinkers that are interested in adding to the knowledge of that field. These are the people that set standards, write textbooks, and are turned to in times of need. The job outlook is hard to quantify because there are so many fields one could make a career in with this degree, suffice it to say that the degree will only improve your job outlook in your chosen criminal justice field.

Best 15 Ph.D. In Criminal Justice Programs


Rutgers University

  • New Brunswick, New Jersey

Rutgers University School Of Criminal Justice is generally considered a good school across the board, but it’s Graduate Programs make it stand out. Small class sizes, positive reviews from students, and fair to median cost are all perks that come together to make this school top on the list. The Criminal Justice Program in particular is one of the oldest of its type in the region, and federal head-hunters are said to recruit from this program (unofficially).

School Overview

Tuition: $31,608
Enrollment For Graduate Program: 4,286
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Florida State University

  • Tallahassee, Florida

FSU offers a program at their College of Criminology and Criminal Justice that focuses on original work and individual thinking. Graduates are well prepared to be leaders of the country, lead classrooms, and write texts. The program does not rely upon a predetermined set of credits to earn the doctorate, instead, a board determines if the candidate has shown proficiency in mind and subject to land and add to the collective subject. It is one of the best-rated programs in the nation.

School Overview

Tuition: $18.786
Enrollment For Graduate Program: 9,180
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Cuny John Jay College

  • New York City, New York

The Cuny John Jay College of Criminal Justice is ranked in the top 20 Criminal Justice Colleges in the U.S. It makes number three on this list because of the best value tuition points, the reviews of the graduates, and the flexibility of learning for adult students. If you live on the northern east coast, Cuny John Jay is the right blend of affordable quality that many need as they balance school and career. It also (unofficially) considered a college the the FBI recruited from.

School Overview

Tuition: $15,420
Enrollment For Graduate Program: 2,134
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Michigan State

  • East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State has a Criminal Justice program that is geared towards teaching the graduate students exactly what they need to delve into for their specific career goals, and doctorate field. Graduates should leave the program with their Ph.D. but more, they will leave as leaders who can teach the topic, write articles and books in their niche of education, lead departments and facilities, and generally improve the collective knowledge on the topic of criminal justice.

School Overview

Tuition: $39,766
Enrollment For Graduate Program: 10,633
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Sam Houston State

  • Huntsville, Texas

Sam Houston State is considered an above average state university in Texas. Students of the graduate program need 58 credits to earn their degree and they go on to lead their field in various positions related to criminal justice. Many state students travel to this section of Texas to attend the Sam Houston Criminal Justice Ph.D. program for its affordability and clear standards.

School Overview

Tuition: $18,664
Enrollment For Graduate Program: 2,753
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Temple University

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Temple University has a research program that graduate students can participate it that is known nationally for policy making and effecting change in the field. If you want to be a part of the front line in Criminal Justice research while becoming a leader yourself consider attending TU for your graduate degree.

School Overview

Tuition: $29,882
Enrollment For Graduate Program: 10,068
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University of Maryland

  • College Park, Maryland

University of Maryland focuses on both research and teaching opportunities for their students so each graduate will go on to be well rounded in their field of knowledge. If you are ready to become an expert in the field of Criminal Justice and want to go to school in proximity to some of the biggest happenings in the law world then consider UM next fall.

School Overview

Tuition: $36,891
Enrollment For Graduate Program: 10,232
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George Mason University

  • Fairfax, Virginia

George Mason University is located in Fairfax Virginia central to much that is going on when it comes to federal level criminal justice jobs and innovation. If you want to become an expert in the field of criminal justice and perhaps make connections that will lead you to more opportunities then this college may be your best bet. The price point is midline and their curriculum or graduation requirements lean towards the regimented but it is a well reviewed school that creates leaders.

School Overview

Tuition: $36,024
Enrollment of Graduate Program: 11,201
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SUNY at Albany

  • Albany, New York

SUNY at Albany is also one of the colleges that is said to be a recruiting hot stop for top government agencies. If you are considering a federal career then this is promising. Their Ph.D. criminal justice program consists of clear guidelines that include 60 credits, specific course work, and hands on experience. The price point is mid to low and the graduate reviews are fair to make this school an easy choice.

School Overview

Tuition: $27,766
Enrollment of Graduate Program: 4,258
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Northeastern University

  • Boston, Massachusetts

Northeastern University is ideal for those who want a career in the research and academics side of Criminal Justice. This program allows students to take the lead and perform important research and start making changes and thinking like leaders even while in school. The program creates the world of tomorrow because many graduates go on to become professors in colleges across the region.

School Overview

Tuition: $53,506
Enrollment For Graduate Program: 8,005
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Washington State University

  • Pullman, Washington

The Washington State University has a program that creates some of the best mind in the field. To apply you must already have a masters degree and agree to live on campus as a graduate student in residence for two semesters. The program is rigorous and focuses on research, teaching, logical thinking, and leadership.

School Overview

Tuition: $26,419
Enrollment of Graduate Program: 5,545
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University of South Carolina

  • Columbia, South Carolina

The University of South Carolina prepares their students for “teaching, researching, and policy-making” they have a few different programs including a master’s duel enrollment so students can figure out the best specific path to their goals and the campus is set in one of the most beautiful southern towns. This college is a great choice if you plan on becoming a professor or research leader in the field.

School Overview

Tuition: $33,928
Enrollment of Graduate Program: 7,862
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Indiana University of Pennsylvania

  • Indiana, Pennsylvania

Indiana University of Pennsylvania is the school in the North to choose if you are looking to become a teacher or a scholar in the field of Criminal Justice. The reviews state that the graduate faculty is highly supportive and the environment is a great place to facilitate learning, free thinking, and innovation.

School Overview

Tuition: $18,730
Enrollment of Graduate Program: 2,068
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University of Illinois At Chicago

  • Chicago, Illinois

University of Illinoise At Chigaco allows applicants who do not yet have their master’s level (some great schools require this some do not). Their focus is sociology, administration, and research, and they do require a dissertation for graduation. Many Criminal Justice professors and leaders have graduated from the two year programs with positive reviews and job outcomes.

School Overview

Tuition: $27,566
Enrollment of Graduate Program: 10,683
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Indiana University

  • Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana Univeristy offers a program to make sure that their graduates who earn a Ph.d in criminal justice have a well rounded education. They require a minor for all Ph.d degrees and they encourage interdisciplinary study. If you are an individual thinker who has specific research you plan to pursue across fields of study then Indiana University may be the perfect fit.

School Overview

Tuition: $36,512
Enrollment Of Graduate Program: 10,176
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There is no one size fits all Criminal Justice Ph.D. because the degree is for leaders and many leaders make their own paths. While there is a universal curriculum to insure that the key facts are learned when you graduate with a higher degree you have a sea of knowledge all your own through rigorous personal study. Choosing the right college for this is key. 

About Our Rankings

This list was compiled using data from each school, student reviews, and post graduate information. If you are a representation of a school on this list and feel that you were inaccurately represented please let us know so we can continue to provide accurate up to date information for our readers. 

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