Ph.D. in Forensic Science

This is an archived copy of the 2023-2024 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit


The mission of the PhD in Forensic Science is to provide students with the critical thinking ability; problem-solving skills; and advanced, discipline-specific knowledge to allow them to advance into leadership positions.

This is accomplished by demonstrating the ability to perform independent, original research; the successful completion of multidisciplinary academic coursework; hands-on experience in the laboratory; and collaboration with accredited forensic laboratories, institutes, and partners.

Educational Objectives

  1. Provide students the knowledge, skills, and abilities to prepare them for successful careers in forensic science.
  2. Develop students’ critical thinking ability, problem-solving skills, and advanced discipline-specific knowledge.
  3. Produce high quality graduates capable of advancement into leadership positions.
  4. Engage in collaborative research that demonstrates industrial relevance and wider scientific awareness.

The PhD in Forensic Science requires the completion of 86 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree. Students complete:

Core Coursework43
Dissertation Research15
Electives 128
Total Hours86

Dissertation research hours may be substituted for electives (15 SCH maximum) with approval of the Department Chair. 

The curriculum is designed to deliver an essential core curriculum in forensic science, together with specialized electives and intensive research in the area of interest. Students are expected to fulfill the requirements during approximately five years of full-time study.

Students with an MS in Forensic Science from a FEPAC-accredited institution may be eligible to transfer credit towards the eighty-six credit hour requirement. 

Program Breakdown

Degree Type Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Length 86 credit hours
Enrollment Fall
Tuition/Costs Rates per Semester

Additional information: Reference the Program Landing Page for additional information, such as cost, delivery format, contact information, or to schedule a visit.

Please submit all document to the Office of Graduate Admissions. Admission considerations include:

  1. Graduate Application
  2. Application fee
  3. A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in chemistry, biology, forensic or natural science
  4. Official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended
  5. GPA of 3.5 or higher
  6. Official GRE scores 
  7. Three letters of recommendation with Admission Recommendation Checklists. At least two must be from academic sources
  8. Program Application
  9. Graduate Application Supplement
  10. A personal statement of 500 - 750 words
  11. An application writing prompt of 500 - 750 words
  12. A current resume or vita
  13. TOEFL/IELTS scores and third-party transcript evaluation for international students (if applicable)
  14. A personal interview will be requested

The Program Application, Application Recommendation Checklist, Graduate Application Supplement and instructions are available at Application Resources.

A holistic review of each student’s application will be completed on a competitive basis.

The program requires the completion of a minimum of eighty-six hours of graduate credit, as prescribed in the plan below.

Students must register full-time and maintain a 3.0 grade point average in all courses. In order to advance to candidacy students must have successfully completed (or be currently enrolled in) forty-four graduate credit hours of coursework and research.  Students must submit a portfolio for review, write a formal research proposal, orally defend the proposal, and pass the qualifying examination (typically by the close of the second spring semester). Once the committee determines that the portfolio, proposal, oral defense, and examination performance are satisfactory, the student may enroll in dissertation research.

A minimum of fifteen hours of dissertation credits are required and students must maintain continuous enrollment until they graduate. Students must complete and defend a doctoral dissertation, which is the product of original scholarly research and is of sufficient publishable quality to represent a meaningful contribution to knowledge in the field of forensic science.

During the first year of study, students are exposed to the major forensic disciplines in addition to the forensic internship. After successfully completing core coursework during the first year, students identify their discipline of study and commence research under the direction of their faculty advisor. 

Students with an MS in Forensic Science from a FEPAC-accredited institution may be eligible to transfer credit towards the eighty-six credit hour requirement.  

Doctor of Philosophy in Forensic Science
Required Courses
FORS 5445Forensic Instrumental Analysis4
FORS 5117Controlled Substances1
FORS 5360Pattern and Physical Evidence Concepts3
FORS 5435Trace/Microscopical Analysis4
FORS 5440Forensic Biology4
FORS 6446Forensic Toxicology4
FORS 5116Seminar In Forensic Science1
FORS 5226Law And Forensic Sciences2
FORS 6224Quality Assurance and Ethical Conduct in Forensic Science2
FORS 6014Forensic Science Research 16
FORS 6371Forensic Science Internship3
FORS 7331Research Methods3
FORS 7332Scientific Communications3
FORS 7390Forensic Laboratory Management3
Prescribed Electives 2
Select twenty-eight semester credit hours of approved graduate courses in BIOL, CHEM, CRIJ, FORS, or PSYC.28
FORS 8099Dissertation 315
Total Hours86

FORS 6014 must be taken for a total of six credit hours.


Once the minimum number of dissertation research hours have been met, dissertation hours may be substituted for electives (15 SCH maximum) with approval of the department chair. 


Once enrolled in FORS 8099, students must enroll in this course every semester until graduation.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) marketable skills initiative is part of the state’s 60x30TX plan and was designed to help students articulate their skills to employers.  Marketable skills are those skills valued by employers and/or graduate programs that can be applied in a variety of work or education settings and may include interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skill areas.

The PhD in Forensic Science is designed to provide graduates with the following marketable skills:

  • Advanced discipline-specific knowledge.
  • Hands-on laboratory skills.
  • Familiarity with legal, ethical, and quality assurance issues.
  • Critical thinking skills.
  • Impartiality and scientific objectivity.
  • Application of statistical concepts to forensic science.
  • Familiarity with consensus-based scientific standards in forensic science.
  • Advanced instrumental understanding and technical troubleshooting skills.
  • Ability to conduct original research.