Ph.D. In Criminal Justice

Our Ph.D. program is designed to provide students with outstanding learning opportunities through coursework, collaborative research, and teaching experience. We emphasize faculty-student mentoring and researcher-practitioner partnerships to prepare students for successful careers.

Important for applying to the Ph.D. Program:

Producing the next generation of criminal justice scholars

During the past 50 years, the field of criminal justice has evolved to become more evidence-based, and doctoral education has played a significant role in this evolution. The University of New Haven's Ph.D. program in criminal justice is designed to create a new generation of educators and scholars who excel in the classroom, produce valuable research, and contribute to their discipline and communities. Our graduates are well-prepared for both academic and research-oriented careers.

Our vision is to be the premier student-centered Ph.D. Program in Criminal Justice in the Northeast region, with a national and international reputation for academic excellence among students, faculty, alumni, and peers. Learn more about our Vision, Mission, and Values.

Criminal justice students in the Ph.D. program conduct research that makes an impact on the field, reduces crime, and makes society safer. Their experience in the field and specialized research experience uniquely prepare them to, as educators, talk about theories in a way that students will be able to understand and implement in the workplace.

Full- and part-time options and traditional classroom-based courses and hybrid courses (that feature some online instruction) are available to allow Ph.D. students to tailor the program to meet their individual needs.

Scholarships, graduate assistantships, and teaching fellowships, providing a range of benefits for tuition and academic support, are available for qualified students.

What makes our program unique?

Our Ph.D. in criminal justice is designed to be a small and selective program that enables every student to receive the individualized instruction and mentoring necessary in doctoral education.

Many students are former or current practitioners in a range of criminal justice professions, which adds to the vibrancy of the program and its close ties with criminal justice policy and practice.

Graduates can expect to apply their skills and credentials in a range of jobs where doctoral degrees are highly valued — from academic teaching to policy and analysis.

The Ph.D. program is part of the University’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, one of the largest and most academically diverse colleges of Criminal Justice in the United States, enabling us to provide the highest level of student support.

Our location in the greater New Haven area – in the heart of one of the most dynamic regions of the world – also offers a wide variety of educational, cultural, and economic opportunities for prospective students and their families.

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Our faculty are leaders and innovators in their fields, bringing both deep professional experience and academic rigor to the classroom.

Curriculum and Areas of Specialization

The following courses, covering the areas of theory, research methods and statistics, and criminal justice policy, are intended to assist students with completing coursework and comprehensive exam requirements:

  • A seminar course with the purpose of developing academic research, writing, and presentation skills. Areas covered include the conduct of literature searches, abstracting, organizing literature reviews, citation systems, academic presentations, and the academic publication process.

  • An analysis of contemporary issues in criminal justice, with an emphasis on evaluating connections between theory, research, and public policy. Students will review and assess existing scholarship pertaining to the study of crime and justice, while generating and critiquing ideas for their own research.

  • This course is part of a package of courses focused on criminal behavior that are part of the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice.

  • A survey of rational choice theories of crime from sociology, psychology, economics, and political science perspectives. Topics include deterrence, routine opportunities theory, incapacitation, and conflict approaches to understanding crime and criminal behavior.

  • A survey of psychological explanations of criminal behavior. Topics include psychoanalytic theories, trait theories, social learning, cognitive learning, biosocial theories, developmental theories of crime, and economic and social psychological theories of criminal behavior.

  • An introduction to multivariate statistical techniques as applied in criminal justice research. Topics include regression analysis, discriminant analysis, factor analysis, MANOVA, and multivariate significance tests.

  • Advanced examination and application of research design and methodologies in the study of crime and justice. Topics include sampling, measurement, survey research, experimental and quasi-experimental design, secondary data analysis, qualitative and mixed-methods approaches, and research ethics.

  • An introduction to public policy and program analysis as applied within the criminal justice field. Topics include the impact of basic research on policy formulation and implementation. Special attention will be given to issues of decision-making and its tools. Additional elective courses will be offered on a rotating basis for students to use in satisfying coursework, comprehensive exam, and area of specialization requirements. Students should consult with the program director prior to registering for courses each semester.

