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An evidence bag and caution tape at OSU Center for Health Sciences.
An evidence bag and caution tape are some of the items used by forensic scientists. The School of Forensic Sciences at OSU-CHS now offers a professional Doctorate in Forensic Sciences degree.

New Forensic Sciences doctorate degree to help advance those in the field

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Media Contact: Sara Plummer | Communications Coordinator | 918-561-1282 |

Those already working in the forensic sciences field now have a new option to earn a doctorate at OSU Center for Health Sciences.

The School of Forensic Sciences now offers a Doctorate in Forensic Sciences degree, or DFS, in addition to its Ph.D. in Forensic Sciences program.

“The Ph.D. program is great for people interested in academia and research,” said Jim Hess, vice provost of Graduate Programs at OSU-CHS. “We have a lot of people in our program who are practitioners in forensic sciences and want a doctoral degree.”

The DFS is a professional doctorate, offered online, with no required research or dissertation component. 

“There are federal agents, state agents, local law enforcement and members of the military who were interested in a professional doctorate. It will enhance the skills of practitioners in forensic sciences,” Hess said. “If you want to be a practitioner you need to have knowledge and depth in lots of areas. That’s what the DFS is designed to do.”

The DFS is a 62-hour program and students must have a master’s degree in order to enroll. Those who have earned their master’s degree in the last 10 years can have up to 30 hours automatically put toward their DFS degree.

If it’s been more than 10 years since earning a master’s degree, students can take two refresher courses in Forensic Science Theory and Forensic Science Practice worth three credit hours each, and if passed, can then have the additional 26 hours put toward the DFS degree.

And while a dissertation or research component isn’t required, a Capstone project or experience is required for the DFS and can include an internship experience, formal report or small research project.

Currently there are about 40 students enrolled in the Ph.D. program and about 40 students enrolled in the DFS program, but Hess said there’s potential for a lot of growth.

“I suspect two years from now that the DFS will be one of the largest graduate programs at OSU,” he said, because the program is available online. “Most of our current students are from outside Oklahoma. We are going to have a lot of interest nationwide.”

As the School of Forensic Sciences continues to grow, so will the need for additional faculty and resources. For the DFS, Hess said the school is utilizing several adjunct professors to teach some of the more particular topics.

“We use a lot of outside experts, some from the FBI, ATF, U.S. Army or Marines who are experts in their fields, to teach our students,” he said. “Some of these disciplines are so specific we try to find the best experts we can.”

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