The Joint Master of Criminal Justice and Criminology and Doctor of Philosophy in Social Welfare program prepares students to make significant contributions to both education and research in the social sciences. The goals and objectives of both the MSCJC and PhD programs reflect the department’s concerns with urban social problems, social and economic equity and well-being, cultural diversity, and the empowerment of individuals, families, organizations, and communities to effect change.

Admission Requirements

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


Relevant application materials must be submitted to both the Graduate School and the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare and will be accepted for admission in the Fall semester only. All applications must be completed and submitted on or before January 2. Applications received after January 2 will be considered only if space is available after other applications are reviewed.

Students who apply and are accepted to the joint MSCJ/PhD program will be able to earn both degrees in the course of their studies and will not be required to apply to the PhD program after earning the MSCJ degree, assuming their progress is consistent with departmental, school, and Graduate School standards. Applicants who are not offered admission to the joint program will still be considered for admission into the MSCJ-only program.

All applicants must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following school requirements:

  1. Have an undergraduate grade point average of 2.75 or better.
  2. Have completed at least 21 semester credits in the social and behavioral sciences (i.e., psychology, sociology, political science, economics, anthropology, and/or their equivalents).

In the Personal Statement section of the Graduate School application form, applicants must indicate:

  1. That, of the PhD program’s four areas of specialization (Criminal Justice, Addiction and Behavioral Health, Applied Gerontology, or Family and Child Welfare) they wish to pursue the Criminal Justice option.
  2. Their reasons for seeking a doctoral degree.
  3. Their goals as future scholars.
  4. A topic or issue in the field that they consider to be particularly challenging and worthy of study.

In other materials submitted to the Graduate School, applicants must:

1. Provide a current copy of a professional résumé or curriculum vitae. This should contain information on:

  • All post-secondary education, including institutions, degrees and dates of completed programs of study, plus institutions, dates, and types of study that did not lead to a degree.
  • All employment by the applicant in criminal justice, social work, and related areas, including dates and employing organizations.
  • Employment unrelated to criminal justice or social work within the past five years.
  • Any past or current professional licenses held.

2. Submit scores from within the past five years on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test.

3. Submit three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s achievements and academic potential, including at least one current or former academic instructor.

4. Submit a sample of written work that demonstrates: the applicant’s knowledge of social welfare theory, practice, and research; ability to think analytically; and writing skills. The sample should be at least 1000 words in length and represent work for which the applicant was the sole author, or if it is jointly authored should indicate which sections were primarily done by the applicant.


The school will assign each MSCJ/PhD student a major professor. This assignment is based on congruence between the applicant’s interests and the expertise of the major professor. In consultation with the director of the PhD program, the student may change major professors after beginning the program, but no applicant will be admitted unless a doctoral faculty member agrees to serve as major professor.

Financial Assistance

Through a combination of tuition remission, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, fellowships, and other options, the program will attempt to provide financial assistance to all admitted students during their first four years in the program. Applicants needing additional information on other sources of financial assistance, such as student loans, should contact the campus Department of Financial Aid.


Students must meet minimum Graduate School residency requirements.

Credits and Courses

The Criminal Justice MS (MSCJ) portion of the joint curriculum requires a minimum of 21 graduate credits. Another 12 Masters-level credits will be replaced by the same number of PhD-level credits. Courses at the Masters level are:

CRM JST 743Proseminar: Administration of Criminal Justice Systems3
CRM JST 756Proseminar: Analysis of Criminal Justice Research3
CRM JST 773Criminological Perspectives3
CRM JST 920Criminal Justice Masters Capstone Seminar3
or CRM JST 990 Thesis or Research Project
CRM JST 795Issues in Law Enforcement Practice and Policy3
CRM JST 810Police Administration3
CRM JST 850Issues in Correctional Practice and Policy3
Total Credits21

MSCJ courses to be replaced by PhD-level courses are:

CRM JST 713Measuring Crime & Analyzing Crime Data (replaced by SOC WRK 961)3
CRM JST 999Independent Reading in Criminal Justice (replaced by SOC WRK 791 or SOC WRK 932)1-3
Elective (replaced by doctoral elective)3
Elective (replaced by doctoral elective)3
Total Credits12

