Criminology and Sociolegal Studies

Program Overview

The primary aim of the graduate program at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies is to provide students with opportunities for advanced multi‑disciplinary study and supervised research experience in the areas of crime, the administration of criminal justice, and social studies of law and regulation.

The program familiarizes students with existing bodies of criminological and sociolegal research, and develops critical, analytical and methodological skills. It is not a training program in forensic science, nor in professional legal studies. Rather, it is designed to educate students for careers in teaching or research, as well as jobs in which the ability to evaluate criminological or sociolegal research critically is necessary or desirable.

The graduate program is identified with two fields: criminology and sociolegal studies.

  • The criminology field includes the study of patterns in crime, criminal behaviour, and the administration of criminal justice. Subject areas include, for example, theories of crime and order, politics and crime, the psychology of criminal behaviour, policing, the criminal process, sentencing, penology, youth crime and justice, and criminal justice history.
  • The sociolegal studies field includes the study of how various types of law (e.g., criminal, civil, administrative, regulatory), as well as different mechanisms of social regulation, are used to prevent manage and sanction harmful conduct and effect security. Subject areas include, for example, theoretical perspectives on law and society; regulation, law, crime, and the economy; and, risk, regulation, and security.

Students may also be interested in the combined degree program in Law, Juris Doctor / Criminology, Master of Arts (JD/MA).


Quick Facts

Domestic International
Application payment deadline MA, PhD:

4-Jan-2021

MA, PhD:

4-Jan-2021

Supporting documents deadline MA, PhD:

11-Jan-2021

MA, PhD:

11-Jan-2021

Minimum admission average MA:

B+

PhD:

A-minus average in Master’s

MA:

B+

PhD:

A-minus average in Master’s

Direct entry option from bachelor's to PhD? PhD:

No

PhD:

No

Is a supervisor identified before or after admission? PhD:

Before

PhD:

Before

Is a supervisor assigned by the graduate unit or secured by the applicant? PhD:

Applicant

PhD:

Applicant

Program length (full-time only) MA:

3 sessions

PhD:

4 years

MA:

3 sessions

PhD:

4 years


Master of Arts​

Program Description

The MA program encompasses two related disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields.

The first is criminology, which can be briefly defined as the study of all aspects of crime, including its definitions, causes, and intellectual genealogy, as well as the policy and institutional responses to it. Although criminology features some aspects of a separate discipline, including its own theoretical schools, journals, and university departments, it also draws heavily on related social science disciplines.

The field of sociolegal studies, also known as the law and society movement, is a related interdisciplinary research tradition that investigates a broad range of legal phenomena using the techniques and approaches of social science. Examples of such phenomena that the faculty have studied include citizenship and immigration policy, urban planning, and the regulation of alcohol and sex work.

The program is distinctive in that these bodies of knowledge are treated as closely related, and both of them are incorporated into the program of study. Broad intellectual exploration of these fields is incorporated by limiting the number of required courses and encouraging students to select courses (both in this and other graduate programs) that reflect their own intellectual and professional priorities. Likewise, students are given the option of meeting their degree requirements by completing eight taught half-courses or by completing six taught half-courses and writing a “master’s research paper” that allows them to develop an independent research project under the supervision of a faculty member. While specialized professional or technical training meant to be directly transferable into criminal justice occupations is not provided, we welcome applications by criminal justice professionals who wish to pursue part-time studies.

The MA program enjoys an excellent national and international reputation, and graduates are sought by employers in both the public and private sectors who appreciate the theoretically and academically rigorous interdisciplinary social science training that is provided.

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the additional admission requirements of the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies stated below.

  • Applicants must have an appropriate bachelor's degree from a recognized university. An appropriate bachelor's degree normally consists of 20 full-course equivalents (FCEs). Applicants with arts and science degrees will normally be required to have at least a B+ standing. Applicants from law schools who have already completed a JD degree or its equivalent will normally be required to have at least a B standing.

  • Although many applicants to the MA program have some training in criminology or sociolegal studies, students from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary backgrounds are welcomed. It would be advantageous for MA students in the program to have some familiarity with the approaches and methodologies associated with the social sciences. However, outstanding students from the humanities and behavioral and natural sciences will also be considered.

  • The program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. All students will be required to complete the program within the time limits set for the MA degree under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Students with professional experience who meet the academic admission requirements are encouraged to apply to the program.

  • It is essential that all incoming graduate students have a command of English. Proficiency in the English language must be demonstrated by all applicants educated outside Canada whose primary language is not English, and who graduated from a university where the language of instruction and examination was not English. This requirement must be satisfied using a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a verbal and a written component. To be considered for admission, applicants must achieve the following minimum scores:

    • ​​​​paper-based TOEFL exam: 580 and 5 on the Test of Written English (TWE)

    • Internet-based TOEFL exam: 93/120 and 22/30 on the writing and speaking sections.

    Official copies of these scores must be submitted to the University of Toronto before a formal offer of admission can be made.

Program Requirements

  • MA students can complete the program in one of two ways:

    • ​​​by completing 4.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) within 9 months or

    • by completing 3.0 FCEs and a research paper (CRI 3360Y) within 12 months.

