Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies

The Ph.D. offers an in-person program with an emphasis in Criminal Justice Policy Studies.

Ph.D. Criminal Justice Policy Studies students discuss class topics with their professor.

About this Program

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.

On this Page…

    Program Information

    Program Type

    Doctorate Program

    Area of Study

    Social Sciences, Law, and Policy




    Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies

    Program Location



    Criminal Justice Policy Studies

    Required Credit Hours


    Program Requirements

    Find the program requirements for the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies below. For more information, please see the graduate course catalog online or download the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies Graduate Student Handbook.

    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.

    Course Requirements

    All students must take the following four classes:

    • CJ 701: Proseminar in Criminal Justice Policy Studies (3 hours)
    • CJ 702: Advanced Criminal Justice Statistics (3 hours)
    • CJ 703: Advanced Criminological Theory & Policy (3 hours)
    • CJ 704: Advanced Criminal Justice Policy Studies (3 hours)

    Core Area Electives (9 – 15 credits)
    Students must take a minimum of one course in each core area for a minimum of 9 hours.

    Core Area 1: Criminal Justice System & Issues

    • CJ 621: Seminar in Law Enforcement (3 hours)
    • CJ 622: Seminar in Courts and Sentencing (3 hours)
    • CJ 623: Seminar in Corrections (3 hours)
    • CJ 630: Seminar in Homeland Security Operations (3 hours)
    • CJ 641: Transnational Crime (3 hours)
    • CJ 642: Cyber Crime & Cybersecurity (3 hours)
    • CJ 643: Legal Issues in Criminal Justice* (3 hours)
    • CJ 646: Special Topics in Criminal Justice* (3 hours)

    Core Area 2: Methods, Data, & Analysis

    • CJ 661: Criminal Justice Policy Analysis (3 hours)
    • CJ 664: GIS and Crime Mapping Analysis (3 hours)
    • CJ 659: Data Management & Data Science (3 hours)
    • CJ 666: Big Data Analytics (3 hours)
    • CJ 667: Qualitative Research Design & Analysis (3 hours)
    • CJ 668: Analytic Writing (3 hours)
    • CJ 669: Grant Writing (3 hours)
    • CJ 663: Special topics in Methods, Data, & Analysis* (3 hours)

    Core Area 3: Policy Studies

    • CJ 620: Criminal Justice in American Society: Policy & Practice (3 hours)
    • CJ 681: Law & Public Policy (3 hours)
    • CJ 682: Comparative Criminal Justice Systems & Policy (3 hours)
    • CJ 683: Policy, Politics, and Leadership in Criminal Justice (3 hours)
    • CJ 684: Policy Issues in Criminal Justice* (3 hours)
    • CJ 687: Policy Development & Implementation (3 hours)
    • CJ 686: Ethics & Criminal Justice Policy (3 hours)
    • CJ 648: Special Topics in Policy Studies* (3 hours)

    *May be taken 2 times with a different topic.

    Other Electives (0 – 6 credits)

    • CJ 749: Advanced Independent Study** (3 hours)
    **Can be taken up to twice. Requires Instructor and Graduate Program Coordinator approval.

    Dissertation (18 credits)

    Students are required to take a minimum of 18 credits of dissertation work. 

    • CJ 797: Dissertation (18 hours)


    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; and
    4. A written and oral defense of a dissertation.
    Applicants for the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies must be able to provide the following for consideration: 
    • Academic Transcripts. Evidence of an awarded Baccalaureate Degree from an accredited college or university. Transcripts must also show a gradepoint of 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.
    • Three (3) letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation preferably come 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Curriculum vitae or resume.
    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.
    International students must demonstrate compliance with the University of Mississippi’s
    English Language Proficiency Score Requirements and Exemptions policy

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    We're here for you!

    If you have any questions about the Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Policy Studies, don't hesitate to get in touch!

    Kimberly Kaiser

    Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, Graduate Program Director

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