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Posted on January 26, 2017

A gavel rests on top of a book beside a scale.

Cal U will offer a Doctor of Criminal Justice (D.C.J.), a professional doctorate designed to enhance the careers of mid- and senior-level criminal justice practitioners across the country.

Cal U’s Doctor of Criminal Justice is the first regionally accredited D.C.J. degree in the United States and the second doctorate offered at Cal U.

The new doctoral degree program was approved Jan. 26, 2017, by the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

Applications are being accepted now, and classes begin this summer. 

Online learning for working professionals

Students enrolled in the two-year Doctor of Criminal Justice program will complete nearly all of their coursework through Cal U Global Online, the university’s online learning community.

Global Online’s asynchronous, Internet-based courses are an appealing option for criminal justice professionals who are looking to earn an advanced degree without taking time off from their careers.

Two five-day summer residencies on the California University campus will allow students to benefit from face-to-face interaction with nationally recognized criminal justice experts.

Cal U faculty in the D.C.J. program are full-time professors with extensive real-world backgrounds in law enforcement, international and homeland security, criminal investigative analysis, forensic science, cybercrime investigations, legal science and more.

The 42-credit program includes coursework, a comprehensive exam, capstone courses and preparation of a professional portfolio focused on theory and applied research.

Leadership in challenging times

Dr. John Cencich, a professor in Cal U’s Department of Criminal Justice, says the D.C.J. program responds to state and national calls for reform of the criminal justice system.

Unlike Ph.D. programs, which typically are designed for academics or researchers, the Doctor of Criminal Justice focuses on policy implementation and the analytical skills that are crucial for agency leaders, supervisors, investigators and managers in the field of criminal justice.

“Professionals in this program will make in-depth analyses of topics such as federal consent decree implementation and enforcement, police use-of-force, false confessions and wrongful convictions, and reducing recidivism,” Cencich says. “Leadership in criminal justice agencies goes to the very heart of the program.”

Collaborative approach

Cal U’s doctoral program in criminal justice will collaborate with the Pennsylvania Center for Criminological and Forensic Sciences, based at Cal U.

The center provides services for police, district attorneys, coroners and others involved in the administration of justice, including real-time investigative consulting and professional development training.

The center will provide additional credentials to eligible students enrolled in the D.C.J. program, such as a certificate in “Criminal Justice Instructor Development” for students who successfully complete the Criminal Justice Training (CRJ 860) course.

Learn more

To apply or learn more about the new Doctor of Criminal Justice degree at California University of Pennsylvania, visit

In addition to the new doctorate, the Department of Criminal Justice at Cal U offers bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice and a 100% online master’s degree in applied criminology.

For additional information, email Dr. John Cencich at or contact the Global Online Office at