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While some colleges offer minors or even majors in forensic science, appropriate training for a career in forensic science beyond the laboratory technician’s level really requires an advanced degree. The true forensic scientist must have credentials appropriate to allow him/her to testify in court as an “expert witness” with respect to the evidence he/she would present; and advanced training in the identification, gathering, and analysis of evidence is usually required to establish that he/she is indeed “expert”.

The ideal candidate for admission to M.S. and Ph.D. programs in forensic science is an undergraduate chemistry major who has breadth in the sciences and a basic understanding of the legal system. Any of the chemistry major programs described in this handbook may be augmented with coursework in the other natural and physical sciences, the social sciences, and/or criminal justice to enhance your preparation for graduate studies in forensic science. The manner in which you augment your major program should be consistent with your particular interests and ultimate career goals. However, you should at least consider adding several of the following elective options to your academic program:

ANT356, Forensic Anthropology
BIO201, Biology I
BIO202, Biology II
BIO301, Cell Biology
BIO302, Genetics
BIO321, Anatomy and Physiology I
BIO322, Anatomy and Physiology II
BIO417, Recombinant DNA Laboratory
CHM171, Elements of Forensic Science or CRJ371, Introduction to Forensic Science
CRJ399, Forensic Law
GEL101, Our Earth

You might also consider completing a minor in criminal justice consisting of the following courses, all related to your future as a forensic scientist:

CRJ101, Introduction to Criminal Justice
CRJ203, The Police Process
CRJ305, The Adjudication Process
CRJ313, Constitutional Criminal Procedures
CRJ371, Introduction to Forensic Science
CRJ375, Forensic Law

Finally, you should consider using summer internships and/or undergraduate research to give yourself exposure to the field of forensic before you commit yourself to graduate studies in forensic science. Recently, chemistry majors have done internships with the Onondaga County (NY) Medical Examiner’s Office, the Fulton County (GA) Medical Examiner’s Office, and Scotland Yard Crime Lab, and one student even worked as a paid assistant on a summer forensic science research project (firearms and ballistics) at the SUNY Graduate School of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.

Please feel free to consult with your advisor or Professors Kallen or Morris regarding graduate study and/or careers in forensic science.