DPA vs. DCJ?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by chrisjm18, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I would like some opinions on the Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) vs. the Doctor of Criminal Justice (DCJ).

    I am a former cop who currently works in juvenile justice (state) but my main goal is to teach criminal justice courses at a 2-year college. If that doesn't work out, I hope to advance in a governmental juvenile justice or criminal justice role.

    As I work towards completing my master's in criminal justice, I am still unsure if I want to pursue a doctorate in criminal justice or a doctorate in public administration. The DCJ is a 2-year professional doctorate offered by the California University of Pennsylvania. The program has no dissertation or capstone project. Instead, it culminates with 2 capstone courses and a professional portfolio. The DPA is offered by the West Chester University of Pennsylvania and has a criminal justice mini-concentration (9 credits). The program can be completed in 2 - 2 1/2 years and culminates with a 4 part/chapter capstone research project.

    Which program do you think would be more marketable? What are the advantages or disadvantages of either or both?

    Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.A.) < West Chester University

    Doctor of Criminal Justice | Online Doctorate
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2017
  2. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    My opinion, and it's just that, an opinion, since I have no data to support it, is that the D.C.J. is a very unproven commodity. CUP just started offering it recently, so I don't think there have been any graduates yet.

    Also my opinion, is that any doctoral degree that doesn't have a dissertation or at least a doctoral project, showing advanced research skills, is going to be viewed very skeptically by academic hiring committees. I see the D.C.J. as more of a cherry-on-top "decoration" for law enforcement executives, similar to the Doctor of Law & Policy at Northeastern University.

    It's anyone's guess as to how the degree will be received in academia, and my guess is that it will "check the box" for schools who want to hire an experienced CJ practitioner, but need someone who has a doctoral degree for accreditation or other regulatory purposes. As a stand-alone credential, I'm very skeptical.

    Also, keep in mind that you will be perfectly qualified to teach CJ at a 2-year college with a RA Master's degree.
  3. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your feedback. I agree with you especially concerning the lack of dissertation or research project. I want to have that sense of pride and accomplishment by completing a publishable doctoral research project. I am aware that I will be qualified to teach with a master's at a 2-year college. I have decided to pursue the community college teaching program at CSU Dominguez Hills in January. I am primarily interested in the semester-long teaching internship aspect of the program. Hopefully, I can get my "foot in the academic door." :)
    Prof cook likes this.
  4. decimon

    decimon Well-Known Member

    From Ashworth to RA schools. That in itself is interesting.
  5. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Bruce knows more about this than me but even based on general principles I'd be skeptical. If you can teach with a Masters the ROI for the Doctorate is going to have to be quite big just to get your money back.
  6. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I appreciate your feedback. I am not too concerned about the ROI. Earning a doctorate is a childhood dream that I must fulfill. I could pursue a doctorate in any field because the primary goal is not professional but rather personal. However, if I can "kill 2 birds, with 1 stone" I would love to do that. That is why I am also keeping career opportunities in mind when deciding which field to pursue. At the end of the day, I just want a doctorate for my personal gratification.

    Ps. I can earn the DPA at WCUPA for under $28, 000 at the in-state tuition rate with 9 transfer credits to the CJ concentration.
  7. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    It is indeed interesting :)
  8. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Didn't you just answer your own question?
  9. me again

    me again Well-Known Member


    From a cost-analysis ROI, the CALU DCJ is prohibitively expensive, unless your employer is footing the bill. Otherwise, it looks like an untested gem because it's RA. Will it matter that there is no dissertation? It remains to be seen. With the way the federal Department of Education is screwing up the accreditation process, the future of doctoral degrees is somewhat vague in the United States. For teaching at a CC, the fact that it's dissertation-less is moot. Conversely, why pay 150k for a teaching position that pays 28k annually (or pays even less part-time)? Here is CALU tuition:
    California University of Pennsylvania - Tuition

