Doctor of Philosophy in Public Safety

Take your public safety leadership to the highest level.

Investigate relevant research and theory in the fields of criminal justice, emergency management, law enforcement, and other public safety professions. This program is designed to strengthen your ability to lead, teach, or consult in the field of public safety. It also delivers an advanced understanding of the complex, multijurisdictional management issues faced by public safety organizations in the post-9/11 environment.

Outcome goals and graduates' proficiency levels

Each doctoral program and specialization is designed around expected learning outcomes (see Expected Program Outcomes below). End of program performance is determined during the comprehensive exam and dissertation process. Because the work is unique to each learner's dissertation or research topic and the criteria for evaluation are aligned to that work, we do not collect data on proficiency levels for doctoral programs.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Safety specializations

  • Criminal Justice
  • Emergency Management

Quality and Professional Relevance

  • Capella is a preferred provider of higher education for the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA).
  • Capella is the first and currently only university recognized by Quality Matters™ at the program level for our commitment to course quality assurance in support of our public safety programs.
  • Capella is one of very few online universities to offer a full progression of BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Public Safety.
  • Capella faculty have extensive public safety experience in organizations such as the FBI, NYPD, Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Customs, U.S. Army, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
  • All Capella Public Safety specializations were developed in a post-9/11, post-Hurricane Katrina environment.
  • The National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have designated Capella a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

Expected Program Outcomes for All Specializations

  1. Understand the current practices of the public safety fields.
  2. Conduct valid, reliable, and ethical research.
  3. Think critically and write effectively in one’s discipline and/or professional practice.
  4. Effectively advocate for social change and community improvements.
  5. Embrace the need for diversity/multicultural perspectives in decision-making.
  6. Develop social and professional ethics.
  7. Communicate professionally.

Doctoral degree graduates

Data from graduates across all doctoral programs have been combined for these Career Outcomes results.

Capella University doctoral graduates report satisfaction with salary, benefits, and responsibilities. Half of the graduates surveyed work in higher education and another 12 percent hold positions in the P–12 environment.

Satisfaction with Job Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who answered "satisfied" or "very satisfied"
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.


Doctoral graduates report receiving salary increases and getting recognition from employers for their Capella degrees. Around half those surveyed have advanced in their careers and just over a third have presented at a professional conference or worked as a consultant.

Career & Professional Accomplishments Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who indicated they had accomplished each item
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.

Doctoral degree graduates

Data from graduates across all doctoral programs have been combined for these Student Experience results.

Capella University doctoral graduates think their education meets academic program outcomes and helps them meet career goals. They are likely to recommend Capella to others.

Satisfaction with Capella Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who answered affirmatively
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.

Our doctoral graduates report they have gained practical knowledge and expertise which are applicable in a range of professional settings.

Improvement in Skills and Abilities Doctoral Degree Graduates

Percentage of respondents who rated themselves as "proficient" or "distinguished" on ability to demonstrate the skill or ability on the job.
Source: Responses to the Alumni Outcomes Survey one year after graduation. The data were collected during Q2 2012 – Q1 2013.


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Capella believes in being clear about the real cost, time, and value of a Capella degree The Gainful Employment disclosures, required by the US Department of Education (DOE) (under 34 CFR 688.6 ), provide some information about completion, expenses and occupations based on learners who graduated between July 2012 and June 2013. Most of our students are part-time so they might not take a full course load or attend all 4 quarters each year. We took that into account in calculating these data. For example, we define program length for certificates and master's and doctoral degrees as the number of calendar quarters it takes a typical student to complete a program. The DOE has defined time to complete for a Bachelor's degree as 4 years. Program cost is based on the specific pricing structure for each program which is either a cost per credit or a cost per active quarter.

Other related information may be found on the Learning Outcomes, Career Outcomes, and Student Experience tabs on this page.

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Learn more about these values and how they are calculated»

Earn Your Doctoral Degree

Become an expert in your field. Enroll in an online PhD, PsyD, or EdD program at Capella.


Alumni Success Story Quote

Photo of Laura Pettler, PhD Laura Pettler, PhD

"Another aspect that was very important was the partnership Capella has with the Federal Bureau of Investigation— it lent credibility to the program."

Watch Laura's story »