2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    May 09, 2021  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog

Public Affairs PhD, Criminal Justice Track

College: Community Innovation and Education Degree: PhD
Department: School of Public Administration Option: Dissertation
Program Website: https://ccie.ucf.edu/publicaffairs/
Graduate Program Handbook

Track Description

The Doctoral Program in Public Affairs is an interdisciplinary program drawing from the strengths of faculty in Criminal Justice, Health Management and Informatics, Public Administration, and Social Work. The Criminal Justice Track prepares students for academic positions in colleges and universities as well as research and leadership positions in public, nonprofit and private agencies. The dynamic mix of an interdisciplinary faculty with students of varied backgrounds creates a stimulating environment to examine contemporary organizational, institutional and community problems and issues. Graduates possess the theoretical, analytical and ethical foundation to produce new knowledge that impacts policies and programs and enhances institutional and community performance.


Students must complete 60 credit hours beyond the master’s degree distributed in the following manner:

  • a three-course, 9-credit hour required Public Affairs substantive core
  • a six-course, 18-credit hour required Public Affairs methodological and statistical core
  • a three-course, 9-credit hour required discipline-specific specialization
  • a two-course, 6-credit hour unrestricted elective requirement
  • a one course, 3-credit hour required Public Affairs practicum
  • 15 credit hours of dissertation minimum

Total Credit Hours Required: 60 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Master’s Degree

A maximum of 6 credit hours of Independent Study may be used as electives with adviser’s approval.

Transfer work will only be accepted by the Public Affairs PhD program if taken as part of an approved plan of study for a doctoral program at UCF or elsewhere. A maximum of 6 credit hours taken at the doctoral level may be considered for transfer. The acceptance of transfer credit into the track specialization or elective component is dependent upon the approval of the Track Coordinator in consultation with the PAF Program Director. Transfer work will not be accepted into the PAF substantive or methodological core components.

A grade of B- or better is required in all substantive core and methodological core courses.  Students receiving a grade of “C+” or lower will be required to repeat the course and receive a grade of B- or better prior to taking the Research Proficiency Exam and Qualifying Exam.  Any student who receives more than one grade of C+ or lower in their doctoral course work may be dismissed from the program.

A minimum of 3.0 graduate status GPA and program of study GPA is required to maintain graduate student status and for graduation. Students with a GPA less than 3.0 may be dismissed from the program.

Any student who receives an “F” grade in their doctoral course work will be dismissed from the program.

Required Courses: 45 Credit Hours

Advanced Methodology

Choose one of the following courses:

Community-based Research: 3 Credit Hours

At the end of the required coursework, students will take the Community-Based Research course (PAF 7947 ). Led by a professor, the course provides the student with the opportunity to work within an interdisciplinary team to use their substantive learning and apply their methodological and statistical tools to a real community problem. This experiential learning brings the student out to the community while bringing the community into the university.

Choose two additional courses from the following list:

  • See adviser for appropriate methodological elective 3 Credit Hours
  • Directed independent study 3 Credit Hours
  • Or other course that will add to the student’s course of study. Requires approval of adviser. 3 Credit Hours

Dissertation: 15 Credit Hours

  • PAF 7980 - Dissertation Research

Assignment of Faculty Advisers

Upon acceptance of a student into the program, the program director provides students with an initial orientation and a general advising session. The Track Coordinator in conjunction with the PAF Director helps the student throughout the foundation stage of the program, assisting in the clarification of interests and goals and facilitating the introduction of students to faculty and research interests that can advance the student’s program of study. Criminal Justice Track students will be advised by the Criminal Justice Track Coordinator. The Track Coordinator assists the student in selecting elective courses, finalizing the program of study, and facilitating discussion with faculty members who have similar research interests. Discussion and review of dissertation topics should take place with the faculty member who has agreed to chair the dissertation committee. The dissertation chair is to be selected by the student prior to commencing the dissertation prospectus.

Research Proficiency Exam and Qualifying Exam

Upon successful completion of the first year of substantive and methodological required courses, students are required to take a Research Proficiency Exam (RPE) and Integrative Qualifying Exam (IQE). These exams assess a student’s ability to integrate the curriculum knowledge and apply it in the realm of community problem solving as it relates to policy, administration, governance, and organizations. Students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in the PAF Core Competencies.

