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Doctoral Specialization

The Doctoral Specialization in Forensic Science, administered through the Forensic Science Graduate Program, School of Criminal Justice, College of Social Science, is designed for doctoral students enrolled in a discipline that typically does not lend itself to full time employment in a crime laboratory, but may regularly be in demand by the criminal justice system for expert advice. While possessing sound knowledge in their specific area of expertise, many individuals are often not familiar with the other forensic science fields, nor how their scientific discipline interacts or overlaps with them. Further, knowledge of the US legal system, scientific evidence, and the intricacies of testifying as an expert witness are requisite for being an effective expert in the courtroom.

The Specialization in Forensic Science provides a thorough understanding of the broad field of forensic science, details the array of cross-discipline interaction that exists, and prepares the student for their role as a court qualified expert. Scientific, technical, and ethical issues are described and studied.

The legal aspects of forensic science, including qualifications required to be a court recognized expert witness, what scientific evidence is likely to be admissible in court, and when evidence becomes inadmissible for scientific or technical reasons, are presented. The mock trial experience requires that the student has a systematic understanding of their field of expertise, as well as how to explain the evidence they present, and the methodology with which they collected it, to a group of laypersons. Finally, how the student’s own area of expertise fits into the overarching criminal justice system is explored in detail.

Requirements for the Doctoral Specialization in Forensic Science Credits
CJ 805 Survey of Forensic Science 3
CJ 817 Law and Forensic Science 2
FRS 890 Independent Study * 1
Course that is relevant to the discipline (e.g., forensic anthropology, forensic entomology) and agreed upon by the student’s advisor and the Director of the Forensic Science Program. 3

Please contact Dr. Ruth Smith, Director of the Forensic Science Program, at if you are interested in pursuing the Doctoral Specialization in Forensic Science.

* Independent study will entail either an agreed to project in the student's specialized field, or a substantial literature and legal essay reviewing the student’s specialized field as it relates to the forensic sciences and the legal system.