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Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology Qualifying Examination Requirements

Students shall take their qualifying exam the semester immediately following the completion of their 31 hours of core course work requirements.

Structure and Administration

  • Day 1:  General Criminal Justice System and Specialized Sub-Area
    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).
  • Day 2: Methods Exam
    Students will answer four questions testing their abilities in research methods, interpretation and data analysis, policy, and evaluation.

Qualifying exams will be administered twice per year, once in the fall and spring semesters. Students will be asked to “register” by the first week of the semester in which they plan to take the exam.

Exams will be taken over the course of two days (M/W of one week), and students will have up to six hours for Day 1 and four hours on Day 2 to complete the examinations. Exam 1 will be given on the first testing day, Exam 2 will be given on the second testing day.  Computers will be provided for all students taking the exam. Computers will be disconnected from the network, and all qualifying  exams 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 Advisor will oversee the exams each semester. All faculty members will be encouraged to submit potential exam questions to the Advisor. The Advisor, 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.

Following the completion of both the qualifying exam and requisite credit hours, the Ph.D. student has met the qualifications for a non-thesis Master’s degree. Students are still required to make necessary arrangements with the Graduate School for degree completion requirements. It should be noted that teh writing portfolio and defense can be used for terminal Master’s degree if the student chooses to complete it.