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.

Essential Information

Forensic science, also known as forensic pathology, is a medical discipline involving the collection and analysis of physical evidence to understand the 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 thorough training in both science and law. Prerequisites include a bachelor's or master's degree in a life science or related field, a minimum GPA, standardized test scores, and TOFFL scores (for non-native English speakers). Programs generally last 4-8 years, and normally require a dissertation project.

Ph.D. in Chemistry with a Forensic Science Emphasis

This doctoral degree program features coursework in chemistry, biology and biochemistry, in addition to more specialized forensic science courses such as analysis of forensic evidence and the following:

  • Chromatography
  • Forensic toxicology
  • Pharmacological analysis
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Fundamentals of DNA typing
  • Trace analysis

Popular Careers

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 (

  • Professor
  • Forensic researcher
  • Forensic consultant
  • Biomedical researcher

Employment Outlook and Salary

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 mean wage of $86,070 as of 2015. Employment opportunities for all postsecondary teachers were projected to increase 13% from 2014-2024, notes the BLS.

Students with a background in chemistry who are also interested in studying law and criminal justice can look into a forensic science Ph.D., or a Ph.D. in chemistry with an emphasis on forensic science. These programs will receive education in both science and law, preparing for possible careers in forensic science or postsecondary education.

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