  • ​​​The degree program includes compulsory and elective courses.

    • ​​​​The compulsory​ course (0.5 FCE) is CRI 2010H Methodological Issues in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies.

    • ​​​The elective courses allow students to engage in specialized study of different approaches to, and topics within, criminology and sociolegal studies. The elective courses offered may vary from year to year. In certain cases a student may, with the approval of the Graduate Coordinator, substitute a maximum of 1.5 FCEs from other graduate units in lieu of elective courses in criminology or sociolegal studies.

​​Program Length

3 sessions full-time (typical registration sequence: F/W/S)
6 sessions part-time

Time Limit

3 years full-time;
6 years part-time

Doctor of Philosop​hy​

Program Description

Similar to the MA program, the PhD program reflects the same emphasis on interdisciplinarity and flexibility, as well as an integrated, inclusive approach to criminology and sociolegal studies.

The primary mission of the doctoral program is to prepare future professional academics for a career in teaching and research; graduates hold faculty positions throughout Canada, in the United States, and around the world.

Over the years, PhD students have pursued dissertation projects on extremely varied research questions involving aspects of crime, criminal justice institutions, and a range of sociolegal topics. Regardless of their specific focus, they have found the Centre a supportive and interactive environment. The Centre promotes such collegiality by offering students shared office space in the Centre and encouraging them to work on site and participate in the lively intellectual life and shared scholarly activities. Likewise, although PhD students work closely with a primary supervisor, they also benefit from opportunities to learn from other core and cross-appointed faculty members. In short, the goal is to train broadly educated, thoughtful scholars with a research agenda in criminology or sociolegal studies.

Students are normally paired with a prospective supervisor at the time of admission. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to identify one or more possible supervisors, as well as possible dissertation committee members, and should indicate on their application whether they have made contact with particular core or cross-appointed members of the graduate faculty for these purposes.

​Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies' additional admission requirements stated below.

  • Applicants normally hold an MA degree in criminology or a cognate field, with a minimum A- standing or its equivalent from a recognized university. Students with MAs in disciplines unrelated to criminology or sociolegal studies may be required to take additional courses as part of their doctoral program.

  • It is essential that all incoming graduate students have a command of English. Proficiency in the English language must be demonstrated by all applicants educated outside Canada whose primary language is not English and who graduated from a university where the language of instruction and examination was not English. This requirement must be satisfied using a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a verbal and a written component. To be considered for admission, applicants must achieve the following minimum scores:

    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​paper-based TOEFL exam: 580 and 5 on the Test of Written English (TWE)

    • ​​​​Internet-based TOEFL exam: 93/120 and 22/30 on the writing and speaking sections.

    Official copies of these scores must be submitted to the University of Toronto before a formal offer of admission can be made.

Program Requirements

  • Course requirements. Students must complete a minimum of 2.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) beyond those taken at the MA level. With approval of the Graduate Coordinator, a maximum of 1.5 FCEs of these may be from another graduate unit. Students must complete, at either the MA or the PhD level, the required research methods course (CRI 2010H Methodological Issues in Criminology and Sociolegal Studies) and the required theory course (CRI 1020H Law and State Power: Theoretical Perspectives). With the approval of the Graduate Coordinator, students can take a theory course offered through another graduate unit in lieu of CRI 1020H. Students will normally complete all course requirements for the PhD in Year 1.

  • Professional development sequence. Year 1 doctoral students will participate in CRI 1010Y (CR/NCR, 0.0 FCE), a sequence of eight monthly workshop meetings of approximately two hours in length led by one or more faculty members and dedicated to discussion of a range of important issues in graduate professional development. Meetings will be scheduled at the beginning of the academic year, and attendance will be taken at each meeting. Students must normally attend at least six workshop meetings by the end of the second session of Year 1 to complete this requirement, and those who do not do so must make up the required sessions by the end of the second session of Year 2.

  • One comprehensive exam. This exam must take the form of a major review paper. Students are required to read widely on a particular topic and identify and evaluate major theoretical debates and methodological issues. Students should provide an original, critical analysis of the literature and discuss possibilities for future work in their topic area. The comprehensive exam should normally be completed by the end of the second session of Year 2.

  • Language requirements. Students must have an adequate knowledge of a language other than English if an additional language is deemed essential for satisfactory completion of research for the thesis.

  • Thesis. PhD students must prepare an original thesis that is a significant contribution to knowledge in criminology or sociolegal studies. The thesis is a sustained piece of research written in an integrated series of chapters. The thesis is normally supervised by a member of the graduate faculty, with two other members of the graduate faculty serving on the thesis committee.

  • Residency. PhD students are required to be on campus full-time for the period of their program, except for approved field research and academic exchanges. Students are expected to participate in the Centre's activities associated with the program.

Program Length

4 years full-time

Time Limit

6 years full-time

Julius Haag

“I have worked with several community partners to improve the outcomes of racialized and marginalized youth in the GTA.”

Julius Haag
PhD Candidate, Criminology & Sociolegal Studies
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