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What approaches should I take looking for PhD programs to apply to (Criminal Justice/Homeland Security)?


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I am a 45 year old student currently in a Masters Program at South University (most of my courses are online, but there is a brick and mortar facility in my town); I am halfway through with a 4.0 average; 3 quarters to go.

What I'm looking for are some ideas on HOW to find out which PhD programs would be a good fit for me. There are also some areas in which I'm not even sure which questions I should be asking.

Should I start by compiling a list of all programs, and just start emailing questions...

Does the the theoretical bent of the faculty matter ( I consider myself closest to being a right realist), and something to look for...

My own interest is in the politics that influences security policy (both domestic security and criminal enforcement);should I identify programs whose faculty interests are similar...

I am either getting general application advice or irrelevant results from the google/bing searches I am using, so I am hoping to get some hints here. Thanks!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest criminologist

Looks like south university is a for-profit institution... are you also applying to a for-profit for your phd? I think it would be difficult to get accepted into reputable non-profit university with a degree from that school. I don't even think most programs would recognize your credits. 

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You would be *much* better off going to any program at UT or even your local community college, rather than South "University." South is a for-profit diploma mill and is recognized as such by PhD programs. You will not and should not get into a mainstream PhD program with a degree like that. Sorry.

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Guest criminologist

Agreed and no offense to TC but maybe he is going to south is because he couldn't get accepted to UT. Also it is not the method of delivery (online/on-campus) that is important but the reputation of the school, as there are now quite a few reputable criminal justice schools that have online classes or programs like Cincinnati or FSU you could have done your masters at and your credits/degree would be recognized.

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Yeah, the main thing is that for-profit schools are almost always considered by experts to be worse than nonprofit schools (not inherently, but as they exist now). I feel really bad for the folks duped by those predatory diploma mills, because their marketing materials make them seem legit. I've noticed that it's hard to trace their record of failure because when they start to encounter problems they often just close up shop and start a new "university" nearby.

 

This is a pretty good article about why they tend to be scams that lead to bad outcomes for their students: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/11/16/for-profit-universities-are-not-inherently-bad-just-empirically-bad/mTMDbC0xUXSYWAdeBD3rwO/story.html

 

Actually, a pretty good crim Master's thesis might be about the fraudulent criminal practices of these schools and how they evade regulation or accountability.

 

I think the OP would do better in a (nonprofit) community college, trying to work his way up to Masters classes at UT. If that worked out, then and only then consider a (nonprofit) PhD. That's my 2 cents.

 

Sorry for being a bit harsh over the holidays, Grad School Fool. I hope that our perspective is of some use to you. And either way, good luck!

Edited by grrlfriend
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the feedback, folks.

 

Yes,  I was not going to be accepted to upper tier schools because my undergraduate GPA was horrific ( I was a graduating senior for 4 semesters!), even if it was 20 years past.

 

I won't argue against "the way things are";  if PhD programs won't accept South as my Master's, then I'll have to start over once I get into a program.  This is my "second career" and I'm not in dire financial straits.  I was hoping to use the work at South as a stepping stone into a mid or higher tier program.

 

Having said that, I have found the time spent at South rewarding.  I have learned and I have been pushed.  I have compared some of my courses against the syllabi of other graduate courses and found them to be equitable. Of course, the key point would be grading...if South just hands out grades for payment, then of course the degree is worthless.  I have felt in a couple of cases I did get a higher grade than I deserved for some of my coursework.  The counter to this is that if I have read these (and other) boards correctly, this is common through the soft sciences in graduate work.

 

Again, I am not arguing that South SHOULD be accepted; simply sharing my experience there.

 

So, returning to the original question: I have had some feedback though other sources (LinkedIn, etc), and it seems that my area of interest lies in the intersection of the criminal justice, political science, and public policy fields.  I have started looking at published papers to see if there is work being done in my interest, and I will research those doctors and those programs.  If anyone has a recommendation along those lines, I'd be glad to hear it!

 

If it helps, my thesis is exploring the possible differences in FBI COINTELPRO operations against the Klan and against the New Left which may have been caused by politics.

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Guest criminologist

Do you have any relevant research experience in a job? what was your major in college and what type of school? what was your GPA? even a 2.0 at a legit school is more respected than a 4.0 at a for-profit. If you are getting a master's to change fields then it is definitely not going to help, the degrees offered by for-profits like south are really only intended for people already working in the fields who need one to get a promotion, like a police officer, which is why they don't care about how crappy the school is they attend, as long as they pay they get a degree. It is absolutely not intended for people who are interested in pursuing a legit PhD program, doesn't matter if you are doing a thesis or not because once schools see 'south university' or any other for-profit school, the application gets tossed into the shredder. If you are a serious about doing a PhD then only apply to online for-profits because that is the only place you will be accepted at. Maybe look at walden university or american military university. Don't waste your money applying to a reputable program. 

Edited by criminologist
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No research experience at all.

 

My BA was in Government (pol sci) at UT Austin.

 

I don't understand the hate for for-profit schools when compared to some of the degrees that the "respectable" schools are putting out in Whiny-American Studies in which the realistic employment options are working at Starbucks. Some of those kids rack up $100,000 and more in debt and I see nothing but "for-profit" there.

 

South is regionally accredited; the taxpayer funded schools and other "respectable" schools accept that publicly and formally, and then, as you say, wad up the work done at the school and throw it away behind closed doors.  That makes the "respectables" just as culpable as the diploma mills.

 

Still, the situation is as it is, and I am still looking for a relevant program, but apparently with my crappy undergraduate work instead of my crappy graduate school for an "in"  ;>

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