BS in Forensic Science

The College of Science offers two undergraduate degrees in forensic science:  Forensic Biology and Forensic Chemistry.  To declare a major in forensic science, students must have an overall GPA of at least 2.5 and a math/science GPA of at least 2.5.  Both degrees are very rigorous and contain at least 86 semester hours in science and mathematics.  Many forensic scientists work in crime laboratories. For example, a forensic biologist usually specializes in DNA analysis or continues to medical school to pursue a career as a medical examiner; a forensic chemist analyzes non-biological trace evidence found at crime scenes in order to identify unknown materials and match samples to known substances.   

In order to find employment in the forensic science field, you need a master’s degree.  At the present time, UTEP does not offer a graduate degree in forensic science; however, a master’s degree in Biology with an emphasis on DNA analysis or a master's in chemistry with an emphasis on gas chromatography and spectrophotometry will prepare you for work in a forensic lab.  A GPA of at least 3.0 is required for graduate school.

Marketable Skills

Forensic Biologists:[i]

Forensic biologists utilize scientific methodology and analyses to investigate evidence such as human, animal or plant remains, DNA traces, physical material like clothing fibers, and other material that can be helpful to legal investigations. Forensic biologists have degrees in either forensic science or biological sciences with a focus on forensics, and they may work for law enforcement or government agencies, private and consulting companies that specialize in laboratory analyses, or at universities.

Training for forensic biologists, depending on the specialty, includes university courses in biology (including entomology and botany), chemistry, human and animal pathology, biochemistry, and DNA analysis techniques. In order to interact with and advise law enforcement officials, additional courses in the areas of mathematics, physics, and criminal justice are often included in forensic biologist training at the university level. Additional training may involve the collection of evidence at mock crime scenes, and subsequent analyses in the laboratory. These analyses may include analytical techniques for the identification of blood and bodily secretions, DNA, pathology, and other forms of potential evidence. Such training gives forensic biologists a basic understanding of scientific principles and standard practices for laboratory documentation with appropriate methodology. Courses in criminal justice instill a basic understanding of the judicial process, including criminal trials, and standard procedures for the handling and analysis of evidence.

Once these analyses are completed, the forensic biologist will write and submit technical reports (albeit in laymen's terms) of their findings to law enforcement officers or courts of law. Due to a recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court, attorneys representing individuals accused of a crime have the right to cross-examine the individual who conducted forensic tests of relevant evidence. And thus, forensic biologists will often be required to testify as an expert witness in a court of law about the findings in their reports.

Forensic Chemist:[ii]

Forensic chemists analyze non-biological trace evidence found at crime scenes in order to identify unknown materials and match samples to known substances. They also analyze drugs/controlled substances taken from scenes and people in order to identify and sometimes quantify these materials.

A strong background in chemistry and instrumental analysis and a good grounding in criminalistics are vital. An undergraduate degree in forensic science or a natural science is required for work in crime laboratories, with extensive coursework in mathematics, chemistry, and biology. More advanced positions, such as lab managers and supervisors, require a master’s degree. A Ph.D. is often preferred for advancement to positions such as lab director.

Those interested in working with trace evidence, such as glass, hairs, and gunshot residue, should focus on instrumentation skills and take courses in geology, soil chemistry, and materials science. If forensic biology, such as DNA analysis, is preferred, take microbiology, genetics, and biochemistry courses. Those interested in the toxicological aspects of this work, such as obtaining and interpreting toxicology reports, should study physiology, biochemistry, and chemistry.

There are jobs with a BS in Forensic Science; however, they run around $42,000.  With a graduate degree and experience, you can almost double this salary. 

To be successful in this field you must have a strong background in science and mathematics and be able to communicate because you may be an expert witness in a jury trial.  Most of all you need to be analytical.


