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Forensic Medicine - FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


What can I do with a master’s degree in forensic medicine from PCOM?
Career paths and, in some cases, volunteer opportunities for graduates of the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program may include the following:

  • Forensic Investigator
  • Forensic Pathologist (upon completion of medical school) 
  • Medical Examiner (upon completion of medical school)
  • Social Services Investigator and/or Advocate
  • Disaster Mortuary Response Teams, e.g. natural disasters, terrorist attacks
  • Autopsy Technician
  • Accident Scene Investigators, e.g. National Transportation Safety Board
  • Lecturer in Forensic Medicine
  • Legal Consultant

For more information, please view the Forensic Medicine Degree Programs.

What is the Pathway Program? 
The Pathway Program is a preparatory course designed for students who are interested entering the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program but whose bachelor’s degrees are in a non-science-related field, e.g. criminal justice, sociology, etc. This 3-credit pass-fail summer course is a basic primer in general biology and human anatomy & physiology. In order to accommodate working professionals, classes are conveniently held Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00-9:00 pm. Upon successful completion of the Pathway Program, the student will enter the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program beginning the fall semester immediately following.

Where can I find the curriculum for the program?
The Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program curriculum may be found via the following resources:

How long does it take to complete the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program?
In total, completion of the program takes approximately 24 months.

When are the classes offered?
The curriculum at PCOM is on a tri-semester basis. For the first year of the program (August through May), classes are held one weekend per month, Friday through Sunday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. For the second year of the program (late May through the following August—15 months total), classes are held entirely online with the exception of the Capstone Integrated Experience (CIE).  The CIE is based on a research project, an internship or a combination of both and requires a minimum of 112 hours. In total, the completion of the program takes approximately 24 months.

NOTE: The Pathway Program is held the summer prior to the start of the first year of the program.  Learn more about the Pathway Program.

Can I study on a full- or part-time basis?
Students enrolled in the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program are considered half-time students. Half-time students are eligible to apply for financial assistance. For information on credits per semester, please view the course sequence grid.

What is the prerequisite coursework?
Candidates applying for admission to the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program need to have completed, prior to matriculation, a bachelor's degree in a science-related field. Candidates with a bachelor's degree lacking a science background—e.g. criminal justice, sociology, etc.—can apply for admission through the Pathway Program, which is a pass-fail summer course that, if passed, leads to an automatic admission to the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program that begins in August.

What kind of field experience can I expect in the first year of study, before a potential internship in the second year of study?
Students taking the courses of Forensic Medicine I & II will have ample practice labs and in-class instruction. Hands-on labs are conducted in the following areas: Fingerprinting, Blood-spatter, Mock-Crime Scene, Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Entomology, Ballistics, Firearms and Clandestine Graves.

Are the Capstone Integrated Experience (FMED 508) and the internship the same thing?
In lieu of a thesis, the Capstone Integrated Experience (CIE)—which can be based on a research project, an internship or a combination of both—occurs during the second year of the program. The CIE will involve field experience and/or research in the area of forensic medicine. The objective is to afford students—via a research project and/or an internship—the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills that they have acquired through their academic coursework in an area of personal interest within the scope of forensic medicine. The minimum time commitment for the CIE is 112 hours. This project will culminate with a final paper at the conclusion of the experience.

Where are the internship sites for the Capstone Integrated Experience? May I design my own internship?
Local agencies have participated as internship sites for the Capstone Integrated Experience (CIE). However, students are strongly encouraged to tailor their internship to their specific goals. With faculty approval, students may design their own internship. Additionally, the CIE may be a combination of an internship and research project.

What kind of time commitment is required of the Capstone Integrated Experience? Can I continue working full-time?
The Capstone Integrated Experience (CIE) requires a minimum of 112 hours fulfilled via a research project, an internship or a combination of both. Most of our students continue their full-time careers during the degree program and CIE.

Is there a thesis required to complete the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree?
No, the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree is a non-thesis track master’s degree.

What is the cost to attend? Is financial assistance available?
For the 2012-13 academic year, forensic medicine students pay $764 per credit. The Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program is 40 credits. The Pathway Program is an additional 3 credits added to the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree for a total of 43 credits. Since students enrolled in the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program are considered half-time students, they are eligible to apply for financial assistance.

For which term can I apply?
Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program candidates will begin their studies in the fall term (mid-August start). Pathway Program candidates enter in the summer term. Apply here.

What are the minimum admissions requirements?
Below are the minimum requirements for admission to the Master of Science in Forensic Medicine degree program. Please note that each application is reviewed on an individual basis.

  • All candidates must have a 3.0 GPA or higher in order to gain admission. Applications are considered on an individual basis and the average GPAs of admitted candidates vary. However, the average GPA for the class entering in 2012 was 3.20.
  • A bachelor’s degree with a science background. Candidates with a bachelor's degree lacking a science background can apply for admission through the Pathway Program.
  • A recommendation letter from either a faculty member or a current employer.
  • An autobiographical statement that should reflect a candidate’s understanding of the diverse field of forensics and prove a candidate’s readiness to take on the challenge of the required fieldwork.
  • Each candidate is expected to have investigated the field and understand one’s career opportunities in it.

What is the deadline to apply for admission?
As Admissions works on a rolling basis, it is strongly recommended that candidates for admission submit their completed applications early. Interviews begin in September for enrollment the following summer or fall terms.  Classes typically fill a few months prior to the start of classes. Apply here.

Are any standardized test scores required for admission?
No, standardized test scores are not required for admission to any of the Forensic Medicine degree programs.

Is an interview required for admission?
Yes, interviews are indeed a component of the admissions process for all Forensic Medicine degree programs. Interviews are conducted on-campus from September through April for Pathway Program enrollment and September to July for Master of Science in Forensic Medicine enrollment.

Last Updated: 7/7/14