Areas of Specialization

The specializations listed below reflect major areas of scholarly significance and current areas of research interest among the faculty. Students will work with the director of the Ph.D. program and their dissertation advisor to select a specific area of specialization and to identify classes or other learning opportunities that will meet their individual needs. Areas of specialization may have some overlap with more general topic areas and coursework, as students will build on the core knowledge in the discipline to develop their individual specializations.

  • The specialization in Investigative Science focuses on the application of the natural sciences and scientific methods to the study of criminal investigations and investigative processes.

  • The specialization in Law and Public Policy provides students with a deeper understanding of law and public policy within the context of the administration of justice in the United States.

  • The specialization in Criminal Behavior develops a deeper understanding of theories and research on criminal behavior, including multidisciplinary perspectives.

  • The specialization in Policing and Law Enforcement enables students to focus on modern law enforcement and police practices, along with evaluating the effectiveness of these practices.

  • The specialization in research methods and quantitative analysis allows students to develop more extensive and sophisticated research and analytical skills used in the study of crime and justice.

  • With approval of the Ph.D. program director and dissertation committee, students may select a custom area of specialization. Current areas of faculty research and subject matter expertise that students could pursue include, but are not limited to, the following: Corrections, Juvenile Justice, National Security, or Victimization.

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  • Admission to the Ph.D. program is based on past academic coursework, Graduate Record Examination scores (optional for the duration of the COVID emergency), letters of reference, a writing sample, and a personal statement. Students must submit a completed application for admission form, plus the following:

    • Transcripts from all colleges attended, including proof of receipt of a baccalaureate degree and graduate degree (optional) from an accredited college or university.
    • A minimum of a 3.5 GPA for the final two years of undergraduate study, or a 3.5 GPA for all masters level coursework is expected for admission.
    • Scores for the Graduate Record Exam (optional for the duration of the COVID emergency).
    • Three letters of recommendation.
    • An academic or other professional writing sample. The most useful writing sample is your final paper from a Research Methods class, a literature review, or your research thesis.
    • A personal statement of no more than 1,500 words describing the student's background, goals, and reasons for pursuing the Ph.D. degree at the University of New Haven.
    • Students who would like to receive full consideration for funding should submit a complete application by January 15.
  • Given the specialized nature of doctoral degree program each student admitted into the program must meet with the director of the program to establish an initial plan of study for the degree. The requirements below represent general minimum requirements; however, each student will work with their doctoral program advisor and the director of the program to formalize their plan of study.

    • Each student must complete a minimum residency requirement of 30 semester credits of doctoral coursework in the program, students must pass two preliminary comprehensive exams: one covering research methods and statistics (Exam 1), and the other covering theories of crime and justice (Exam 2). Each student must also satisfy minimum requirements (3-15 credits) for an area of specialization and pass an Area of Specialization comprehensive exam (Exam 3).
    • Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade-point average. The Criminal Justice Ph.D. Program requires a minimum of 45 credit hours for completion. The minimum of 45 credit hours include: 30 credits of program core and residency doctoral credits, a minimum of 3 credits in an area of specialization, 3 credits of dissertation prospectus, and 9 hours of dissertation credits.
    • Students must pass all three comprehensive examinations.
    • Students must complete and defend a doctoral dissertation prospectus, prior to starting work on their dissertation.
    • Students must complete and defend a doctoral dissertation that is based on original research and that makes a significant contribution to the study of Criminal Justice. Students must complete a minimum of 9 hours of dissertation credit.
    • Students must be in compliance with all general rules and procedures for graduate study as established by the Graduate School at the University of New Haven
  • To view the complete list of policies and procedures you'll need to follow while pursuing a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, check out the Academic Catalog:

    Criminal Justice, Ph.D.

  • The University of New Haven Graduate School is an excellent value with reasonable tuition. Of course, you will still have bills to pay and the Financial Aid office can help.

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