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Interesting Specializations You Might Choose When Earning a PhD in Criminal Justice

Learn how specializing your online degree in criminal justice helps deepens your knowledge and can build a stronger foundation for a successful career.

Are you ready to lead the field of criminal justice into the future? A PhD in Criminal Justice can provide you with the advanced critical-thinking, problem-solving, and research skills needed for a range of policymaking, teaching, and research careers, including intelligence analyst, police chief, emergency management director, and professor of criminal justice and law enforcement.1


The online PhD in Criminal Justice program at Walden University includes a General Program and seven specializations. Here’s how you can specialize your degree.

  • Emergency Management – When floods and hurricanes strike, emergency managers are there to coordinate and motivate response teams and efforts. The Emergency Management specialization focuses on skill development, disaster response and recovery, risk assessment and management, and the latest emergency management leadership tactics needed in today’s global and world industries. This specialization can help prepare students to apply for certificates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute.
  • Global Leadership – Around the world, criminal justice leaders build change when and where it is needed most. The Global Leadership specialization examines models and frameworks for sustainability and offers tools and strategies to make decisions during challenging circumstances. Among the course topics: history and contemporary issues in criminal justice, management and leadership in a global context, and transformative change in a global environment. During the program, students also create a strategic plan for an international public or nonprofit organization or for a U.S. organization with a global focus.
  • Homeland Security Policy and Coordination – Keeping the country’s air, land, and sea borders free from illegal activity is more important now than ever. A specialization in Homeland Security Policy and Coordination examines how public policy can safeguard the nation without infringing on individual rights. Along with studying homeland security–related trends, students explore the public policy implications of terrorism legislation, systemic approaches for emergency preparedness, and critical incident planning and leadership.
  • Justice Administration – The criminal justice system has evolved in recent years, especially when it comes to analytical abilities. A Justice Administration specialization examines risk factors associated with criminal behavior, events that have changed how the legal system interprets the U.S. Constitution, the relationship between technology and criminal activity, and emerging solutions to contemporary crime. (This specialization is available only for students who already have a master’s degree in criminal justice.)
  • Law and Public Policy – How do past and present legal decisions impact the future of criminal justice public policy? Students specializing in Law and Public Policy investigate these issues and explore fundamental legal concepts, resources available for legal research, and the role scientific information plays in the development of criminal justice policy.
  • Online Teaching in Higher Education – By specializing in online teaching, you can help develop the criminal justice leaders of tomorrow. Along with exploring the academic environments and technologies available for adult learning, students learn practical strategies and key elements of instructional design and delivery for teaching online. Students also study trends in higher education, the evolution of crime, and ways to design and carry out quantitative research.
  • Public Management and Leadership – Leaders of successful public and nonprofit organizations know how to reach performance goals, tackle financial challenges, and maintain an effective and efficient workforce. Public Management and Leadership faculty teach students the leadership and interpersonal skills they need to become competent leaders, motivate employees, and make transformative change through public policy. Classes also focus on policy and analysis of criminal justice systems and effective criminal justice administration.

Ready to get started

Walden University makes it easy for you to take the first steps. We offer two paths toward an online PhD in Criminal Justice in most specializations:

  • Track I: For individuals who have a master’s degree in criminal justice or a related field.
  • Track II: For individuals who have a master’s degree in a discipline other than criminal justice.

The PhD in Criminal Justice program also offers a Fast-Track Option that allows you to increase your course load each term and begin your dissertation early to expedite your path through the program. With the Fast-Track Option, you complete your doctorate in less time and may even pay less in tuition and fees than with the traditional option.

Throughout the degree program, you can integrate research into your studies to create effective solutions to real-world problems. Academic residencies, which will enhance your development as a scholar-practitioner and your ability to drive positive social change, also support your progress.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a PhD in Criminal Justice degree program online to help you meet your personal and professional goals. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a flexible, convenient format that fits your busy life.

1Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of a PhD in Criminal Justice degree program.

Note on Licensure: Walden’s PhD in Criminal Justice program is not considered a Professional Peace Officer Education Program for the state of Minnesota, and is not designed or intended to prepare graduates for licensure as a peace officer, police officer, or other law enforcement officer in any state.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,