Common Searches

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


 Doctoral Degree Course Requirements

Required courses for the PhD (24 hours)

6405, Methods (3)

6410, Statistical Applications in Criminology and Criminal Justice (3)

5415, Foundations of Criminological Theory (3)

6420, Contemporary Criminological Theory (3)

6450, Criminal Justice Theory and Policy (3)

6480, Multivariate Statistics in Criminology (3)

6465, Qualitatve Research Design (3)

6470, Quantitative Research Design (3)

Area Courses (at least 12 hours from this section)

6440, Nature of Crime (3)

6441, Juvenile Delinquency (3)

6442, Communities and Crime (3)

6443, Violent Crime (3)

6448, Victimization (3)

6452, The Police (3)

5533, Philosophy of Law (3)

6430, Law and Social Control (3)

6436, Comparative Criminology (3)

6422, Law, Courts, and Public Policy (3)

6454, Corrections (3)

6471, Evaluating Criminal Justice Interventions (3)

6438, Inequalities in Criminal Justice

6550, Seminar in Criminology and Criminal Justice (3)


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

6495, Internship in CCJ (3)

6485, Directed Readings/Readings in CCJ (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 Worksheet

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.


What is the application deadline?

For the PhD program, the deadline is January 20th for enrollment the following Fall.

Is it possible to submit unofficial transcripts for application purposes?

We prefer official transcripts for all PhD applicants. You can submit unofficial transcripts for the application process but if admitted you will need to provide official transcripts within one semester.

Would I be able to use a co-authored publication, where I am the first author, as my writing sample?

We encourage student publications, but we would prefer a sole-authored paper as the writing submission. We are looking for writing samples that convey independent thinking and analysis. Ideally, we would ask applicants to submit a sole-authored paper - a class paper or a chapter of a thesis is welcomed. The concern with including a co-authored publication is that it is difficult to tease out an applicant’s contribution from that of the co-author’s.  If you would like to submit a co-authored paper, please include a statement as to why/how this represents your writing as opposed to your co-author’s. We require a CV/Resume as part of the application packet where students can include a listing of co-authored scholarly products. Finally, students are encouraged to describe their accomplishments in their statement of purpose, as well.

Are all three letters of recommendation meant to come from academic sources, or can one be a professional source? 

The letters of recommendation are intended to convey a student's potential for success in the PhD program. While we prefer that all three letters of recommendation come from academic sources, we allow non-academic references, particularly if an individual has been separated from an educational program for an extended period of time. In those cases, supervisors or other professionals may be able to speak to an applicant's potential for success in the program.

Is there anything I should be doing to bolster my application?

The review committee takes a holistic approach to reviewing applications and considers a student’s motivation to pursue the PhD and the student’s potential for success in completing our program. If available, we encourage students to work with faculty on research while in their undergraduate or graduate programs. Taking time to study for the GRE can be fruitful and free study materials are available. We also take great care to review letters of recommendation, statements of purpose, and writing samples. Please provide ample time for referees to complete the letters of reference and provide letter writers with your statement of purpose, transcripts, GRE scores, and other relevant materials so that they can write well-informed letters of reference. Finally, please ensure that all materials are submitted to the graduate school before the deadline, as late applications are not accepted.

Can you waive the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) requirement?

There are several situations where international admissions will waive the requirement of the TOEFL. For a complete list of requirements for a waiver, see the International Admissions website: https://www.umsl.edu/global/admissions/englishrequirements.html

What are the GRE requirements for this program?

We consider all elements of the application and don’t focus solely on GRE scores.  Over the past 2 years, the average GRE scores for our admitted students have been around 150 to 155 for each category and 4.0/4.5 for writing. However, these are averages and while we do consider these quantitative indicators, we also take into consideration the statement of purpose, writing sample, and letters of recommendation when evaluating applications. 

How do you calculate GRE scores for admission? Do you factor a composite of verbal and quantitative scores or do you treat both scores separately? 

We consider the quantitative GRE scores separately, as well as combined. We also consider the analytic writing component as part of our deliberations.

What is the university code to send my GRE score to?

The school code for the GRE is 6889.

Do I have to take the GRE or is it waived?

We are still requiring the GRE but if an individual has extenuating circumstances related to COVID 19 or a similar situation that precludes him/her from fulfilling this requirement, please reach out to the Graduate Program Director (ccjgraduate@umsl.edu).

Can you waive the application fee?

Unfortunately, we are not in a position to grant application fee waivers.

What if I am an international student?

Questions on international admissions go through UMSL Global. They can be emailed at intadmission@umsl.edu.


How many applicants typically apply and how many are admitted?

In recent years, we have received approximately 45 applications and admit 8 to 10 applicants. Our cohorts are small, with the hopes of 4 to 5 students in each cohort per year. 

Do most of your admitted applicants have their masters degree?

The number of admitted students who have their masters versus their bachelors degree fluctuates pretty widely each year, but we typically have at least one student per year who comes in with his or her bachelors.

Does the department send out a decision via mail or will it be an email?

For the PhD program, we call those whom we are admitting to the program and the graduate school sends a letter to those who are not admitted to the program.  We typically make our decision by mid-February. In past years, we have instituted a wait list, so some admission offers may come in the spring.

What happens after I am admitted to the program?

First, we invite our admitted cohort to visit UMSL and the department for a couple of days, usually in early March. During this visit, the admitted students can meet our faculty and current PhD students, see the campus, and learn more about the program.


Do I have to apply separately for the assistantship, or it will be considered while reviewing applications?

You do not have to apply separately for the assistantship. We are committed to funding all full-time admitted PhD students. Students can decline, but an assistantship is extended to all full-time students admitted to the PhD program. All students interested in being a funded student have until April 15th to decide whether they would like to accept or decline the admission offer. More information can be found at the Graduate School.

What are the assignments and stipends of an assistantship?

Each assistantship is 20 hours/week as either a graduate research assistant, graduate teaching assistant, or course instructor (for those who have a masters degree). Assistantships are contingent on a student maintaining satisfactory academic progress. Current stipends are 12-month stipends totaling $19,200.

Does the assistantship come with tuition and/or health benefits?

Our assistantships come with tuition remission of up to 12 hours each semester (6 in the summer). Assistantships do not include health insurance/benefits.


What type of placements have your recent PhD graduates had?

The majority of our PhD graduates enter academic positions, although not all. A listing of the job placements for our recent PhD graduates can be found on our website.


When are classes offered?

Our PhD program typically offers classes from 5:30-8:10 pm with one course per night (M-Th).  We occasionally offer some classes during the day, but offerings vary by semester.

Can I complete the PhD program online?

No, we only offer our PhD courses in a traditional in-person format.

I have a full time job, is the PhD program something I could successfully complete while working full time? 

Yes, you can complete the program part time, and we have had a number of students who have completed our program this way. Full time students take up to 3 courses per semester and part-time students take 1 or 2 courses per semester. 

How long does it take the complete the program?

The typical timeline for CCJ students ranges from 4 to 6 years with the majority graduating within 5 or 6 years. This time to completion depends on whether students enter with a masters degree, the number of credits transferred in from that masters degree, and whether they are a part-time or full-time student. According to Graduate School policy, all PhD students must complete the doctoral degree within 8 years of registering for their first course.

For additional information, please email ccjgraduate@umsl.edu, or Dr. Marisa Omori, Director of Graduate Studies at marisa.omori@umsl.edu.