Be a Force for Good in Your Field

Take a comprehensive approach to understanding crime with a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Nova Southeastern University, recognized by Forbes as one of the nation's only non-profit, fully accredited online programs.

NSU’s doctoral criminal justice program offers a flexible online curriculum and specialty degree tracks to prepare you for your area of interest in this dynamic field.

Earning a Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice from NSU has provided me with the knowledge and credentials necessary to enter into the professions of research and academia. As a full-time police chief, the program offered by NSU afforded me the opportunity to achieve my goals from a highly recommended and SACSCOC-accredited institution.

Jay Fortenbery | Retired Police Chief, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
headshot of program alum, jay fortenbery

Quick Facts


Visit the Tuition and Fees page for more information.


NSU's Ph.D. in Criminal Justice is 60 total credits to complete.

Start Dates

The Ph.D. in Criminal Justice is available to start in August. The deadline to apply is May 31.


Delivery Options

Coursework for the Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice is conducted entirely online, allowing you to earn your degree without work disruption or long commutes.

Specialize Your Degree with Concentrations

Become an expert in your area of study with a concentrated degree path.

Behavioral Science

Gain in-depth understanding of current psychological theories and practices in order to properly manage complex situations involving criminals and mental health.

Criminal Justice Policy, Practice, and Leadership

Learn about the various organizational systems in criminal justice and best practices for managing diverse organizations.

Juvenile Justice and Human Services

Dive deep into the various challenges facing the juvenile justice system, including contemporary legal and ethical issues, and acquire the skills to remedy them.

What Can You Do with a Criminal Justice Doctorate?

Many of our graduates go on to administer social policy, teach the next generation in academia, and break new ground in research.

Others hold upper-level jobs such as:

  • Criminal Investigators
  • Correctional Authorities
  • Consultants
  • Criminologists
Criminal Justice Ph.D. grad discussing work with colleague over computer

Earning Potential

Policy Adviser

$76,247 Average Salary Per Year

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

$69,806 Average Salary Per Year

Police Chief

$72,347 Average Salary Per Year


What Will You Learn in the Program?

Receive an interdisciplinary, comprehensive curriculum that covers theories, best practices, and research methods, giving you an edge in whichever sector of criminal justice you decide to work in.

Core Curriculum

Course Descriptions
Required Courses (33 Credits)
CJI 7000
Criminological Theory (CJI 7000 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7003
Applied Statistics I (CJI 7003 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7004
Applied Statistics II (CJI 7004 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7006
Research Methods I (CJI 7006 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7007
Research Methods II (CJI 7007 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7008
Administration of Justice (CJI 7008 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7009
Comparative Criminology & Criminal Justice (CJI 7009 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7010
Teaching in the Criminal Justice Classroom (CJI 7010 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7011
Policy and Program Evaluation (CJI 7011 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7012
Grantsmanship & Publishing in Criminal Justice (CJI 7012 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 7013
Graduate Orientation Seminar (CJI 7013 / Credits: 3 )

Concentration Curriculum

Select one of the following 15 credit concentrations to focus your expertise.

Required Courses (15 Credits)
CJI 8210
Risk Assessment (CJI 8210 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8220
Gender Violence: Domestic Violence & Sexual Abuse (CJI 8220 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8230
Mental Health Courts and Therapeutic and Restorative Justice (CJI 8230 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8240
Sexual Offenders (CJI 8240 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8250
Psychological Issues for Children and Adolescents in the Legal System (CJI 8250 / Credits: 3 )
Required Courses (15 Credits)
CJI 8410
Strategic Planning, Policy, & Program Development (CJI 8410 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8420
Criminal Law, Procedure & Individual Rights (CJI 8420 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8430
The Police & Society (CJI 8430 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8440
Ethics in the Criminal Justice System (CJI 8440 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8450
Correctional Programming & Services (CJI 8450 / Credits: 3 )
Required Courses (15 Credits)
CJI 8510
Juvenile Justice Strategic Policy & Practice (CJI 8510 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8520
Contemporary Challenges in the Juvenile Justice System (CJI 8520 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8530
Violence & Victimization (CJI 8530 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8540
Schools & Society: Challenges & The School to Prison Pipeline (CJI 8540 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 8550
Drugs & Society (CJI 8550 / Credits: 3 )

Dissertation Curriculum

A dissertation is required and coursework consists of 12 credits.

