The Ph.D. Degree

The Ph.D. Degree Program in Criminology, Law and Society (CLS)

The doctoral program consists of 90 semester hours of credit beyond the B.A. degree. Students with a Criminology, or closely related M.A. received within the last seven years from an accredited U.S. university may request up to 30 hours credit from their M.A. work toward this total. Those with an M.A. from this department may apply 36 hours. The department requires Ph.D. students to complete at least 66 hours of course work, including the M.A. hours. Qualifying exams in crime and justice, law and society, and methods take place at the end of a student’s course work. The 24 hours remaining to complete the required 90 hours usually consist of individual pre-doctoral and doctoral dissertation research. In addition to the MA requirements, the Graduate Program in CLS requires additional criminology courses, nine elective courses and dissertation credits. Each Ph.D. student must indicate an area of specialization: either crime and justice or law and society.

The Supervisory Committee. Before the completion of 12 credits or the second semester, students are required by the Graduate School to form the supervisory committee. The committee chair must be a CLS graduate faculty member with tenure line or 50% appointment in the department and have expertise in the substantive area in which the student plans to work. Affiliate CLS members may serve as a committee co-chair. The student should consult with the proposed supervisory committee chair when determining the other members and obtain their consent. While the program requires a total of four members, we strongly recommend a five-member committee.

The committee consists of at least four members, all of whom must have graduate faculty status. Three members must be from the CLS graduate faculty or approved CLS faculty affiliates and the fourth member must be an external member from outside the department. If the student has an out-of-department minor, the external member must come from the minor department. Students who are unable to determine likely outside members should consult with the supervisory committee chair. Because faculty members in professional schools (e.g. Law) as well as some other faculty members are not members of the graduate faculty, special permission from the Graduate School is required for their inclusion on the supervisory committee, and obtaining that permission requires compelling justification. Lecturers do not have Graduate Faculty status.

Students gain all members’ consent and submit the proposed committee to the Graduate Coordinator. [ phd-committee-approval-crim.pdf ] Once approved, the Graduate Coordinator forwards the proposed committee to the Graduate School for final approval.

Plan of Study. The student should consult with the supervisory committee chair to develop a detailed plan of courses and timing for completion of the Ph.D. degree. The supervisory committee chair will transmit an approved copy of the plan to the Graduate Coordinator within one month of the supervisory committee’s appointment. [ phd-plan-crim.pdf ]

Credit Hour Requirements. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 90 credit hours of courses, with additional guidelines noted below. The department guidelines are designed to ensure that graduate students at the Ph.D. level are exposed to the core ideas in methods, statistics, and theory. In addition, students are expected to develop expertise in at least one primary and one secondary area. Students will benefit from participating in dynamic exchanges found in seminars as well as doing independent or collaborative research with faculty and other graduate students. So long as the basic guidelines are followed, students can craft their program in various ways to incorporate individual studies hours (9 credits maximum), dissertation research (24 credits maximum), courses outside the department, and transfer credits (30 credits maximum) .

  • 30 hours of required courses; students with an M.A. in CLS from the University of Florida will have already completed most of them.
  • 9 elective graduate seminars from the department or from other departments; must be pertinent to student’s interests. (Individual work and individual research courses are not considered seminars).
  • Ordinarily, no more than a total of 3 credit hours in individual work (courses numbered 5905, 6905 or 6910) may be counted toward the Ph.D. Students with an external M.A. may take 6 credit hours of individual work. Students with an M.A. from UF may take 3 credit hours in the M.A. program and 3 additional credit hours in the Ph.D. program. The Graduate School further limits CCJ 6910 to 5 credits hours totaled across the M.A. and Ph.D. programs
  • No more than a combined total of 24 hours of Advanced Research (CCJ 7979) and Research for Doctoral Dissertations (CCJ 7980) may be counted toward the 90 total hours.
  • Students transferring to the University of Florida with a Master’s degree in Criminology may petition to be credited with a maximum of 30 semester hours taken in an M.A. or M.S. program. Students with a CLS M.A. from the University of Florida may count 36 hours from the M.A. program.
  • Students entering the Ph.D. program with a Master’s degree in another field may be required to complete an M.A. in CLS or to complete additional graduate or undergraduate courses. The Graduate Coordinator and Graduate Committee have responsibility for determining these requirements.
  • No more than nine semester hours of graduate sections of primarily undergraduate courses (commonly called “piggy-back” courses), including hours taken in a Master’s program, may apply toward the Ph.D. degree.

Required Courses. Students are required to take the following courses (30 total hours).

