Certificate in Forensic Science

The mission of the FIU Forensic Science Certificate program is to provide students with additional in-depth coursework and hands-on training to facilitate their successful entry into a forensic laboratory position. The field of forensic science is interdisciplinary and requires significant academic and laboratory training in the natural sciences. The overall goal of the program is to deliver further technical preparation to become a working forensic scientist beyond that typically offered at the undergraduate level.

Graduates of the FIU Forensic Science Certificate Program have accepted positions in government crime laboratories and regulatory agencies, private sector forensic enterprises, and pharmaceutical companies. Others have gone on to pharmacy school or M.S. and Ph.D. programs in forensic science.

Administered by the International Forensic Research Institute (IFRI), the program is an FIU academic certificate that consists of three specialized forensic courses plus a relevant elective course. The program also includes an internship performed at a government or private sector forensic laboratory.

The program is suitable for FIU B.S. students majoring in chemistry or biology who wish to enter the field of forensic science. Recent studies confirm that crime lab directors have a preference for the B.S. in chemistry/biochemistry, followed by biology and forensic science degrees with significant chemistry components (minimum of 6 semesters on average) [1-2]. The FIU Certificate in Forensic Science program is accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) http://fepac-edu.org/accredited-universities provided that it is accompanied by a B.S. degree in chemistry or biology from FIU. Recent student and program outcome data can be found here.

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The program also allows FIU B.A. students and other persons in the community who have already earned a B.S. or B.A. in chemistry, biology, or a natural science from another institution to work toward and receive a non-accredited Certificate in Forensic Science. The grade transcript for students who have not earned a B.S. in chemistry or biology from FIU will be evaluated to confirm that their course preparation is equivalent to that of the relevant FIU major before being admitted to the program.

Note: Students aspiring to work in the field of forensic science are normally required to undergo a thorough background check. A past criminal record (arrests and/or convictions) will usually disqualify a person to work in this field. In addition, most forensic science employers will not hire anyone with a history of illicit drug abuse.

The prerequisites for admission to the Forensic Science Certificate program are as follows:

• 1 calculus course (3 credits)

• 1 statistics course (3 credits)

• 1 general biology course with lab (4 credits)

• 2 physics courses with labs (8 credits)

• 2 general chemistry courses with labs (8 credits)

• 2 organic chemistry courses with labs (8 credits)

• 1 analytical chemistry course with lab (4 credits)

• 1 biological chemistry/biochemistry course (3 credits)

Once admitted to the program, Certificate students must complete the required forensic coursework (total of 16 credits):

• CHS 3501 / CHS 3501L Survey of Forensic Science with lab (4)

• CHS 4503C Forensic Science (3), or CHM 5542 Forensic Chemistry (3)

• CHS 3511C Forensic Evidence (3), or CHS 5535 Forensic Analysis (3)

• BSC 4401 Principles of Forensic Biology (3), CHS 4533C Forensic Biochemistry Applications, or BSC 5406 Forensic Biology (3)

• CHS 4591 Forensic Science Internship (3), or CHS 6946 Graduate Forensic Internship (3)

In addition, the student must complete one elective course (total of 3-4 credits) chosen from the following or another selected in consultation with the Certificate Program Director:

• PCB 4524 & PCB 4524L Molecular Biology with lab (4);

• PCB 3063 & PCB 3063L Genetics with lab (4);

• BOT 1010 Introductory Botany (3);

• CHM 4130 & CHM 4130L Instrumental Analysis with lab (4);

• CHS 5539 Forensic Toxicology (3);

• CHS 5538C Chemistry and Analysis of Drugs (3);

• CCJ 3024 The Criminal Justice System (3);

• CCJ 3651 Drugs and Crime (3).

• CCJ 4225 The Courts and Forensic Science (3).

• GLY 3039 Environmental Geology (3);

• SOP 4842 Legal Psychology (3);

Steps Required to Complete the Certificate Program in Forensic Science:

Note: A MINIMUM of a 2.5 overall GPA is REQUIRED for admission to the Forensic Science Certificate Program.

1. Students MUST be advised by the Program Director prior to admission to the program.

2. Students complete the application form and turn in the completed application to the IFRI secretary (Pupi Tomassini) in OE116. This form provides the Registrar's Office with both the information and the authorization needed to officially recognize the student as "certificate-seeking."

3. Once the application is approved by the Certificate Program Director, it is forwarded to the Registrar's office and a file is created for the student and kept in the IFRI offices.

4. The student will receive a letter from the Certificate Program Director informing them that they are admitted to the Certificate Program and they can begin taking the forensic courses.

5. In the last semester or two of the program, the student meets again with the Certificate Program Director to arrange for an internship at an operational laboratory.

6. Student then notifies the Certificate Program Director that all the required courses (including the internship) have been completed.

7. The Certificate Program Director verifies completion of all the program requirements and submits a request for awarding the Certificate to the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences who then forwards the request to the Office of the Registrar.

8. The Certificate is sent back to the Certificate Program Director to be given to the student.

9. An exit interview with the student is conducted by the Program Director and an Exit Survey is completed by the student.

The Certificate is awarded at the time of award of the Bachelor's degree or upon completion of this work if the student already has a Bachelor's degree. Students are also encouraged to take the General Knowledge Exam of the American Board of Criminalistics immediately following the completion of the Certificate requirements. A FEPAC-accredited M.S. in Forensic Science is also available and any equivalent graduate level Certificate courses taken may also be applied to the M.S.F.S. Program. Please visit the website http:/ifri.fiu.eduacademic-programs/ms-in-forensic-science/ for more information on the FIU M.S.F.S. program.

[1] Furton, K.G., Hsu, Y.L. and Cole, M.D. (1999). What educational background is required by crime laboratory directors? J. Forensic Sci. 44, 128-132.

[2] Almirall, J.R. and Furton, K.G. (2003). Trends in forensic science education: expansion and increased accountability, Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 376, 1156-1159.

Student success data for the Certificate program can be found here