FEPAC Statement of Support for Establishing Ph.D. Programs in Forensic Science

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The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) encourages universities with FEPAC-accredited Master’s degree programs and the requisite faculty and research infrastructure to establish PhD degree programs in forensic science. FEPAC believes there is a need for more scientists with PhD degrees in forensic science to effectively advance the field of forensic science. Such individuals are needed to perform essential research and development that will provide foundational support of current practices as well as establish novel technologies that will shape future practices. Furthermore, these individuals are needed for faculty positions in forensic science education programs to teach and mentor the next generation of forensic scientists and ensure the highest quality of forensic science education. As the National Academy of Sciences declared in 2009, “The advantages of a PhD program lie in its positive effect on basic research in the field. Doctoral programs offer more research depth and capacity, have ties to other fields, have high expectations for quality, supply graduate student personnel to question and check past work and challenge conventional wisdom, and inspire more mentoring, which has two-way benefits.”1

Historically, the terminal degree in forensic science has been the Master’s degree; however, the advance in and evolution of forensic science as a discipline and a profession now merits a PhD degree option. FEPAC recognizes that institutions may develop forensic science doctoral programs differently and does not endorse one model over another. Programs could offer either a PhD in a natural science, under the tutelage of an advisor with appropriate background and exposure to forensic science, or specifically a PhD in forensic science. As the recognized accreditation body for forensic science education in the United States, FEPAC offers this statement of support for establishing PhD programs in forensic science and welcomes all feedback and requests for further guidance.

  1. National Academy of Sciences Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward,” The National Academies Press, Washington, DC (February 2009).