The doctoral program is designed to provide students with a command of criminological knowledge and analytical skills.

Professional competence in theory and research methods is expected, as is in-depth knowledge in an area of specialization (described below). The doctoral degree is based on evidence that candidates have achieved a high level of scholarship and proficiency in research. The proficiency of students and their ability to work independently are assessed through course grades, qualifying and comprehensive examinations, and successful defense of the dissertation.

Application Requirements Graduate Assistantships

Required courses for the PhD are:

CCJ 6400, Proseminar (3)
6405, Research Methods (3)
6410, Statistics (3)
5415, Foundations of Criminological Theory (3)
6420, Contemporary Criminological Theory (3)
6450, Criminal Justice Process and Policy(3)
6480, Multivariate Statistics (3)
6465, Qualitative Research Design (3)
6471, Evaluating Criminal Justice Interventions (3)
6470, Quantitative Research Design (3)

Area Courses (at least 9 hours from this section):

Crime and Criminality
CCJ 6440, Nature of Crime (3)
6441, Juvenile Delinquency (3)
6442, Communities and Crime (3)
6443, Violent Crime (3)
6448, Victimology (3)
Criminal Justice
5533, Philosophy of Law (3)
CCJ 6436: Comparative Criminology (3)
6422, Law, Courts, and Public Policy (3)
CCJ 6452: The Police
6454, Corrections (3)

Elective Courses (9 hours, may or may not include the following):

CCJ 6495: Internship in CCJ (3)
6485: Directed Readings/Readings in CCJ (3)
6550: Seminar in Criminology and Criminal Justice (3)

60 credit hours of graduate work are required for the PhD. More than half of these hours must be completed in residence. A minimum of 6 credit hours of dissertation research (CRIMIN 7499) are required. Students may enroll for dissertation credits (CRIMIN 7499) only when all other degree requirements have been completed.

PhD course worksheet

Course Descriptions

Graduate students in the doctoral program are not officially classified as PhD candidates until they have passed the Qualifying Papers prerequisite defined below. The goal of this requirement is to establish a student's familiarity with the substantive literature, theory, and methods of criminology and criminal justice, and to demonstrate an ability to imaginatively and creatively use this knowledge to address criminological questions.

Qualifying Papers Policy

A three member Qualifying Papers Committee reviews two sole-authored papers that are submitted to the Graduate Director within nine months of the completion of all coursework.[2] The manuscripts must address distinct topics and theoretical approaches and are evaluated on the basis of the substantive knowledge reflected in the presentations, the application of relevant theory, the use of appropriate data and research methods (if applicable), the clarity of communication, and creativity. One of the papers must represent the application of an appropriate methodological technique to an innovative research question, and the other must demonstrate a proficient knowledge of and a new perspective on a fundamental theoretical issue. The papers must be limited to 40 pages in length (inclusive of tables, figures, appendices, and references) and formatted in the current style of the journal Criminology. Because a student needs to be enrolled at the time of the review, the manuscripts may only be submitted for the first time during the Fall or Spring semesters.


After consulting with the student's advisory committee, the student initiates the Qualifying Papers process by submitting a one-page proposal for each paper, including references for literature cited in the proposal on a separate page, to the Graduate Director, who in turn forwards the proposals to the Qualifying Papers Committee for its review. Both proposals must be submitted simultaneously and must be submitted within three months of completing coursework. The qualifying paper committee will review the proposals independently before conferring with each other to reach a final decision. The Qualifying Papers Committee will strive to complete the review process within two weeks of receipt of the proposals. While this process could take longer than two weeks, it will take no longer than one month. The Committee chair will then provide written feedback to the student and convene an in-person debriefing session at the student's request.

Students have one opportunity to submit qualifying paper proposals. Students who fail to submit proposals within three months will be allowed to proceed to the final submission phase of the process, but they will not receive comments on the proposals from the committee or be afforded the opportunity to meet with the committee in-person to discuss their proposal. Failure to submit proposals within three months of the completion of coursework is an indicator of insufficient academic progress.

Papers - First Submission

Final qualifying papers should be submitted simultaneously to the Graduate Director, who in turn forwards the papers to the Qualifying Papers Committee for its review. Final qualifying papers must be submitted within nine months of the completion of coursework. The Qualifying Papers Committee will evaluate the papers and inform the student of a Pass or No Pass decision for each manuscript. Again, the Qualifying Papers Committee will strive to complete the review process within two weeks of receipt of the papers but this process could take longer depending on the number of submissions and the time of year (e.g., summer or winter break). The review process will take no longer than one month. Please see Qualifying Paper Due Dates for exact deadlines. Once the decision has been communicated to the student, the student then has an opportunity to meet with the Committee in a debriefing session during which the grounds for the decisions are discussed.

Papers - Second Submission

If the Committee deems that one or both papers is of insufficient quality to merit a Pass, the student must submit a new or revised paper to the Committee within four months of the original decision. If the second round of reviews, which will follow the same process as the first submission outlined above, also is not successful, the Committee will immediately notify the Chair and Graduate Director that the student has failed to meet this core requirement. This information is transmitted to the faculty, who then meet to discuss the case and to reach a collective agreement about the termination of the student from the program. This recommendation is sent to the Graduate Dean, who makes the final decision about the student's status.

For all paper submissions

Students are encouraged to seek advice from others on their papers, but the final products must represent their own independent work. The names and contact information of all persons who have commented on the papers must be included on the cover page.

The University's rules and procedures governing academic dishonesty will be strictly enforced (see Code of Student Conduct).

[1] Effective for the cohort entering Fall 2015.

[2] The clock begins on the day of Fall or Spring commencement as denoted on the UMSL academic calendar.


qualifying papers timeline

The dissertation is required of all PhD candidates and demonstrates the student's scholarly expertise. The dissertation process formally begins when all other requirements of the PhD program have been met. The dissertation committee assists in selecting and developing the research problem and evaluates the student's work on that problem.

Please see the Graduate School for more information about the doctoral degree.

For additional information, please email, or Dr. Elaine Doherty, Director of Graduate Studies at