Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice

The Doctoral program in Criminal Justice permits students to emphasize the problems of crime, crime control, and justice administration, while simultaneously developing a strong foundation in social science theory and research methods. It prepares students for careers in college and university teaching and research, as well as advanced public policy positions.


Graduate students tailgate outside Baker Hall.

Each student develops in-depth knowledge in one cognate area consisting of either a basic social science discipline (anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, or sociology) or an interest area relevant to the student’s area of study. In addition, a sequence of advanced courses in research methodology and statistics prepares students for the design, implementation, and interpretation of research. The program is individualized to allow students, working with a guidance committee, to shape a program of study that is broad in scope yet consistent with specific student interests.

Doctoral level course work in the school focuses and synthesizes the interdisciplinary components and individual experiences. The program is designed to produce graduates who can apply a variety of research methodologies to the study of crime causation, social reaction, and the legal system. Throughout the program there is an emphasis on the relationship between theory and practice, as well as the interconnected activities of the many agencies and professions involved in the systems of justice and private security. Through their research, teaching, and practice, graduates can contribute to the development of improved systems for the prevention and control of crime and delinquency.

For further information regarding the doctoral program, please contact graduate secretary Melissa Christle at or 517-353-7133.

Application Information

Applications for the Criminal Justice doctoral program at MSU are screened for fall semester entry only. All application materials must be received by January 10 for consideration for the following fall semester. Applicants are typically notified of admission decisions within 6-8 weeks of the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Application materials that may be uploaded include:

  • Application for Graduate Study at Michigan State University. May be submitted online here. The major code for the Criminal Justice doctoral program is 4725.  After you begin your application, you will receive an email with a login and password.  Before paying your application fee, go to Grad Portal and log in.  You will be prompted to upload the following documents and request Letters of Recommendation.  Please note: If the application fee is paid before you visit the Grad Portal, you will be unable to upload supporting documents or request letters of recommendation.
  • A statement of your academic and professional goals. This should include information about your motivation to study criminal justice, a description of relevant research and/or work experience, and any other information that you would like the admissions committee to know. The Application for Graduate Study has fields for an academic statement and a personal statement, and you may either submit statements there or upload a single combined essay to the Grad Portal.
  • One or more of the following: a copy of your thesis if it is defended; a copy of your thesis proposal outlining research up to data collection (if data collection is not complete); evidence of research preparation and capabilities (e.g., conference presentations, publications, research report, etc.).
  • Three letters of recommendation from tenure-track faculty who can comment on your ability to perform graduate work. Please request letters of recommendation through the Grad Portal. You will click on Letters of Recommendation (right side of screen) and then Register Recommender (bottom left side of screen). After you submit the names and email addresses, an email will be automatically generated and sent to them, requesting a letter of recommendation on your behalf and including instructions on uploading the letter.

Additional required materials include:

  • ONE set of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. A transcript of work at MSU is not required, unless you attended MSU College of Law. Transcripts from US institutions may be sent electronically, and will be considered official if they are sent directly from the institutions attended to the graduate secretary at If they are mailed by the institution attended, they should be sent to the address that follows.
    International students must submit official transcripts in both the original language and English translation of transcript and diploma. Please have transcripts mailed directly from the institutions attended to:Criminal Justice Doctoral Program
    Michigan State University
    Baker Hall
    655 Auditorium Road Room 557
    East Lansing, MI 48824

    Note for applicants submitting transcripts from Chinese institutions: Certified copies (sealed and stamped by institutions) of all post-secondary transcripts, graduation certificates and degrees must be mailed to our department. MSU requires these documents in the original language (Chinese) as well as an official English translation. Effective Spring 2015, Michigan State University will require all incoming ADMITTED students pursuing degrees or who have earned degrees from universities in China to submit a verification report (English version) through the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) for their final bachelor degree transcripts and bachelor degree. All verification reports need to be sent to the MSU Office of Admissions directly by CDGDC. If you are admitted to the Criminal Justice program while completing your last semester of study, you will need to repeat the process and resubmit the materials once your degree has been conferred.
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general exam scores from a test taken within the last five years. Test preparation material and information about test dates can be found at Please note when scheduling your exam that it may take 4-6 weeks for your scores to be forwarded to the university and this department. The institution code for MSU is 1465 and the departmental code is 2202. Admission requires scores at or above the fiftieth percentile.
  • International students must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam scores from a test taken within the past two years. MSU's score requirement is a minimum average score of 80, with no subscores below 19 for Reading, Listening and Speaking, and no subscore below 22 for Writing. The institution code for MSU is 1465. Students from countries where the primary language is English may have the TOEFL requirement waived with the approval of the department, college, and Graduate School. Please contact the graduate secretary at to determine whether the requirement may be waived.

Please note: Applicants must have achieved a GPA of at least 3.0 in prior undergraduate and/or graduate work. While formal admission to the program does not require completion of a masters degree, the screening committee looks for a strong methodological and statistical background.