  • CCJ 6936: Proseminar in Crime, Law and Justice
  • CCJ 6920: Seminar in Criminological Theory
  • CCJ 5934: Introduction to Quantitative Methods
  • CCJ 6705: Research Methods in Crime, Law and Justice
  • CCJ 6039: Law and Society
  • CCJ 7742: Research Methods in Crime, Law and Justice II
  • CCJ 6285: Criminal Justice Process (crime and justice track)
  • CJL 6090: Law and Social Science (law and society track)
  • CCJ 7921: Professional Development
  • Methods or statistics seminar (general list of approved out-of-department courses)

Rule Waivers. Students may petition the Graduate Committee on Higher Degrees to waive program requirements if similar courses have been successfully completed at another accredited university.

Courses in Other Departments. Work in CLS must be in courses numbered 5000 and above. Nine hours of courses numbered 5000 or above may be taken outside CLS provided they are part of an approved plan of study (or are approved in writing by the Graduate Coordinator and supervisory committee chair).

Areas of Specialization. Students choose either the crime and justice track or the law and society track. One elective course at the doctoral level is required. Students interested in a secondary specialization to enhance their criminology and law training should consult the Graduate Coordinator and supervisory committee chair.

Experience. Numerous experiences (including graduate teaching assistantships and research assistantships) offer students valuable opportunities to work with faculty and to be involved in the research process. These experiences enhance the student’s skills and employment prospects. Students are encouraged to seek out at least a semester of each type of experience, even on an unpaid basis. Students should consult with their supervisory committee or the Graduate Coordinator to discuss ways of obtaining this experience.

Written Comprehensive Examination. At the end of course work, comprehensive exams are required. These exams should normally occur no later than the fifth semester following Ph.D. program admission. While preparing for the exams and while working on a dissertation proposal, the student may enroll in predoctoral research, CCJ 7979, Advanced Research.

All students are required to take two comprehensive examinations. The exams can be taken during the same semester or in successive semesters but the written qualifying exam process must be successfully completed within one academic year (within three examination events). Waivers of this rule will be considered only in extraordinary circumstances. Failure to meet the timing requirements may be judged as failure to make adequate progress in the program and may affect funding status and/or ability to continue as a student in the program. One exam is a tool exam in methods, statistics and theory. This exam will require the student to demonstrate proficiency in the application of methodological/statistical techniques and theories relevant to the study of criminology, law and society. The other exam is an area exam in the students chosen area of specialization. Depending on the area of specialization, students will be required to possess a mastery of knowledge within either the (1) Crime and Justice or (2) Law and Society area. Both exams are administered and graded by appointed committees comprising CLS graduate faculty members.

  • Appointed Examination Committees: The qualifying exam committees will consist of three CLS graduate faculty members with one alternate member all of whom are appointed for a two-year term by the area faculty. Of the three-member committee, one faculty member will serve as chair and the other two persons as members.
  • Format, Timing and Structure of Exams: Each answer should be no more than 10 double-spaced pages (not including references).
  • The exams are take-home and occur over a set time period. Students have 6 hours on a single day to answer one question, 10am to 4pm. The Tool exam is 4 questions, with one question answered on each of 4 consecutive days. The Area exam is 3 questions, with one question answered on each of 3 consecutive days.
  • Each question will be emailed to the student at 10 am on the day it is administered. It will need to be returned via email to comp committee members no later than 4 pm that same day. There must be proactive confirmation of delivery of the test by the student at the beginning of the testing period as well as receipt of the exam answers by the faculty member responsible for receiving the exams at the end of the testing period. If the student does not receive specific confirmation that the answers were received, it is the responsibility of the student to immediately confirm delivery.
  • There will be three examination events per academic year. The first offering will be in August and/or early September. The second will be in January and/or early February, and the third will be in March and/or April. Exact dates will be announced at least a month in advance. The exams will be given in two consecutive weeks. The first week specifies a 4-day period allotted for administration of the Tool exam, and the second week specifies a 3-day period allotted for administration of the Area exams. Students may choose to take one or both exams during a particular examination event. The Tool exam will consist of four questions–two required questions (one in theory and the other in methods and statistics) and two questions that the student can choose from a list. On the Area exam the student must answer three questions from a list of questions (some may be required).
  • Grading and Oral Hearing on Comprehensive Exams:The student will be notified of the outcome within three weeks of each exam completion by the exam committee chair. Each appointed committee member submits a “pass,” or “fail” written grade for each exam question along with comments to the committee chair who compiles the grades and comments to be provided to the students’ supervisory committee chair. In addition, each grader submits an indication of whether or not an oral exam should be required to address concerns about the strength of the student’s answers on that particular exam. A majority of graders must issue a pass on each question for a student to pass the exam. There are four grading results for the written comprehensive exams:
    • Pass: The student passes all questions and the grading committee considers the answers to be strong. The student earns a passing grade on the exam and can continue to study for the next exam (if not already completed) or write the dissertation proposal.
    • Conditional Pass with Remediation: The student fails only one question (the majority of graders fails a student on one question). The student receives a conditional pass on the exam and will be given an opportunity for remediation. The remediation will consist of writing a seminar-style paper that address areas of weakness identified from the failing answer; the paper’s topic will be assigned by the comprehensive exam committee. The paper will be due no later than six weeks from the date that the exam results are delivered to the student and will be graded by the exam committee members within two weeks of its receipt. If the student fails this remediation, the student will fail the overall exam and will have only one other opportunity to retake the overall exam. If the student passes the remediation, and the committee has not indicated that an oral exam is necessary, then the student passes the exam.
    • Conditional Pass with Oral Hearing: The student writes acceptable answers but the exam committee requires an oral examination. If the student writes answers that the grading committee considers to be weak or borderline, the grading committee may require an oral examination on the comprehensive exam answers to allow the student to elaborate on the answers given on the written exam. In order to pass the exam, the student will need to successfully complete the oral hearing conducted by the exam grading committee. If the oral hearing is not successful, the student will fail the exam and will have only one other opportunity to take the exam. The hearing will be scheduled within 30 days from the date that the exam results are delivered to the student. The grading committee and the student’s supervisory committee chair will conduct the exam, although other faculty members are welcome to attend.
    • Fail: The student fails more than one question (the majority of graders fails a student on more than one question on the written exam or the student fails the oral hearing), the student fails the exam and must retake it. To allow for additional preparation, re-examination will occur the next time that the exam is officially offered by the department (see above).
  • Only one re-examination is permitted. Each student should be notified of the results through email. The supervisory committee chair, graduate coordinator, and graduate program assistant must also be notified. In addition, a record of the results of each comprehensive exam should be placed in the student’s file by the comprehensive exam committee chair.

