PhD in Criminology, Law and Society

US News Ranks Us Among the Top 10Mason's doctoral program in criminology, law and society is ranked among the Top 10 criminology programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The program produces scholars who receive faculty positions at highly regarded institutions and leaders in policy and applied settings. The department is internationally renowned for its applied research in policing, courts, and corrections, with particular emphases in organizational change, community partnerships, crime and place, rehabilitation and recidivism, and social justice. The department's multidisciplinary faculty has a wide-range of expertise—including in law, sociology, psychology, political science, and criminology—which gives students a rich variety of perspectives.

Students pursue a rigorous course of study that prepares them to conduct high quality scientific research in the criminal justice field and make a difference in the development and evaluation of justice policies and practices. They learn cutting-edge social science methods and data analysis skills and collaborate on projects that advance knowledge in the social sciences and help make the criminal justice system fairer and more effective. 

Doctoral students benefit from Mason’s location in the Washington, DC metropolitan region and regularly interact with policymakers, partner with state and federal agencies, and work closely with practitioners in the field. Research centers in the department provide opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate on research and host regular events and workshops on translating research into practice.

Program at a Glance

Doctoral students take a set of core, analytical methods, and elective courses, write a major area paper, and complete a dissertation. Typically, full-time students complete the required coursework during their first two years in the program, write a thesis in their second year (if required), and complete the major area paper in their third year. 

The PhD program accepts students with or without a previous graduate degree. Students who enter the doctoral program with a bachelor's degree will earn the MA in criminology, law and society as an integral part of the doctorate.

The department offers multi-year assistantships to doctoral applicants on a competitive basis. All applicants to the doctoral program who apply by the deadline are considered for funding. Additional funding opportunities for doctoral students are described here.


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