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Doctoral

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Phd students at a conference

The PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice is a sociological criminology program that highlights social inequality and public policy in the study of crime and justice issues. The program produces scholars with strong backgrounds in the substantive areas of criminology, criminal justice, theory, inequality and policy as well as in research methods and statistics. Designed primarily for students who are interested in pursuing careers in higher education, the course offerings also provide students the education and skills needed to be employed as researchers in public and private agencies. Graduates are prepared as scholars able to conduct research, teach college and university courses in their areas of specialization, and to provide service to the discipline and community.

All students must complete 48 hours of course work at the post master's level. These hours include 12 hours of core courses, 12 hours of research skills courses, 12 hours of elective courses, and 12 hours of dissertation-related credits. Students must also pass comprehensive exams and complete a dissertation. Find out more about your Plan of study.


Classes & Requirements
PhD Program Handbook


Dissertation Information


The dissertation is a scholarly work investigating a problem of significance and should constitute a meaningful contribution to the body of existing knowledge regarding matters of criminology & criminal justice policy or practice. It is the culmination of a program of advanced study leading to a doctoral degree and, as such, is expected to demonstrate a high level of scholarly competence. It must show that the candidate is capable of conceptualizing and conducting sophisticated original research, analysis and reporting on an approved topic related to crime and justice by use of accepted scientific methods.

Minimum time to completion

Generally speaking, a quality dissertation will take a minimum of one to two years to complete. In most instances it would be unrealistic for a student to think that s/he could complete this stage of doctoral study in less time. Generally, the program entails a period of six months between admission to candidacy and granting of the degree.

Dissertation Prospectus

The prospectus is a formal presentation of the proposed dissertation topic. The prospectus defense should be scheduled in coordination with the student's major professor and Ph.D. graduate program director. This request must be submitted in writing to both parties. Each faculty member who is asked to participate in the prospectus defense must be provided with a copy of all relevant materials at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date. Once scheduled, the prospectus defense will be announced to all committee members through memorandum issued by the Ph.D. graduate program director. The chair of the committee directs all proceedings, retaining the authority to acknowledge members and participants in a fair and orderly fashion. The student will be allowed a reasonable and adequate amount of time to present and justify the proposed topic. A reasonable and adequate amount of time will also be allotted to discussion and questions regarding the proposed topic.

Final Defense

Students must arrange in writing a date and time for the final defense in coordination with the dissertation chair and Ph.D. graduate program director. The dissertation chair and gradate program director will notify the student in writing that the request for scheduling of a final defense has been accepted, considered and approved. Once scheduled, the final defense will be announced to all Department members through memorandum issued by the Ph.D. graduate program director and is open to all faculty, staff and students of the University. The chair of the committee directs all proceedings, retaining the authority to acknowledge members and participants in a fair and orderly fashion. The student will be allowed a reasonable and adequate amount of time to present relevant findings. A reasonable and adequate amount of time will also be allotted to discussion and questions regarding the student's work. Once the presentation has concluded, the chair will dismiss the student so that committee members may discuss and vote upon the acceptability of the final product.

There are three possible outcomes to this process:

Accept without revision - must receive unanimous endorsement.

Accept with revision - required changes must be made and approved by the dissertation Chair within 14 calendar days.

Reject - final product is unacceptable and needs considerable work in order to be approved.


If your research involves human subjects it must be approved in advance of any data collection using the Application for Review of Potentially Exempted Research Involving Human Subjects. If your dissertation required human subjects approval, you must include a statement of approval in your Methodology Chapter (e.g., "This research was approved by the College of Arts and Letters Human Subjects Review Committee as exempt from full review in month year.").