Forensic and Investigative Science
Explore a field of study where scientific knowledge and the search for justice meet. Forensic and investigative science students 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.
WVU undergraduate students can choose to major in forensic examiner, forensic biology or forensic chemistry or minor in forensic and investigative science. The forensic and investigative science majors at WVU stand above all universities nationally with the largest forensic science and crime scene training complex in the country. Our faculty, with over 300 years of combined forensic crime laboratory experience, is dedicated to training the next generation of forensic leaders.
The Department of Forensic and Investigative Science is the only institution in the United States to offer a bachelor, master and doctoral degree in forensic science. Our graduate programs in forensic and investigative science recognize that future forensic scientists need even greater education and training to work in national and state forensic laboratories. Our master's degree is designed to prepare tomorrow’s leading forensic science investigators and laboratory analysts, while our PhD emphasizes the development and completion of research advancing techniques and concepts in the field, ultimately preparing students for careers in academia, government laboratories or private industry as laboratory specialists.
How will I focus my studies?
The Department of Forensic and Investigative Science offers three majors for undergraduate students to choose from to focus their studies and customize their experience to fit their career goals.
This major 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 majors 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.
This major prepares students for entry-level positions in forensic labs as DNA analysts. It also is well suited as a pre-professional program for medical and dental school 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.
This major prepares students for entry level positions in forensic labs as forensic chemists, arson analysts and investigators, forensic toxicologists and trace evidence examiners. It is well-suited as a pre-professional program for medical and dental school and as excellent preparation for graduate work in chemical 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 prepare students for entry-level positions in forensic labs as forensic chemists, arson analysts and investigators, forensic toxicologists and trace evidence examiners. Like the forensic biology and forensic chemistry majors, it is well-suited as a pre-professional program and as excellent preparation for graduate work toward careers in pathology and medicine.
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, Illinois
Major: Forensic and Investigative Science
Minors: Psychology and Sociology
Allison 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