There is no single career path that guarantees a career in forensic science. Competitive candidates must demonstrate the knowledge, skills and abilities that are important to the field. Forensic scientists must be able to apply scientific principles to civil or criminal cases and communicate effectively in the courtroom.

Forensic scientists work in crime laboratories and medical examiner’s laboratories where they handle, analyze, and interpret scientific findings. A strong scientific background is required to work in forensic science.

Traditionally, most forensic scientists begin with a bachelor of science degree in a natural, physical, or biological science. This is important because forensic scientists must have a sound understanding of basic scientific principles. Due to the competitive nature of forensic science today, an advanced degree in the area of forensic science may be important for securing a leadership role in a crime laboratory.

At the graduate level, students are encouraged to focus on either forensic chemistry or biology. After completion of the core courses, students can select from a number of highly specialized electives. These courses are designed to complement the core curriculum and provide the student with both academic knowledge and research skills that will prepare them for the workplace. The following undergraduate courses are helpful in pursuing a graduate degree in forensic science:

Forensic Chemistry

  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Instrumental Analysis
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • General and Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Statistics

Forensic Biology

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • Population Genetics
  • Biostatistics

Personal Characteristics

Because forensic science is part of the criminal justice system, personal honesty, integrity, and scientific objectivity are paramount. Those seeking careers in this field should be aware that background checks similar to those required for law enforcement officers are likely to be a condition of employment. Drug testing, history of drug use, criminal background checks and other factors, including social media content and activity, may be considered for employment or internship placements.

Forensic Science FAQ

Notice to Undergraduates

If you plan to pursue a career in forensic science and are currently majoring at the undergraduate level in the basic sciences at SHSU, here are some things you need to know:

  • During the 84th Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature passed SB-1287, which required all forensic analysts to be licensed.
  • The forensic analyst licensing exam is comprised of seven domains: Evidence Handling, Basic Statistics for Forensic Application, Brady/Michael Morton Act, Expert Testimony, Professional Responsibility, Human Factors, and Root Cause Analysis.
  • The Department of Forensic Science has included these domains in its graduate curriculum for many years.
  • However, students majoring in science may not have been exposed to all of these topics.

Courses offered in the forensic science minor can assist students in meeting these requirements, improving licensing exam preparedness, workforce readiness, or competitiveness for graduate study in forensic science.

The Forensic Science Minor is tailored towards criminal justice majors interested in pursuing investigative or non-laboratory based careers in forensic science (e.g., Crime Scene Investigators) and science majors who may have an interest in more traditional (laboratory-based) careers in forensic science.

For more information, see our flier.