Forensic Science PhD Program Information and Requirements
The Ph.D. degree program in forensic science does not currently exist in the United States. Students interested in studying forensic science at the doctoral level can enroll in doctorate in chemistry or biochemistry programs with an emphasis in forensic pathology or science. These doctoral programs are nearly all research based programs.
Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry with Forensic Science Emphasis
Forensic science, also known as forensic pathology, is a medical discipline that seeks to collect and analyze physical evidence to understand the extent and cause of physical injuries or the cause of death due to accident, crime or negligence. Students pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry with a forensic science emphasis will receive a thorough training in both science and law, which usually takes 5-6 years to complete. This degree program will most likely focus on a research project that is chosen by the student in consultation with his or her academic advisers.
All doctoral-level science programs require applicants to have successfully completed either a bachelor's or master's degree program in one of the life sciences or another related field. A minimum grade-point average and standardized test scores are often required. Non-native English speakers may need to submit TOEFL scores.
This doctoral degree program features coursework in chemistry, biology and biochemistry in addition to more specialized forensic science courses such as those listed below.
- Analysis of forensic evidence
- Forensic toxicology
- Pharmacological analysis
- Mass spectrometry
- Fundamentals of DNA typing
- Trace analysis
Employment Prospects and Salary Info
Most graduates of forensic science doctoral degree programs work in academia or research. Students interested in hands-on work in a forensic science laboratory should consider a Master of Science in Forensic Science degree program. The American Academy of Forensic Scientists may be helpful in providing additional career information (www.aafs.org).
- Forensic researcher
- Forensic consultant
- Biomedical researcher
Students who complete a Ph.D. program in chemistry with a forensic emphasis can teach chemistry at the postsecondary level. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that college-level chemistry teachers earned median wages of $71,140 as of 2012. Employment opportunities for all postsecondary teachers were projected to increase 17% from 2010-2020, notes the BLS, which is average compared to other career fields.
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