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Forensic and Investigative Sciences B.S. (Purdue degree)

Offered by: Forensic & Investigative Sciences Program The B.S. in Forensic and Investigative Sciences was developed by the School of Law, School of Science, and School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). All students take a core of science classes and university requirements. Then, each student chooses one of the current two concentrations: Biology or Chemistry.

Why choose this program?

Forensic science is the application of scientific methods and processes to matters that involve crime or the public. There are many branches of forensic science because almost any science has some applications to public or criminal matters.The Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program combines the best of biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics and, along with criminal justice and law, enabling you to solve crimes and settle civil disputes. People who work in forensic science solve scientific puzzles, testify as experts in court and even sometimes help collect evidence at crime scenes.

See Forensic undergraduate programs

What will you learn?

Obviously, an inquisitive nature and a love of puzzles (and solving them!) are essential. Students must be strong in math, science and writing to do well in our forensics program. Forensic science also requires an ability to tolerate situations and scenes of crime and violence that are difficult to understand and accept. Loss of life and suffering are often involved in these cases, so an forensic scientists need to have the ability to maintain perspective when working in terrible situations.

What does a forensic scientist do?

A forensic scientist usually works in a laboratory setting analyzing particular types of evidence, writing reports and testifying in court as an expert witness. In some cases, forensic scientists may attend crime or other incident scenes to help reconstruct the crime or help in the recognition, collection, and preservation of evidence within their specialty. 

For example, a forensic chemist may be asked to help in the processing of a clandestine drug laboratory. A trace evidence examiner may be asked to collect hairs and fibers and other traces from a homicide scene. Usually the crime scene component of a forensic scientist's job is a relatively minor part of the duties.

Many forensic scientists work in forensic science (crime) laboratories. In the United States, there are more than 4000 crime laboratories administered by the federal, state, or local governments or private industry. Most crime laboratories employ scientists in the areas of forensic chemistry (drugs, toxicology, trace evidence, explosives, fires, etc.), forensic biology (mainly DNA and body fluids and tissues), and criminalistics (fingerprints, questioned documents, firearms, and toolmarks).

The program also includes courses in law and forensic science, ethics, laboratory courses in forensic chemistry and forensic biology, as well as an option to do an internship at a crime laboratory. Graduates of the program will be able to seek employment in crime labs, scientific industries, environmental agencies, and federal or local law enforcement.

Degree requirements

The Forensic and Investigative Sciences B.S. degree is a four-year program consisting of a minimum of 124 credit hours and is awarded by Purdue University.
Details of all undergraduate degree requirements can be found in the IUPUI bulletin.
The degree includes coursework in the biological, chemical, mathematical, statistical and physical sciences.

Capstone experience

All Forensic and Investigative Sciences students must complete a Senior Capstone class which covers: 

  • Resumes

  • Cover Letters

  • Interviewing Skills

  • Personal Statements

  • Graduate School Applications

  • Networking

  • Literature Reviews

  • Research Proposals and Presentations

  • FSAT Preparation

  • FSAT 

Internship and research opportunities

Students have the option of completing an internship at an approved crime laboratory or other organization or laboratory research supervised by an FIS faculty member:

  • Many students do an internship in a variety of settings including crime labs, coroner offices, assisting law enforcement, private labs, etc.
  • These internships most often involve some sort of research project that will benefit the student and the host lab.
  • Internships are available in Indiana, out of state and even out of the country.
  • You will work with the FIS academic advisor, the School of Science Career Development Services Office and Professor Gina Londino to find an internship opportunity that is right for you.
  • Internship experiences can be taken for credit to be applied toward the advanced science requirement.
  • Students can do laboratory research with a faculty member in the program. This experience can be taken for credit to be applied toward the advanced science requirement.

Forensics student lands summer internship with dea forensics lab

Jessica Bosse Forensic and Investigative Sciences, Chemistry, Undergraduate
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