The focus of a research and scholarship doctorate program in criminal justice is to give graduates experience in and the ability to develop, conduct, and analyze data in independent studies and research in the criminal justice and criminology fields.
After completing a research and scholarship doctorate in criminal justice, graduates are well prepared to enter into high-level positions with a variety of organizations and agencies. Some of the areas in which graduates with a criminal justice PhD work include postsecondary institutions, research agencies, consulting firms, and government or public policy organizations.
Criminal Justice Doctorate Degree Coursework
Doctoral students complete an average of 24 to 30 credit hours in coursework. Coursework is completed in areas of statistics, criminal justice theory, and research methods. Examples of courses that are often a part of research and scholarship doctorate programs in criminal justice include case analysis, social science research, quantitative research methods, epistemology of practice knowledge, criminal justice policy analysis, criminal sociological theories, and correlates of crime.
In each subject area, doctoral candidates must successfully pass comprehensive examinations at the end of the coursework study. Following the completion of the examinations, students will apply for doctoral candidacy and begin completing a standard of 24 credit hours in completion of a dissertation.
Dissertation Process and Assistantships
At the beginning of the dissertation study, students will defend a doctoral dissertation prospectus. Throughout the dissertation process, doctoral candidates conduct original research to study a specialized area in criminal justice. Once the dissertation is complete, candidates will participate in a dissertation defense, an oral presentation and discussion of the validity and credibility of the study and the candidate’s understanding of the results of the research.
Throughout the coursework and dissertation process, doctoral students are encouraged to participate in assistantships in either research or teaching. The opportunities to work closely with experienced faculty in conducting their own research projects are invaluable to students for conducting their own research during doctoral study and after graduation.
Requirements for admission into a research and scholarship based doctorate program varies by institution; however, there are standard requirements for consideration in the process. Most doctorate programs in criminal justice require a 3.5 grade point average from a conferred master’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. In some cases, students with 3.5 or higher grade point average for the final two years of a conferred bachelor’s degree are also able to apply for consideration.
In addition to previous academic degrees, most programs require students to submit letters of recommendation. For the research and scholarship based doctorate program, these letters are often required to be from former professors who are able to detail qualifications in academia. A statement of interest is also typically required that discusses why a candidate is interested in pursuing a criminal justice doctorate and what areas of research a student is interested in. A minimum score on the GRE and a writing sample are also standard requirements.