Criminal Justice PhD

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College : Health and Public Affairs Degree :PHD
Department : Criminal Justice Option : Dissertation
Program Websites :


The application deadline for the Criminal Justice PhD, has been extended to March 15, 2018.

The Doctoral Program in Criminal Justice is a post-master's program of study and research. The program is composed of a substantive core focused on criminal justice theory and institutions, a research methods core that prepares social scientists in the scientific method and social-science statistics, and a selection of substantive criminal justice specializations (policing, corrections, and juvenile justice).


The Doctoral Program in Criminal Justice is a 57-credit-hour, post-master's program of study and research. Substantive emphasis is placed on core coursework in criminal justice theory and institutions, and on in-depth concentrations in policing, corrections or juvenile justice. Students complete a minimum of 42 credit hours of doctoral course work and 15 credit hours of dissertation research.
Total Credit Hours Required:
57 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Master's Degree


Applicants are expected to have a master’s degree in criminal justice or a closely related discipline. Applicants’ transcripts will be reviewed for successful completion of a sufficient number of fundamental criminal justice classes. Applicants may be required to complete master’s-level courses in certain topics before being admitted to the program or permitted to take classes.

Students must have completed master’s-level courses in advanced research methods and advanced quantitative methods and be familiar with SPSS, SAS, STATA, or R prior to enrolling in the Methodological Core courses. Students who do not meet this requirement may be required to complete CCJ 6702 Advanced Research Methods and CCJ 6714 Advanced Quantitative Methods prior to enrolling in CCJ 7708 Advanced Quantitative Methods for Criminal Justice Research and CCJ 7727 Advanced Research Methods in Criminal Justice. All students must also have completed master’s level courses in the concentration area they choose prior to taking courses in that area (policing, corrections, or juvenile justice).

Required Courses—36 Credit Hours

Substantive Core—15 Credit Hours

A grade of B or better is required for all courses listed in the Substantive Core.

  • CCJ 7019 Seminar in the Nature of Crime (3 credit hours)
  • CCJ 7457 Seminar in Criminal Justice Theory (3 credit hours)
  • CCJ 7096 Seminar in Criminal Justice Systems (3 credit hours)
  • CCJ 7785 Teaching Criminal Justice (3 credit hours)
  • CCJ 7775 Criminal Justice Research in the Community (3 credit hours)

Methodological Core—12 Credit Hours

A grade of B or better is required for all courses listed in the Methodological Core.

  • CCJ 7727 Advanced Research Methods in Criminal Justice (3 credit hours)
  • CCJ 7708 Advanced Quantitative Methods for Criminal Justice Research (3 credit hours)

Select two courses from the list below or another methodological course with adviser approval:

  • CCJ 7725 The Geography of Crime:Theory and Methods (3 credit hours)
    • Students selecting this option must complete CCJ 6073 Data Management for Crime Analysis and CCJ 6079 Crime Mapping and Analysis in Criminal Justice
  • CCJ 7747 Hierarchical Linear Modeling in Criminal Justice Research (3 credit hours)
  • CCJ 7752 Structural Equation Modeling in Criminal Justice Research (3 credit hours)

Concentration Area—9 Credit Hours

Students select an area of concentration and complete the assigned 9 credit hours of coursework. Entering doctoral students must have completed a master's-level precursor in their chosen area (e.g., master's-level survey course in policing if the area chosen is Policing Theory and Research). A grade of B or better is required for all courses listed in the selected Concentration area.  Areas of concentration are:

Policing Theory and Research
  • CJE 6320 Seminar in Police Administration (3 credit hours)
  • CJE 6456 Seminar in Policing Urban Communities (3 credit hours)
  • CJE 6706 Seminar in Police Socialization and Culture (3 credit hours)
Correctional Theory and Research
  • CJC 6135 Seminar in Institutional Corrections (3 credit hours)
  • CJC 6165 Seminar in Community Corrections (3 credit hours)
  • CJC 6486 Seminar in Correctional Effectiveness (3 credit hours)
Juvenile Justice Theory and Research
  • CJJ 6124 Seminar in Prosecuting Juvenile Offenders (3 credit hours)
  • CJJ 6126 Seminar in Juvenile Corrections (3 credit hours)
  • CJJ 6546 Seminar in Policing and Prevention in the Juvenile Justice System (3 credit hours)

Elective Courses—6 Credit Hours

Students select two additional courses (3 credit hours each) in consultation with program adviser and mentor.


Students must successfully complete a series of cumulative examinations to ensure expertise in the substantive, methodological and concentration areas. Students may enroll in doctoral research (CCJ 7919) during the period of study preceding the examinations.

Dissertation—15 Credit Hours

Upon successful completion of all examinations and prospectus defense, students will enter candidacy and complete a dissertation. The dissertation topic should be grounded in the student's selected concentration area. Dissertation committees will contain a minimum of four faculty members, at least three of which (including the chair) will be from the Department of Criminal Justice. The fourth member must be from outside the Department of Criminal Justice and may be from outside the university. All dissertation committee members must be approved graduate faculty or graduate faculty scholars.

  • CCJ 7980 (15 credit hours)

Application Requirements

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements, applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended.
  • An earned Master’s degree in criminal justice or a closely related discipline from an accredited institution.
  • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years.
  • Three letters of reference from faculty or professionals who can assess the student’s ability to succeed in a doctoral program. A minimum of two letters must be from university faculty members, at least one of which must be written by a faculty member from the institution/program from which the Master’s degree was earned, preferably a thesis advisor or close mentor who has the capacity to directly assess the applicant’s potential for PhD-level work
  • A personal narrative of 500 - 1,000 words describing research interests, educational expectations, career aspirations, level of computer skills, and any special qualifications that may enhance the overall learning environment of the CJ PhD program.
  • A curriculum vita.
  • A writing sample that is at least 2,000 words long, is academic in nature (e.g., paper written for a Master’s class), and demonstrates the applicant’s ability to complete graduate-level composition. Should not be an article accepted for publication and applicant must be sole author.

Applicants may be requested to participate in an interview (in person, by Skype, or by phone) with the Department’s Doctoral Program Committee.

Admission to the Criminal Justice doctoral program will be granted on a competitive basis. Meeting minimum UCF admission standards does not guarantee program admission. Final admission is based on evaluation of the applicant’s abilities, past performance, recommendations, match to the program, ability to enhance program strength and diversity, and potential for completing the degree and making significant contributions to criminal justice.

Application Deadlines

All application materials must be submitted by the appropriate deadline listed below.

Criminal Justice PhD *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Jan 15Jan 15



International Applicants Jan 15Jan 15



International Transfer Applicants Jan 15Jan 15



*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.