Learn more about the Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice.

About the Program

The PhD degree program in Criminal Justice is designed to produce criminal justice scholars who will lead the field in academia, private and governmental research agencies, and policy-level positions in criminal justice and related organizations. The PhD degree requires the completion of a minimum of 48 hours of coursework post-baccalaureate, although students may take additional courses to prepare themselves for subsequent stages of their post-graduate career.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location: Main

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: Doctoral students are expected to be enrolled full-time. Part-time students are accepted in exceptional circumstances. Students should note that classes are scheduled both during the day and evening as scheduling demands. Students are expected to be available for classes when they are scheduled.

Interdisciplinary Study: The program encourages interdisciplinary coursework, research and interactions among faculty and students with interests in a wide range of fields. Many of the students entering the Criminal Justice PhD program have backgrounds in Counseling, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work, Sociology, and Urban Studies.

Ranking: In the 2021 rankings by U.S. News & World Report, Temple University's Criminal Justice program was rated 14th in Criminology. In addition, The Chronicle of Higher Education's Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index identifies the faculty of the Criminal Justice department as the sixth most productive among all doctoral programs in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Areas of Specialization: Faculty members specialize and offer substantial coursework in a wide array of areas, including:

  • Corrections and community corrections
  • Court processes
  • Crime and the physical/social environment
  • Criminal justice policy making and strategic management
  • Criminal law
  • Criminological theory
  • Discretion in criminal justice
  • Issues in policing
  • Juvenile justice
  • Organized crime
  • Qualitative/quantitative research methods
  • Restorative justice
  • Socialization and deviant behavior
  • Statistical analysis
  • White collar crime

Job Prospects: The PhD program is primarily dedicated to producing well-trained criminologists, researchers and criminal justice practitioners. The job market for an individual with a PhD degree in the field is extremely good. Most of our graduates enter the academy as university professors while others advance their careers in research for government or private agencies.

Non-Matriculated Student Policy: Non-matriculated students are eligible to take some of the graduate courses offered in Criminal Justice. If accepted into the program, up to 9 credits may be applied toward the degree program. For some courses, permission of the instructor is required before registration by non-matriculated students can occur.

Financing Opportunities: The principal duties of a Teaching Assistant include assisting faculty members in classroom (field, observatory) instruction, conducting tutorials and discussion sections, and grading quizzes. Research Assistants are expected to devote 20 hours per week on average to research obligations. They are assigned to a faculty member or principal investigator investigating a specific research project. The appropriate subjects are determined by consultation between the student and the student's research and academic advisors. Both Teaching and Research Assistantships carry a stipend and full tuition remission for up to 9 credits per term. Applications should include:

  1. a statement of previous teaching and/or research experience, areas of interest, and future goals;
  2. unofficial transcripts; and
  3. a curriculum vitae.

The Department makes assistantship offers in early Spring of each year.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: December 15; November 30 international

Applications are evaluated from the end of October until the deadline. Late applications may be considered for admission.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:
Number Required: 3

From Whom: Ideally, the letters should be obtained from college/university faculty members familiar with the applicant's academic competence. Letters from employers and other non-academic assessors are accepted but generally carry far less weight.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A master's degree is not required.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: A baccalaureate degree in Criminology/Criminal Justice, Geography, History, Law, Political Science, Social Work, Sociology or a related field is required.

Statement of Goals: In approximately 500 to 1,000 words, discuss your specific interest in Temple's program, research goals and how they relate to Temple's program, future career goals, and academic and research achievements.

Standardized Test Scores:
GRE: Optional. Scores may be submitted if available.

Applicants who earned their baccalaureate degree from an institution where the language of instruction was other than English, with the exception of those who subsequently earned a master’s degree at a U.S. institution, must report scores for a standardized test of English that meet these minimums:

  • TOEFL iBT: 79
  • IELTS Academic: 6.5
  • PTE Academic: 53

Resume: Current resume required.

Writing Sample: The writing sample should demonstrate your ability to research and write a scholarly paper. The paper should not be too lengthy (up to 10 pages is preferable) and should be fully referenced according to a professional, scholarly style manual. Although it need not be related directly to Criminal Justice, it should reflect your ability to prepare a social science paper.

Advanced Standing: Graduate coursework taken as part of a master's degree program at an accredited institution prior to matriculation at Temple may be accepted for advanced standing credit, provided the coursework is relevant to the PhD in Criminal Justice. To request advanced standing, the applicant must provide an official transcript from their prior graduate institution to the Graduate Chair that clearly states "MA awarded" and the date of its awarding. The Graduate Committee reviews the request.

