Criminology, PhD

Penn's highly interdisciplinary Ph.D. in criminology combines the traditional concerns of criminologists with concepts, theories, and empirical research from a wide variety of academic disciplines. The program seeks to produce scholars of unusual breadth who can work creatively in academic or policy settings.

Working closely with faculty, students are encouraged to design their own curriculum and begin research very early in their graduate education. That curriculum will include several core courses taken in the first and second year. These include two courses in criminological theory, two courses in criminal justice policy, and two semesters of graduate level statistics.

View the University’s Academic Requirements for PhD Degrees.

A minimum of 9 course units are required.

Core Requirements
Pro-Seminar in Criminology
Pro-Seminar in Criminal Justice
Advanced Pro-Seminar in Criminology
Advanced Pro-Seminar in Criminal Justice
Two Applied Statistics Courses

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2018 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.

A student who enters the Ph.D. program with a Bachelors degree will usually take 3 course units in each semester in their first two years and must complete all course requirements by the end of their third year.  All students must take 3 CUs in each semester to remain registered as full-time students.

After having completed the substantive, class-based course requirements, they normally fulfill remaining CUs by registering for CRIM 999 Independent Study and Research.  They will also have passed the Candidacy Examination by the end of their second year. Students who enter with a Master's degree or other transfer credit may satisfy the formal course requirements more quickly. However, the Graduate Group Chair in conjunction with the student’s research supervisor has the flexibility to establish the optimal requirements for students. 

The customary maximum load for a Ph.D. student is four course units each semester; exceptions for a fifth course unit may be made in extraordinary cases upon approval of the Graduate Dean. The Graduate Group may establish examination requirements in addition to the University’s standards.

Sample Plan of Study

Year 1
Fall
Pro-Seminar in Criminology
Criminal Justice Data Analytics
Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis
Applied Regression and Analysis of Variance
Spring
Pro-Seminar in Criminal Justice
Quantitative Methods in Sociology II
Introduction to Nonparametric Methods and Log-linear Models
Elective
Year 2
Fall
Evidence-Based Crime Prevention
Advanced Pro-Seminar in Criminology
Applied Econometrics I (Or elective)
Teaching Requirement
Spring
Advanced Pro-Seminar in Criminal Justice
Applied Econometrics II (Or elective)
Elective
Teaching Requirement
Years 3 & 4
Dissertation Research