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DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY AND BIOCHEMISTRY AND INTERNATIONAL FORENSIC RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Florida International University, University Park, Miami, Florida 33199

Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQs on Forensic Science @ FIU
by: Dr. Almirall

Welcome to the FIU/IFRI FAQ page. You are here because you may have some questions about forensic science in general and/or the academic programs that are offered at FIU in particular.

First, the academic programs offered at FIU are administered from the department of chemistry. This is so because our program is a science based curriculum, which is preferred by crime lab directors (see below). The aim of our curriculum is to train future practitioners of forensic science focusing on forensic scientists that will work in forensic science laboratories.

Below you may find the answers to your questions.

I want to be a medical detective. How do I do that?

Please visit the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) web page. They have an excellent explanation of what it takes to be a medical examiner and related professions. Please visit the following address: http://www.thename.org/medical_detective.htm The FIU/IFRI academic program does not train future medical examiners or medical detectives.

What is a "Forensic Scientist"?

A forensic scientist is a general term for an expert in a particular field that examines evidence for the purpose of presenting his/her finding in a court of law. There are many different disciplines in forensic science, an example of which is "forensic accounting" (examines a money trail to determine if a crime is committed and by whom). The most common types of forensic scientists are listed in the web site of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Go to: http://www.aafs.org/employ/brochure1.htm to read more about the different forensic science disciplines.

I want to be a crime scene investigator. Can I take your program to become one?

Our program is designed to train scientists that will work in a forensic laboratory in the analysis of physical evidence. We do not train crime scene investigators. There are some two-year programs that may do that but, usually, this training is gained on the job and administered by the law enforcement agency that hires you.

What courses or degree do I need to enter your graduate program?

We accept students with a bachelor's degree in the natural sciences. Students who had a biology major as undergraduates must have completed Biochemistry and Chemistry major students must have completed Instrumental Methods.

What educational background is needed to be hired as an examiner in a forensic laboratory?

Lab directors require examiners that work in the chemistry or biology sections of the laboratory to hold a Bachelor's degree in a physical science, at the minimum. More detailed information on specific course preferences can be found in the following summary of a survey of lab directors in the U.S.
To read the results of the survey of Crime Laboratory Directors on the preferred educational requirements for forensic scientists working in crime laboratories in the U.S. click here

What are the admission requirements for the graduate program in forensic science at FIU?

You must hold a bachelor's degree in the natural sciences with a GPA of 3.0 in the last two years of your undergraduate degree. You MUST take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and score a minimum of 1000 (combined score in the verbal and quantitative sections). Foreign students whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and obtain a score of 550 or higher. You must submit an application to the office of admissions click here to download an application) and submit two letters of reference from past professors that can write about your academic potential. Finally, a letter from a faculty sponsor willing to accept you into his/her research group must be sent to the graduate program director by the application deadline.
For information on the Master of Science in Forensic Science Program at FIU click here.

What are the admission requirements for the undergraduate program in forensic science at FIU?

You must hold a Bachelor's degree or be completing a Bachelor’s degree to be accepted into the undergraduate Certificate in Forensic Science. While any major is acceptable, the preferred degrees are in the natural sciences and the prerequisite for the forensic science core courses and internship is the equivalent of a minor in chemistry (one year of general chemistry, one year of organic chemistry and one semester of analytical chemistry) and one semester of biological chemistry/biochemistry. The certificate will be awarded at the time of awarding the Bachelor's degree, or upon completion of this work if the student already has a Bachelor's degree. The program consists of six courses (16-18 credits). Application forms are available at https://registrar3.fiu.edu/Forms/. A M.S. in Forensic Science is also available and 5000 level courses taken may also be applied to that program.

What are the deadlines to apply to the graduate program at FIU?

The forensic science graduate committee meets twice a year to consider the applications of prospective graduate students. Students interested in applying for the Fall semester (August start) must have their completed applications and all the accompanying documents by March 1. Students that want to be considered for the Spring semester (Jan. start) must have the application file complete by Oct. 15.

How do I obtain a faculty sponsor?

You must contact an FIU faculty member from the following list by phone or e-mail and request that they sponsor you. The faculty member may request some information about your academic history and of your research interests. You should take the initiative to become familiar with the research projects taking place in the laboratories of prospective sponsors and pursue a dialog with them. The following faculty have expressed an interest in directing the research projects of forensic science students. Click here to see the list of faculty sponsors.

What is IFRI?

The International Forensic Research Institute is located on the campus of FIU and is devoted to enhancing forensic science through excellence in research and education. Go to the IFRI Home Page

How do I contact the director of IFRI?

Dr. Kenneth G. Furton is the director of IFRI. Go to Dr. Furton's Home Page or email Dr. Furton

How do I contact the graduate program director in forensic science?

Dr. José R. Almirall is the graduate program director in forensic science. Email Dr. Almirall

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