Dissertation Proposal Qualifying Exam and Admission to Candidacy. After completion of the written comprehensive exams, students are required to write a dissertation proposal and successfully defend it at an oral hearing conducted by the Ph.D. supervisory committee. This defense will serve as the qualifying examination for advancement to candidacy. If the student successfully defends the proposal, he/she will advance to candidacy. The supervisory committee will complete the graduate school’s required candidacy form, which authorizes enrollment in dissertation research, CCJ7980 (and bars further enrollment in CCJ7979). The Admission to Candidacy form requires committee approval of a dissertation topic. Ordinarily, the dissertation proposal will be defended by the end of the 7th semester after Ph.D. program entry.

The proposal shall be of the length and organization as determined by the supervisory committee, and should be sufficient to communicate satisfactorily an understanding of the literature and background of the theoretical and empirical issues and present a feasible and appropriate methodology for the project. A copy of the proposal must be made available for faculty inspection. Notice of the proposal hearing must be given to the Graduate Coordinator and department faculty at least 10 working days prior to the date of the hearing. Dissertation hearings are not ordinarily scheduled during the summer. All members of the faculty are invited to attend the proposal hearing.

Time Lapse. Between the oral portion of the qualifying examination on the dissertation proposal and the date of the degree there must be a minimum of two semesters. The semester in which the qualifying examination is passed is counted, provided that the examination occurs before the midpoint of the term [Graduate School, Rules and Requirements]. (Approved by Criminology, Law and Society Faculty March 2010).

Suggestions for Dissertation Research

  • Students who remain in residence at the University of Florida while researching and writing their dissertations are likely to finish more quickly and will find consultation with the supervisory committee much easier.
  • A dissertation must be completed within five years of qualifying exam completion. Students taking longer must be readmitted and may be required to repeat the qualifying exams.
  • When writing the dissertation, pay special attention to Graduate School formatting rules.
  • It is entirely ethical for a student to engage a paid editor to advise on matters of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. This can be helpful, particularly for students for whom English is not the first language.
  • During the student’s planned final semester, it is essential to obtain and study closely the Graduate School leaflet showing deadline dates. Incompletes or other defects should be cured before the start of the final semester.

Supervisory committee chair shall approve scheduling of an oral qualifying exam only after reading the written exams and deeming them satisfactory for an oral defense. Notice of the exam should be given to the Graduate Coordinator and department faculty following the procedures outlined in the section “Procedures for Notifying the Graduate Coordinator and Department Faculty of Exams and for Making Required Documents Available.” The oral exam must take place within 30 days of the last exam’s completion. Ordinarily, written exams must be completed by late March in order for the oral exam to be scheduled before the end of the spring term. Oral exams are ordinarily not scheduled during the summer. All faculty are invited to attend and participate in the oral examination, but only members of the supervisory committee may vote. All members of the supervisory committee must attend. (Revised November 19, 1999 to state that all committee members must attend per Graduate Council 21May1998).

Successful completion of both the written and oral parts of the qualifying examination is required for admission to Ph.D. candidacy. The committee’s report on the qualifying exam is the candidacy form and authorizes enrollment in dissertation research, SYA 7980 (and bars further enrollment in SYA 7979).