Required Courses (12 Credits)
CJI 9010
Dissertation I (CJI 9010 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 9020
Dissertation II (CJI 9020 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 9030
Dissertation III (CJI 9030 / Credits: 3 )
CJI 9040
Dissertation IV (CJI 9040 / Credits: 3 )
Students who have not completed their dissertation after completing the Dissertation course sequence (CJI 9010-9040) will be required to enroll in CJI 9050 and CJI 9060 until completion of their final dissertation defense.

What will my degree say? 

It will say Doctor of Philosophy. You will also receive a certificate stating Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice and your specialty track.

Is the program accredited?

Visit the College of Education and School of Criminal Justice Accreditation page for information on university accreditation.

What are the benefits of an online environment?

Traditional courses require you to attend classes in person two or three days per week. With an online environment, you can check your email and bulletin board at any time convenient to you in your home.

Do you limit the number of students who can enroll in the program?

Yes, we limit the number of students who are admitted. We typically accept 24 students per year.

How long will it take to complete my Ph.D. in Criminal Justice?

There are three semesters offered each year: Fall (Aug.), Winter (Jan.), and Summer (May). Typically, students complete the program in two and a half years by taking three courses per semester; however, students are never enrolled in more than two at a time. Please see suggested course of study.

How many classes do I need to take to be considered a full-time student?

A student who is registered for a minimum of two courses is considered to be a full-time student.

Can I take two or more specialty tracks?

Yes. It is possible for students to take additional specialty tracks. Students must complete all five courses within a given track to get credit for that track.

Is financial aid available for students taking online courses?

Yes, financial aid is available for online courses. Individuals should evaluate their eligibility for financial aid by calling the Office of Student Financial Aid at (954) 262-3380 or 800-522-3243.

When should I complete an Application for Degree?

An Application for Degree should be submitted with payment no later than the last term in which your program will be completed.

Where do I obtain an Application for Degree form?

To access the Online Application for Degree/Diploma, you must first read these important instructions.

How do I register for courses?

To register for courses, you must first be formally accepted into one of our programs. To learn how to become a student, please visit our admissions page.

Students must register for courses during the registration periods each term. To register for your courses, please log in to SharkLink where you will find all of your course planning and registration tools, how to order your books online, access to your online courses, and other useful academic information.

How do I request more information?

If you would like additional information, please call (954) 262-8500 or toll free at 800-986-3223, ext. 28500.

Related Degrees

Interested in making an impact in the courtroom and your community? These degrees will give you the skill set you need to have a successful career in the areas of law or education.

Admission Requirements

Ready for the Next Step?

We’re thrilled you’re applying to NSU’s Ph.D. in Criminal Justice program.

This program opens opportunities in areas of research, academia, and management for those who are ready to advance as well as for individuals considering a career change.

Applications for admission are accepted online for annual Fall starts. The deadline to apply is May 31.


Apply Now

Have the following items ready to submit with your online application:


  • $50 application fee
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Personal statement of 300 words
  • Three academic or professional letters of recommendation
  • Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
  • One of the following:
    • Copy of master’s thesis or equivalent capstone project
    • GRE score of 300 or better
    • Sample of published work
    • J.D. or doctorate in related field 

You will also be asked to complete an interview with program faculty for admission.

Applicants who have attended foreign universities or colleges are required to have their academic credentials evaluated for U.S. institutional equivalence. Please visit the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for more information. International students are encouraged to contact the Office of International Student Services at (954) 262-7240 or 800-541-6682, ext. 27240, or by email at, or visit the Office of International Students and Scholars.
NSU graduate in cap and gown smiling

Gain the NSU Edge

As a student at NSU, you’ll have a competitive advantage amongst your peers with a flexible, individualized learning experience, funding for your tuition, community connections to career opportunities, and access to a globally established alumni network. Graduate with the edge you need to improve and reform the criminal justice system.

Learn More about the NSU Edge