Students are given two opportunities to pass the RPE and the QE. Students who fail any section twice are dismissed from the program. Any student who fails any the RPE twice or the QE twice will not be readmitted into the PAF program. This policy includes all tracks and/or any master’s to PhD program(s) within the PAF program. Please refer to the student handbook for further information.

Candidacy Status

Students can officially obtain candidacy status when they have successfully completed all course work, passed the research proficiency and qualifying exams, formed their Dissertation committee, have no more than six required courses remaining (electives included) and all required paperwork has been completed and submitted. In addition, students admitted to their UCF doctoral program in Fall 2011 or a later term must complete all CITI Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training. Once they have obtained Candidacy status, students can register for dissertation hours.

Students officially enter candidacy when the following work has been accomplished:

  1. Pass Integrative and Research Proficiency Qualifying Exams
  2. Form an appropriate Dissertation Committee by established university deadline:
    1. Chair (Graduate Faculty member who is eligible to chair a dissertation committee)
    2. Minimum of four committee members (all must hold a Graduate Faculty or Graduate Faculty Scholar appointment)
    3. At least three, and a majority of the committee, must be members of the Graduate Faculty
    4. At least one member must be from outside the department (or college, if a college-wide program)
    5. At least one member must have served previously on a thesis or dissertation committee that graduated a student, either at UCF or at another accredited institution. If the Chair does not have this experience, another graduate faculty member who has this experience may serve in this role as Vice Chair. Under certain circumstances (see page 2), a graduate faculty scholar who has previous committee experience may serve as Vice Chair.
  3. Have no more than 6 total credit hours of coursework remaining (including electives)
  4. Complete all required RCR Workshops and CITI Integrity Trainings
  5. Complete PAF Notification of Doctoral Candidacy form

Equipment Fee

Full-time students in the Public Affairs Program pay a $40 equipment fee each semester that they are enrolled. Part-time students pay $20 per semester.

Application Requirements

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions  section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

Applicants must hold a master’s degree from an accredited institution, preferably in criminal justice, health, public administration or social work. Applicants with a master’s degree in a field not directly related to public affairs may be required to take courses at the master’s level in preparation for doctoral level study.  Any requirements for preparatory coursework will be communicated at the time of acceptance into the program and will generally be taken prior to beginning doctoral-level coursework.  These courses, if required, will not substitute for the listed doctoral degree requirements. Admission is offered for fall semester only.

In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements , applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
  • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years.
  • A narrative statement of 1000 words or less addressing the following:
    • What is your reason for pursuing a doctoral degree in Public Affairs in our program? Be sure to include future goals and plans.
    • What research areas, pertaining to Public Affairs are you interested in researching?
    • What will be your contribution as a student to the program?
  • Résumé.
  • A writing sample. An academic paper is preferred, but the program will consider writing samples that demonstrate analytical writing (i.e. grant applications, position papers, etc.)
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty or professionals who can assess the applicant’s ability to succeed in a doctoral program. Academic references are strongly preferred.

The Public Affairs Program Admissions Committee will begin reviewing applicant files once the student has submitted all of the above documents. Admission to the Doctoral Program in Public Affairs is granted on a competitive basis. Meeting minimum UCF admission standards does not guarantee program admissions. The Admissions Committee will base final admission on the evaluation of the applicant’s abilities, past performance, recommendations, match to the program, correspondence of the applicant’s career and academic interests with those of the core and affiliated faculty, and potential for completing the degree and making a significant contribution to Public Affairs.

Application Deadlines

Criminal Justice *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Jan 15 Mar 1    
International Applicants Jan 15 Jan 15    

The Fall 2021 Application Deadline Has Been Extended to June 1, 2021.

*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information  section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.

Contact Info

Graduate Program

Matt Nobles PhD
Telephone: 407-823-0821
HPA 1, Room 317

Graduate Admissions

Telephone: 407-823-2766
Millican Hall 230
Online Application
Graduate Admissions

Mailing Address

UCF College of Graduate Studies
Millican Hall 230
PO Box 160112
Orlando, FL 32816-0112

Institution Codes
GRE: 5233
TOEFL: 5233
ETS PPI: 5233

Graduate Fellowships

Grad Fellowships
Telephone: 407-823-0127

Graduate Financial Aid

UCF Student Financial Assistance
Millican Hall 120
Telephone: 407-823-2827
Appointment Line: 407-823-5285
Fax: 407-823-5241