The University of North Georgia has received approval of its very first Ph.D. program in the field of criminal justice.
The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved the degree program on May 12 and UNG officials released details on the program this past week.
Dr. Douglas Orr, the incoming head of UNG's Criminal Justice Department, said the addition of the Ph.D. makes the UNG program "all things criminal justice."
"If you want an associate degree, you can get that at the Gainesville campus; if you want a four-year baccalaureate degree, you can get that at the Dahlonega campus; if you want a four-year degree and attend the police academy, you can graduate with a post certificate and a four-year degree; if you're interested in policy, you can get a master's degree; and now, if you're interested in teaching at the university level or being an intelligence analyst, we have a Ph.D. program in criminal justice," Orr said in a recent telephone interview.
The university said there is a growing demand for criminal justice instructors, and Orr confirmed he has fielded questions on a daily basis from law enforcement officers interested in obtaining their doctorate degrees.
"In this Ph.D. program we will produce two [types] of people - an intelligence analyst to go back to the police department or sheriff's department or whatever agency it is to interpret good, empirical research and make it practical," Orr said. "The other person we're going to produce is the university professor who can teach at the university level."
A recent survey of UNG's Master of Science in criminal justice students showed 87.5% were interested in a Ph.D. program in the field, and 75% of those were "very interested" in the possibility of studying at UNG. Nearly all respondents pointed to cost and online availability as deciding factors.
The cohort-based program, which will launch in the fall of 2021, will focus on applied research and require 54 hours of coursework, including 15 hours of dissertation courses, with the ability to complete it in three to five years. All students will be required to complete two teaching practicums and write and defend a dissertation.
The criminal justice Ph.D. that will be offered at UNG will be only the second such degree offered in Georgia; the other is at Georgia State University in Atlanta.