Chair: Timothy Palmbach, M.S., J.D.
Forensic science is a broad, interdisciplinary field in which the natural sciences are employed to analyze and evaluate physical evidence in matters of the law. This program provides an advanced technical background for those wishing to enter the criminalistics field as professional laboratory examiners.
The program and courses stress not only up-to-date analytical and scientific methods but also a broad understanding of the concepts underlying the forensic sciences. Other important skills such as expert testimony are a key component. Degree programs in forensic science require a sequence of core courses and a flexible offering of electives designed to meet individual interests. All students must complete a high-quality thesis under the supervision of an individually-suited forensic science faculty member.
For admission, students must have an undergraduate degree in a natural science (chemistry, biology, or physics) or forensic science from an accredited institution. Applicants should have taken at least one year of general chemistry with lab, one year of organic chemistry with lab, and one semester of instrumental analysis or analytical chemistry with lab. A semester of biochemistry with lab and a year of physics with lab are highly recommended. Good academic performance in these courses is an important admissions factor.
For applicants planning to pursue forensic biology, recommended undergraduate course work includes biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, statistics, and population genetics, or other subjects that provide foundation knowledge for forensic DNA analysis. Applications are strengthened by an overall undergraduate average of at least 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale) and grades of B or better in science and mathematics courses. Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test and submit their scores to Graduate Admissions as part of their application. Applications are strengthened by verbal scores falling at or above the 50th percentile and by quantitative/analytical scores falling at or above the 70th percentile.
Applications must be accompanied by two letters of recommendation. Letters should come from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic skills, performance, and promise. Typically, such recommenders are current or former professors and/or employers. Applications should be accompanied by a short (no more than one page) statement that addresses the basis of the applicant’s interest in forensic science as well as personal and professional goals and how completion of this degree program is expected to further those goals.
Admission to the forensic science program is granted for the fall semester only. The application deadline for the forensic science program is March 1 for the following fall semester. Applicants may expect an admissions decision about the middle of March in the year for which they have applied.