Criminology, Law and Society
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD in Criminology, Law and Society

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 in these fields using cutting edge social science methods. The program seeks to provide 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. 

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 Substantive Courses

CRIM 700 Theories of Justice 3
CRIM 720 Behavior of Law 3
CRIM 740 Justice Organization and Administration 3
CRIM 760 Crime and Crime Policy 3
Total Credits 12

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  
Survey Research  
Evaluation Research for Social Programs  
Qualitative Research Methods  
STAT 574
Survey Sampling I  
STAT 658
Time Series Analysis and Forecasting  
STAT 662
Multivariate Statistical Methods  
STAT 665
Categorical Data Analysis  
STAT 674
Survey Sampling II  
STAT 773
Statistical Methods for Longitudinal Data Analysis  
Evaluative Research in Psychology  
Techniques in Industrial/Organizational Psychology  
CSS 600
Introduction to Computational Social Science  
CSS 610
Agent-based Modeling and Simulation  
Total Credits 12

Six Courses in Two Substantive Fields of Study

Students select two substantive fields and complete three courses within each. Students may take one non-CRIM elective course in each area or other courses in criminology, law and society with prior written approval of the director of the graduate program.

Select two substantive fields from the lists below and complete three courses within each 18
Justice and Law
Justice Organizations, Administration, and Leadership
Crime and Crime Policy
Total Credits 18

Justice and Law

Justice-related Electives  
CRIM 795 Special Topics 3
CRIM 796 Directed Reading 1-3
GOVT 520 Political Theory 3
GOVT 725 Democratic Theory 3
GOVT 631 Seminar in Comparative Politics and Institutions 3
SOCI 619 Conflict and Conflict Management: Perspectives from Sociology 3
SOCI 711 Classical Sociological Theory 3
SOCI 712 Contemporary Sociological Theory 3
CONF 501 Introduction to Conflict Analysis and Resolution 3
CONF 720 Ethnic and Cultural Factors in Conflict Resolution 1-3
CONF 721 Conflict and Race 3
CONF 723 Conflict and Gender 3
CONF 726 Moral and Philosophical Foundations of Conflict 3
CONF 747 Reconciliation 3
CONF 802 Theories of the Person 3
CONF 803 Structural Theories 3
ECON 611 Microeconomic Theory 3
ECON 852 Public Choice I 3
ECON 854 Public Choice II 3
Law-related Electives  
Any selected LAW courses 1  
CRIM 721 The Constitution, Criminal Procedure, and Security 3
CRIM 723 Law and Social Control 3
CRIM 730 Courts and Constitutional Law 3
CRIM 795 Special Topics 3
CRIM 796 Directed Reading 1-3
CONF 733 Law and Justice from a Conflict Perspective 1-3
ECON 895 Special Topics in Economics 3

Prerequisite for enrollment in LAW courses: successful completion of CRIM 720 Behavior of Law and CRIM 721 The Constitution, Criminal Procedure, and Security. Enrollment requires preapproval from the graduate director, law school instructor, and associate dean for student academic affairs of the Law School.

Justice Organizations, Administration, and Leadership

CRIM 509 Justice Organizations and Processes 3
CRIM 510 Policing in a Democratic Society 3
CRIM 741 Conduct of Justice Organizations at the Street Level 3
CRIM 742 Leadership in Justice and Security Organizations 3
CRIM 743 Changing Justice and Security Organizations 3
CRIM 744 Corrections 3
CRIM 795 Special Topics 3
CRIM 796 Directed Reading 1-3
PUAD 502 Administration in Public and Nonprofit Organizations 3
PUAD 520 Organization Theory and Management Behavior 3
PUAD 621 Principles and Practices in Government Organization and Management 3
PUAD 622 Program Planning and Implementation 3
PUAD 661 Public Budgeting Systems 3
PUAD 671 Public Employee Labor Relations 3
PUAD 680 Managing Information Resources 3
PUAD 700 Ethics and Public Administration 3
PUAD 727 Seminar in Risk Assessment and Decision Making 3
PUAD 781 Information Management: Technology and Policy 3
CONF 731 Conflict in Organizations 3
CONF 741 Negotiations 3
CONF 743 Dynamics of Conflict Termination 3
PSYC 631 Industrial and Personnel Testing and Evaluation 3
PSYC 639 Survey of Organizational Processes 3
SOCI 605 Gender and Social Structure 3
SOCI 623 Racial and Ethnic Relations: American and Selected Global Perspectives 3

Crime and Crime Policy

CRIM 761 Politics of Crime Policy 3
CRIM 762 Crime and Place 3
CRIM 764 Sentencing 3
CRIM 795 Special Topics 3
CRIM 796 Directed Reading 1-3
SOCI 607 Criminology 3
GOVT 745 International Security 3
PUAD 540 Public Policy Process 3
PUAD 644 Public Policy Models 3
PUAD 645 Policy Analysis 3
PSYC 617 Child Psychopathology 3


Students complete the remaining 72 credits through additional elective courses relevant to criminology, law and society in consultation with their advisor.

Select 6-15 credits of electives 1 6-15
Total Credits 6-15

Students may have more than 6 credits of electives, depending on the number of dissertation credits required by their program of study.

One Professionalization Course

CRIM 797 Professionalization Seminar 0
Total Credits 0

Qualifying Exams

Students must pass written qualifying exams in two core substantive fields of the student’s choosing, selected from the three fields above. Students may take a single qualifying exam at each sitting.

Students are not eligible to take the qualifying exams until they have successfully completed the required course work, as well as course work in the substantive area in which they intend to sit for the qualifying exam. Students have one opportunity across both exam areas to retake a failed exam.

Advancement to Candidacy

To advance to candidacy, students must complete all course work required on their approved program of study. Students must also successfully complete and pass two qualifying exams. In addition, students must have a dissertation committee appointed by the Dean’s Office and have defended their dissertation proposal.


Dissertation Committee

The student’s committee is composed of at least four faculty members. Three of the four must be members of the graduate faculty in criminology, law and society. The fourth must be from another program at Mason or from outside the university. The faculty member serving as the chair of the committee must be a member of the graduate faculty in criminology, law and society.

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. 

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