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Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology Qualifying Examination Requirements

Students (who started the doctoral program during the Fall 2019 semester) shall take the Research and Quantitative Methods segment of the qualifying exam at the beginning of their fourth semester of study. Segment 1 will include a written exam followed by an (optional) oral exam giving the student an opportunity to defend their answers. After successfully passing Segment 1, students shall take the Criminal Justice System segment of the qualifying exam at the end of their fifth semester. Segment 2 will include a written exam followed by an oral defense/review exam giving the student an opportunity to defend their answers.

Structure and Administration

  • Segment 1: Research and Quantitative Methods
    Students will answer four questions testing their abilities in research methods, interpretation and data analysis, policy, and evaluation.
  • Segment 2: The Criminal Justice System
    Students will answer one question on the criminal justice system. The student will elaborate on the topic using their area of focus (i.e. corrections, courts, theory, or policing).

Qualifying exams will be administered in two segments: (1) Research and Quantitative Methods and (2) the Criminal Justice System. Students will be asked to “register” by the first week of the semester in which they plan to take the exam. Please note, Segment 2 must be scheduled with the Graduate School at least 10 business days before the examination.

Exams will be taken over the course of two segments. Segment 1 will be given at the beginning of the student’s fourth semester of study and Segment 2 will be given at the end of the student’s fifth semester of study. Students will have up to 4 hours for Segment 1 and six hours for Segment 2 to complete the examinations. Please be advised that students may not register for advanced statistics courses (CRM J 521 or 524) or advanced to take Segment 2: the Criminal Justice System until they have successfully passed Segment 1: Research and Quantitative Methods of the qualifying exam. 

Computers will be provided for all students taking the exams. Computers will be disconnected from the network, and all qualifying exams (including the oral defenses) will be closed book and closed notes. No other outside materials (e.g., flash drives, etc.) are allowed during the administration of the exam.

The Graduate Director (GD) will oversee the exams each semester. All faculty members will be encouraged to submit potential exam questions to the GD. The GD, in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee will select the final questions to appear on the exam for that semester. Grading of exams will be anonymous and done by a 3-member faculty committee. All students taking the exams will be assigned an exam color, and exams will be identified only by color during grading.

Preparing for Qualifying Exams

The purpose of the qualifying exam is to assess the student’s ability to integrate and synthesize core knowledge in the field, and to determine the student’s preparation and readiness following completion of the program’s core courses. This requires an ability to recognize, recall, explain clearly and precisely, apply, and synthesize major research concepts, findings, theories, methodologies, and debates within the field, including any assumptions and policy implications and/or complications.

Prior to the exam, the student will review the reading lists (i.e. course syllabi) utilized for each of their courses. Students are encouraged to consult with their instructors to obtain general expectations of the examination and suggestions for additional reading. Finally, students may obtain prior exam questions as a study reference.

Examination Outcomes

Students that pass both written segments will be required to orally review their answers after completing Segment 2 of the exam. The oral defense/review, following completion of Segment 2 will constitute a formal exam, scheduled through the Graduate School. Successful completion of the written portions, Segment 1, Segment 2, the oral component, and 42 (out of 48) graded credits, will constitute All But Dissertation (ABD) status.

If a student does not pass either segment on the first attempt, they may make a second attempt the following semester. However, students must pass Segment 1 before advancing to take Segment 2. Students taking the exam for a second time will do using the committee formed for that exam “in the semester the exam is offered”. If the qualifying exam committee assigns a failing grade on both the first and second attempt (including optional oral defenses), the student will not be allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program and will be recommended to the Graduate School for dismissal from the Ph.D. program. However, if a student fails the qualifying examination (following their second failure) they still have the option of completing the M.A. final non-thesis oral exam and leaving the department, receiving a terminal master’s degree, if all other master’s degree requirements are met.