A minimum of 40 credits of PhD-level course work is required. At least 31 of these must be earned in residence at UWM. Required courses include:

SOC WRK 901Philosophy of Science3
Specialization Seminars
9 credits required, 3 from student's area of specialization9
Theories of Poverty and Social Welfare Policy
Theories and Research on Behavior Change
Family and Long-Term Care Across the Life Course
Current Topics in Social Work: (Multigenerational Policies and Services)
Current Topics in Social Work: (Child and Family Wellbeing)
Current Topics in Social Work: (Criminal Justice Practice and Policy)
Research Methods
SOC WRK 951Quantitative Research Methods3
SOC WRK 952Qualitative Research Methods in Social Work3
SOC WRK 961Introduction to Statistical Methods4
SOC WRK 962Applied Multiple Regression Analysis3
Research Methods or Statistics Electives
SOC WRK 963Measurement Methods and Related Multivariate Statistics3
SOC WRK 964Advanced Statistical Methods3
SOC WRK 991Doctoral Proseminar: (Proseminar in Research Ethics)1
SOC WRK 991Doctoral Proseminar: (Proseminar in Grantwriting)1
GRAD 803Teaching & Learning in College: Reflections on Theory and Practice1
Accompanies first teaching and research assistantships
SOC WRK 999Independent Reading in Social Work (Teaching)1-3
or CRM JST 999 Independent Reading in Criminal Justice
SOC WRK 999Independent Reading in Social Work (Research)1-3
or CRM JST 999 Independent Reading in Criminal Justice
Two approved external doctoral-level courses in area of specialization (2-3 credits each)4-6
Total Credits40-42

Additional Requirements

Preliminary Examination

All students must pass a preliminary examination subsequent to successfully completing all required course work and prior to being admitted to doctoral candidacy (see The examination assesses students’ ability to articulate their research interests, analyze and synthesize empirical knowledge and relevant theoretical concepts, explain how theory may affect the generation of knowledge, and show familiarity with relevant scientific methodologies. In keeping with Graduate School rules, the preliminary examination should be completed within five years of enrollment.

Prior to initialing the preliminary examination, students must complete an application for the examination through the Graduate School’s Milestones system. Students who fail the preliminary examination may not proceed to the dissertation. The exam may be retaken only once. Complete policies regarding forming a preliminary examination committee, writing the proposal, and taking the examination are available in the Social Welfare PhD program handbook.

Dissertation Proposal Defense

All students must successfully complete an oral defense of their dissertation proposal to determine their preparation for independent research. The defense must be completed successfully within four years of initial enrollment.


Students who have successfully completed the Preliminary Examination and a one-page preliminary dissertation proposal are formally admitted to doctoral candidacy. In accordance with Graduate School policies, students must then register for three research or thesis/dissertation credits each semester until the dissertation is submitted to the Graduate School. To meet the requirements for the dissertation, the candidate must complete an original independent research project that adds meaningfully to the existing body of knowledge in social welfare. It should be of a caliber that warrants publication in respected journals in the field.

Dissertation Defense

As the final step toward the degree, the candidate must pass an oral examination before their doctoral committee in defense of the dissertation. The examination may also cover general topics relevant to the student’s area of study. This requirement may not be completed until all other degree requirements are satisfied.

Time Limit

It is expected that most students will complete all degree requirements within seven years of initial enrollment in the joint MSCJ/PhD program. All requirements MUST be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment.

Criminal Justice and Criminology MS Learning Outcomes 

Students graduating from the MS in Criminal Justice & Criminology Program will be able to: 

  1. Explain the relationship between criminal justice organizations, administration, and policy. They will be able to critically assess current criminal justice policies and organizational practices. 
  2. Explain and critically assess criminological theories to patterns of behavior. They will be able to articulate how criminal justice policies were developed in relation to these theories. 
  3. Explain social science research methods and basic statistical applications. They will be able to apply social science research methods and statistics to criminal justice and criminology problems, including the ethical treatment of research subjects. 
  4. Analyze and synthesize empirical research, and construct analytically synthesized written academic papers and responses. 
  5. Develop and implement a strong research project in a substantive area of interest within criminal justice and criminology, tying together the components of theory, methods, and policy.