Students select one of two options to demonstrate proficiency in research methods, data analysis, policy analysis, and a specialty area. The first option is a comprehensive examination and the second option is an independent research project. Students submit to the graduate program director a proficiency certification designation form which indicates the option they intend to pursue. Once the form is submitted and accepted, students may not change their pathway to proficiency certification. These requirements apply to students in the MA program as well as those in the dual MA/MPA program.
The comprehensive examination is normally held on the second Friday of the fall and spring semesters in the basement seminar room of the Sociology Building. The examination is divided into four testing sessions two hours in length: 8:00 am – Research Methods, 10:15 am – Data Analysis, 1:15 pm – Policy Analysis, 3:30 pm – Specialized Area.
Next testing date: TBA
Students in good standing who have completed the courses corresponding to four testing areas and completed 27 credits or who are in their final semester of coursework are eligible to take the examination. Students normally sit for all four parts of the examination on the testing day. The specialized area may be any criminal justice elective for which a grade of B or higher was earned. Contact the graduate program director, Dr. Meloy, to register for the examination and indicate your desired examination areas. If students are not taking classes, they must enroll in 56:202:800 Matriculation Continued each semester until the comprehensive examination is completed. Study guides are available for data analysis and victimology.
The examinations are evaluated by a faculty committee composed of members of the Graduate Program in Criminal Justice. Each examination area is graded pass, pass with distinction, and retest necessary. Students who require a retest must sit for the examination at a subsequent testing session. Failure on the third attempt in any testing area is final and the student is dismissed from the program. When the four areas are passed, the student is certified to have fulfilled the proficiency requirement.
Independent Research Project
The independent research project is a time intensive and demanding alternative to the comprehensive exam for students to demonstrate proficiency in research methods, data analysis, policy analysis, and a specialty area. The independent research project is intended primarily for students planning to pursue doctoral studies. Students pursuing this option should be aware that the project could take as long as 12 to 18 months to complete. It involves original research conducted by the student under the supervision of a faculty committee composed of three members of the graduate faculty in criminal justice, one of whom serves as chair of the committee. Subject to approval of the graduate program director, one member of the committee may be a member of the graduate faculty of another department in the Graduate School Camden. If students are not taking classes, they must enroll in 56:202:800 Matriculation Continued each semester until the independent research project is completed.
Eligibility and Application
Any student in good standing who has completed research methods, data analysis, and policy analysis is eligible to apply for the independent research project. Application takes the form of a written research proposal and oral defense that fully describes the intended project: research questions or problem, rationale, literature review, research methods, data collection, and planned data analysis. The proposal must conform to the current APA style. A Human Subjects Certification letter is also required. Proposals are submitted to the student’s committee chair.
Upon consultation with the committee chair, the student schedules an oral defense of the proposal to defend it to the committee at least three weeks after submission of the proposal. This defense takes place during the regular semester, but not during the first two or last two weeks of the semester. At the defense, the student orally defends the proposal to the committee about the research questions or problem, rationale, literature review, research methods, data collection, and planned data analysis, and responds to questions from the committee. The defense is open to the graduate faculty in criminal justice and graduate students in criminal justice. At the defense, the committee determines if the proposal is approved, if it is denied, or if it should be resubmitted with revisions. If the proposal is denied or revisions required, students have a time limit of six months to submit revisions or a new proposal. A student may appear for a proposal defense no more than three times. If on the third attempt, the committee does not approve the proposal, the student is dismissed from the program.
Schedule and Institutional Review Board
Once a proposal is approved, it is filed with the graduate program director. The student signs a memorandum of understanding prepared by the committee chair regarding the final product, due dates, and other expectations. This memorandum is submitted to the graduate program director. The student must secure Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval before starting the research, providing copies of the application to the committee chair. The IRB approval letter is filed with the committee chair and the graduate program director.
Final Product and Oral Defense
Once the research has been completed, the independent research project is submitted to the faculty committee in writing following the current APA style. In consultation with the committee chair, the student then schedules an oral defense of the independent research project at least three weeks after submitting the document, but not within the first or last two weeks of the regular semesters. The format of the oral defense is determined by the committee chair. It involves an oral presentation of the project, including methodology, data collection, analyses, findings, limitations, and implications, and an oral defense including questions from the committee. The defense is open to members of the graduate faculty in criminal justice and graduate students in criminal justice. The committee approves the project without revision or requires revision and additional review. Students are limited to three submissions or defenses of the final project. Revisions must be made within a six month period. If a student is unsuccessful at the third attempt, he or she may not select the comprehensive examination option and is dismissed from the program. When the independent research project is accepted in its final form, the student is certified to have demonstrated proficiency in the required areas.