 

[i] American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) http://aafs.org/ or

[ii] American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) http://aafs.org/ 

Degree Plans

BS in Forensic Science with a concentration in Forensic Biology 

Forensic biologists utilize scientific methodology and analyses to investigate evidence such as human, animal or plant remains, DNA traces, physical material like clothing fibers, and other material that can be helpful to legal investigations. Forensic biologists have degrees in either forensic science or biological sciences with a focus on forensics, and they may work for law enforcement or government agencies, private and consulting companies that specialize in laboratory analyses, or at universities.

Training for forensic biologists, depending on the specialty, includes university courses in biology (including entomology and botany), chemistry, human and animal pathology, biochemistry, and DNA analysis techniques. In order to interact with and advise law enforcement officials, additional courses in the areas of mathematics, physics, and criminal justice are often included in forensic biologist training at the university level. Additional training may involve collection of evidence at mock crime scenes, and subsequent analyses in the laboratory. These analyses may include analytical techniques for the identification of blood and bodily secretions, DNA, pathology, and other forms of potential evidence. Such training gives forensic biologists a basic understanding of scientific principles, and standard practices for laboratory documentation with appropriate methodology. Courses in criminal justice instill a basic understanding of the judicial process, including criminal trials, and standard procedures for the handling and analysis of evidence.

Once these analyses are completed, the forensic biologist will write and submit technical reports (albeit in laymen's terms) of their findings to law enforcement officers or courts of law. Due to a recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court, attorneys representing individuals accused of a crime have the right to cross examine the individual who conducted forensic tests of relevant evidence. And thus, forensic biologists will often be required to testify as an expert witness in a court of law about the findings in their reports.

Designated Core
**Although the UTEP choice is larger, these choices satisfy the requirements of both the core and the major
All courses listed below are required:
Social and Behavioral Sciences
PSYC 1301Introduction to Psychology3
Language, Philosophy and Culture
PHIL 2306Ethics3
Mathematics
Required:
MATH 1411Calculus I4
Life and Physical Sciences
Select one of the following sequences:8
General Physics I
and General Physics II
Or
PHYS 2420
PHYS 2421
Introductory Mechanics
and Introductory Electromagnetism
8
University Core Curriculum
Forensic Science Major C
Required:
BIOL 1107Topics in Study of Life I1
BIOL 1108Organismal Biology Laboratory1
BIOL 1305General Biology3
BIOL 1306Organismal Biology3
CHEM 1105Laboratory for CHEM 13051
CHEM 1106Laboratory for CHEM 13061
CHEM 1305General Chemistry3
CHEM 1306General Chemistry3
CHEM 2124Lab for Organic Chemistry 23241
CHEM 2125Lab for Organic Chemistry 23251
CHEM 2324Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 2325Organic Chemistry3
CRIJ 1301Intro to Criminal Justice I3
STAT 2480Elementary Statistical Methods4
Specialized Science Courses C
Select twelve hours from the following:12
Molecular Cell Biology
Molecular Cell Biol Laboratory
Genetics
Toxicology
Topics in Biology
Analytical Chemistry
Biochem I:Struc & Function
Biochem II: Metabol & Bioenerg
Physical Chemistry I
Physical Chemistry II
Instrumental Meths Analyt Chem
Lab for Chemistry 4211
Inorganic Chemistry
Gen Microbiology Laboratory
General Microbiology
Additional Coursework C
Select twelve hours from the following:12
Toxicology
Forensic DNA Analysis
Forensic Pathobiology
Forensic Science I
Forensic Biology
Or any forensic biology/chemistry course with a lab component. Forensic science internships or independent studies/ research may be used to fulfill up to six hours of this requirement. C
Select one of the following:3
Toxicology
Forensic DNA Analysis
Forensic Pathobiology
Forensic Science I
Forensic Biology
Forensic Biology Track C
Concentration
Select twenty additional hours of upper-division Biology, Microbiology and/or CBCH courses from the following:20
Molecular Cell Biol Laboratory
Ecology Laboratory
Professional Development Sem.
Molecular Cell Biology
Ecology
Genetics
Evolution
Plants and People
Toxicology
Forensic DNA Analysis
Forensic Pathobiology
Advanced Methods in Biology
Special Problems
Field Biology
Special Problems
G Protein-Coupled Recept Biol
Endocrinology
Developmental Biology
Genetic, Env & Evol - Anim Beh
Field Biology
Animal Ecology
Cancer Biology
History/Philosophy-Biology
Mammalian Physiology
Biological Practicum
Topics in Biology
Special Problems
Membrane Biology
Techniques in Mol Biochem
Adv Topics in Mil Biochem
Cellular Biochemistry
Pathogenic Microbiology Lab
Microbial Physiology Lab
Pathogenic Microbiology
Microbial Physiology
Immunology Laboratory
Epidemiology
General Virology
Immunology
MICR 4355Medical Mycology3
Upper Division Requirement C
A total of thirty-seven hours of upper division coursework is required for all Bachelor of Science degrees.
C. Grades on all Courses must be C or better

