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MS in Forensic Science

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The M.S. program in forensic science encompasses a broad knowledge of the basic areas of forensic science laboratory disciplines with emphasis on the integration of analytical and interpretative skills.

Forensic science is a broad field in which physical, biological, medical and even behavioral sciences are utilized to analyze and evaluate physical evidence (and sometimes people) in relation to matters of the law. In the broadest sense, the forensic sciences encompass forensic medicine, psychiatry, psychology, dentistry, anthropology, entomology, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, toxicology, along with fingerprint technologies, questioned documents, firearms and toolmark examination, and other pattern analyses. Criminalistics is a branch of forensic science, generally seen as encompassing those analyses typically carried out in forensic science laboratories. The forensic science program at UIC is designed to provide graduate education and advanced training for people who seek careers in forensic science and criminalistics.

It is important that applicants to forensic science programs understand that many of the forensic science employment opportunities are in law enforcement agencies; many of these agencies have strict rules about what constitutes an acceptable background for employment in their organization. They usually do thorough background investigations of individuals who apply for employment or for internships. Some of them also conduct polygraph tests, as well as the testing of urine and hair for drugs, as part of the pre-employment background.  Many agencies have guidelines with respect to past drug use. We remind you of these facts in case they affect you. If so, you may wish to be sure you will qualify for most of the law enforcement agencies for whom you may want to work as a forensic scientist. As a general guideline, most agencies tolerate very limited marijuana use in your past, but usually no 'hard' drug use. In addition, if you are not a citizen of the United States or a Permanent Resident, you may have difficulty finding employment in law enforcement agency laboratories.

Student Achievement and Job Placement:

Of 166 students who graduated since 1998, we know the fate of all but 22. The table below summarizes their current status:

Illinois State Police 63 or 38%
Other forensic science lab 58 or 35%
Ph.D. or M.D. 12 or 7%
Not in forensic science field 11 or 7%
Unknown 22 or 13%

In the last five years, from the Fall of 2011 through the Fall of 2016, the forensic science program has accepted 44 students.  Of those, 33 have graduated.  One dropped the program without finishing.  5 will graduate in the Spring of 2017 and 5 first year students accepted for the Fall of 2016 are still in the progress of completing the program.  28 of the 33 graduates have found jobs in forensic science field. Two have gone into doctoral programs; and the fate of four is unknown at this time.

Those in forensic science laboratories other than those of the Illinois system have been employed by the Albuquerque NM forensic laboratory, Boston Police lab, North Carolina SBI lab, Oregon State Police labs, San Diego County Sheriff’s lab, Bode Technologies, Maine State Police lab, DEA labs, Ohio BCI labs, McCrone Research Institute, U.S. Army CID lab, Indianapolis-Marion County IN lab, Northern Illinois Police Crime lab, New York City Medical Examiner lab, Orange Co CA lab, New Hampshire State Police lab, Arizona DPS labs, Kansas City MO lab, Las Vegas Metro Police lab, Massachusetts State Police lab, Washington State Patrol labs, AFDIL, Wisconsin Dept. of Justice labs, Maine State Police, Navy Investigative Services, MicroTrace, LLC., and the FBI lab. Some of those who have completed their Ph.D.s are employed in forensic science laboratories (Massachusetts state medical examiner, Virginia DPS, Washington State Patrol labs). Most but not all of the students going on for Ph.D.s intend to find positions in forensic toxicology.

Contact us:

Director of Graduate Studies: 
A. Karl Larsen, PhD 
Email forensicdgs@uic.edu; Phone (312) 996-2250; Fax (312) 996-6434

Mailing address:
Director of Graduate Studies, Forensic Program
University of Illinois at Chicago
833 S. Wood Street, Room 335, M/C 865
Chicago, IL 60612

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