    From a cost-analysis ROI, the WCU DPA is also prohibitively expensive, unless your employer is footing the bill. Will it matter that it has two capstone courses instead of a dissertation? Probably not, but with the way the federal Department of Education is screwing up the accreditation process, the future of doctoral degrees is becoming a clouded issue in the United States. For teaching at a CC, the fact that it's a capstone-based program is moot. Conversely, why pay 90k for a teaching position that pays 28k annually (or pays even less part-time)? Here is WCU tuition:
    West Chester University - Tuition

    Also, CJ is completely different from public administration (PA). On the surface, it seems like the two should be logically interrelated disciplines, but in actuality, they are not (apples and oranges). If you decide to study PA, then be prepared to be bored, especially if CJ is your forte.

    For both programs, the excessive cost-factor seems to be the biggest issue. CALU is 150k and WCU is 90k. Those are base costs that do not anticipate other unexpected expenses. If you're not filthy rich or if your employer is not paying most of the costs, then stay away. Otherwise, both look acceptable (at this juncture).
  10. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    I find it interesting as well. It's also avant garde, innovative, etc. It again proves that there is more than one way to "skin a rabbit". And if that is your objective, by all means, do it. I find it admirable that someone figured out another way into the "house". Front door, back door, side door...Who cares? If you want to get into that house, you figure out a way.
  11. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    Excellent points, although it should be noted that CUP (and I assume other PA state schools) charge online students who are active military, military dependents, and military veterans the in-state tuition rate, which makes an enormous difference.
  12. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Where did you get those figures you quoted?

    I live in the Commonwealth so I will be paying in-state tuition. Even if I was paying out-of-state tuition, neither program would cost more than $42, 000.

    DCJ at Cal U of PA
    In-state: $663.55 per credit x 42 credits = $27, 869.10
    Out-of-state: $998.60 per credit x 42 credits = $41, 941.20

    DPA at WCUPA
    In-state: $851.15 per credit x 43 credits = $36, 599.45
    Out-of-state: $878.10 per credit x 43 credits = $37, 758.30

    The DPA program allows transfer of 9 credits from a master's degree program to meet the concentration requirement. That's a saving of $7, 660.35.

    Let me know if I missed some other cost that would have skyrocketed the cost DCJ to 150k and the DPA to 90k.
  13. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Voodoo math was used to achieve the aforementioned incorrect results. The best way to achieve voodoo math is to start the day without caffeine. Your math is much more accurate. :)
  14. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    You can meet the minimum requirements to become an adjunct instructor with just a master's degree, but that doesn't mean you're going to get the job. There is considerable competition from those with doctoral degrees.

    A DPA with nine CJ credits is not going to demonstrate doctoral-level expertise in CJ, but it probably won't matter since your master's is in CJ. If I remember correctly, I had an adjunct instructor who was a probation officer and had a PhD in management or counseling. They probably won't care that the DCJ doesn't have a dissertation either. Plenty of people with JDs are adjuncts; it's just usually not enough to get a full-time job at a 4-year school these days.

    So, you may need a doctorate to be competitive, but is it really worth it for a low-paying, part-time job?
  15. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    A few quick thoughts, for what they’re worth . . .

    First, one Pennsylvanian to another, WCU has a much better reputation than CalU. Historically, both were originally state teachers colleges. But WCU has always had a stronger reputation in areas ranging from business education to the arts. Could be its proximity to the metro Philly area or its location (i.e., less in the boondocks than CalU). Then there’s the confusion caused by CalU’s name (shared with IUP – Indiana U. of PA for non-PA folk)…

    DPA or DCJ? I’d lean toward the DPA because it’s been around longer, has a larger degree of acceptance, and is more diversified if you want to move into other teaching areas.

    But I also notice that no one has mentioned the most important credential for teaching CJ, which is one you already have: you have been a cop. And even at the community college level, hiring parties lean toward current or former LEO’s (again, for the novices, that means law enforcement officers) to teach future LEO’s.

