Jul 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Calendar 
2023-2024 Graduate Calendar [ARCHIVED CALENDAR]

Criminology and Social Justice, PhD

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General information

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Criminology and Social Justice combines disciplinary and specialized study in Criminology, study in qualitative research methods and statistics, and applied learning experiences to prepare students to work in a variety of settings. Specifically, the programs will prepare students for careers related to research and/or teaching in college and university settings, research and practice in behavioural science crime units within law enforcement, research in correctional facilities, research in mental health institutions, evaluation of community programs, administration in provincial and federal programs, statistical research in government organizations, and research in justice-related institutes.

A current list of graduate faculty is available on the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities’ website.

Admission requirements


In addition to the general admission requirements for graduate studies , Criminology applicants must meet the following program-specific requirements.

  • Hold a four-year honours undergraduate degree in the social sciences from a Canadian university, or its equivalent from a recognized institution.
  • Normally, applicants are expected to have completed the university’s MA in Criminology or an equivalent research project or thesis-based MA program from a recognized institution.
  • Minimum overall academic standing of an A-minus (GPA: 3.7 on a 4.3 scale) during their graduate studies.

Applicants with advanced degrees in other relevant fields, such as Sociology, Social Psychology or Legal Studies, are also welcome to apply. Applicants with unrelated backgrounds may be admitted as special cases. However, all applicants should realize that without a strong background in social science, specifically social theories and methodologies, they may find themselves at a significant, temporary disadvantage.

To apply, applicants should prepare a portfolio consisting of all of the following:

  • A completed application form.
  • One official or institution-certified copy of each previous undergraduate and graduate transcript.
  • A photocopy of the applicant’s degree parchment(s).
  • Proof of English proficiency if the applicant’s first language is not English.
  • A two- to three-page statement of academic intent.
  • A curriculum vitae.
  • At least three letters of reference. Academic referees are preferred; however, non-academic referees’ letters will be considered as well.
  • A substantive writing sample. A sample of the applicant’s MA thesis is optimal. However, a sample from any published work (with the applicant as first author), or any other MA assignment would suffice if a thesis was not completed or pursued.

An applicant’s statement of academic intent should describe previous research experience, including the MA thesis project and any other relevant research projects. A short description of general career aspirations, and any relevant industrial or community experience would also be highly appropriate. If an applicant has already contacted a potential dissertation supervisor (which is highly advised), that should be made known within the statement.


  • Admission is competitive and occurs once per year. The specific average or standing required for admission varies from year to year. Students are selected by taking into consideration a wide range of criteria, including grades, distribution of courses taken, statements of academic intent, reference letters, research interests, and supervisor and funding availability.
  • Possession of the minimum requirements does not guarantee acceptance. Preference will be given to applicants with the best qualifications.

Part-time studies

The PhD is intended to be a full-time program and currently has no part-time enrollment.

Degree requirements

Each year, prior to course registration, the order and timing of course offerings will be released by the faculty and communicated to students.

Courses offered by other faculties at the university or at other institutions can only be taken for credit if first approved by the graduate program director.

To be eligible for the PhD in Criminology and Social Justice, students must successfully complete 55 credit hours. Students must complete the following courses: either SSCI 5065G - Advanced Qualitative Methods 2  or SSCI 5015G - Data Analysis 2 - Graduate ; one course in Criminological Theory; one course in the Criminal Justice System; one Special Topics course; and SSCI 6940G - Professional Development and Teaching in the Social Sciences . Typically, the Professional Development and Teaching course will be taken in the student’s third year. In addition, students must enroll in SSCI 6920G - Professional Seminar  for the first year and in SSCI 6900G - PhD Research  every year that they are in the program. Students must complete SSCI 6930G - PhD Proposal and Candidacy Exam  within 18 months of admission; it consists of a written proposal and an oral exam. Students must pass comprehensive examinations that will typically be taken near the conclusion of the second year ( SSCI 6950G - Comprehensive Examinations ). At the conclusion of the program, students must successfully write and defend their thesis ( SSCI 6910G - PhD Thesis ).

Students who have not previously taken equivalent coursework may be required to take additional courses at the university.

Course listing

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