Forensic Science Graduate Degree Program


Nebraska Wesleyan University offers a 42-credit-hour forensic science program through which graduate students may earn a Master of Forensic Science (MFS) or a Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS).

NWU’s forensic science graduate program prepares students to be leaders in forensic science as law enforcement, crime scene investigators or forensic laboratory specialists. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The MSFS program is accredited by the Forensic Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).

Three Tracks, Two Degrees

The first year curriculum focuses on giving graduate students a broad-based knowledge of the forensic sciences. During the second year, students choose between three tracks of specialization.

The difference between the two degrees is that the MSFS degree is a way for schools to recognize natural science coursework.

Undergraduate Opportunities

The Forensic Science Pre-professional Program offers current NWU undergraduates an opportunity to apply to the Forensic Science Program during their junior year. Accepted pre-professional students can begin taking graduate courses while completing their undergraduate coursework. Relevant credits will apply to both degrees. This approach allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in their chosen discipline and a master’s degree in forensic science within roughly five and a half years.

NWU also offers an undergraduate minor in forensic science. The 19-credit minor is available to all students and isn’t a prerequisite for entrance into Nebraska Wesleyan’s graduate program in forensic science. Completing a forensic science minor does not guarantee a student’s admittance into the graduate program.

Forensic Science Seminars

Nebraska Wesleyan University also offers the opportunity to learn about the latest developments in forensic science conveniently and affordably.

The Forensic Science Seminars help prepare students to be leaders in the field of forensic science as law enforcement professionals, crime scene investigators, or forensic laboratory specialists. Courses provide college credit. Recent seminars have covered these topics:

  • Firearm evidence analysis
  • Interviewing
  • Fire scene investigations
  • Crime scene imaging
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Forensic linguistics

For additional information, contact Denise L. Polson at dpolson [at] or 402.465.2329. Also see Forensic Science Seminars page.

Focus on Experience

Nebraska Wesleyan’s forensic science graduate program focuses on building real-life experiences. The university offers a designated Crime Scene House adjacent to campus. Here, faculty and advanced students (or “faux felons”) develop scenarios and create mock crime scenes. Students from all three tracks work together to process the scene, analyze blood spatter, collect DNA evidence, develop latent fingerprints and reconstruct the crime. Over the course of 10 months, students identify a suspect and testify before a mock grand jury.

Career Successes

NWU forensic science graduates and faculty are making a difference in a number of venues. They’ve examined improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan and identified remains of earthquake victims in Haiti. They’ve profiled serial killers and helped catch rapists in Nebraska. Graduates are FBI special agents, firearm and toolmark examiners, DNA analysts, forensic scientists, police detectives and lab technicians working across the country.

Degree Requirements

All incoming forensic science graduate students take the same core courses their first year. Over the next summer, they complete a two-week internship with a medical examiner or coroner.

In the second year, students take classes specific to their track. They also participate in a yearlong crime scene investigation course that counts for two credits.

The last class for most students is “Forensic Science 599”. This course involves research or internship work relevant to students’ individual interests and concentrations.

For most students, the program takes two and a half years to complete.

Convenient Class Schedules

Courses are offered mainly on alternating Friday evenings and Saturdays to allow professionals working full-time to obtain the advanced degree. Entering students begin only in the fall semester so classes remain together throughout the program.

Research Experiences

Nebraska Wesleyan’s forensic science program offers space and equipment dedicated exclusively to student research. Students identify research opportunities on internships or in the lab. Forensic science faculty support students’ individual interests.

Recent research publications and presentations include:

  • Antonina Anderson-Trumble, A Look at Student Perspectives of Inappropriate Behaviors Occurring on Campus. Presented at the Annual IAI International Educational Conference, International Association of Identification, August 7-13 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Nicole Horn, Instrumental Method Development for the Testing of Neutral Extractable Pesticides for Midwest Laboratories, Inc.
  • Shaun Loeffelman, Evaluation of the Abbot AxSYM System in Regards to Accuracy and Cross-Reactivity Relating to Abused Drug Assays
  • Amber Moeding, How Acrylic Latex Enamel Paint Affects Obtaining Useable Deoxyribonucleic Acid and STR-profiles
  • Angie Olson, Processing Thermal Paper for Latent Prints-Validation Study. Poster presented at the meetings of the Nebraska Division of the International Association of Identification, April 6 in Gretna, NE.
  • Brandy Porter, Analysis of Matrix Metalloproteinase-7 Levels in Blood Evidence to Identify Menstrual Blood
  • Calissa Smith-Carper, Ejection Patterning: The Effects of Impact Surface Types and Composition of Cartridge Cases. Presented at the ATF National Firearms Examiner Academy in Ammendale, MD.
  • Gabrielle Toy, Scavenging in Nebraska: An Attempt to Isolate Avian Patterns
  • Kimberly Van Den Akker, Documentation of Blood Evidence on Stained Wood Surfaces Using Infrared Photography. Presented at the 2010 meetings of the Nebraska Division of the International Association of Identification in Gretna, NE.
  • Theresa Wadkins, Campus Security Officers’ Perceptions of Stalking Behavior. Paper presented at the Eightieth Annual Convention of the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association, April 15-17, 2010 in Denver, CO.
  • Kevin Willis, Decomposition of Child-Sized Remains in Dumpsters. Poster presented at the 2009 meetings of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Denver, CO.

To Learn More

To learn more about the three tracks of forensic science specializations, click on one of the links below.

Or, contact:

University College
Denise L. Polson, Administrative Assistant and Graduate Forensic Science Recruiter
Burt Hall 107
dpolson [at]

Contact Us

For questions or to find out more about our program, contact us.