PhD in Criminal Justice



PhD Application Procedures


Students in the PhD program in Criminal Justice are guided through an intense, supervised course of study of the history, current issues, and research related to criminology and criminal justice. This program requires extensive work in qualitative and quantitative methods, statistical analysis, and research design. Students will be trained to be prolific writers and skilled at obtaining grants. Coursework and mentoring will provide students with other aspects of professional development, including teaching and pedagogy, service to the discipline, and program administration.

The curriculum consists of 57 graduate semester hours beyond the master’s degree. These hours are divided into five sections: a) research design and statistical analysis, b) crime and justice, c) electives and specialization, d) research practicum, and e) dissertation. The courses combine to produce students who have mastered the theories of crime and justice and who have acquired research and statistical techniques sufficient for high levels of analysis and evaluation. All courses will be taught in the classroom or in consultation with individual faculty; none will be taught on-line.

Program Coursework


Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet all admission standards of the UALR Graduate School.  Students are only admitted in the fall semester each year. Applicants are required to score at least 300 on the combined verbal and quantitative portions of the new Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or 1000 on the old test, and at least 4 on the written portion of the GRE.  Applicants must have a cumulative GPA in their master’s program of at least 3.5.

International students must take the TOEFL exam and score at least 550 on the paper-based test, 213 on the computer-based version, or 79 on the Internet-based version.

Admission to the doctoral program requires a master’s degree in criminology/criminal justice or a closely related field. Applicants from other disciplines may be admitted after taking one or more courses in the MACJ program to establish knowledge in criminal justice issues. Three courses in statistics and research methods at the master’s level are also required. Courses may be taken in the MACJ program to remove this deficiency after being admitted to the program but before taking statistics or research methods courses at the doctoral level. Applicants with only a Juris Doctorate (no master’s degree) will not be directly admitted to the program but will be required to take MACJ courses in research methods, statistics, and criminal justice (police, corrections, criminological theory).

Applicants must submit all required documents to the UALR Graduate School. In addition to GRE scores and transcripts applicants must also submit a statement of purpose and a career development plan. The statement of purpose should consist of two parts: a statement of what the applicant sees as the role of a PhD in criminal justice, and a statement of the applicant understanding of the role of research in criminal justice. The career development plan should describe in detail what the applicant plans to do following completion of the PhD. This statement must be more than “I want to work as a teacher at a university,” and should include a potential research and publication agenda. Applicants will also be required to submit a writing sample to be considered by the admissions committee. Finally, two professional letters of recommendation (one of which must come from a graduate-level teacher) will be required.

Admission decisions will be made by a faculty committee.  The doctoral admissions committee will also take the “fit” between the applicant and the doctoral program into account when making admission decisions, and may decline to admit an otherwise qualified applicant based on lack of fit with the program. The doctoral admissions committee may conditionally admit a student for one semester who has less than the requirements for admission. Such students will be evaluated by the doctoral admissions committee after one semester and a decision made to: 1) continue conditional status, 2) grant full admission to the doctoral program, or 3) dismiss the student from the doctoral program.

Student Advising

The doctoral coordinator is the primary contact person for all PhD. students. The doctoral coordinator will be available during the summer semesters, as well as available during evening hours at selected times to facilitate communication with all students.

At the end of the first semester and at the end of the first year, all doctoral students will have a meeting with the doctoral coordinator. The meeting will involve counseling and advising the student concerning his or her performance in the program. The doctoral coordinator will obtain information from each course instructor of the student, from the student’s assistantship advisor, and from any faculty who wish to make input. The meeting will address the strengths of the student and point out areas the student needs to strengthen. The results of the meeting will be a determination whether the student will be retained in the program or dismissed.

Comprehensive Examinations and Dissertation

No earlier than the final semester of enrollment in which the core curriculum is completed, students will be required to take comprehensive examinations. The comprehensive examinations are designed to test the ability of the student to undertake independent research in a particular area and publish the results. Students will work with their advisory/dissertation committee to submit two manuscripts for publication. The manuscripts must be based on independent research sufficient to contribute to the literature in the field. The student must receive a satisfactory rating from the committee, indicating the manuscripts are ready for submission to a journal. The manuscripts must be submitted to a journal in the field, but it is not a requirement that they be accepted for publication. Upon successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, the student will be granted candidacy status. Students will not be permitted to enroll for dissertation credit until they have received candidacy status.

Upon reaching candidacy status, students may enroll in dissertation hours and begin work on the dissertation. The dissertation will be guided by the student’s dissertation committee. The dissertation committee will be composed of a chair, two members of the doctoral faculty, and an outside reader. The outside reader may be a faculty member with graduate faculty status from UALR, or may be a faculty member from another institution. The outside reader will serve in an advisory capacity only and will not vote on the prospectus or final defense of the dissertation. Successful completion of the dissertation will require an oral proposal defense, where the student will defend his or her topic and methods, and a final defense, where the student will defend his or her findings and conclusions. Policies and procedures for passing, failing, and repeating the dissertation defense will be in compliance with the UALR Graduate School.

Financial Assistance:

We strive to provide all full-time doctoral students with some form of financial assistance. A limited number of assistantships will be awarded in the amount of $15,000 and will also cover tuition (fees will not be covered in fellowship / assistantships).  All funding decisions, however, are dependent upon the availability of funds. It is expected first year doctoral students will primarily conduct research. In the second year (and subsequent years), doctoral students may be Research Assistants or Teaching Assistants with one or two of their own classes.