The field of criminal justice is one of the most critical lines of work to help protect all of us as citizens – and to help deter crimes from occurring in the first place.

Saint Leo University prides itself on offering associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in criminal justice. The university is thrilled to announce the launch of a brand new criminal justice doctoral program, which will first be offered in the fall of 2018.

We recently caught up with Dr. Robert Diemer, a professor and director of this doctoral program and Saint Leo's Department of Public Safety Administration, to discuss the specifics of what this new curriculum will offer and how it can benefit students in their professional endeavors.

Q: What were the reasons behind launching this program?

A: Just 15 months ago, no schools in the U.S. even offered this doctoral degree. Now only one other school has one. That's why we're proud to be a pioneer in offering this program.

At the doctoral level, you can get a degree in philosophy, education, business administration, and other areas. Some of these degrees do offer a specialization in criminal justice. But many of these are research-based programs. We are offering a practitioner-base program at a practitioner-based university, which incorporates courses on how to be an effective educator into the core criminal justice coursework. This type of program does not exist anywhere else right now.

Ultimately, we wanted to ensure those looking to get into education had the foundation of practical applications of the necessary methods and procedures in an academic setting. Graduates will have the skills to teach in a traditional classroom or online environment.

Q: Who is this program really intended for?

A: In our field, there are two types of people who would go for this degree. The first is those who go into this program with their main focus on academics and learning the numerous concepts covered on the curriculum, which is the minority. The second category is those who want to pursue teaching after they either retire from a traditional criminal justice career or teach while they're still actively working in the field.

Q: Are there multiple curriculum tracks in this program?

A: Yes. There are two tracks. Each track is 60 credit hours and should take three and a half years to complete.

The homeland security track is geared toward criminal justice practitioners who want to learn at the doctoral level and really want to focus on the academics of the curriculum.

The other track focuses on education and is more for those wanting to teach in this field. This will probably be the more popular of the two tracks.

Q: What are the basic requirements for enrollment into this program?

A: To be considered for admission, you should have:

A master's degree in any discipline from a regionally accredited academic institution
At least a 3.25 GPA in a master's program you've completed
Letters of recommendation

I should mention that anyone with a GPA under 3.25 can still apply for conditional admission .

Q: Where will this DCJ program be offered, and how long is the program?

A: This is an online program that can be completed anywhere. However, there are three short residencies built into it to help students better connect with Saint Leo and feel like they're part of an actual university community.

The first residency will be at University Campus in Saint Leo, Florida. Beginning on a Thursday at the start of the program, students will have one full day of orientation to familiarize themselves with our university, the library, financial aid, and other services we offer. From Friday through Sunday, classes will be held.

The second residency is at our Newport News, Virginia Education Center. This will be from Friday through Sunday and will cover aspects of conducting research.

Finally, the third residency will be at our Morrow, Georgia Education Center in the Atlanta area. This residency will also be Friday through Sunday.

These residencies are spread out throughout the course of the program. Students will also receive special hotel rates in each of these three locations.

I should mention that it's a cohort model, so all students will go through the program together. We're aiming to have 18-22 students per class.

Q: What topics will be covered in the curriculum, and what are some examples of courses?

A: The courses we've developed are very timely as far as what students are being impacted by thru society today. We try to hit all areas of criminal justice. There are also three education-specific courses focused on the concepts of teaching.

Some of the core topics we'll cover include:



Legal issues

Human resources


Data analytics

Examples of specific courses will include:

Transformational Leadership

Critical Incidents in Criminal Justice

International Perspective in Criminal Justice

Societal Trends in Policing

Global Extremism and Mass Movements

Terrorism, Domestic Radicalization

Q: Who are the faculty teaching in this program?

A: We'll have a nice mix of criminal justice practitioners and those teaching the education-specific courses to give students a full range of instructors and perspectives.

Q: Will this program involve a traditional dissertation?

A: Yes, but we're taking a little different approach to it.

We're converting a typical, independently completed dissertation into four actual classes. This way, students will have benchmarks to meet to ensure they are fully on track with the degree and dissertation and can walk away with a DCJ diploma.

Q: What types of career opportunities can graduates of this program expect to be considered for?

A: This degree can help you advance in your current organization or field, or it can help you transition into a career in education.

If you work in a criminal justice organization, you may be able to move up the ladder to a higher managerial position than what you currently have.

You could also seek a teaching position at a:

Community college

State college


Police academy

Q: How can students learn more about this program?

A: You can contact myself directly on my cell phone at 352-467-0722, or you can e-mail me at