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Criminal Justice (Doctoral)

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Texas State’s location provides an ideal site for a doctoral program in criminal justice. Situated in the heart of Central Texas, the university is near the state criminal justice agencies for law enforcement, criminal courts, and corrections with access to the managers and executives in these agencies.

The program prepares graduates to hold academic, public policy, and administrative leadership roles within a rapidly changing criminal justice system.

 Contact The Graduate College for general questions about getting started with your application, funding your degree and more.
If you have program-specific questions after reviewing the program details, we encourage you to contact the following:

Doctoral Program Director
Dr. Donna Vandiver
Hill House (HILL), Room 300

Administrative Assistant II
Miranda Najera
Hines Academic Center, Office 110

“As a student at Texas State University, I had the opportunity to learn from and work with faculty dedicated to both my success as a student and beyond graduation.ˮ

– Victoria Terranova, Ph.D. ’16

Course Work

Each student develops an appropriate degree plan to meet that individual’s career and academic goals. The degree plan will include a mix of theoretical, analytical, and elective courses that will prepare students to work independently and in multidisciplinary teams. Doctoral students complete a total of 51 hours, with 39 hours of course work and 12 hours of dissertation research. Most courses are offered in the evenings for the convenience of working professionals. All students will be given the opportunity to initiate, complete, present, and publish original research.

Degree Course Work Dissertation Total Hours
Ph.D. 39 hours 12 hours 51 hours
Hines Academic Center

The doctoral program is part of the School of Criminal Justice, which houses a thriving student body. Full-time doctoral faculty members are involved in a wide range of research activities.

Program Mission

The goals of the doctoral program in criminal justice include preparing students to:

  • assume leadership roles in academic, public policy and administrative positions in criminal justice
  • identify ways for theory and research on crime, law and public policy to be used in the planning, development and implementation of public and private responses to crime
  • balance research skills with theoretically informed policy analysis so as to address challenges in a rapidly changing criminal justice system

These goals are pursued in the context of a broad university curriculum that provides a foundation of knowledge necessary to function in a challenging world.

Visit program website ›

Program Faculty

Because of exceptionally diverse faculty and ongoing research, the School of Criminal Justice is able to offer courses in many areas of study, such as policing, corrections, law, juvenile crime, female offending, environmental criminology, criminological theory, and management and organization. The School of Criminal Justice also offers a variety of specialized courses in crime analysis, statistics, and quantitative data analysis and administers a number of institutes and centers, including the Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation.

Meet our faculty ›

Career Options

Most Ph.D. graduates from the School of Criminal Justice at Texas State will become professors in colleges and universities or researchers in local, state, or federal agencies. Students already working in the criminal justice field, such as police officers, should experience job advancement.

Application Process

Step 1

Review Requirements

Application Deadlines

Deadlines U.S. Citizen International
Fall - Priority February 1 February 1
Fall - Standard March 15 March 1
Spring No Admission No Admission
Summer I No Admission No Admission
Summer II No Admission No Admission

*The application deadline for the fall 2022 semester has been re-opened until August 1, 2022 for domestic applicants and June 1, 2022 for international applicants.

Application Deadline
This program has a firm deadline.

Funding Information
Applications must be complete by the priority deadlines to be considered for certain types of funding.

Decision Timeline
This program reviews applications on a rolling basis.

Application Requirements

The items required for admission consideration are listed below. Additional information for applicants with international credentials can be found on our international web pages.


  Review important information about the online application.

Application Fee

  • $55 nonrefundable application fee
  • $90 nonrefundable application fee for applications with international credentials

  Review important information about application fees.

Transcripts & GPA

  • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university
  • master's degree in criminal justice or a related field from a regionally accredited university
  • a copy of an official transcript from each institution where course credit was granted
  • minimum 3.5 GPA in all completed graduate course work

  Review important information about transcripts. Official transcripts, sent directly from your institution, will be required if admission is granted. 

GRE Scores

  • official GRE (general test only) required with competitive scores in the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections

  Review important information about official test scores.


  • statement of purpose describing your personal history and life goals that are relevant to obtaining a doctoral degree
  • three letters of recommendation indicating your skills and capacity to be successful in the Ph.D. program

  Review important information about documents.


Applicants are required to submit TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS scores that meet the minimum program requirements below unless they have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent from a country on our exempt countries list.

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall
  • official PTE scores required with a 52 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 6.0

  This program does not offer admission if the scores above are not met.

  Review important information about official test scores.