Doctoral Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is designed to produce graduates who can apply interdisciplinary theory and a variety of research methodologies to the study of crime causation, societal responses to crime, and the administration of justice. The Ph.D. in Criminal Justice permits students to focus on various substantive crime-related issues while simultaneously developing a strong foundation in theory and research methods. The program prepares students for careers in college and university teaching and research, as well as advanced public-policy positions in government and private sectors.

Our faculty are trained in a variety of disciplines such as criminology, criminal justice, sociology, psychology, political science, public health, and public policy. Accordingly, doctoral student training is based on a multidisciplinary approach to the study of crime, responses to criminal behavior, and justice administration. Furthermore, students complete a sequence of advanced courses in research methods and statistics that prepares them to independently design, implement, and interpret research. Throughout the program there is an emphasis on the relationship between theory and practice, as well as the interconnected activities of the many agencies and professions involved in the criminal justice system. The program is individualized to allow students, working with a guidance committee, to shape a program of study that is broad in scope yet consistent with their specific interests. Through their research, teaching, and practice, graduates will be prepared to contribute to the prevention and control of crime and delinquency, and improvements in the efficacy of the criminal justice system and the fairness of outcomes it delivers to the public.

For further information regarding the doctoral program, please contact graduate secretary Melissa Christle at or 517-353-7133.

  • Apply

    Applications for the Criminal Justice doctoral program at MSU are screened for fall semester entry only. All application materials must be received by December 15 for consideration for the following fall semester. Applicants are typically notified of admission decisions within 6-8 weeks of the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

    Application materials that may be uploaded include:

    • Application for Graduate Study at Michigan State University. May be submitted online here. The major code for the Criminal Justice doctoral program is 4725.  After you begin your application, you will receive an email with a login and password.  You will be prompted to upload the following documents and request Letters of Recommendation.  
    • A statement of your academic and professional goals. This should include information about your motivation to study criminal justice, a description of relevant research and/or work experience, and any other information that you would like the admissions committee to know. 
    • One or more of the following: a copy of your thesis if it is defended; a copy of your thesis proposal outlining research up to data collection (if data collection is not complete); evidence of research preparation and capabilities (e.g., conference presentations, publications, research report, etc.).
    • Three letters of recommendation from tenure-track faculty who can comment on your ability to perform graduate work. 


    Additional required materials include:

    • ONE set of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. A transcript of work at MSU is not required, unless you attended MSU College of Law. Transcripts from US institutions may be sent electronically, and will be considered official if they are sent directly from the institutions attended to the graduate secretary at If they are mailed by the institution attended, they should be sent to the address that follows.
      International students must submit official transcripts in both the original language and English translation of transcript and diploma. Please have transcripts mailed directly from the institutions attended to:

      Criminal Justice Doctoral Program
      Michigan State University
      Baker Hall
      655 Auditorium Road Room 557
      East Lansing, MI 48824

    • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general exam scores from a test taken within the last five years. Test preparation material and information about test dates can be found at Please note when scheduling your exam that it may take 4-6 weeks for your scores to be forwarded to the university and this department. The institution code for MSU is 1465 and the departmental code is 2202. Admission requires scores at or above the fiftieth percentile.
    • International students must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam scores from a test taken within the past two years. MSU's score requirement is a minimum average score of 80, with no subscores below 19 for Reading, Listening and Speaking, and no subscore below 22 for Writing. The institution code for MSU is 1465. Students from countries where the primary language is English may have the TOEFL requirement waived with the approval of the department, college, and Graduate School. Please contact the graduate secretary at to determine whether the requirement may be waived.

    Please note: Applicants must have achieved a GPA of at least 3.0 in prior undergraduate and/or graduate work. While formal admission to the program does not require completion of a master's degree, the screening committee looks for a strong methodological and statistical background.

    Questions? Please contact graduate secretary Melissa Christle at or 517-353-7133.

  • Requirements

    In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, students must complete a minimum of 36 semester credits of course work and 24 credits of dissertation research, totaling a minimum of 60 semester credits. The program must be developed in consultation with a guidance committee and approved by the College of Social Science.

    Required Core Courses (18 credits)

    • CJ 801 - Crime Causation, Prevention and Control (3 credits)
    • CJ 810 - Proseminar in Criminal Justice (3 credits)
    • CJ 901 - Seminar in Contemporary Criminal Justice Theory (3 credits)
    • CJ 906 - Advanced Quantitative Methods in Criminal Justice Research (3 credits)
    • CJ 909 - Advanced Research Methods (3 credits)
    • CJ 910 - Qualitative Methods (3 credits)


    Admitted without a Master’s Degree

    Students admitted directly from an undergraduate degree program must take CJ 811 (Design and Analysis of CJ Research) and CJ 887 (Quantitative Methods) as prerequisites to CJ 906, 907, 909, and 910. CJ 811 and CJ 887 may not be counted toward doctoral program requirements.

    Elective Courses (12 credits)

    Students must complete 12 credits of additional courses at the 800-level or above, as approved by the student’s guidance committee. Three of the core master’s courses in criminal justice taught at MSU may not be used toward doctoral program requirements (CJ 811, CJ 812, CJ 887).

