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Doctoral Program

Ph.D. Program

Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Expected Academic, Professional, or Occupational ResultsExpected-Academic

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 RequirementsAdmission-Requirements

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

  1. Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.750; or graduate GPA of 3.660 (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 1.

Degree RequirementsDegree-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. 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.

Required Courses (42 credits)
CRIM.5010Criminology Theory: Foundations
CRIM.5900Descriptive & Inferential Statistics
CRIM.5910Research Design
CRIM.6010Criminology Theory: Advanced
CRIM.6020Nature & Extent of Crime
CRIM.6890Special Topics - (taken two times)
CRIM.6900Advanced Regression
CRIM.6910Advanced Research Design
CRIM.6920Qualitative Research Methods
CRIM.6XXXProfessional Development
CRIM.7XXXAdvanced Qualitative Methods
CRIM.7XXXResearch Seminar - (taken two times)
Controlled Elective (3 credits)
One of the following courses
CRIM.7XXXAdvanced Statistical Analysis (3)
CRIM.7XXXQualitative Data Analysis (3)
Free Elective (3 credits)
One course that is either in or related to criminal justice (could be external to the School of Criminology & Justice Studies)
Dissertation (12 credits)

Terrorism Studies OptionTerrorism-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:

Required Courses (39 credits)
CRIM.5010Criminological Theory: Foundations
CRIM.5900Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
CRIM.5910Research Design
CRIM.6020Nature and Extent of Crime
CRIM.6690Counterterrorism Policies & Strategies
CRIM.6900Advanced Regression
CRIM.6910Advanced Research Design
CRIM.6920Qualitative Research Methods
CRIM.7100Advanced Research in Terrorism
CRIM.6XXXProfessional Development
CRIM.6XXXAdvanced Theory of Political Violence
CRIM.7XXXAdvanced Qualitative Methods
CRIM.7XXXResearch Seminar
Controlled Electives (9 credits)
One of the following courses:
CRIM.5710Domestic Terrorism and Violent Extremism
CRIM.5XXXTheories of Civil War
One of the following courses:
CRIM.5720Comparative Terrorism & Counter-terrorism
Electiveeither inside or outside the department
One of the following courses:
CRIM.7XXXAdvanced Statistical Analysis
CRIM.7XXXQualitative Data Analysis
Dissertation (12 credits)

Preliminary and Comprehensive ExaminationsDoctoralQualifyingExam

There are two examinations outside of the classroom that students must take and pass in the doctoral program: preliminary exam (PE) and the comprehensive exam (CE). 

Preliminary Exam

The PE will be given to students after completion of eighteen hours of required course work in May at the conclusion of the spring semester for both full-time and part-time students. A retake of the PE will be conducted in August prior to the star of the fall semester of the student's second year, in time to allow a final decision of pass/fail before course work starts. Thus students are given two chances to pass the preliminary exam.

The purpose of the PC will be to assess the students' comprehension and application of materials required in the below:

CRIM.5010Criminological Theory: Foundations
CRIM.6010Criminological Theory: Advanced
CRIM 6XXXAdvanced Theory of Political Violence
CRIM.5900Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
CRIM.5910Research Design
CRIM.6900Advanced Regression Analysis

Comprehensive Exam

The CE will be administered during the students' third year in the program (if full-time) or in the student's last year of coursework. More specifically the CE will be taken in January, before the start of the spring semester. The purpose of the CE will be for the student to propose, design and justify a research study in a manner reflective of the general and  specific theoretical, substantive, and methodological knowledge expected of students embarking on their dissertation research. Because the topic of the exam will be reflective of the student's expertise and interests, and the exam will be completed  in take home format, enhanced expectations for the quality of responses will be assessed accordingly.

Dissertation RequirementDoctoral-Dissertation

Consistent with practice of other top doctoral programs nationally, the doctoral program in Criminology and Criminal Justice accepts the three-paper option as an alternative to the traditional dissertation. Students must complete one OR the other but not both.

The traditional dissertation 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.

Alternatively, the three-paper option is composed of a set of articles that together represent a significant and coherent contribution to out knowledge in Criminology and Criminal Justice. These three papers, once completed, are preceded by an introduction that places the articles in context of the relevant academic literature. The works are then followed by a chapter that draws out the principal conclusions and their relevance and contribution to the field. These papers are written in the style of a journal article and must be of publishable quality, as determined by the candidate's committee.