Jun 21, 2024  
2023-2024 University Catalog 
2023-2024 University Catalog

Justice Studies, PhD.

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The interdisciplinary PhD in Justice Studies prepares students to advance justice in their communities and in broader society. Through training in empirical methods, theory, and scholarly synthesis, students develop the capacity to engage in critical dialogue that promotes justice. The program consists of core courses in justice theory and research methods; an individualized plan of study related to one of four concentrations; a comprehensive exam; and a prospectus, dissertation, and defense. 

Student Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for PhD Justice Studies

Students will demonstrate knowledge of major theoretical frameworks around concepts of justice and injustice. 

Students will demonstrate facility with diverse methods of research. 

Students will demonstrate expertise in a selected area of justice. 


Students will demonstrate capacity for advanced-level research in Justice Studies. 



In addition to meeting the minimum standards for admission to the Graduate School, applicants to the program must provide a statement of purpose of 1,000 to 1,500 words outlining areas of interest and educational and career goals, as well as three letters of recommendation (academic preferred). The GRE is not required. 

Degree Requirements 

The PhD in Justice Studies requires a minimum of 57 credit hours of graduate-level coursework in the following areas: 

  • 12 credit hours of core courses with a grade of B or higher; 

  • 33 credit hours of elective graduate coursework, of which at least six hours are directly related to a “concentration” (criminal, educational, environmental, or social justice); and 

  • 12 credit hours of supervised dissertation research, resulting in a complete and defended prospectus and dissertation. 

The general regulations and procedures governing programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy, as explained elsewhere in the catalogue, will be followed. 

Program of Study 

The four core courses are taken sequentially and cover justice theories and research methods, respectively. Concentration coursework and other electives are selected from relevant existing courses offered throughout the university, subject to course availability, following an approved plan of study.  

After completion of core and concentration requirements, the student is eligible to write and orally defend a comprehensive exam comprised of essay questions in the areas of justice theory, justice methods, and the concentration. A student who does not pass in all three areas may retake the exam one time in the area(s) needed. 

Students who pass the comprehensive exam, advancing to candidacy, enroll in a three-credit course guiding creation of the prospectus, which serves as the proposal and first three chapters of the standard dissertation. Candidates then write and defend their prospectus, followed by the full dissertation, to a three-member committee. 

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