Only grades of "B" or better are accepted. If the request is granted, the student receives advanced standing and is awarded a maximum of 15 credits. Students with transferred credits should expect that they will have to complete much of the required coursework in residence to ensure that they are adequately prepared to take their PhD comprehensive exams.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required to Earn the Degree: 48

Required Courses:

Core Courses
CJ 8101Decision Making in Criminal Justice3
CJ 8102Research Methods in Criminal Justice3
CJ 8104Law and Social Order3
CJ 8105Statistical Issues and Analysis of Criminal Justice Data3
CJ 8106Theories of Crime and Deviance3
CJ 8228Race, Crime, and Justice3
CJ 8302Advanced Methods and Issues in Criminal Justice Research3
CJ 8305Advanced Statistical Issues in Criminal Justice Data3
Electives 118
Research Courses 26
Preliminary Examination Preparation
Pre-Dissertation Research
Doctoral Dissertation Research
Total Credit Hours48

Any CJ course at the 8000 or 9000 level that is not a required course may be taken as an elective. With approval from their advisor, students may take up to two graduate-level courses outside the department.


Of the 6 required research credits, a minimum of 2 credits of CJ 9999 must be taken. The other 4 credits may be taken in any combination of CJ 9994, CJ 9998, and CJ 9999.

Culminating Events:
Comprehensive Examinations:
Two comprehensive examinations must be passed. One is in "Justice," which has the Criminal Justice system as its focus. The second is in "Crime," which has theory as its focus. The purpose of the comprehensive exams is to demonstrate critical and interpretive knowledge in specialized areas of both the Criminal Justice system and Criminal Justice theory.

Prospectus Defense:
The prospectus defense evaluates the student's ability to apply specific research and/or analytic methods to the questions addressed in the prospectus. The defense occurs within several weeks of the student's advisor confirming, in writing to the Graduate Chair, that the student is ready to defend their prospectus.

Ideally, the prospectus defense should be completed within one academic year of the comprehensive examinations. The prospectus defense consists of a short (30-40 minute) presentation of the prospectus by the student to faculty and graduate students. Following the presentation, the Graduate Chair mediates a question-and-answer session between the student and audience. The members of the student's Doctoral Advisory Committee normally pose the initial questions at the defense. When these have been exhausted, other audience members are asked to put forth any questions they have for the student. The defense is scheduled to last no longer than two hours.

The Doctoral Advisory Committee must evaluate the quality of the presentation and of the answers provided during the question-and-answer session. Committee members look for evidence of a breadth and depth of understanding of specific substantive and methodological areas. In addition, they gauge the student's ability to utilize their knowledge to address the questions posed during the defense. Each member votes to pass or fail the student. Members can also vote to pass pending the completion of specified changes to the prospectus. In order to pass, a majority of the committee members must agree that the defense has been satisfactorily completed.

Students who are preparing to defend their prospectus should arrange some dates and times for the defense with the Doctoral Advisory Committee. The student should then inform the Graduate Chair of these dates and times and confirm the final date and time selected. Finally, the Graduate Chair provides confirmation of the time, date and room.

The dissertation is an original empirical study that makes a significant contribution to the field of Criminal Justice. It should expand the existing database and demonstrate the student's knowledge of both research methods and a mastery of their primary area of interest. Dissertations should be rigorously investigated; uphold the ethics and standards of the field of Criminal Justice; demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the primary area of interest and the broader field of Criminal Justice; and be prepared for publication in a professional journal.

The Doctoral Advisory Committee is formed to oversee the student's doctoral research and is comprised of at least three Temple Graduate Faculty members. Two members, including the Chair, must be from the Department of Criminal Justice. Committee compositions must be approved by the Department's Graduate Committee. The Chair is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's progress, coordinating the responses of the Committee members, and informing the student of their academic progress.

The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense. This committee is comprised of the Doctoral Advisory Committee and at least one additional Graduate Faculty member from outside the Department of Criminal Justice. The Outside Examiner should be identified no later than the beginning of the term in which the student will defend the dissertation. The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's ability to express verbally their research question, methodological approach, primary findings and implications. The Committee votes to pass or fail the dissertation and the defense at the conclusion of the public presentation.

If a student needs to change a member of a Committee, the new member must be approved by the Department's Graduate Committee and registered with the Graduate Secretary and the Graduate School.

Students who are preparing to defend their dissertation should confirm a time and date with their Doctoral Advisory Committee and register with the Graduate Secretary at least 30 days before the defense is to be scheduled. The Graduate Secretary arranges the time, date and room and forwards to the student the appropriate paperwork. After the Graduate Secretary has scheduled the defense, the student must send the Graduate School a completed "Announcement of Dissertation Defense" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within "University Forms," at least 10 working days before the defense. The department posts flyers announcing the defense.


Program Web Address:

Department Information:

Dept. of Criminal Justice

508 Gladfelter Hall

1115 W. Polett Walk

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6089


Submission Address for Application Materials:

Department Contacts:


Joe DelMastro


Graduate Chairperson:

Jeffrey Ward, PhD



Jennifer Wood, PhD