Forensic Medicine MS and Dual Degree Program | PCOM
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Forensic Medicine


  • Gain hands-on experience interpreting evidence
  • Develop analytical and critical thinking skills
  • Learn from experts in the field
  • Prepare for a variety of in-demand careers

Request Information About the Forensic Medicine Program

Forensic Medicine at PCOM

Students at PCOM learn forensic medicine by doing forensic medicine. Under the guidance of professional investigators, students gather in teams to conduct their own investigations—from mock crime scenes to accident reconstructions to clandestine gravesites. Our program is designed to help students develop the analytical and critical thinking skills needed for a variety of in-demand careers.

What is Forensic Medicine?

Forensic medicine is the evaluation of victims to determine the cause of injury or death. For living victims, it is used to determine how an injury occurred—including the weapon used or force applied—and if the facts established through scientific investigation are consistent with the story provided by the victim or other party. In evaluating deceased victims, forensic experts investigate the circumstances surrounding death in order to interpret trauma, establish time of death and determine if the death resulted from an intentional act or natural disease.

Hands-on Learning, Expert Instruction in Forensic Pathology

PCOM offers the only forensic medicine program in the region that was developed and is overseen by a board-certified forensic pathologist. With courses taught by leading experts currently working in the field, students learn from professionals who bring in-depth knowledge and years of field experience.

Gregory McDonald, DO ’89, chair of the forensic medicine program and dean of PCOM's School of Health Sciences, is a member of the Vidocq Society, an organization of forensic experts who help law enforcement agencies solve cold cases. [Read more].



The Online Pathway is a summer preparatory course designed to prepare students for entry into our master's program. The program is offered 100 percent online.


The MS program is designed for individuals who have an undergraduate degree and background in the sciences. The highly experiential program focuses on the evaluation of live and deceased victims. The program provides students with a baseline of analytic and critical thinking skills that will prepare them to become medical and legal death investigators.


PCOM's MS program includes a heavy concentration in pathology and diseases and how those impact the overall determination of cause of death. Forensic professionals go to crime scenes, assist with autopsies and gather specimens which are then provided to forensic scientists for analysis.

What forensic courses will I take?

PCOM students engage in a broad—and very active—study of the forensic field covering topics including:

  • forensic pathology;
  • forensic anthropology (identification and investigation of human remains);
  • forensic odontology (dental evidence);
  • forensic entomology (insect evidence);
  • ballistics, fingerprint, crime scene and blood spatter analysis;
  • toxicology;
  • DNA;
  • arson and fire investigation;
  • evaluation of sexual assault victims;
  • and more.
What kind of backgrounds do forensic students have?

The program welcomes and trains both newcomers and professionals currently in the forensics field, preparing them for a variety of rewarding careers in the field. Typically, our enrolled students have backgrounds as:

  • Physicians
  • Physician Assistants
  • Nurses (BSN and beyond, e.g. Nurse Practitioner)
  • Paramedics
  • Criminal Investigators
  • Coroners
  • Law Enforcement Professionals

Doctor of Osteopathic medicine students may pursue a dual DO/MS in Forensic Medicine degree during an extended second year in which students complete forensic classes.

DO/MS Degree Career Options

Post-medical school (DO program) careers include:

  • pediatrician (concentration in child abuse)
  • geriatrician (concentration in elder abuse)
  • emergency medicine
  • medical examiner

Learn more about forensic careers.

Students in the MS in Biomedical Sciences program may pursue a concentration in forensic biology after completing foundation year coursework.


Take your first step toward a career in forensics and apply today for our graduate program. Applicants who lack coursework in the core sciences (biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology) may enroll in our Pathway course to receive the preparation necessary to enter the MS program.

How do I apply?
  1. Review PCOM's application requirements.
  2. Submit your application through PCOM's online application portal.

Once your application is received by our admissions staff, you will be contacted via email with a confirmation of receipt along with reminders of the appropriate steps to complete the admissions process. For details, see the admissions requirements section of the application requirements page.


The Pathway course is a 10-week, online summer course in general biology, and human anatomy and physiology. Upon successfully completion of the program, students may advance to the MS program.

What courses will I take?

MS program courses may include:

  • Pathology
  • Research design and methodology
  • Bioethics
  • Law and evidentiary procedure

Visit our course sequence page for additional information.

How long does it take to complete the MS degree program?

The program takes approximately 24 months to complete.

Visit our frequently asked questions page for more information.


PCOM is committed to helping students maximize funding sources and minimize student debt. Visit our Office of Financial Aid section to learn about cost of attendance, types of aid available and how to apply for financial aid.

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