BS in Forensic Science with a concentration in Forensic Chemistry  

Forensic chemists analyze non-biological trace evidence found at crime scenes in order to identify unknown materials and match samples to known substances. They also analyze drugs/controlled substances taken from scenes and people in order to identify and sometimes quantify these materials.

A strong background in chemistry and instrumental analysis and a good grounding in criminalistics are vital. An undergraduate degree in forensic science or a natural science is required for work in crime laboratories, with extensive coursework in mathematics, chemistry, and biology. More advanced positions, such as lab managers and supervisors, require a master’s degree. A Ph.D. is often preferred for advancement to positions such as lab director.

Those interested in working with trace evidence, such as glass, hairs, and gunshot residue, should focus on instrumentation skills and take courses in geology, soil chemistry, and materials science. If forensic biology, such as DNA analysis, is preferred, take microbiology, genetics, and biochemistry courses. Those interested in the toxicological aspects of this work, such as obtaining and interpreting toxicology reports, should study physiology, biochemistry, and chemistry.

Designated Core
**Although the UTEP choice is larger, these choices satisfy the requirements of both the core and the major. All courses listed within this degree area require a grade of C or better for successful completion.
All courses listed below are required:
Language, Philosophy and Culture
PHIL 2306Ethics3
Social and Behavioral Sciences
PSYC 1301Introduction to Psychology3
Life and Physical Sciences
Introductory Mechanics
and Introductory Electromagnetism
Mathematics
Calculus I
University Core Curriculum
NOTE: The department may make specific suggestions for courses which are most applicable towards your major. Psychology and Criminal Justice majors and minors are required to take MATH 1320 or a higher level Calculus course. Business majors are required to take MATH 1320 or a higher level Calculus course. NOTE: All courses require a C or better
Forensic Science Major C
Required:
Lab for Organic Chemistry 2324
and Organic Chemistry
AND
Lab for Organic Chemistry 2325
and Organic Chemistry
OR
Organic Chemistry I Lab
and Organic Chemistry I
AND
Organic Chemistry II Lab
and Organic Chemistry II
Required:
BIOL 1107Topics in Study of Life I1
BIOL 1108Organismal Biology Laboratory1
BIOL 1305General Biology3
BIOL 1306Organismal Biology3
CHEM 1105Laboratory for CHEM 13051
CHEM 1106Laboratory for CHEM 13061
CHEM 1305General Chemistry3
CHEM 1306General Chemistry3
CRIJ 1301Intro to Criminal Justice I3
STAT 2480Elementary Statistical Methods4
Specialized Science Courses C
Select twelve hours from the following:12
Molecular Cell Biology
and Molecular Cell Biol Laboratory
Genetics
Toxicology
Topics in Biology
Lab for Chemistry 3310
Lab for Chemistry 3351
Analytical Chemistry
Lab for Chemistry 3352
Biochem I:Struc & Function
Biochem II: Metabol & Bioenerg
Physical Chemistry I
Physical Chemistry II
Instrumental Meths Analyt Chem
and Lab for Chemistry 4211
Inorganic Chemistry
Gen Microbiology Laboratory
and General Microbiology
Additional Coursework C
Select twelve hours from the following:12
Toxicology
Forensic DNA Analysis
Forensic Pathobiology
Forensic Science I
Forensic Biology
or any forensic biology/ chemistry course with a lab component, forensic science internships or independent studies/ research may be used to fulfill this requirement.
Forensic Chemistry Track C
Concentration
Select twenty additional hours of upper-division Chemistry:20
Lab for Chemistry 3310
Lab for Chemistry
Lab for Chemistry 3351
Lab for Chemistry 3352
Molecular Modeling & Chem Info
Analytical Chemistry
Biochem I:Struc & Function
Biochem II: Metabol & Bioenerg
Physical Chemistry I
Physical Chemistry II
Structural Biochemistry Lab
Inorganic Chemistry Lab
Introduction to Research
Instrumental Meths Analyt Chem
Lab for Chemistry 4211
Advanced Topics Organic Chem
Structural Biochemistry
Biophysical Chemistry
Structure of Matter
Inorganic Chemistry
Introduction to Research
Upper Division Requirement C
A total of thirty-seven hours of upper division coursework is required for all Bachelor of Science degrees.
C. Grades on all Courses must be C or better

