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Forensic and Investigative Sciences

Explore a field of study where scientific knowledge and the search for justice meet. Forensic and investigative science majors develop skills in chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and more to make sure no piece of evidence goes unused. Forensic scientists might uncover evidence at the scene of a crime or apply their scientific knowledge to the analysis of evidence in the lab. Students leave our program with the skills needed to testify and present proper interpretation of evidence in a court of law. 

The forensic and investigative science major at WVU stands above all universities nationally with the largest forensic science and crime scene training complex in the country. Our faculty, with over 150 years of combined forensic crime laboratory experience, is dedicated to training the next generation of forensic leaders. 

How will I focus my studies?

The Department of Forensic and Investigative Sciences offers three tracks for students to choose from to focus their studies and customize their experience to fit their career goals.

Forensic examiner

Suggested dual majors: forensic chemistry, forensic biology or sociology and anthropology

This track prepares students for entry level positions as crime scene analysts, latent fingerprint examiners, forensic photographers, evidence technicians, investigators and law enforcement officers and agents. It also is well suited as a pre-professional program for dental, medical and law school. Working conditions are more variable than for the other tracks but are typically field and/or office based rather than laboratory based. Crime scene analysts are often part of major crime scene squads that collect and document evidence, but they rarely participate in the scientific examination of the evidence in the laboratory.

Forensic biology

Suggested dual major: biology 

This track prepares students for entry level positions in forensic labs as DNA analysts. It also is well suited as a pre-professional program and as excellent preparation for graduate work in biological disciplines. Forensic DNA work is a laboratory based profession with employment opportunities in local, state, federal and private laboratories. Forensic biologists typically do not do crime scene work on a routine basis, but may occasionally be called to a scene.

Forensic chemistry and toxicology 

Suggested dual majors: chemistry or biochemistry

This track prepares students for entry level positions in forensic labs as forensic chemists, arson analyst and investigator, forensic toxicologists and trace evidence examiners. Like the biology track, it too is well-suited as a pre-professional program and as excellent preparation for graduate work in biological disciplines. Forensic chemistry work is a laboratory-based profession with employment opportunities in local, state, federal, and private laboratories. Forensic chemists typically do not do crime scene work on a routine basis, but may occasionally be called to a scene.

Dual majors 

This track prepares students for entry level positions in forensic labs as forensic chemists, arson analyst and investigator, forensic toxicologists and trace evidence examiners. Like the biology track, it is well-suited as a pre-professional program and as excellent preparation for graduate work in biological disciplines. Forensic chemistry work is a laboratory-based profession with employment opportunities in local, state, federal and private laboratories. Forensic chemists typically do not do crime scene work on a routine basis, but may occasionally be called to a scene.

Minor

The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences offers a forensic and investigative science minor, both online and on-campus. The minor provides students with a broad-based understanding of the fundamentals of forensic science. The minor recognizes the growing national interest in forensic science by introducing students to the technical and legal aspects of the field.

The minor adds perspective and edge that can open the door to many careers. Students have the opportunity to experience basic issues and applications within the context of forensic science.

The convenience of online classes makes it easy for the working professional to use the minor in the Regents Bachelor of Arts and the multidisciplinary studies major.

Both the online and on-campus forensic and investigative science minor can benefit students in a variety of academic disciplines, including criminal justice, political science, psychology, sociology and history.

Allison Whitler, Bolingbrook, Ill.

Major: Forensic and Investigative Science
Minors: Psychology and Sociology
Allison WhitlerAllison Whitler knew early on that she wanted to combine law enforcement and applied science into a career as a forensic investigator. “I want to be able to tell the story of a crime scene,” she says, and“to be able to give a voice to those who no longer have one.” At WVU, Allison has studied everything from biology and chemistry to impression evidence, arson, and crime scene investigations. One class held a nighttime crime scene where she and her classmates were in charge of processing the scene and interpreting their findings. As an intern with the Orland Park Police Department, she applied her classroom experiences to working with Evidence Technicians on latent prints, crime scene investigations and forensic photography. Allison feels her internship and the research she has done in her major will help her as she applies for jobs in crime laboratories and other agencies.

Learn more at the Forensic and Investigative Sciences site