The University of North Georgia made a major stride this month with the approval of its first Ph.D. program. The University System of Georgia voted to approve a criminal justice Ph.D. with a focus in intelligence at UNG during a board of regents meeting on May 12. The first cohort of the program will begin classes in the fall of 2021.
“I think we’re a big player now,” said Douglas Orr, who will take over as UNG’s criminal justice department head on June 1. “This just further exemplifies that UNG is a big partner in the USG system. Not to say the others are not meaningful. I’m just saying that we’re a heavy hitter now.”
The program will include two years of coursework followed by an allotted five years to write and defend a dissertation, although Orr said some students will finish their dissertations in as little as a year and a half to two years.
It is only the second criminal justice Ph.D. program in the state of Georgia, and the first to focus on intelligence.
Orr said UNG would now fill an academic gap in the state of Georgia that he had been observing for years prior. Georgia State’s program — the only other criminal justice Ph.D. in the state — puts an emphasis on criminology, limiting the area of focus for criminal justice students in the state of Georgia.
“There are a lot of criminal justice students that try to understand the ‘Why’ of criminal justice, and they would probably go to Georgia State,” Orr said. “But there was never a place for the person who wants to understand the ‘How’. Now we have that, and we have that at UNG.”
Graduates of the UNG Ph.D. program will be equipped to apply for positions as intelligence analysts — law enforcement experts who specialize in combing through data and converting research into policy. They could also use their degrees to become professors in criminal justice.
The approval of the Ph.D. program further bolsters the school’s criminal justice department, which already offers a wide range of degrees.
Students looking to pursue a two-year degree can find that on the Gainesville campus. Those looking for a four-year degree can earn it on the Dahlonega campus. UNG also has a police academy and a criminal justice master's program.
The Ph.D. program is simply the latest update.
“We are all things criminal justice now,” Orr said. “It is the full package.”