PhD in Criminology, Law and Society

Catalog Year: 2024-2025

Banner Code: LA-PHD-CLS

The PhD in Criminology, Law and Society is designed to produce top academic scholars and leaders in policy and applied settings. Students coming to this program seek to make a difference in the development and evaluation of policy using cutting edge social science methods. The program provides a rigorous course of study that will prepare students to do research, teach, develop and test policies, and administer agencies and programs designed to administer law, deliver justice, reduce crime, and enhance domestic security. 

For a related program, see Criminology, Law and Society, MA

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 72

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Core Courses

CRIM 700 Values, Ethics, and Criminal Justice Policy 3
CRIM 710 Criminological Theory 3
CRIM 720 Law and Social Science 3
CRIM 740 Justice Organizations 3
CRIM 760 Evidence-Based Crime Policy 3
Total Credits 15

Analytical Methods Courses 

CRIM 780 Research Methods 3
CRIM 782 Statistics I 3
CRIM 783 Statistics II 3
Select one course from the following: 3
Justice Program Evaluation  
Experimental Criminology  
Special Topics  
Directed Reading  
Qualitative Methods in Educational Research  
Introduction to GIS Algorithms and Programming  
Earth Science Data and Advanced Data Analysis  
Evaluative Research in Psychology  
Techniques in Industrial/Organizational Psychology  
Longitudinal Data Analysis  
Quantitative Methods II: Analysis of Variance  
Special Topics in Psychology  
Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis for Public Policy  
Survey Research  
Evaluation Research for Social Programs  
Qualitative Research Methods  
Feminist Research Methods  
Total Credits 12


Select 21-30 credits of electives from criminology, law and society courses offered by the department. 1 21-30

Students who take fewer than 30 elective credits will have accordingly more dissertation credits. Students may substitute 3-6 credits of non-CRIM courses with prior written approval of the director of the graduate program.

One Professionalization Course

CRIM 797 Professionalization Seminar 0
Total Credits 0

Major Area Paper

Students must write and have approved a major area paper.

Students are not eligible to submit a major area paper until they have successfully completed 36 credits.

Advancement to Candidacy

To advance to candidacy, students must complete all coursework required on their approved program of study. Students must also successfully write and have approved a major area paper. In addition, students must have a dissertation committee appointed by the Dean’s Office and have defended their dissertation proposal.


Dissertation Committee

Criminology, Law and Society (CLS) doctoral dissertation committees must have one Chair and three other members (Member #1, Member #2, Member #3). The Chair and Members #1 and #2 must be full-time, graduate faculty in the CLS department. Member #3 must be graduate faculty in another program at Mason or from outside the university. Committee members are approved by the CLS chair or director of the academic unit or program, or designee, after consultation with the student's adviser and the student.

Dissertation Research

Once enrolled in CRIM 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, students in this degree program must maintain continuous registration in CRIM 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal or CRIM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is submitted to and accepted by the University Libraries. Once enrolled in CRIM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research, students must follow the university’s continuous registration policy as specified in AP.6.10.6 Dissertation Registration. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of CRIM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.

Students may apply to this degree a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 credits of CRIM 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 21 credits of CRIM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research. They may apply a maximum of 24 dissertation credits (CRIM 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and CRIM 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research combined) to the degree. Because of the continuous registration policy, students may be required to register for additional credits of these courses. Students who take fewer than 24 dissertation credits will have accordingly more elective credits.

Select 15-24 credits from the following: 15-24
Doctoral Dissertation Proposal  
Doctoral Dissertation Research  
Total Credits 15-24

The final requirement is a dissertation of original research representing a significant contribution to the field, which should be publishable in a referred journal or a quality press.