Doctoral Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in Criminology and Criminal Justice is only granted to students who have demonstrated the following:

  • Mastery of the body of knowledge in criminology and criminal justice
  • The capacity to do original and independent thinking in the fields of criminology and criminal justice
  • The ability to do significant independent research in criminology and criminal justice

This knowledge and its application to scientific research is reached by completing the following requirements:

  1. Doctoral credit hours. The actual number of credit hours will vary depending on students’ prior educational experience; mastery of materials in the areas of research methods, statistics and theory, and a substantive area in the discipline; and level of preparation for the comprehensive examinations.Completion of CCJ 5285, CCJ 5109, CCJ 5606, CCJ 5705, CCJ 5706, CCJ 5740, CCJ 6065, and CCJ 5981r or their equivalent, as well as 2 of the following 3 courses: CCJ 5707, CCJ 5709, and CCJ 6741r, and 24 dissertation hours. Additional courses may be necessary as determined by the student and his / her doctoral committee.
  2. University residency. The University requires that all doctoral students establish residency before earning the degree. Residency is defined as the completion of a minimum of 24 graduate credit hours within any consecutive 12-month period. The residency requirement is intended to ensure that doctoral students contribute to and benefit from the complete spectrum of educational, professional, and enrichment opportunities provided on the campus of this major research university.
  3. Comprehensive (or preliminary) exams. Doctoral students must receive passing grades for each of two exams: (1) theory in criminology and criminal justice and (2) research methods and statistics. These exams are each developed, administered, and graded by a College committee. These are 8-hour exams administered over two days during the fall and spring semesters.   Once the examinations have been passed, the student will be advanced to candidacy.
  4. Admission to candidacy. Following the completion of comprehensive exams, an Admission to Candidacy form is sent to the Registrar’s office and the student becomes a candidate for the doctoral degree. At this stage, the student is eligible to register for dissertation credit hours (at least 24 dissertation credit hours are required). The University requires a minimum period of six months between the admission to candidacy and the granting of the degree. Most students take a year or longer to complete their dissertation.
  5. Prospectus defense. Once the student has been admitted to candidacy, the dissertation becomes the focal point of their studies. The major professor and supervisory committee assume major roles in helping the student define a project and complete it. The prospectus defense is a special 1-2 hour meeting held by the doctoral student and the doctoral committee members to reach consensus regarding the proposal and research methods.
  6. Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval Policy. Students are reminded to seek IRB approval prior to commencing any research involving human subjects.  The student’s name must appear on the approval form as a PI or co-PI for the period of time when the student’s research was conducted.  Failure to obtain the required approvals may result in the dissertation being permanently embargoes and unpublishable in any form.
  7. Dissertation and dissertation defense. During the preparation of the dissertation, the doctoral student is required by the University to complete at least 24 dissertation credits. Until the dissertation is completed, students must register for at least 2 dissertation credits each semester, even after they have completed the University minimum of 24 credits. All doctoral students are required to register for at least 1 hour of dissertation credit during the semester in which they graduate. The formal dissertation defense is open to anyone in the University, and the doctoral thesis must be presented in an acceptable form before a student will receive clearance from the University to graduate.
  8. University time limits for degree completion. The University has established that the requirements for the doctoral degree be completed within five calendar years of the date of the student’s achieving admission to candidacy (this occurs after the successful completion of the comprehensive exams). If the dissertation is not completed within this 5-year period, the student will be required to retake the comprehensive examinations.