Old Dominion University
A to Z Index  |  Directories


College of Arts and Letters


Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice





PhD Program

Admission Requirements

Graduate Tuition and Assistantships

Degree Requirements

Course Descriptions

Dissertation Information

Program Handbook




Requirements for the Criminology and Criminal Justice Doctoral Program

The Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice requires a minimum of 48 credit hours at the post-master's level (i.e., courses at the 800 to 900 level). These hours include 12 hours of core courses, 12 hours of research skills courses, 12 hours of elective courses and 12 hours of dissertation-related credits (detailed below).

After a student has completed two full semesters of study (18 hours) she/he may petition the graduate admissions committee to transfer up to 6 credit hours of prior Ph.D. level coursework to be applied toward elective requirements where the assigned grade is no lower than an B.

The Program Handbook contains complete information about the policies and procedures of the PhD Criminology & Criminal Justice.

Core Courses (12 credit hours). The core courses are designed to provide students with a broad conceptual, theoretical and empirical appreciation for various facets of the criminal justice system with particular attention given to ensuring that they are competitively prepared for the job market upon graduation. The core includes a pro-seminar (overview) course as well as focused study of other relevant subjects such as criminology & public policy, social stratification and justice, and advanced criminological theory.

  • CRIM 800 - Proseminar in Criminology & Criminal Justice
  • CRIM 801 - Criminology & Public Policy
  • CRIM 802 - Advanced Criminological Theory
  • CRIM 803 - Inequality, Crime and Justice

Research Skills (12 credit hours). The research skills requirement reflects the University's expectation that students develop one or more significant skill sets distinct from the dissertation but fundamental to doctoral and postdoctoral research. The Ph.D. in Criminology & Criminal Justice requires competence in the areas of:
1) advanced social science research methods, and;
2) advanced multivariate data analysis / statistics.

  • CRIM 805 - Multivariate Statistics and Data Analysis
  • CRIM 810 - Qualitative Research Methods
  • CRIM 815 - Advanced Multivariate Data Analysis
  • CRIM 820 - Advanced Research Methods

Electives (12 credit hours). Students complete 12 hours of electives selected from 700 or 800-level courses within the Department or across the University. The selection of electives will be guided by input from the program director depending upon course availability, program resources and student goals. Students are encouraged to select courses that contribute to specialized knowledge of one or more subject areas previously identified through core coursework as well as their understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods and statistics.

Professional Development and Dissertation Seminar (3 credit hours).

  • CRIM 898 - Professional Development

Dissertation Credits (minimum of 9 credit hours). In addition to core classes and electives, students are required to sign up for a minimum of 9 credit hours of dissertation work with their committee. The dissertation will be a scholarly work of high quality investigating a problem of significance that constitutes a meaningful contribution to the body of existing knowledge regarding matters of criminology & criminal justice policy or practice. It is the culmination of a program of advanced study leading to a doctoral degree and, as such, is expected to demonstrate a high degree of scholarly competence. CRIM 999 is a one-hour pass/fail registration required of all graduate students to maintain active status each fall/spring until the degree is completed.

  • CRIM 899 - Dissertation Credit
  • CRIM 999 - continued active status enrollment

Plan of Study

The following plan of study outlines the order in which full-time students will complete the degree requirements over years one through three.

Fall, Year 1 Spring, Year 1
CRIM 800 Proseminar in Criminology & Criminal Justice CRIM 801 Criminology & Public Policy
CRIM 802 Advanced Criminological Theory CRIM 803 Inequality; Crime & Justice
CRIM 820 Advanced Research Methods OR
CRIM 810 Qualitative Research Methods
CRIM 805 Multivariate Data Analysis
Fall, Year 2 Spring, Year 2
CRIM 820 Advanced Research Methods OR
CRIM 810 Qualitative Research Methods
CRIM 815 Advanced Multivariate Data Analysis
Elective Course #1 Elective Course #3
Elective Course #2 Elective Course #4
Fall, Year 3 Spring, Year 3
CRIM 898 Professional Development CRIM 899 Dissertation Credits
CRIM 899 Dissertation Credits CRIM 899 or 999 enrollment until dissertation completed

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive exam assesses a student's mastery of literature in criminology and criminal justice in theory, research methods and statistics, inequality and policy as applied to questions of criminological interest; and her/his ability to think broadly and critically and to present her/himself as a sophisticated intellectual thinker. Comprehensive exams are normally taken following completion of all coursework except the dissertation seminar; students may petition the PhD Committee to take the exam prior to the completion of all coursework. Students may pass or fail the exam in whole or in part and need retake only those parts that are failed; they must retake the failed part(s) in accordance with the directions stipulated by comprehensive exam committee. Students who do not successfully pass the comprehensive exam following the retake will be dismissed from the program; they may complete the classes they are enrolled in that semester for credit if they wish.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree once the following criteria are satisfied:

S/he has completed all Ph.D. coursework (excepting dissertation hours) with a G.P.A. of at least 3.25;

S/he has successfully passed the comprehensive examination;

S/he has successfully defended a dissertation prospectus.

The Dissertation

The dissertation is a scholarly work investigating a problem of significance and should constitute a meaningful contribution to the body of existing knowledge regarding matters of criminology & criminal justice policy or practice. It is the culmination of a program of advanced study leading to a doctoral degree and, as such, is expected to demonstrate a high level of scholarly competence. It must show that the candidate is capable of conceptualizing and conducting sophisticated original research, analysis and reporting on an approved topic related to crime and justice by use of accepted scientific methods. See additional information.