Criminology and Justice Policy, PhD

The doctoral program in criminology and justice policy at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University seeks to prepare students for professional and research careers in criminal justice, criminology, and related fields by applying multidisciplinary and comparative social science to understand, predict, and explain crime and contribute to the development of public policy within urban communities. Using an active-learning approach, the school seeks to develop its students intellectually and ethically, while providing them with a keen appreciation for the complexities of crime and public and private efforts to make communities safer and to ensure justice. 

The program is full time and is small and student centered. Students may enter the program with either a bachelor's degree or a master's degree. It is expected that students will be able to complete the program in four to five years, and students entering with a master's degree will be able to complete the program in three to five years.

Year one in the doctoral program offers students an opportunity to obtain a broad foundational knowledge in the discipline: two semesters of criminological theory, two semesters of statistics, one semester of criminal justice process, and one semester of advanced research methods. To ensure that all students have mastered the foundational material emphasized across the required courses for the PhD program and can successfully integrate theory, research, and policy, all PhD students take a “foundations” qualifying examination at the end of their first year in the doctoral program.  

After demonstrating mastery of the foundational knowledge in year one, students devote themselves to a more specific area of research in year two. Students demonstrate this commitment through a second qualifying examination, which consists of two stages: an area exam and a publishable paper. The two stages of this exam are required and should be related.

Following successful completion of the first and second qualifying examinations, and required and elective course work (totaling 54 semester hours), the students proceed to a formal dissertation proposal defense.

Doctoral Degree Candidacy

A student achieves candidacy when he or she has successfully completed all course work (54 semester hours for students entering with a bachelor's degree), passed both the foundations qualifying examination and the area qualifying examination, and deposited the final version of their dissertation proposal (approved by their full committee) with the school’s graduate program office. Candidacy is certified, in writing, by the college.

Bachelor's Degree Entrance

Complete all courses and requirements listed below unless otherwise indicated.


Two qualifying examinations—foundations exam and area exam/publishable paper
Annual review
PhD candidacy
Dissertation proposal
Dissertation defense

Core Requirements

A cumulative 3.000 GPA is required for the core requirements.

Criminal Justice Process
CRIM 7202The Criminal Justice Process4
CRIM 7710Criminology and Public Policy 14
CRIM 7711Criminology and Public Policy 24
Analysis & Methods
CRIM 7713Advanced Research and Evaluation Methods4
CRIM 7715Multivariate Analysis 14
CRIM 7716Multivariate Analysis 24
CRIM 7706Practicum in Writing and Publishing2


Complete 28 semester hours in the following range:28
CRIM 7200 to CRIM 7989


Exam Preparation
Exam Preparation—Doctoral
Complete the following (repeatable) course twice:
Dissertation Continuation
Following completion of two semesters of CRIM 9990, registration in the following class is required in each semester (including the summer if the dissertation is submitted in summer) until the dissertation is completed:
Dissertation Continuation

Program Credit/GPA Requirements

54 total semester hours required
Minimum 3.000 GPA required