Ph.D. Program

Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Expected Academic, Professional, or Occupational Results


The doctoral program is designed to achieve particular outcomes - to produce graduates who:

  1. Will conduct interdisciplinary research and teach at both the graduate and undergraduate levels in aspects of criminology and/or criminal justice depending upon their specific areas of specialty.
  2. Will be well prepared for analytical and administrative leadership posts in international and domestic research and policy institutions.
  3. Can become policy analysts, managers, and administrators in criminal justice and community venues to help prevent crime in the first place, or alternatively, respond effectively to those who violate the law or who come into contact with the justice system.
  4. Will be at the forefront of the expanding frontier of criminology and an ever evolving criminal justice system, and consequently, will more effectively be able to address crime control and criminal justice policy problems through sophisticated research than would be the case otherwise.

   Admission Requirements

Doctoral program applicants must demonstrate their ability to pursue doctoral level education as evidenced by:

  1. Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.75; or graduate GPA of 3.66 (if applicable).
  2. Verbal and Quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Examination [i.e., generally, the 40th percentile on each GRE component: Quantitative, Verbal and Writing] for admission. Verbal and Quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Examination [i.e., generally, the 50th percentile on each GRE component: Quantitative, Verbal and Writing] for assistantship funding.
  3. Three letters of reference from individuals familiar with the educational performance of the applicant. [i.e., academic rather than professional references].
  4. Two copies of complete and official transcript from undergraduate and graduate institutions.
  5. A personal statement which indicates why the applicant wishes to pursue a doctoral degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology.
  6. A writing sample such as a theoretical paper, research paper, or literature review.
  7. An interview may be requested by the Graduate Admissions Committee.
  8. International applicants must provide official TOEFL scores.
  9. The Graduate Admissions Committee can accept transfer credit for graduate courses from an accredited university with a grade of “B” or better. Transfer credit can be awarded for graduate courses that are substantially similar to ours. Applicants are required to submit Course Descriptions and Course Syllabi for each course.
  10. Applicants seeking Graduate Assistantships must be submitted by February 1st.

  Degree Requirements

The doctoral degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice is a 60 credit-hour doctoral program. The curriculum has been developed to incorporate a theoretically grounded and methodologically sophisticated set of courses as a highly necessary foundation for the evidence driven and “best practices” approaches to the substantive concentration areas. In order to deliver this curriculum effectively, the course work contains three progressive tiers. The three tiers are hierarchical and build upon one another. There are multiple measures to assess student learning throughout the three tiers. The basic layout of the doctoral program is depicted below. Please download the Graduate Programs Guide for further information on the three tiers of course work and complete descriptions of all degree requirements and procedures.

  Degree Program

During the first year of full-time study, students will enroll in the Tier I courses. Tier I provides for 33 credit hours of study and encompasses 27 credit hours for 9 courses in four core areas that provide crucial foundation knowledge on which the rest of the doctoral curriculum is based. These core areas are: (A) Theory; (B) Methodology and Statistical Analysis; (C) Crime & Justice Policy; (D) Extent and Correlates of Crime. Tier I also includes 2 courses, 6 credit hours, in Electives.

Tier I: Core Courses - Eight Required Courses; 3 choices = 11 total

Program Component Courses Credit Hours.
A. Theory - two required courses 2 6
B. Methodology - three required courses 3 9
C. Crime and Justice Policy - one required; one choice 2 6
D. Extent and Correlates - two required courses 2 6
E. Electives - two choices 2 6
Total Tier I 11 33

Tier II: Advanced Methods and Concentrations - One Required Core Course; 4 choices = 5 total

Program Component Courses Credit Hours.
A. Methods - one required; two choices 3 9
B. Concentration - two courses chosen by student 2 6
Total Tier II 5 15

Tier III: Dissertation Research - Four Required Core Courses

Program Component Courses Credit Hours.
A. Dissertation Seminar - two required courses 2 6
B. Concentration - two courses chosen by student 2 6
Total Tier III 5 12
Program Total 20 60

During the second year of full-time study students are involved in the Tier II component of the doctoral program. Tier II contains advanced work in methodology and statistical analysis as well as the six areas of research and teaching concentration or specialization: (A) Justice System and Policy; (B) Crime, Criminals, and Community; (C) Victims, Crime and Justice; (D) Global Perspectives on Crime and Justice; (E) Technology and Criminal Justice; and (F) Terrorism Studies Option. A student will choose one of the six areas and then a minimum of two courses in the specialty area.

 Terrorism Studies Option

Students interested in the study of terrorism and counter-terrorism within the Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal justice program should indicate this in the Statement of Purposes during the application process. All other admission requirements are the same. If accepted into the Ph.D. program and the Terrorism Studies Option, students will be assigned an appropriate advisor from the tenured faculty of the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies. The program of study requires 60 credit hours of study, with terrorism-specific course requirements in Tier 1 (B, D) and Tier II (A, B). For more information, please contact the Criminal justice Graduate Advisor via e­ mail:

 Doctoral Qualifying Exam

Students are required to sit for the doctoral qualifying exam after completing the 36 hours of course work in Tier I. The qualifying exam will test students’ knowledge in the four core areas:(A) Theory; (B) Methodology and Statistical Analysis; (C) Crime & Justice Policy; and (D) Extent and Correlates of Crime. Students enrolled in the Terrorism Studies Option will have an appropriate modified exam. The exam will be constructed and graded by the Doctoral Examination Committee.

  Doctoral Dissertation

The dissertation is a manuscript-length original work initiated and completed independently by the doctoral candidate. This work typically includes an introduction, literature review, outline of hypotheses, discussion of data and methodology, a series of analytical chapters, and a conclusion/discussion chapter of results and implications. There is a rigorous process at all stages of the doctoral dissertation. The steps in this process are as follows:

  1. Prepare a proposal draft that outlines the project that the student intends to undertake.
  2. Selection of a formal dissertation committee consisting of four department faculty. The Chair of the committee must be a tenured faculty member.
  3. Defense of the proposal by the student before the committee and such other members of the faculty and the public who choose to attend the defense. The proposal is announced publicly throughout the university at least two weeks before the scheduled defense.
  4. After successful defense of the proposal, the student is advanced to doctoral candidacy and begins preparing the dissertation under the guidance of the dissertation committee.
  5. Once the committee has approved the work as ready for the final defense, a doctoral candidate proceeds to a formal oral defense of the dissertation before the committee, other faculty, and members of the public. The final dissertation defense is announced at least two weeks prior to the defense date. The committee may accept, accept subject to minor changes, require major changes, or reject the dissertation.
  6. Upon acceptance by the committee, the work(s) must meet all requirements by the Graduate Dean’s office for formatting and processing. Both the traditional dissertation and the three-paper option must be in compliance with university requirements. Students must provide bound copies of this work to their committee as well as any university offices set forth by the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

Course of Study

In addition to the two Tier I electives, students are allowed to choose the Tier II area of specialization in which they will concentrate their independent courses and research that will lead to the dissertation. Students should meet with their advisor to develop an individualized course of study that best meets their interests and needs.