The major in Forensic Science is designed to academically prepare students seeking to work in a forensic science laboratory or who are planning to pursue careers closely related to the field of forensic science. The major draws from the biological sciences, chemistry, and physics, as well as from the fields of criminal justice and the law, and includes significant hands-on laboratory training.
The degree is generated from a cross-disciplinary perspective, blending faculty expertise from both the criminal justice and science program areas. A principal focus of the program is to prepare students for entry-level positions and for advancement in various occupations and professions in the criminal justice and forensic science areas. The faculty encourages wide and varied preparation in both the liberal arts and sciences to provide students with an appreciation of the scientific and social environment of crime and criminal justice.
As students prepare for a career in forensic science, they should be aware of various sub-disciplines within the broad category of forensic science, in which they may direct their focus. For example, forensic laboratory positions may be categorized as Forensic Scientist, Forensic Technician, Forensic Examiner or Criminalist, but various disciplines will require specific coursework.
Examples are as follows:
DNA/Serology. Coursework should follow the Biology Emphasis and include genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, recombinant DNA technology and other subjects, such as statistics, which provide a basic understanding of the foundations of forensic DNA analysis.
Trace Evidence. Coursework should follow the Chemistry Emphasis and include organic and inorganic chemistry, as well as other subjects, such as forensic chemistry and forensic microscopy, which focus on the application of various techniques to the analysis of forensic evidence.
Drug Chemistry/Toxicology. Coursework should follow the Chemistry Emphasis and include organic chemistry, quantitative analysis, and instrumental analysis, as well as forensic chemistry. Students will learn how analytical techniques are applied to the analysis of illicit drugs and toxicological specimens.
Physical Evidence. Coursework may follow either the Biology or Chemistry Emphases and may include additional subjects, such as fingerprint evidence and forensic microscopy, which provide a scientific foundation for the analysis of forensic evidence, such as firearms and toolmarks, questioned documents and fingerprint evidence.
Students majoring in this degree should work closely with their academic advisor to ensure proper coursework is taken for the student’s preferred career option.