    Advanced Research Methods (6 credits)

    Students must complete two 3-credit doctoral-level research methods courses in the College of Social Science as approved by the student’s guidance committee. CJ 907 and CJ 909 may be repeated for credit and count toward this requirement when topics have changed.

    Qualifying Papers

    Students will complete two qualifying papers (this is the program’s comprehensive exam requirement). Qualifying papers allow for the assessment of adequate student learning in criminological or criminal justice theory and research methods in criminology and criminal justice. Students will be expected to address unique research questions in their areas of study using the appropriate methods of analysis and should be able to contribute to the literature in ways consistent with high-quality peer-reviewed publications.

    Dissertation (24 credits)

    Students must submit and defend a dissertation reflecting original research focusing on a significant problem or issue in criminal justice. The guidance committee is responsible for providing direction for the student’s research. All program requirements, including oral defense and submission of the dissertation, must be completed within 8 years from the time of the first enrollment as a doctoral student.

    Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR)

    MSU’s Graduate School has developed minimum education requirements for all graduate students regarding the Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR for short). RECR training is also a federal requirement for all graduate students and completion of the training must be tracked. The RECR requirements are outlined by The Graduate School at the following LINK.

  • Documents
  • Graduates


    Travis Carter – University of South Florida
    Noah Turner – University of Nebraska Omaha, NCITE Research Associate
    Matthew Galasso – Michigan State University


    Elizabeth Adams – Temple University
    Ashleigh LaCourse – University of Cincinnati, Research Associate
    Yongjae (David) Nam – University Texas San Antonio
    Amanda Osuna – University of Tampa
    Jennifer Paruk – Rutgers University, Postdoctoral Research Associate
    Stephen Oliphant – University of Michigan, Postdoctoral Research Associate
    Kayla Hoskins – Yale School of Medicine, Postdoctoral Fellow
    Meagan Abel – RTI International
    Rae Boratto – Monitor Conservation Research Society


    Spencer Lawson – University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Research Scientist
    Fiona Chan 
    - Indiana University Bloomington
    Mark Gibson -
    Director, Nurture Nature Campaign
    Katie Darcy – University of Michigan-Dearborn
    Ariel Roddy – University of Utah
    Christine Kwiatkowski – Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Research Scientist


    Jin Ree Lee - George Mason University
    Roberta Liggett-O'Malley -
    University of South Florida
    Michelle Malkin - East Carolina University


    Alaina DeBiasi Podges - University of California Davis
    Brent Klein -
    University of South Carolina
    Sung Uook Lee -
    University of Southern Indiana
    Rebecca Malinski - Moravian College


    Yi Ting Chua - University of Cambridge, Cambridge Cybercrime Centre
    Alison Cox - University of Northern Iowa
    Gregory Drake - Rochester Institute of Technology
    Marva Goodson - Vanderbilt University
    Ka Wai Li - Rutgers University


    Giovanni Circo - University of New Haven
    Lauren Magee - Indiana University School of Medicine
    Robert Peacock - Florida International University


    Michael Cassidy - Niagara University
    Jina Lee - Grand Valley State University
    Seung Paek - SUNY-Oswego
    Ksenia Petlakh - SUNY-Delhi
    Sarah St. George - Northern Ohio Regional Fusion Center


    Levente Fejes - Asociatia pentru Relatii Comunitare


    Sadik Arin - Turkish National Police
    Kimberly Bender - University of Massachusetts-Lowell
    Roy Fenoff - The Citadel
    Byung Hyun Lee - Central Connecticut State University
    Juli Liebler - SCJ Outreach, Michigan State University
    Michael Rossler - Illinois State University
    Brandon Sullivan - Michigan State University/ Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection 


    Vaughn Crichlow - Florida Atlantic University
    Ryan Martz - Saginaw Valley State University
    Alexis Norris - California State University, San Bernardino
    Miriam Northcutt Bohmert - Indiana University
    Jason Rydberg - University of Massachusetts Lowell
    Charles Scheer - University of Southern Mississippi
    Rebecca Stone - University of Massachusetts Lowell
    Michael Suttmoeller - Missouri State University 


    Margaret Fischer - Michigan State University Department of Police and Public Safety
    Melissa Garmo - Saginaw Valley State University
    Manish Madan - Richard Stockton College
    Raymund Narag - Southern Illinois University Carbondale
    Tia Stevens - University of South Carolina
    Julie Yingling - South Dakota State University 


    Mohammad Ali -Punjab University
    Ismail Demirkol - Turkish National Police
    Joseph Johnson - Rowan University
    Wook Kang - Songpa Police Department
    Dae-Hoon Kwak - Illinois State University
    Juyoung Song - University of West Georgia
    Serkan Tasgin - Turkish National Police 


    Jeremy Carter - Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    Suyeon Park - SUNY Plattsburgh 


    Nebi Cetinkaya - Turkish National Police
    Eric Grommon - Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    Mustafa Halicioglu - Turkish National Police
    Jason Ingram - Illinois State University

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