PhD in Chemistry with a Forensic Science Track

The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry offers a PhD in Chemistry with a Forensic Science track. The research performed under the supervision of FIU faculty involves collaborations with a wide variety of local, state, national and international forensic science agencies. Projects range from the detection and analysis of ultra-trace amounts of materials found at crime scenes, to DNA typing in mass disasters, to canine screening for explosives. Students conducting research in forensic chemistry benefit from the use of research laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation. The International Forensic Research Institute (IFRI) at FIU coordinates the research of more than a dozen faculty in chemistry and biology and facilitates student/faculty research in forensic science. Another advantage of coming to FIU is the wide variety of cultural, ecological, and athletic opportunities here in Miami , from South Beach to the Florida Keys and the Everglades . Please feel free to check the web pages of individual faculty members here on this website.

The Ph.D. in Chemistry with a Forensic Science track consists of a minimum of 90 credits, including a dissertation based upon the student's original research. Students must choose either the Analytical (Emphasis on trace or toxicological analysis) or the Biochemistry (Emphasis on DNA typing) concentration. Coursework will include classes in forensic chemistry, toxicology, trace analysis, and DNA typing as well as related classes in chemistry, biology, and biochemistry. A maximum of 36 credits may be transferred from another completed graduate program with approval of the Chemistry graduate committee; however, only six credits can be used to substitute for the courses identified as required by the two concentrations. A list of courses taught in our program can be found below.


  • A minimum of 81 credits of course work.
  • A grade of ‘C’ or higher in all courses
  • A maintained cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher
  • Students must choose either the Analytical or the Biochemistry concentration

The coursework includes

Twelve credits of required classes that depend on the concentration (each of the following courses is worth three credits)

  • Analytical Chemistry/Trace Concentration
    • BSC 5406 Forensic Biology
    • CHS 5542 Forensic Chemistry
    • CHS 5539 Forensic Toxicology (and Principles of Toxicology)
    • CHS 5545 Chem Anl. Explosives or CHS 5538 Chem Anl of Drugs
  • Biochemistry/DNA Analysis Concentration
    • BSC 5406 Forensic Biology
    • CHS 5542 Forensic Chemistry
    • CHS 5536 Forensic DNA Chemistry
    • PCB 5685 Population Genetics

Two chemistry core courses chosen from the following

  • CHM 5156 Advanced Chromatography
  • CHM 5138 Advanced Mass Spectrometry
  • CHM 5236 Spectroscopic Techniques
  • CHM 5302 Organic Chemistry of Nucleic Acids
  • CHM 5506 Physical Biochemistry
  • CHM 6157 Advanced Analytical Chemistry
  • CHM 5165 Chemometrics & Sampling
  • CHM 6982 Advanced Biological Chemistry

As well as

  • At least one elective. The list of approved electives is maintained by the Chemistry and Forensic Graduate Committee.
  • Full-time graduate students are required to register for one credit of CHM 6940 (Supervised Teaching) each semester they serve as teaching assistants.
  • Full-time graduate students are required to register for one credit of CHM 6935 (Graduate Seminar) or one credit of CHM 6936 (Chemistry Colloquium) each fall and spring semester.
  • At least one credit of CHM 6936 (Chemistry Colloquium) is required. Each student must present a seminar on their proposed research at the colloquium for a letter grade by the end of their third semester of graduate study.
  • At least eight credits of CHM 7910 (Dissertation Research) involving independent dissertation research under the direction of a faculty member in the Department is required.
  • At least 20 credits of CHM 7980 (Ph.D. Dissertation) to be taken after the student has advanced to candidacy.
  • Satisfactory completion cumulative examinations. The student will begin taking the cumulative examinations after completing the proficiency requirements but no later than the beginning of the student’s second semester. Six examinations, each lasting three hours, will be given per year. The student must pass four out of ten consecutively-offered exams for admission to candidacy.
  • Presentation and defense of an original research proposal on a forensic-related topic that is not related to the student’s specific doctoral research project. The topic must be approved by the Dissertation Advisor in consultation with the Forensic Graduate Committee. After fulfilling this requirement, passing the cumulative exams, and completing all required course work, the student advances to candidacy.
  • Satisfactory public presentation and defense of a research dissertation, evaluated by the Dissertation Committee. The student’s Dissertation Committee will consist of the research advisor, a member from outside the Department, a randomly-assigned member appointed by the Graduate Program Director from the Department’s graduate faculty, and at least two additional committee members with expertise in the student’s research area. At least three members of the Dissertation Committee, including the major research advisor, must be from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and at least two of these three members must be tenured. The Committee may include additional members, but they will be non-voting.

Additional Information Below:

Admission and Degree Requirements
Graduate Application Procedures