SUU Reintroduces MSFS Grad Program, Unique in the Nation

Published: May 21, 2012 | Read Time: 3 minutes

This fall, Southern Utah University welcomes the return of the Master of Science in Forensic Science program after a nearly three-year hiatus. As part of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, the program distinguishes itself as the only one in the nation that emphasizes investigation and criminalistics in its curriculum.

“Traditional forensic science programs focus on the laboratory sciences but our program is very different,” said Dr. Carl Franklin, newly appointed director of the MSFS program at SUU. “We concentrate on the investigative process and help prepare students for a career in the field.”

According to Franklin, what distinguishes SUU’s program from that of other schools is that students receive considerably more hands-on experience in the investigatory realm, expanding their learning beyond the science lab and applying it in a crime scene environment. Emphasis on practical investigative methods and the means of proof applied in the courts make SUU’s program especially unique and highly pragmatic.

Shortfalls in state funding and changes within the forensic science industry initiated the suspension of SUU’s MSFS program in 2009. “We took the time away to evaluate our mission and how we can best serve our students,” said Dr. Franklin. Now operating with an inter-disciplinary approach, the program offers courses in criminalistics, forensic psychology and forensic computer science.

Marty Overly, a graduate of SUU’s MSFS program, says the program “gave me the tools I needed to get a great job in an exciting industry.” Overly works in the forensic science program at West Virginia University, coordinating its internship program. “The MSFS program at SUU propelled me into a career that I am passionate about,” he said. “It has given me the opportunity to make a satisfying contribution to the forensic community.”

The program, which can successfully be completed in 18 months, requires students to complete thirty hours of graduate credit, including an internship and a major research project.

Forensic science, in short, is the practical application of the scientific method to matters of law. The field encompasses many disciplines, including the physical and biological sciences, engineering, social science, medicine and business.
A sample of courses that make SUU’s program unique by focusing more on the investigative process include serial and mass murder investigation, forensic firearms examination and the very popular surveillance and intelligence in the criminal investigation.

SUU reopens its MSFS program with professors who come to SUU after years of experience in the field, working as everything from criminal investigators to prosecutors and judges. In addition to these full time faculty members, the MSFS program has partnered with current professionals in law enforcement, court and crime labs to help teach courses.

Additionally, there is talk the program will soon be expanded so that students can take advantage of both the MSFS program as well as the closely connected Master of Public Administration program at SUU. With just a few more credit hours than it would take to complete one of the graduate programs, students will be able to complete two graduate-level courses of study and will leave SUU with both a graduate diploma and additional certificate.

This is, according to criminal justice professor David Admire, “the best of both worlds—our graduates will find the best jobs and qualify for higher levels of advancement in their career when they are qualified as both a practitioner and administrator.”

Applications for the 2012-13 school year will be accepted until August. Interested students may visit or contact Dr. Carl Franklin at or 435-586-5429.

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