10 Best Grad Schools with Online Doctorate in Law Enforcement

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at GradSchoolCenter.com, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: February 29, 2024, Reading time: 17 minutes

Online Doctorate in Law Enforcement - featured image

Find your perfect college degree

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Many people are attracted to law enforcement because they genuinely want to give back to their communities and promote public safety. They have an incredible feeling of responsibility and desire to make a difference by upholding the law, combating crime, and safeguarding the public. More so, positions in law enforcement frequently offer chances for progression and personal development.

Professionals seeking advanced professional abilities for law enforcement careers should consider pursuing a doctoral program.

Additional Information:


Online doctoral degree programs leading to law enforcement careers are vast and varied. Some of the field’s most famous academic paths include criminology, homeland security, forensic sciences, strategic security, public safety, cybersecurity, and criminal justice degree programs. Online degree programs provide students with the flexibility and academic rigor they need to pursue advanced education while leading busy work-life schedules.

Quick audio summary:


We’ve listed different schools to help you earn a degree best suited for your professional goals. While each major has its own merits, we’ve made sure that the professional programs listed possess the following qualities:

Please read our Methodology to find out what goes into our selection and ranking processes.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top 10 Online Doctoral Programs in Law Enforcement

University of Arizona Global Campus

University of Arizona Global Campus

Doctor of Psychology – Criminology & Justice Studies

Law enforcement careers seek professionals who can comprehend the emotions, actions, and cognitive patterns that motivate criminal behavior. Psychology majors aid law enforcement organizations in understanding why crime occurs in the first place, putting them in high demand. You can consider the University of Arizona Global Campus’ Doctor of Psychology with a specialization in Criminology and Justice Studies if you want to gain knowledge about general psychology and the criminal justice system.

This law enforcement major at UAGC requires students to complete rigorous coursework designed to educate them for professions in applied fields where they can apply psychological theories and research to study crime and justice and crime prevention strategies. Graduates often pursue careers in academics, research, policy-making, law enforcement, prisons, victim advocacy groups, and consultancy.

Some of the program’s courses include contemporary criminological theories, the juvenile justice system, and criminal justice intervention. While coursework can be completed online, students must visit the campus for three non-credit In-Residence Workshops. Additionally, students must complete an Applied Doctoral Project or Dissertation.

Walden University

Walden University

PhD in Criminal Justice

Walden University offers one of the best and most customizable online doctorates in law enforcement. Walden’s online PhD in Criminal Justice program allows students to modify their degrees by choosing one of seven specializations: Global Leadership, Homeland Security Policy and Coordination, Emergency Management, Law and Public Policy, Justice Administration, Online Teaching in Higher Education, and Public Management and Leadership.

Students who don’t want to specialize can pursue the program’s General Program, which focuses on analyzing historical events and their effect on the modern criminal justice system.

Students with and without a master’s degree in criminal justice and its related field can apply for the program. However, those without a master’s degree will be placed in Track 2, which offers no elective courses. Applicants with a master’s degree in criminal justice and its related field will have the opportunity to pursue an additional 15 credit hours for electives in Track 1. Both tracks, however, will require students to attend Four PhD residencies on campus.

Students eager to graduate faster can pursue the PhD in criminal justice fast-track option, a rare feature in criminal justice PhD programs. By enrolling in more courses each term, the Fast Track option allows you to finish your PhD in Criminal Justice online program in less time.

Pennsylvania Western University

Pennsylvania Western University - Global Online

Doctorate in Criminal Justice

Law enforcement professionals who want to focus their students on the criminal justice system can consider PennWest’s Doctorate in Criminal Justice degree program. With the exemption of a one-week residency, this doctorate can be completed 100% online. Moreover, this online doctorate is one of the country’s first regionally accredited doctorate in criminal justice programs.

PennWest’s online criminal justice degree offers a curriculum that allows doctoral students to address current criminal justice concerns and policy changes. The program enhances understanding of current issues in the area, builds skills in in-depth analysis, policy implementation, and assessment, and lays the groundwork for leadership in the criminal justice sector. Coursework includes managing crises in the penal system, modern policing techniques, civil liability training, and legal research techniques.

