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Applying to PhD with no thesis


Guest criminologist
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Guest criminologist

I have decided to apply to some PhD programs for Criminology & Criminal Justice in the fall and I was wondering how much having a thesis matters when they review your application. I am currently enrolled in a professional criminal justice master's program (Top 10 CJ grad program) that does not have a thesis. However, it requires a non-thesis type policy paper that involves less research. Any way I expect all other parts of my application to be excellent such as GPA (both grad and undergrad), GRE, relevant background and courses etc. I know that most of the top schools do not require it (only a writing sample) but is it a big deal if an applicant did not do a full thesis. 

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Guest criminologist

For a Ph.D. research utilizing primary sources is preferred over a policy paper.

what is the main differences between a policy paper and thesis? I know a policy paper requires less research. one of the MS programs at my school has a policy paper option (3 credits) or a thesis option that is 6 credits. however some programs do not even have a thesis

Edited by gz390
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Primary sources. Either collect your own data and analyze it or go directly to original documents and analyze those. Policy formulation can, and usually is, based on secondary sources (other people's studies.) But don't take it from me... talk to professors in that program and compare the work products of both the policy paper and the thesis by finding them in the library. The good news is that you have time to conduct original research if you get on it now. By the way, it's not the title of the work that matters to those evaluating your writing sample, it is the nature and quality of the work that they care about.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sort of unrelated-Is it common to apply to a PHD with just a bachelor's degree? Or is a research intensive master's degree expected?

Edited by JKBFSS
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