University Core Curriculum

NOTE: The department may make specific suggestions for courses which are most applicable towards your major.

Psychology and Criminal Justice majors and minors are required to take MATH 1320 Math for Social Sciences I or a higher level Calculus course.

Business majors are required to take MATH 1320 Math for Social Sciences I or a higher level Calculus course.

NOTE: All courses require a C or better

Communication (six hours)

The objective of the communication component is to enable the student to communicate effectively in clear and correct prose or orally in a style appropriate to the subject, occasion, and audience.
Select six hours of the following: 6
For students whose secondary education was in English:
Written and Oral Communication
Writing About Literature
Rhetoric & Composition I
Rhetoric & Composition 2
Rhetoric, Composition & Comm
For students whose secondary education was not in English:
ESOL 1311Expos Engl Compos-Spkr Esl3
ESOL 1312Res & Crit Writng Spkr Esl3
Total Hours12

American History (six hours)

The objectives of the history component are to expand students’ knowledge of the origin and history of the U.S., their comprehension of the past and current role of the U.S. in the world, and their ability to critically evaluate and analyze historical evidence. U.S. history courses (three hours must be Texas history) include:
HIST 1301History of U.S. to 18653
HIST 1302History of U.S. Since 18653
Total Hours6

Language, Philosophy & Culture  (three hours)

The objective of the humanities component is to expand students' knowledge of the human condition and human cultures, especially in relation to behaviors, ideas, and values expressed in works of human imagination and thought. Through study in disciplines such as literature and philosophy, students engage in critical analysis and develop an appreciation of the humanities as fundamental to the health and survival of any society.
Select one of the following:3
Latina/o Presence in the U.S.
English Literature
English Literature
Intro to American Fiction
Intro to American Drama
Intro to American Poetry
Making of the "Other" Americas
World History to 1500
World History Since 1500
Introduction to Philosophy
Ethics
Introduct to Religious Studies
Seeing & Naming: Conversations
Introduction to Womens Studies
Global Feminisms
Total Hours3

Mathematics  (three hours)

The objective of the mathematics component is to develop a quantitatively literate college graduate. Every college graduate should be able to apply basic mathematical tools in the solution of real-world problems.
Select one of the following:3
College Algebra
Trigonometry and Conics
Math in the Modern World
Math for Social Sciences I
Calculus I
Precalculus 1,2
Math for Social Sciences II
Statistical Literacy
Elementary Statistical Methods
1 A higher-level course in the calculus sequence can be substituted.
2 TCCN MATH 1314 will also satisfy this requirement.
Total Hours3

Life & Physical Sciences  (six hours)

