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Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology Ph.D. in Criminal Justice

The Ph.D. program is available on the Pullman campus. A student aspiring to the Ph.D. should expect to spend three to four years, depending on the individual, in study and research beyond the M.A. degree, of which at least two years must be enrolled at Washington State University, and at least two consecutive semesters must be spent in residence as a graduate student in criminal justice. This degree program is designed for the student entering the graduate program with an M.A. degree. Students currently enrolled in the M.A. program at WSU must inquire with the Graduate Director and Coordinator for directions on how to apply.


72 credits total – 47 graded credits (credits earned for your M.A. count towards this total; if you enter our program with an M.A. from another university, some of your credits may transfer), and 24 dissertation research credits.


In addition to the course requirements, each student in the Ph.D. program is required to have formal teaching and/or research experience in an institution of higher learning before receiving the Ph.D. degree. Serving as a teaching assistant in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology satisfies this teaching requirement. Collecting original data also fulfills this requirement.

Qualifying Exam

Students shall take their qualifying exam the semester following the completion of their 31 hours of core coursework.

Publication Requirement

Students are required to write a publishable manuscript, where they are lead (first) author,  for the Ph.D. program. See Publishable Paper Form.

Dissertation Prospectus

The Ph.D. aspirant becomes eligible to attempt preliminary (i.e. prospectus)  examinations after completion of qualifying exams and is in the process of completing the final courses included in his or her Ph.D. program. Only after a student has successfully passed “prelims” does he or she become formally a “candidate for the Ph.D.” (or ABD, “All But Dissertation”). The next requirement for the Ph.D. candidate is preparation, under the guidance of a dissertation committee, of a dissertation presenting the results of a thorough and systematic investigation of a significant problem in one of the specialty areas in criminal justice and criminology the candidate wished to research.

Dissertation Final Defense 

After the prospectus is successfully defended, students need to review and summarize the relevant literature’s, prepare the necessary and agreed methodological tools, collect the information which will be used to answer the dissertation question and write up the first draft of chapters. Upon completion of the dissertation and final defense, a final copy of the dissertation (and related required forms) must be submitted in digital format to the Graduate School within 5 working days for final acceptance.

Graduate Director
Dr. Zachary Hamilton

Graduate Program Coordinator:
Rebeca Orozco