Ph.D. Curriculum

Students in the Ph.D. program in Criminal Justice are guided through an intense, supervised course of study of history, current issues, and research related to criminology and criminal justice.

The curriculum for the criminal justice doctoral program consists of 63 graduate semester hours beyond the master’s degree. These hours are divided into nine areas:

Doctoral proseminar – 3 hours
Research design – 9 hours
Criminological theory – 6 hours
Statistical analysis – 9 hours
Content electives – 12 hours
Comprehensive exam – 3 hours
Research practicum – 6 hours
Teaching practicum – 3 hours
Dissertation – 12 hours

Comprehensive Examination

All Ph.D. students are required to take a comprehensive examination, which is designed to test the ability of the student to undertake independent research in a particular area and then publish the results. The comprehensive examination will be reviewed by the Examining Committee after the student has completed their fourth semester of coursework. To facilitate timely completion of the program, students are encouraged to submit their comprehensive examination immediately following their fourth semester of coursework, with the goal of completing or passing the examination by the conclusion of their fifth semester of coursework. To successfully complete the comprehensive examination, students must write one publishable quality paper and submit it in written format to the examining committee.

Once the paper has been passed by the committee, the student is then strongly encouraged to work with a faculty member to get the work published. Upon successful completion of the comprehensive examination, students will be advanced to candidacy which allows them to begin the dissertation process. Each student will complete a dissertation of sufficient scholarly nature to contribute to the field of criminology and criminal justice.


Upon reaching candidacy status, students may enroll in dissertation hours and begin work on their 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 Criminal Justice faculty, and an outside reader. The outside reader may be a faculty member with graduate faculty status from UA Little Rock, or a faculty member from another institution. Successful completion of the dissertation will require an oral proposal defense, where the student will defend their topic and methods, and a final defense, where the student will defend their findings and conclusions. Policies and procedures for passing, failing, and repeating the dissertation defense will be in compliance with the UA Little Rock Graduate School.

Graduate student forms can be found here.