Apr 21, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 
Graduate Catalog

Criminal Justice, Ph.D.

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. This program requires extensive work in qualitative and quantitative methods, statistical analysis, and research design. The program provides students an understanding of the value of research. 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, services 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:

  1. research design and statistical analysis,
  2. crime and justice,
  3. electives and specialization,
  4. research practicum, and
  5. 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 online.

Courses with grades of B or higher may not be repeated. Grades below C are not accepted in the minimum hour requirements for the degree. Courses cannot be dropped from the study plan because of low grades. Students may receive a maximum of two C’s in the program of study. Upon receiving a third C, the student will be removed from the program. Students receiving a D or an F in any graduate course will be removed from the program.

Admission Requirements

Admissions decisions into the doctoral program will be made based on a total file review. Application must meet all admissions standards of the UALR Graduate School. Students will only be admitted in the fall semester each year.

The following criteria are recommended for successful candidates for admissions:

  • Have a cumulative GPA in their master’s program of at least 3.0.
  • International students must take the TOEFL exam and score 550 on the paper-based test, 213 on the computer-based version, or 79 on the Internet-based version.
  • Applicants must submit official copies of their transcripts to the UALR Graduate School.
  • Responses to an application questionnaire (contact the Graduate Coordinator for questions if not present in the Graduate School application)
  • Two professional letters of recommendation (one of which must come from a graduate-level teacher) are required.
  • Admissions to the doctoral program will require either a master’s degree in criminology/criminal justice, or a closely related field, or substantial progress (defined specifically below) toward completing a master’s degree. Students who are admitted from relevant master’s programs at universities other than UALR, but who have not completed their master’s thesis may be admitted as regular admits, but will be required to complete their thesis within one year of joining the Ph.D. program. If a student fails to complete the thesis in that period, the student will be suspended from enrolling in Ph.D. courses until the thesis is completed. These students must have completed all required coursework and have only the thesis to complete.
    • Students who want to enter the Ph.D. program directly from an undergraduate program must first apply to the M.A. in Criminal Justice. After a student has completed a minimum of 21 hours in the M.A. program, that student may transfer to the Ph.D. program with the approval of the doctoral coordinator. In such cases, students who fail to complete the Ph.D. program will be awarded an M.A. degree after successful completion of 36 credit hours and a written project with oral defense.
    • Students who successfully complete all requirements for the Ph.D. will be awarded both an M.A. and a Ph.D. The first three chapters of their dissertation will be considered the completion of their thesis. Applicants with only a Juris Doctorate (no master’s degree) will not be directly admitted to the program but will be required to take the MACJ courses in research methods, statistics, and criminal justice (police, corrections, criminological theory).

Admission decisions will be made by a committee of graduate faculty called the Graduate Admissions Committee (GAC). The GAC 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.

Conditional Admission

The GAC may conditionally admit a student for one semester who does not meet all of the requirements for admission. Such students will be evaluated by the GAC after one semester and a decision made to:

  • continue conditional status,
  • grant full admission to the doctoral program, or
  • dismiss the student from the doctoral program.

Financial Assistance

A number of financial assistance opportunities are available to full-time doctoral students. Graduate Assistantships will include a stipend and tuition waiver (fees will not be covered by this waiver). Any funding decisions 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.

Program Requirements

Student Advising

The Graduate Coordinator will be the primary contact person for all Ph.D. students. At the end of the first year, all doctoral students will meet individually with the Graduate Coordinator. The meeting will involve performance in the program. The Graduate 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 result of the meeting will be a determination of whether the student will be retained in the program or dismissed.


The program will include both day and night classes. Most of the classes specifically for doctoral students will be taught during the day. Courses that are for both doctoral and master’s students may be taught at night. There is a residency requirement of full-time status (nine hours) for two, consecutive full term semesters.

Research Design and Statistical Analysis Course (15 hours)

Courses in research and statistics are designed to produce an ability to frame issues and relevant research questions related to the study of crime and justice, to select the most appropriate statistical techniques, and to properly interpret the results. Students must take a minimum of 15 hours from the following list of courses:

Crime and Justice Courses (12 hours)

Courses include specific or advanced topics on crime and justice. Students are expected to have some knowledge of theories of criminology and criminal justice before entering the doctoral program. These courses will build on that knowledge to provide expertise in the core areas related to criminal justice (police, courts, corrections, and criminological theory). Students must select Proseminar and nine hours from the following courses:

Students my also take courses from CRJU 7393 , Special Topics to fulfill this requirement.