Questions? Please contact graduate secretary Melissa Christle at or 517-353-7133.

Program Requirements

The student’s program will be individually designed upon matriculation at Michigan State University under the supervision of a guidance committee. All students must complete relevant criminal justice course work, either in the doctoral program or through completion of a Masters in criminal justice or criminology at an accredited institution.

Program requirements vary for students with Masters degrees in areas other than criminal justice. Each student takes course work outside the school in a cognate area. With the approval of the student’s guidance committee, relevant post-baccalaureate course work may be incorporated into the cognate requirements.

The program of each student shall consist of a minimum of 48 semester credits of course work and 24 credits of dissertation research, totaling a minimum of 72 semester credits. The program must be developed in consultation with a guidance committee and approved by the College of Social Science.

Required core courses:

Admitted without a Masters degree

Students admitted directly from an undergraduate program will take CJ 811 Design and Analysis of CJ Research and CJ 887 Quantitative Methods as prerequisites to CJ 906, CJ 907, and CJ 909. CJ 811 and CJ 887 may not be used toward doctoral program requirements.

Criminal Justice Courses

Students must complete six credits of additional criminal justice courses at the 800 level or above. Three of the core Masters courses in criminal justice taught at MSU may not be used toward doctoral program requirements (CJ 811, CJ 812, CJ 887).

Cognate Requirement

Students must complete a cognate of at least 12 credits in a disciplinary department or in an area of professional interest or area of focus (e.g. women’s studies, race and ethnicity). Cognates in a disciplinary department are generally in the College of Social Science (anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology or sociology).

Advanced Research Methods

While enrolled in the doctoral program, all students must complete two advanced courses in research methods, not including CJ 906 and one semester of CJ 907. CJ 907 and CJ 909 may be repeated for credit and count toward this requirement when topics have changed.

Responsible Conduct of Research Activities

Students must participate in 16 hours of RCR activities their first year, and three hours for each subsequent year. Information about applicable workshops, classes, activities, and reporting can be found at the RCR Requirements link under the Documents tab above.

Comprehensive Examinations

All students must successfully complete three comprehensive examinations administered by their guidance committee within five years of their start of the program. At least 80% of course work must be completed before the first exam is given. The student will be examined in three areas: two of the three substantive fields of the student’s choosing (criminology, criminal justice, law and society) and research methodology.


Student must submit and defend a dissertation reflecting original research focusing on a significant problem or issue in criminal justice. The guidance committee is responsible for providing direction for the student’s research. All program requirements, including oral defense and submission of the dissertation, must be completed within eight years from the time of the first enrollment as a doctoral student.

Transfer Credits

With approval of their guidance committee, students may transfer a maximum of 12 credit hours toward CJ elective, cognate, or advanced methods requirements.


Giovanni Circo
University of New Haven

Lauren Magee
Indiana University School of Medicine

Robert Peacock
Florida International University


Michael Cassidy
Niagara University

Jina Lee
Grand Valley State University

Seung Paek

Ksenia Petlakh


Sadik Arin
Turkish National Police

Kimberly Bender
University of Massachusetts-Lowell

Roy Fenoff
The Citadel

Byung Hyun Lee
Central Connecticut State University

Juli Liebler
SCJ Outreach, Michigan State University

Michael Rossler
Illinois State University

Brandon Sullivan
Michigan State University
Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection



Vaughn Crichlow
Florida Atlantic University

Ryan Martz
Saginaw Valley State University

Alexis Norris
California State University, San Bernardino

Miriam Northcutt Bohmert
Indiana University

Jason Rydberg
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Charles Scheer
University of Southern Mississippi

Rebecca Stone
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Michael Suttmoeller
Missouri State University



Margaret Fischer
Michigan State University Department of Police and Public Safety

Melissa Garmo
Saginaw Valley State University

Manish Madan
Richard Stockton College

Raymund Narag
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Tia Stevens
University of South Carolina

Julie Yingling
South Dakota State University



Mohammad Ali
Punjab University

Ismail Demirkol
Turkish National Police

Joseph Johnson
Rowan University

Wook Kang
Songpa Police Department

Dae-Hoon Kwak
Illinois State University

Juyoung Song
University of West Georgia

Serkan Tasgin
Turkish National Police



Jeremy Carter
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Suyeon Park
SUNY Plattsburgh



Nebi Cetinkaya
Turkish National Police

Eric Grommon
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Mustafa Halicioglu
Turkish National Police

Jason Ingram
Illinois State University

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The School of Criminal Justice is also soliciting applications for the following traineeships. These traineeships are semi-structured PhD programs in which students focus on specific issues within criminal justice and criminology. Interested students should contact the traineeship point-of-contact to discuss their interest and the application process.

Click HERE for more information on traineeships