Thesis or Non-Thesis?

The Forensic Medicine program offers both a Thesis and a Non-Thesis option. Both are 37-credit Master of Science degrees.

Which track is right for you?

  • Thesis: Begin or advance your academic career. Writing a thesis is good preparation for future academic work and the rigors of Ph.D. or other Doctoral program. If you are interested in engaging in academically intense supervised research that could be published in scientific journals, the Thesis option is for you!
  • Non-Thesis: Explore specialized sub-fields of forensic medicine and apply this knowledge to your career. By taking additional electives to reach the 37-credit degree requirement, you will have the opportunity to discover areas of interest in forensic medicine.   For example, if you are interested in a career as a Crime Scene Investigator, taking Principles of Crime Scene Investigation, then both the online and in-person lab electives for Forensic Photography and/or Bloodstain Pattern Analysis would give you a competitive edge.  Likewise, if you are interested in a career in Medicolegal Death Investigation, taking Forensic Medicine 1 and 2 and Artifacts of Decomposition followed by the online elective of Forensic Medicine 3 and the in-person lab of Artifacts of Decomposition would give you a competitive edge.  If you are interested in finding your niche and exploring it at a greater depth, the Non-Thesis option is for you!

Thesis Requirements and Considerations

Thesis vs. Non-Thesis Required Courses

Course #Course NameCreditsRequired for Non-Thesis Track?Required for Thesis Track?
GMS6360Principles of Forensic Medicine 14XX
GMS6361Principles of Forensic Medicine 24XX
GMS6362Principles of Crime Scene Investigation3XX
GMS6352Artifacts of Decomposition3XX
GMS6354Communication Skills in a Forensic Context3XX
GMS6351Trauma Analysis3XX
GMS6363Principles of Osteology3XX
GMS6905Independent Studies in Forensic Medicine (Literature Review)*2XX
GMS6905Independent Studies in Medical Sciences (Final Exit Exam)**1XX
GMS6971Research for Master’s Thesis***6X
Elective Course 13XX
Elective Course 23XX
Elective Course 33X
Elective Course 43X

*Thesis students may submit the literature review portion of their formal master’s thesis as the program literature review for the GMS6905 course; they do not need to complete a separate literature review paper for this course if also completing a thesis to submit to the Graduate School.

**Thesis students will complete a defense of their master’s thesis in their final semester but will also be expected to complete a comprehensive exit exam in their final semester as well.  This exam will be different than the comprehensive exit exam taken by non-thesis students.

***Thesis students must take a minimum of 6 credit hours of GMS6971 in order to meet the Graduate School’s thesis requirements.  They may take more if they so choose, however students may not take all 6 credit hours in the same semester and may not register for more than 4 credits of GMS6971 in any single semester. All thesis students must be registered for 3 credits of GMS6971 in their graduating semester in order to meet the requirements of the UF Graduate School.

It is the responsibility of the student to contact the Program Director, Dr. Lerah Sutton, directly via email no later than the end of their second semester in the program to state their intent to complete a thesis.  This email must also contain a project proposal that must be approved prior to beginning work on the thesis track.  Students will not be eligible to register for GMS6905: Literature Review or GMS6971: Thesis Research without an approved thesis project proposal.  

We recommend the following course planning structure for students on the thesis track.

  • Take 2 credits of GMS6905: Literature Review early-on in their degree process (i.e., 2nd or 3rd semester in the program), after having received written approval of their thesis project proposal.  This allows students to formalize a topic of study and complete the literature review that will serve as the introduction portion of their thesis.
  • Take 3+ credits of GMS6971 in a subsequent semester.  During this semester, students will complete the bulk of the remaining work associated with their thesis project.  Regular meetings with their thesis advisor will be scheduled during this first batch of GMS6971 credits to ensure appropriate progress is being made toward thesis completion.
  • Take 3+ credits of GMS6971 in their graduating semester.  This allows students to make any final edits to their written thesis document, schedule and complete the oral defense of their thesis, and submit the completed thesis document to the UF Graduate School in accordance with graduation requirements.

The UF Graduate School offers tips and resources for writing your thesis.

Students must maintain the following criteria in order to remain eligible for participation in the thesis track and seeking internship opportunities:

  • Have a strong academic standing with a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • No incompletes and/or pending withdrawals
  • No record of academic and/or professional disciplinary action

A degree audit will be performed for all students prior to registration for GMS6971 each semester.  If the above criteria are not met, they will not be eligible to register for the thesis research course or to continue on the thesis track.