Biology Master of Science in Forensic Biology

This degree program involves a unique collaboration between the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center and the Department of Biological Sciences in training scientists with state-of-the-art knowledge and laboratory expertise in forensics.

General Requirements

A minimum of 40 graduate credits is required for the master's degree.

  1. Biology (30 credits):
    1. Required courses (18 credits):
      • Bio 515a (1 credit) Responsible Conduct and Skills in Research;
      • Bio 515b (1 credit) Responsible Conduct and Skills in Scientific Communication;
      • Bio 517a (1 credit) Current Literature in Forensic Biology I;
      • Bio 519/Ant 519 (3 credits) Human Population Genetics;
      • Bio 524 (3 credits) Advanced Molecular Biology;
      • Bio 514 (2 credits) Biotechnology Laboratory;
      • Bio 650 (0 credits) Graduate Research Seminar, for two semesters;
      • Bio 627 (1 credit) Courtroom Testimony for Forensic Scientists;
      • Bio 575 (3 credits) Forensic Biology Laboratory; and
      • Bio 577 (3 credits) Techniques in Forensic Science.
      • Students who have not had an undergraduate course in Genetics, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Immunology will be required to make up the deficiency by taking the appropriate undergraduate or graduate courses.
    2. Internship: Bio 698 (6 credits): Satisfactory completion of an internship in forensic biology laboratory for which 6 credits will be awarded. The results obtained during the internship will be the subject of a substantial written report which will be examined by a committee of three members, approved by the Graduate Examinations Committee.
    3. Biology electives: (6 credits) Two chosen from the following:
      • Bio 504 Cell Biology I (3 credits);
      • Bio 505 Cell Biology II (3 credits);  
      • Bio 513  Modern Use of Light Microscopy (3 credits);
      • Bio 521 Cell and Molecular Developmental Neurobiology (3 credits);
      • Bio 523 Biochemisty and Molecular Structure (3 credits); 
      • Bio 540 Principles of Bioinformatics (3 credits);
      • Bio 541 Molecular Neurobiology (3 credits);
      • Bio 563 Integrative Principles of Evolution (3 credits); and  
      • Bio 617 Molecular Evolution (3 credits).

  2. Supporting courses (8-12 credits). Required courses: Sta 552 Principles of Statistical Inference or Mat 565 Applied Statistics, Crj 626 Law and Science in Criminal Justice, and other courses in mathematics or statistics, business, biology, chemistry, psychology, and criminal justice as advised; courses in other fields with the formal consent of the advisor.

  3. Satisfactory completion of core and final examinations in Biology. The written internship report will serve as the final examination.

Admission for M.S. Programs

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited University or College, and are required to submit a University at Albany standard graduate application, 3 letters of recommendation, and all transcripts. Students applying for the Forensic Biology sequence must have completed, with a grade of C or better, the following courses: genetics, biochemistry, immunology, and molecular biology; and have received a baccalaureate in a natural science.

Core and Final Examinations in Biology

The graduate training program in the department is divided into two core areas:  (1) Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB), and (2) Molecular, Cellular, Developmental, and Neural Biology (MCDN).  Students lacking undergraduate courses in any of the four core areas may be required, at the discretion of their master's committees, to make up these deficiencies.

Students are expected to acquire and demonstrate by means of an examination a comprehensive insight into the current state of knowledge and the current problems in one of these core areas. They will choose this area in consultation with their advisor.

To assist in preparation for the core examination, the appropriate faculty groups will provide a reading list of textbooks and original papers directed to the more significant aspects of the field.

Core area examinations will be administered at the end of spring session of the student's first full year of study. Based on the student's performance, the appropriate core area faculty will recommend that the student: 1) pass; 2) be dropped from the departmental graduate program; 3) be allowed to continue and retake the examination at the next offering. Failure of this examination a second time necessarily will result in the academic dismissal from the master's program.

A final written or oral examination in the student's area of specialization (for students not registered for Bio 699), or an oral defense of the thesis (for those registered in Bio 699) must be passed prior to the receipt of the degree.

Please note: This program requires an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience requirement. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If you have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of your intended academic program.