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Doctorate in Criminology and Criminal Justice

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The Doctor of Philosophy degree in criminology and criminal justice is a valuable advanced degree that gives successful graduates specialized knowledge and a greatly increased earning potential whether working in their chosen field or pursuing an academic career.

Ph.D. graduates excel in leadership roles and are a highly valued part of the criminology and criminal justice workforce. Those who choose to work in academia are able to pursue research opportunities while also teaching and mentoring future generations of criminology and criminal justice students.

Admission Requirements:

Admission into the criminology and criminal justice doctoral program requires an earned master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice or a master’s degree in any field with a minimum of 12 graduate credits in criminology and criminal justice, sociology, psychology, political science, or other social science discipline.  Applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.00 or better (A=4.00) in all prior graduate coursework and in the last 60 credit hours of undergraduate study. 

Applicants must submit a graduate school application, undergraduate and graduate transcripts, recent Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, three letters of recommendation to the doctoral program speaking to the individual’s academic abilities and potential as a scholar, a writing sample, and a personal statement highlighting academic achievements and goals for pursuing a doctoral-level education.

International students are encouraged to consult with advisors for additional requirements including satisfaction of the English language requirement.

The priority application deadline to be considered for university-level scholarships and fellowships is December 1 each year for fall admission.  To receive full consideration for program-level assistantships, applications should be received no later than January 15 prior to the fall of anticipated enrollment. 

International students are encouraged to consult with advisors for additional requirements including satisfaction of the English language requirement.

Degree Requirements:

Doctoral degree requirements include 11 seminars, 24 hours of dissertation credits, passage of the preliminary exam and qualifying paper, and successful completion of the dissertation.

Course requirements include 3 core seminars, 4 research toolkits, 2 professional development courses, and 5 guided electives as outlined below, along with 24 dissertation hours. (A maximum of 6 dissertation hours may be counted prior to passing the qualifying paper.)

3 Core Required Courses:
  • CCJ500 Foundations of Criminal Justice
  • CCJ504 Criminological Theory
  • CCJ505 Nature of Crime
4 Required Research Tools:
  • CCJ510A Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice (or POLS500A or SOC512)
  • CCJ510B Data Analysis and Interpretation (or SOC526A)
  • CCJ510C Advanced Multivariate Statistics (or SOC526B)
  • an additional research methods/statistics toolkit course chosen in consultation with your academic advisor.

2 Professional Development Courses:

  • CCJ525A Research in Criminology & Criminal Justice
  • CCJ525B Teaching in Criminology & Criminal Justice

5 Guided Elective Courses: Elective courses are selected with consultation from your academic advisor.

View Catalog details and Courses.

PhD Criminology

Preliminary Exam/Qualifying Paper

All doctoral students must successfully pass a preliminary exam and complete a qualifying paper before advancing to candidacy. The preliminary examination is designed to assess a student’s mastery of the knowledge garnered from the five core courses (CCJ500, CCJ504, CCJ505, CCJ510A, and CCJ510B) and ability to critically assess and integrate across the broad areas of criminology, criminal justice, and research and statistics. Students generally sit for the exam after completing the core sequence (spring of their second year in the program).

PhD students will begin their qualifying paper timeline upon completion of their preliminary exam. The qualifying papers are designed to assess a student’s capability of writing articles for academic journals. To advance to doctoral candidacy, a student must independently write a paper (no longer than 10,000 words) which would likely receive a “Revise and Resubmit” at an academic peer-reviewed journal. The paper should demonstrate familiarity and assessment of the relevant literature, theory, methods, analyses, and interpretation relevant to questions of criminology and criminal justice. Students may write either an empirical or theoretical paper to address criminological questions but must demonstrate a unique contribution to the literature that goes beyond a review or basic test of theory – with critical analysis and appropriate statistical or analytic procedures.

The preliminary exam and qualifying paper are evaluated by faculty committees. Students have two opportunities to successfully “pass” both the exam and the paper.


Each candidate for the Ph.D. degree must write a dissertation showing high attainment in independent, original scholarship and creative effort. A dissertation must be written under the direction and approval of a five-member faculty committee, including a committee chair, of the student’s choosing.   

The dissertation process starts with the formulation of an idea and the development of a proposal presented to and approved by the student’s committee.  The PhD candidate then conducts research and drafts the dissertation for final oral defense.  A copy of the dissertation is filed with both the School of Justice and Public Safety and the university’s Graduate School. 

Contact Information

To learn more about the program or request information, contact:

Matthew Giblin
School Director
Faner 4325
1000 Faner Drive
Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone: 618-453-6360