The Capstone Experience

All students are required to complete an independent research project during their second year. The student is expected to conduct a research project, prepare a written report, and present the results of the research in a public forum prior to graduation. The research component of the program may include preparatory coursework in research methods and statistics. The ideal research project is well-defined, stands a reasonable chance of completion in the time available, and requires the student to use the advanced concepts and a variety of experimental techniques and instruments. Research in forensic science advances the body of knowledge and elevates the status of the profession.

The capstone course allows students to specialize within the discipline of interest and develop their problem-solving, time management and project management skills. Most students find this to be the most challenging program experience.

Students select a faculty advisory within their discipline during the first year. Upon completion of the internship, students conduct their capstone research during the fall and spring semesters. They present a formal research proposal orally towards the end of the spring semester of year one. During the second year of study, students receive written and verbal feedback on performance. Students are encouraged to submit work of sufficient standard for publication and/or presentation at regional and national scientific meetings.

Current MSFS students at Sam Houston State University interested in continuing their forensics career are eligible to apply to transfer their credits into the PhD program upon completion of their 2nd year of coursework. Directly following their Capstone, students will create a PhD Portfolio and defend a Dissertation Research Proposal in a Qualifying Examination before being admitted to Doctoral Candidacy.

PhD Portfolio & Qualifying Examination

Students accepted into the PhD program must prepare a research assessment portfolio to include papers written for coursework or research, technical reports, presentations and publications. As part of their portfolio, students will create a formal written proposal of publishable quality describing their intended research. Such a proposal shall include a detailed description of the research design and methods, implications of the proposed research for forensic science policy and practice in the United States, research design and methodology, limitations and a review of the relevant literature. This research proposal must be submitted and orally defended in a Qualifying Examination before the student can be admitted to Doctoral Candidacy.

Students are not required to take a comprehensive exam. However, they must demonstrate their potential in terms of research, technical writing and scholarly enquiry.