The objective of the study of the natural sciences is to enable the student to understand, construct, and evaluate relationships in the natural sciences, and to enable the student to understand the bases for building and testing theories. The courses listed are for non-majors; the major courses in the discipline can be substituted for the non-major sequence. A minimum of two semesters of lecture and one semester of laboratory associated with one of the courses, or two semesters of combined (3 credit) lecture-laboratory courses (Only six hours apply toward the required 42.):
Select one of the following:1-4
Astronomy Lab I
Elem Astronomy-Solar System
Elem Astr Stars & Galaxies
Introductory Biology Lab
Human Biology Laboratory
Topics in Study of Life I
Organismal Biology Laboratory
Introductory Biology
Human Biology
General Biology
Organismal Biology
Human Anat/Physio Lab I
Human Anat/Physio Lab II
Human Anat/Physiology I
Human Anat/Physiology II
Laboratory for CHEM 1305
Laboratory for CHEM 1306
Intro General Chemistry Lab
Intro Organic & Biochem Lab
General Chemistry
General Chemistry
Intro to General Chemistry
Intro Organic & Biochemistry
Environmental Sci. Lab
Non-major Lab for ESCI 1301
Intro to Environment Science 2
Intro to Environmental Sci
Laboratory for GEOG 1306
Physical Geography
Lab for GEOL 1313
Lab for GEOL 1314
Principles of Earth Sci - Lab
Laboratory for Geology 1212
Principles of Earth Sciences
Principles of Earth Science
The Blue Planet
Natural Hazards
Intro to Physical Geology
Intro to Historical Geol
Fundamentals of Nutrition
Wellness Dynamics
Microorganisms and Disease
General Physics I
General Physics II
Introductory Mechanics
Introductory Electromagnetism
Total Hours1-4

Political Science  (six hours)

The objectives of the political science component are to expand students’ knowledge of the origin and evolution of the U.S. and Texas political systems, focusing on the growth of political institutions, and on the constitutions of Texas and the United States; and to enhance their understanding of federalism, states rights, and individual civil liberties, rights, and responsibilities.
Required Courses:
POLS 2310Introduction to Politics3
POLS 2311American Gover & Politics3
Total Hours6

Social and Behavioral Sciences  (three hours)

The objective of the social and behavioral science component is to increase students' knowledge of how social and behavioral scientists discover, describe, and explain the behaviors and interactions among individuals, groups, institutions, events, and ideas. Such knowledge will better equip students to understand themselves and the roles they play in addressing the issues facing humanity.
Select one of the following:3
Intro-Phys Anth/Archeolog
Intro-Cultural Anthropology
Cultural Geography
Intro to Linguistics
Econ for Engrs & Scientists
Interpersonal Communication
Mass Media and Society
Principles of Economics
Principles of Economics
Introduction to Ed Psychology
Action Research in Classrooms
Introduction to Linguistics
Cultural Geography
An Intro. to Linguistics
Lang. Inside & Out: Sel Topics
Introduction to Psychology
Introduction to Sociology
Cultural Geography
Total Hours3

 Creative Arts (three hours)

The objective of the visual and performing arts component is to expand students' knowledge and appreciation of the human imagination as expressed through works of visual art, dance, music, theatre and film. Through study in these disciplines, students will form aesthetic judgments and develop an appreciation of the arts as fundamental to the health and survival of any society.
Select one of the following:3
Art Appreciation
History of Art I
History of Art II
Dance Appreciation
Intro-Art of Motion Pict.
Music Appreciation
Jazz to Rock
Music, Culture, and Society
Introduction to Theatre
Total Hours3

Component Area Option (six hours)

The objective of the institutionally designated option component is to develop the critical thinking skills and academic tools required to be an effective learner. Special emphasis is placed on the use of technology in problem-solving, communications, and knowledge acquisition.
Select two of the following:6
Intro to Global Business
Public Speaking
Business/Profession Comm
Intro-Computational Thinking
Computer Programming Sci/Engr
Eng Innovation and Leadership
Inquiry in Math & Science
Seminar/Critical Inquiry
Total Hours6

To learn about the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) please click on the link.