Thanks to its rigorous coursework and flexible pacing, criminal justice students can focus on their current work while advancing their knowledge and skills for upper-level law enforcement positions. Graduates of the program are qualified to pursue higher-level management roles in various industries, including federal, state, and local police agencies, correctional departments, sheriff’s offices, and juvenile justice agencies.

Liberty University

Liberty University

Doctor of Law and Policy

Professionals who want to focus on analyzing the interface between law and public policy and how they interact and affect one another should consider Liberty University’s online Doctor of Law and Policy. This law enforcement program helps students gain capabilities to solve complex legal and policy concerns, devise workable strategies, and contribute to the creation and execution of policy. It’s a 100% online program that can be completed with accelerated 8-week courses.

The curriculum comprises four elements: legal research methods and tools, law, policy, and a five-step capstone sequence. During the program, online graduate students will gain knowledge of the concepts of statesmanship and public policy, the founding era, the Constitution, current issues, the function of the state, the principles of federalism, and the technique of policy analysis.

In addition to those topics, students must showcase their knowledge and skills through a capstone series, allowing them to improve their research techniques.

St. John’s University

St. John's University

Doctor of Professional Studies in Homeland Security

Professionals who want to switch careers and help governments coordinate efforts and actions to safeguard the people, vital infrastructure, and territorial integrity should pursue St. John University’s Doctor of Professional Studies in Homeland Security. This doctorate degree will prepare students to help government and private agencies with challenges and evolving threats related to emergency management, national security, and homeland defense. It includes various actions and programs to boost a country’s security and adaptability.

Students in the program should expect to receive a ground-breaking 78-credit curriculum that will equip them with knowledge about security issues faced by public and private organizations and agencies within the Homeland Security Enterprise. They will also develop better decision-making, organizational design, leadership, and administrative practice skills necessary for emergency and disaster preparedness. The program will draw on international best practices and domestic Homeland Security initiatives.

In addition to online courses, students must participate in a few on-campus intensives in the university’s Homeland Security/Emergency Management Simulation Lab and Cyber Security Lab. These labs provide cutting-edge laboratory simulations and cyber security exercises.

National University

National University

Doctor of Criminal Justice

Professionals who want to advance their careers or positions in the criminal justice field can consider National University’s online Doctor of Criminal Justice program. This doctoral program assists criminal justice professionals in advancing in their fields by developing their management and leadership abilities and practical strategies for dealing with the issues now affecting the industry. They’ll also be equipped with a thorough understanding of criminal justice theory valuable in assessing criminal justice problems and offering workable solutions.

Students in this criminal justice doctorate can modify their program by choosing specializations that best align with their professional goals. Organizational Leadership, Public Administration, Policing, and Homeland Security are the program’s specializations. Through core courses and specializations, students can research, create budgets, plan, coordinate, and oversee activities for community and criminal justice organizations.

Students can complete the required coursework 100% online whenever convenient, with no residency requirement. In addition to having zero residencies, the program does not ask for GRE or GMAT prerequisites and will not require online students to attend any on-campus group projects. National University also provides a special one-to-one learning methodology that gives students the direction, focus, and assistance they need to succeed.

National American University


Doctor of Strategic Security

Professionals planning on enhancing their knowledge and expertise in national security, risk management, counterterrorism, and defense policy can pursue NAU’s online Doctor of Strategic Security program. The program’s curriculum thoroughly explains the intricate security issues that enterprises, governments, and communities must deal with. Through research, policy analysis, and applying security principles, it seeks to cultivate strategic leaders and thinkers who can assess and handle these problems.

This online law enforcement doctorate can be completed entirely online, giving students the maximum flexibility they need to balance their current careers and studies. Online students will receive cutting-edge information, abilities, and insights to handle new threat-based issues and safeguard people, organizations, and the overall strategic environment. This program is best for current mid- and senior-level professionals and those starting in the field.

Online courses include Advanced Strategic Security Analysis and Critique, Strategic Security Information Literacy, and The Strategic Intelligence Process and Policy. Students will receive professional insights from teachers and guest lecturers through online and face-to-face meetings focusing on thwarting and preventing safety and security concerns.

Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University

Doctor of Forensic Sciences

Forensic-trained individuals are in high demand by law enforcement authorities. Pursuing a Doctorate in Forensic Science will give you the training to identify crimes and ensure that the proper procedures are followed while managing crime scenes and evidence. Oklahoma State University’s forensic science degree is one of the country’s best online programs leading to law enforcement careers.

As an applied doctoral study, students will obtain an advanced knowledge base, strategies, methodologies, and procedures for upper-level forensic science careers. In addition to being an applied doctorate, the curriculum uses an interdisciplinary approach, which includes courses from various related disciplines, such as forensic biology, chemistry, anthropology, psychology, crime scene investigation, and legal elements of forensic science. The interdisciplinary method enables students to understand the various branches of forensic sciences thoroughly.

In-depth forensic science disciplines like DNA analysis, fingerprint analysis, ballistics, toxicology, forensic pathology, digital forensics, forensic anthropology, forensic psychology, and forensic entomology are studied by students. The program can also address cutting-edge forensic science fields and technology.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University

Doctor of Computer Science – Cybersecurity and Information Assurance

As the world today relies on computers for faster transactions and efficient storing of files, more and more industries are employing computer science graduates. The profession of law enforcement is relying more and more on computer science. If you want to pursue law employment careers and love technology, you might as well pursue Colorado Technical University’s Doctor of Computer Science and major in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance.

This online doctorate focuses on research, practical knowledge, and leadership topics in computer science and how it can help improve criminal justice practice. Students in the program explore advanced courses in Digital Systems Security, Enterprise Security Architecture, Governance, Quality, Compliance and Ethics, Security Management, and more.

The curriculum also incorporates actual cybersecurity issues. Through the program’s applied projects, students can use their academic knowledge and practical abilities to address current cybersecurity issues. Students may work alone or in groups on assignments that imitate business scenarios or tackle particular cybersecurity problems.

Charles Sturt University

Charles Sturt University

Doctor of Public Safety

Another law enforcement major best for people passionate about ensuring the welfare of the general public is the online Doctor of Public Safety at Charles Sturt University. This doctorate is a 100% online program with no required on-campus visits. This is perfect for adult learners seeking flexibility in their studies.

The program satisfies the growing demand from public safety professionals who want to make a meaningful and original contribution to knowledge in practice. Students get in-depth knowledge of research methodologies and principles relevant to their public safety field, giving them the continual ability to produce new knowledge in their professional practice.

Graduates will undergo a curriculum comprising 70% research and 30% coursework. Students are given supervision and work on strong research techniques and literature review chapters during the coursework phase, preparing them for the research and dissertation phases with assurance.

Top Career Opportunities for Doctorate in Law Enforcement Degree Holders

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers are educators in higher learning institutions, such as colleges and universities. These professionals share knowledge and teach students about a specific major, depending on their field. Instructing and educating students pursuing degrees in criminal justice or related subjects is their primary responsibility. 

Chief Technology Officer

You can pursue leadership positions as a Chief Technology Officer inside law enforcement agencies if you have a degree in computer science. These professionals manage IT operations, oversee the agency’s IT strategy, and promote innovation to improve law enforcement capabilities. 

Law Enforcement Consultant

Numerous government institutions, commercial businesses, and law enforcement agencies want the assistance of people with significant legal knowledge. As a consultant, you can advise on risk assessment, training programs, policy formulation, strategic planning, and other matters pertinent to law enforcement operations.

Training and Education Specialist

The personnel of many law enforcement agencies and organizations must complete specific training courses. You can work as a training and education specialist, planning and delivering training programs to improve the abilities and knowledge of law enforcement officers if you have a doctorate in law enforcement.

Senior Leadership Positions

Earning a doctorate in law enforcement can improve your chances of obtaining senior leadership positions within law enforcement agencies. You might be qualified for jobs like superintendent, commissioner, director, or police chief. Within law enforcement organizations, these jobs entail managing operations, creating policies, and carrying out strategic plans.

