Academic Programs Catalog

College of Social Science

School of Criminal Justice

Graduate Study
Graduate Specialization in Forensic Science

The Graduate Specialization in Forensic Science provides a thorough understanding of the broad field of forensic science and prepares students for the role of court-qualified expert.  Students study scientific, technical, and ethical issues and the relationship of their own area of expertise to the criminal justice system. The legal aspects of forensic science presented include the study of court-qualified expert qualifications, types of scientific evidence likely to be admissible in court, and how evidence may become inadmissible for scientific and technical reasons.  Students will participate in a mock trial drawing on their systemic understanding of their field of expertise and their ability to explain methodology and evidence to laypersons.

This graduate specialization is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in doctoral degree programs at Michigan State University.  The Graduate Specialization in Forensic Science, which is administered by the School of Criminal Justice, is designed for individuals in a discipline that typically does not lend itself to full-time employment in a crime laboratory but may require participation in the criminal justice system in order to offer expert advice.  Completion of this specialization will provide students with knowledge of the United States legal system, scientific evidence, and intricacies of testifying, all of which are requisite to becoming an effective court-qualified expert in the courtroom.

With the approval of the department and college that administers the student’s degree program, the courses that are used to satisfy the specialization may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the doctoral degree. The students program of study must be approved by the student’s advisor for the specialization.

Requirements for the Graduate Specialization in Forensic Science

The student must complete 9 credits from the following:

1. All of the following courses (6 credits):  
  CJ 805 Survey of Forensic Science 3
  CJ 817 Law and Forensic Science 2
  FRS 890 Independent Study 1
  Independent study will entail a substantial literature and legal essay reviewing the student’s specialized field as it relates to the forensic sciences and the legal system.  
2. Complete a 3 credit 800 or 900-level course that is relevant to the discipline, such as forensic anthropology or forensic entomology, and is approved by the student’s advisor and the Director of the Forensic Science program.