Directed Research

The FRSC 793 directed research requirement serves as the capstone course in the M.S. program combining foundational knowledge gained from core coursework into a single research experience.

Thus, students typically cannot register for this course until after completion at least one semester of the curriculum; students may complete this requirement during the summer, fall or spring semester.

A directed research experience is a core requirement for the M.S. program and is listed as FRSC 793: Forensic Science Research Experience. This is a semester course with variable laboratory hours (1-3 credits). Three credits or a minimum of 300 hours of supervised laboratory work is required for graduation.

For this experience, students are required to conduct independent research analyses in a specialization area of interest; all projects must have a valid, original research component and be of publishable quality. Through this process, students gain valuable research experience and practical experience in forensic laboratory practices and methods. This experience culminates in a research presentation at a campus seminar and/or professional conference, a written technical report and formal evaluation by a committee of faculty and forensic science practitioners. Students and mentors are strongly encouraged to submit their research work for publication where feasible.

Next Steps

Thinking about registering for your directed research experience? Here are the steps.

  1. Work with your academic advisers and/or instructors to identify either an accredited forensic laboratory or university research laboratory in the geographical area of your choosing.
  2. If you choose an off-campus option, select a faculty mentor who will help lead you and the evaluation committee through the process.
  3. Apply to the graduate director one semester in advance of enrollment.

What is the difference between directed research and independent study?

Both experiences involve forensic science-related laboratory research, a written paper and an oral presentation.

However, the directed research experience (FRSC 793: Forensic Science Research Experience) is a thesis-level experience that is typically completed over two to three semesters. While directed research opportunities may be completed on campus in a university research setting, students are also encouraged to look for opportunities off campus in accredited forensic laboratories. The graduate director encourages students to select a mentor and project based on their primary career choice or forensic science discipline (e.g., biology, drugs, toxicology, questioned documents, trace analysis), and select a committee composed of faculty and practitioners to guide them through the research experience. 

By contrast, FRSC 692: Independent Study is available as elective credit, emphasizes basic research, and serves as an opportunity for students to gain additional research and/or hands-on laboratory experience. The independent study typically only entails one semester of work, and requires a short (15-minute) oral presentation and a written technical report. Independent study may be completed in an area of forensic science outside of the primary area of interest and is commonly completed within a university research laboratory.