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PhD in Criminal Justice Policy Studies


The Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies degree program is designed to educate students to become competent and productive scholars in creating, studying, and evaluating criminal justice policies. The degree program prepares students for competitive jobs in the industry including careers as college/university professors, researchers for public and private organizations, and policy analysts.

Minimum Total Credit Hours: 45

General Education Requirements

All Ph.D. students must complete a minimum of 45 credits beyond a master's degree program. Students entering without a master’s degree must also complete the requirements of the master’s degree in addition to the requirements listed below as part of the doctoral degree. Specifically, the 45 credits of the doctoral degree include: CJ 701; CJ 702; CJ 703; and CJ 704; 9 hours of substantive core, including a minimum of 3 hours in each of the three substantive core areas: criminal justice system & issues; methods, data, & analysis; and policy studies; an additional 6 hours of approved elective courses; and 18 hours of dissertation credits.

Admission Requirements:

  1. Evidence of an awarded Baccalaureate Degree from an accredited college or university.
  2. Quality of the applicant’s academic record, as evidenced by cumulative grade point average. At least a 3.0 or equivalent grade point average on the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework or at least a 3.0 or equivalent grade point average on master’s coursework is required.
  3. Submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score is optional. There are no minimum GRE scores required. Applicants interested in having their GRE scores considered for admission must have their GRE scores submitted directly to The University of Mississippi. The GRE score must have been taken within five (5) years of application for admission to the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies program. The Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies program does not accept Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores as substitutes for a GRE score.
  4. Three (3) letters of recommendation, preferably from professors familiar with your academic qualifications and/or skills who are able to comment on your potential to be successful in a doctoral program.
  5. Statement of Interest. A 400-500 word statement of interest that describes your interest in pursuing the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies, your future career goals, and why you believe you will be successful in the doctoral program.
  6. Writing Sample. Submit a sample of your recent written work that best showcases your skills as a writer and critical thinker. Writing samples should be in English and be no less than 10 double-spaced pages and no more than 35 pages double-spaced pages in length. There are no specific formatting requirements. This could be a term paper from a previous course, a thesis, a lead author academic publication (i.e., peer-reviewed journal article, encyclopedia/book chapter), professional report, policy brief, or any other document that demonstrates your writing and analytic skills.
  7. Curriculum vitae or resume.
  8. International students must demonstrate compliance with the University of Mississippi’s English Language Proficiency Score Requirements and Exemptions policy.

Course Requirements

First-Year Core Courses (Required for all students) (9 credits)

CORE AREA ELECTIVES (9–15 credits)

Students must take a minimum of one course in each core area for a minimum of 9 hours of substantive core coursework.

Core Area 1: Criminal Justice System & Issues

Core Area 2: Methods, Data, & Analysis

Core Area 3: Policy Studies

* May be taken 2 times with a different topic.

OTHER ELECTIVES (0–6 credits)

**Can be taken up to twice. Requires Instructor and Graduate Program Coordinator approval.

DISSERTATION (18 credits)

Other Academic Requirements

The student also must complete:

  1. A first-year qualifying written (take-home) exam that is taken at the end of the first year of doctoral coursework, and is based on material from the first-year required core classes (i.e., CJ 702, CJ 703, and CJ 704). Successfully passing the first-year qualifying exam is required to continue on in the doctoral program.

  2. A “publishable paper” which represents a single-authored, independent research project that resembles a manuscript suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. This is equivalent to the comprehensive exam, and must be passed successfully in order to continue on into the dissertation phase of the program.

  3. A written and oral defense of a dissertation prospectus.

  4. A written and oral defense of a dissertation.

The policies and regulations contained in this online University of Mississippi Catalog are in effect for the current or selected semester. The catalog is not a contract, but rather a guide for the convenience of students. The University of Mississippi reserves the right to 1) change or withdraw courses; 2) change the fees, rules, and schedules for admission, registration, instruction, and graduation; and 3) change other regulations affecting the student body at any time. Implicit in each student’s enrollment with the university is an agreement to comply with university rules and regulations, which the university may modify to exercise properly its educational responsibility.