    At the community college level, FWIW, I think that combining a M.S. in CJ with a DPA is a winner.
  16. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    My primary goal is not to be an adjunct. I want to teach full-time at a community college. Of course, if it doesn't work out, I want to advance to a leadership role in a governmental or non-profit juvenile justice agency. At that point, I would be interested in being an ajunct.
  17. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Hey Steve,

    Thank you for your insight. I do agree that WCUPA has a better reputation than Cal U. U.S. News Ranked WCUPA 64, Regional Universities (North) while Cal U is Ranked Not Published in the same category. In addition, WCUPA's college of business and public management is both AACSB and NAASPA accredited.

    I think I am starting to lean more to the DPA especially since my backup plan is to advance in juvenile justice either with the state or a non-profit agency. I'll be attending WCUPA's Graduate Open House next month. I think it will be a great opportunity to speak with the program coordinator and program faculty.

    Off topic... did you know that Pennsylvania is home to 7 of the U.S. News (2018) Top 100 universities in the U.S.?
  18. GAGuy

    GAGuy New Member

    I'm in a similar situation as you. Veteran police officer and LE instructor that wants to teach at the college level. I was looking at Valdosta State's DPA along with a few other programs. I'm pretty sure that I read in one of the replies the other day that someone felt that public administration and criminal justice were not closely academic related. In Georgia, our law enforcement "Command College" teaches criminal justice administration and you graduate with a master's in public administration. They are very closely related to each other.

    Out of the two you listed, I would go with the DPA and a criminal justice specialty if available. I'm not sold on the "no dissertation" thing though.

    Ultimately, I registered for U of Cumberlands Ph.D. leadership degree with a specialization of criminal justice. Over 1/3rd of the degree will be PhD level criminal justice courses (24 out of 66 hours). I felt that with my goal being to teach at the college level, the Ph.D. would be more desirable than a DPA.
  19. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Congrats on registering at U of Cumberlands!

    I looked at Valdosta’s DPA which is pretty affordable. I saw where they have a 15-credit concentration available which I believe includes criminal justice course selection. I was turned off by the GRE requirement though. I also looked at Cumberland’s Ph.D. but I don’t like the school because of specific stance it holds. In addition, the Ph.D. program requires the GRE or MAT.

    WCUPA’s DPA only requires the GRE if your master’s GPA is below 3.85. I am trying to maintain a 4.0 so I don’t have to worry about taking the GRE. The DPA offers a 9-credit criminal justice concentration and does require a research capstone project similar to a 5-chapter dissertation. I think the capstone project is the common culminating requirement for professional doctorates such as the DPA, DBA, Ed.D., DNP, etc. I agree that the Ph.D. is a better degree in academia, especially at R1/R2 universities. However, I’ve seen several public administration faculty positions which require a Ph.D. in PA or a DPA.

    Below is the WCUPA’s culminating experience, designed to be completed over 2 semesters:

    DPA 801 Capstone Seminar I: Research Questions and Framing the Literature
    DPA 802 Capstone Seminar II: Data and Measurements
    DPA 803 Capstone Seminar III: Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
    DPA 804 Capstone Seminar IV: Findings and Recommendations
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2017
  20. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I disagree. Criminal Justice administration is not the same as criminal justice the same way that healthcare administration is not the same as health science. Criminal justice administration is just a management degree targeted at criminal justice professionals.

    Public administration is pretty much the business degree for non-profits and government. You're not going to learn criminological theory or laws relevant to the CJ field. CJ Is most closely related to criminology and sociology. In reality, there is not a clear difference between criminology and CJ when it comes to modern curricula. I don't know about now, but a few years ago, professors with PhDs in sociology outnumbered every other type of doctorate among the ranked CJ programs. Schools would rather have someone with a CJ or criminology doctorate, but they often have to settle for sociology.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2017

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