Elective Courses (9 hours)

Students may take one of three specialization areas or may form a topical specialization with the approval of the dissertation committee and doctoral coordinator.

The three specialization areas are policing, corrections, and crime related to the environment. The specialization areas are designed to give students more in-depth knowledge in a particular content area of criminal justice and criminology. The specialization in policing will examine theories, practices, and policies related to the historical development and current practices of police. The specialization in corrections will examine correctional theory both of institutional corrections and community based corrections.

The specialization in crime related to the environment of neighborhoods and cities will prepare students to conduct research on crime in metropolitan areas, including the mobility and interaction of residents; urban design in preventing crime; and the relationship between social, physical, and economic networks and crime.

Students selecting this specialization will take the all of the courses from the Criminology Core and then take six hours in their specialization area. All students will take the teaching practicum.. Students must take six hours from the following courses:


Research Practicum is the point in the program where students begin to put their coursework and skills in criminal justice, research design, and statistical analysis into practice.


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 staff, 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 finding and conclusions. Policies and procedures for passing, failing, and repeating the dissertation defense will be in compliance with the UALR Graduate School.

Comprehensive Examinations and Dissertation

All Ph.D. students are 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.

Examining Committee

Each year, an examining committee will be established for the incoming cohort of Ph.D. Students. This committee will be recommended by the Graduate coordinator. The examining committee will be the body that reviews the comprehensive exams for all students in that cohort. This body will serve until all members of that cohort have completed the examination process, recognizing that members of the cohort will complete the process at differing times.

Students will complete one publishable quality paper for presentation to the examining committee. This paper must be completed independently and cannot have significant faculty input. Some of the work may be completed as part of coursework; but the majority of the comprehensive exam must be original, self-directed work from the student.

At a minimum, the comprehensive exam must contain an Introduction, Problem Statement, Research Question, Methods, Findings, and Conclusions. The methods and analysis must be quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods and must present results sufficient to warrant publication in a journal. The final manuscript must be publication-ready and without significant grammatical errors.

Students will deliver comps to the graduate coordinator who will submit them to the committee for blind review. Once the paper has been passed by the committee, the student is then free, and encouraged, to work with a faculty member to get the work published. Results of the examining committee will be one of the following:

  1. pass,
  2. revise and resubmit, or
  3. fail

If a student receives a revise and resubmit on their first attempt, that student will have a timeline determined by the examining committee to revise the paper for reconsideration. If the paper is not returned within that time, the outcome will be changed to a fail and the student will need to complete a second attempt with a new topic (see more in the next paragraph). Students are allowed a maximum of 2 revise and resubmit decisions on their first attempt at the comprehensive exam. If the paper is not acceptable on the third version of the first attempt, the outcome will be changed to fail and the student will be required to complete a second attempt with a new topic.

If the student receives a failing grade on the first attempt, they will have a second attempt to complete the comprehensive examination with a new topic. The new topic will need to be approved by the Graduate Coordinator to ensure it is different enough from the first attempt to meet department policy. The student can receive a maximum of one revise and resubmit on their second attempt. After revising their second attempt, the examining committee must choose to either pass or fail the comprehensive exam. If the student receives a decision of “fail” on the second attempt of the comprehensive exam, they will be dismissed from the program.

Upon successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, the student will be advanced to candidacy. Each student will also complete a dissertation of sufficient scholarly nature to contribute to the field of criminology/criminal justice. The dissertation will be guided by the student’s dissertation committee.

Dissertation Committee

Before choosing a topic for dissertation, students must choose a dissertation committee. The Chair of the committee must be a member of the graduate faculty in the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology as defined in the governance document. At a minimum, committee members must hold a Ph.D. in the field, teach doctoral classes at UALR, hold graduate faculty status as defined by the UALR Graduate School, and be research active as defined in the governance document.

Dissertation committee members must participate in the lecture series, be available during the summer, and be active in conducting and publishing research in the discipline. 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. Defenses are advertised and open to the entire UALR community. Policies and procedures for passing, failing, and repeating the dissertation defense will be in compliance with the UALR Graduate School.