Departments & Programs

Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program
Graduate Program

Master of Science in Forensic Science


The M.S. Program in Forensic Science, which awards a Purdue University degree, requires 35 credit hours of study beyond the baccalaureate level.  It is designed for students seeking careers as professional forensic scientists who desire employment in the criminal justice field or a related area.

General Degree Options and Requirements

Students must apply in one of the following concentrations; forensic chemistry or biology.  All students take a core of required courses which include a professional issues course, law courses and a clinical law course.  Each concentration contains specific required courses taken by students in that concentration.

With the exception of students who are employed full time in an analytical or forensic science laboratory, all students must include a thesis.  This program requires 20 credit hours of course work and 15 credit hours of thesis completion and defense and is available to full time and part time students.  Students who are employed full time in a forensic science or related laboratory may elect the non thesis option.  This program includes 35 credit hours of classes approved by the department.  This may include up to six credits of internship.


The admission requirements are as follows:

  • A Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in chemistry, biology, forensic science, pharmacology/toxicology, or a related science 
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 for all undergraduate work
  • A score in the upper one-half in the GRE general exam

The program will serve full time students who meet the above requirements as well as students who are presently employed full time in a forensic science laboratory or other analytical laboratory.

A non thesis option is permitted only for those students who must enroll part time in the program because they are employed full time in a forensic science or related laboratory.  These students will be permitted to complete a lab based project if they wish, including one that does not rise to the level of a thesis but, in addition, all students in this category must complete a literature based research project, write it up and report it orally to the faculty and students of the FIS program in the manner that one would defend a thesis.

How to Apply

Application to the program can be done completely online and this is the preferred way to apply although hard copies of forms will be accepted.  The online application is called the "eApp Online Admissions Application."

You will be directed to create an account to begin your application.  The application can be filled out in stages and saved along the way so you can return to it later.  The eApp has provisions for uploading your personal statement and listing contact names for three letters of recommendation.

These people will automatically be emailed and asked to input their letters of recommendation.

The Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program accepts applications once a year for beginning matriculation in the fall semester.  The deadline for applying to the program is January 15 of the year you wish to start.  Applications must be complete by January 15 or they will not be considered.  Applicants must submit the following:

1.  The completed application which will also require

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation. These would normally be from professors who can evaluate your ability to successfully complete graduate work in forensic science.
  • A personal statement that discusses your educational and work background, interest and experience (if any) in forensic science, and research interests if you are full time.  For part time students, also include your current work experience.

2.  Official final transcripts from all higher education institutions that you attended.

3.  Applicants must arrange to have the testing agency send their GRE scores (and TOEFL, if applicable) directly to the university. (University code is 1325)

Applicants are not normally considered on a rolling basis.  They are generally considered en masse after the January 15 deadline.  You will be notified within a few weeks after the decision is made.    

The Curriculum

 The M.S. program consists of 35 semester credit hours.  It is anticipated that the program can be completed within two years by full time students.  The credit hours are to be distributed as follows:

All students (full and part time) take the following courses:

  1. FIS 50500 (3) - Professional and Ethical Issues in Forensic Science
  2. FIS 51500 (3) - Legal Issues in Forensic Science
  3. LAW-D774 (2) - Law and Forensic Science (a clinical law class)      

Students in the forensic chemistry concentration (full and part time) must take the following courses:

  1. FIS 50600 (3) - Forensic Microscopy
  2. FIS 51100 (4) - Forensic Chemistry 1
  3. FIS 51200 (4) - Forensic Chemistry 2      

Students in the forensic biology concentration (full and part time) must take the following courses:

  1. FIS 52100 (4) - Forensic Biology 1
  2. FIS 52200 (4) - Forensic Biology 2

Full time students must take the following courses:

  1. FIS 69800 (15)  - Thesis Research
  2. Electives (1 - 4) - approved by department

Part time students must take the follwoing courses:

  1. FIS 697 (6) - Design of a Research Project
  2. Electives (10 - 13) - approved by department.  This may include up to 6 credits of internship.  A student may also take courses in other concentrations as part of theses credits.                                                                  

        Fall Semester  

  • FIS 50500 (3)
  • FIS 51100 (4)
  • FIS 50600 (3)   

        Spring Semester

  • FIS 51500 (3)
  • FIS 51200 (4)
  • FIS 69800 (4)

     Summer Semester

  • LAW-D774 (2)
  • FIS 69800 (6)

     Fall Semester

  • FIS 69800 (5)
  • Elective (1)

The Thesis

The faculty of the Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program strongly believe that research should be a major component of a Master of Science degree.  For full time students, 15 of the 35 credit hours of the program are devoted to the thesis.  Students are encouraged to identify a thesis topic with the help of the FIS faculty as soon as possible in the program.  It is normally expected that the research and write up of the thesis will take at least one year of the program.  A master's thesis project may be begun in conjunction with an internship at a crime laboratory and then finished at IUPUI.  It may be possible for a student to remain at the internship host for longer than a semester and complete the research.  Thesis research done in conjunction with a crime lab must be approved by the student's thesis director at IUPUI. 

Financial Aid

Contrary to the situation with Ph.D. programs, there is limited financial support for master's programs.  Nonetheless, we are committed to developing as many financial resources for our students as possible.  Decisions concerning fellowships and assistantships will normally be at least partly based on merit.  Other factors will also be considered.  Some funds are usually available from the unit, School of Science, IUPUI and external grants.  These will vary from year to year.  The "Online Admissions Application" contains a box that should be checked if you would like to be considered for financial aid. 

Graduate Student Handbook

The Graduate Student Handbook contains additional information pertaining to the M.S. program.