The Admission to Candidacy form requires the listing of a dissertation title. Later changes in the title are possible (though it is important that the final dissertation have the same title as the original Admission to Candidacy or amended title reported to the Graduate School). Although it is much more convenient to have a dissertation title at the time of the qualifying exams, there is a procedure if this is not possible: the supervisory committee chair reports the qualifying examination result to the Graduate School (and the Graduate Coordinator) by memo and files the Admission to Candidacy form when the dissertation title becomes available.

Dissertation Proposal and Hearing. The dissertation proposal may be prepared and defended before or after the qualifying exams but not on the same day. Ordinarily, it will be defended by the end of the sixth semester after Ph.D. program entry. The proposal shall be of the length and organization as determined by the supervisory committee, and should be sufficient to communicate satisfactorily an understanding of the literature and background of the theoretical and empirical issues and present a feasible and appropriate methodology for the project.

The student must place a final copy of the dissertation proposal in the mailroom for public inspection 10 business days in advance of the proposal defense. The supervisory committee chair must electronically announce the date, time and place of the proposal defense to faculty, students, and staff in the department. The electronic notice must identify the student, the title of the project, and an abstract of the proposed dissertation. All faculty, students and others are invited to attend, but only the supervisory committee may evaluate whether the student passes. Proposal defenses are not ordinarily scheduled during the summer. [ phd-proposal-approval-crim.pdf ]

Dissertation Requirements and Recommendations. Students who remain in residence at the University of Florida while researching and writing their dissertations are likely to finish more quickly and will find consultation with the supervisory committee much easier.

A dissertation must be completed within five years of qualifying exam completion. Students taking longer must be readmitted and may be required to repeat the qualifying exams.

It is entirely ethical for a student to engage a paid editor to advise on matters of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. This can be helpful, particularly for students for whom English is not the first language.

During the student’s planned final semester, it is essential to obtain and study closely the Graduate School’s critical dates. These are provided in the current Graduate Catalogue http://graduateschool.ufl.edu/academics/graduate-catalog and at the Graduate School’s website http://www.graduateschool.ufl.edu/graduation

    • Format.The dissertation must be in a form suitable for publication, using the Graduate School’s format requirements. The Graduate School Editorial Office, as agents of the Dean of the Graduate School, reviews the dissertation for acceptable format. Before presentation to the Editorial Office, the dissertation should be virtually complete and completely formatted (not in a draft format). Students must be completely familiar with the format requirements of the Graduate School and should work with one of the consultants in the Application Support Center, to troubleshoot the dissertation, before attempting to make a first submission to the editors in the Graduate School Editorial Office. Students who fail to first meet with one of the ASC Lab Consultants often find their document rejected upon First Submission to the Editorial Office, for not meeting the minimum submission standards, required for an editorial review.The typical dissertation format requires a general introduction chapter, a chapter that describes relevant specialty fields, a methodology and data chapter, a chapter of analytical results, and a general conclusions chapter. An alternate format includes journal articles as chapters, with all copyright considerations are addressed appropriately for published articles. In such cases, Chapter 1 should be a general introduction, tying everything together as a unified whole. The last chapter should be general conclusions, again tying everything together into a unified whole. Any chapter representing a journal article needs a footnote at the bottom of the first page of the chapter: “Reprinted with permission from…” giving the source, just as it appears in the list of references. The dissertation should have only 1 abstract and 1 reference list.
    • The Final Examination.The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation; general matters pertaining to the student’s specializations may also be covered. The final examination should occur by midterm of the eighth semester, but may be defended as early in the program as approved by the committee. Final examinations are ordinarily not scheduled during the summer. The oral defense may not be scheduled before a completed draft of the dissertation has been distributed to the supervisory committee and the committee chair has read it and determined that it is ready for oral defense.The student must place a final copy of the dissertation in the mailroom for public inspection 10 business days in advance of the oral defense. The supervisory committee chair must electronically announce the date, time and place of the oral defense to faculty, students, and staff in the department. The electronic notice must identify the student, the title of the project, and an abstract of the dissertation. All faculty, students and others are invited to attend, but only the supervisory committee may evaluate whether the student passes.

Suggestions for Dissertation Research.

  • Students who remain in residence at the University of Florida while researching and writing their dissertations are likely to finish more quickly and will find consultation with the supervisory committee much easier.
  • A dissertation must be completed within five years of qualifying exam completion. Students taking longer must be readmitted and may be required to repeat the qualifying exams.
  • When writing the dissertation, pay special attention to Graduate School formatting rules.
  • It is entirely ethical for a student to engage a paid editor to advise on matters of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. This can be helpful, particularly for students for whom English is not the first language.
  • During the student’s planned final semester, it is essential to obtain and study closely the Graduate School leaflet showing deadline dates. Incompletes or other defects should be cured before the start of the final semester.