Private Security Consultant

Graduates of security programs commonly pursue this path. Private security consultants advise on security precautions, threat assessment, risk management, and crisis response. You can provide your knowledge as a consultant to improve an organization’s security posture and support inquiries.

Researchers in Criminal Justice Organizations

To conduct research, assess programs, and support evidence-based methods in the criminal justice system, government organizations and academic institutions frequently hire researchers with experience in law enforcement. 

Criminal Justice Policy Analyst

You can work as a policy analyst for governmental organizations, think tanks, or research institutions. You would evaluate the efficacy of present law enforcement policies, make suggestions for improvements, and help the criminal justice system make decisions based on solid evidence.

Criminal Justice Administrator

Law enforcement agencies are not the only criminal justice institutions that need experienced administrators; there are prisons, probation offices, and juvenile justice divisions. You can seek administrative positions within these organizations with a doctorate in law enforcement, supervising operations, implementing policies, and assuring timely and effective service delivery.

What You Need To Know Before Pursuing Law Enforcement Careers

Careers in law enforcement can be demanding, rewarding, and diverse. Before considering a career in the field, it is essential to understand what you’re getting into to ensure you won’t regret your choices.

Job Responsibilities

Maintaining public safety, upholding the law, stopping and looking into crimes, and safeguarding the well-being of their communities are all responsibilities of law enforcement personnel. Patrolling defined areas, reacting to crises, conducting investigations, making arrests, filing reports, giving testimony in court, and interacting with the community are just a few examples of duties that might vary according to the function and agency.

Working Conditions

Shift work and irregular work schedules, such as evening, weekend, holiday, and overnight shifts, are frequent in law enforcement employment. Officers may work outside in a variety of climates and possibly hazardous circumstances. The job can be emotionally and physically taxing. Therefore, it’s important to have resilience and good stress management skills.

Physical and Mental Wellness

Many law enforcement professions need a high level of physical preparedness and wellness. Officers may need to participate in regular fitness training to fulfill physical performance standards and be ready for physically demanding situations. It’s crucial to maintain general health and wellness to manage the stress and demands of the job.

Required Skills 

Successful law enforcement officers frequently possess various abilities and traits, including problem-solving, active listening, good communication, decision-making, teamwork, integrity, empathy, and self-discipline. Strong ethical principles, cultural awareness, and the capacity to remain calm under pressure are also crucial.

Career Advancement 

Law enforcement agencies typically offer opportunities for career advancement and promotions based on performance, experience, and education. Advancement may involve promotion to higher ranks, specialized units, supervisory positions, or administrative roles within the agency. Some agencies provide opportunities for further professional development and technical training.

Community Engagement

Law enforcement organizations place a growing emphasis on the value of community involvement and developing strong bonds with the communities they serve. Officers are urged to participate in community outreach programs, community policing initiatives, and collaboration with neighborhood organizations.

Training and Professional Development

Law enforcement officers must participate in various training and professional development activities. Training programs may include a variety of topics, including de-escalation techniques, cultural diversity, crisis intervention, legal updates, forensic developments, and technological applications. Officers must stay current with best practices, evolving legislative requirements, and new developments in law enforcement.

Job Outlook and Salary

The employment prospects for law enforcement positions vary by region and job type. Although there is a consistent demand for law enforcement workers, there can be fierce job competition. Additionally, salaries differ according to criteria like agency size, geography, status, and experience.

Online Doctorate in Law Enforcement - fact

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of obtaining a Criminal Justice degree with a Law Enforcement emphasis?

Law enforcement professionals with doctorates in criminal justice are better equipped to serve their communities. Police officers can be more efficient as law enforcement personnel if they better understand the criminal justice system.

What’s the best major for a career in Law Enforcement?

The best major depends on your interests and goals. It’s important to consider your passion and work experience. It would help if you thoroughly researched each major before deciding what to pursue. Ultimately, the major would be something you love; you are more likely to be inspired to find a well-paying job and progress in your career. 

Is a PhD better than other doctorates?

There’s no telling. A PhD is best for those who want to immerse in teaching at postsecondary institutions and research in the field.  

Key Takeaways

law enforcement facts

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.