Q: I want to be a forensic scientist. How do I do that?
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. You should visit the American Academy
of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) web site at www.aafs.org which has a
wealth of information including “choosing a career.”
The field of forensic science is very diverse as are the educational
requirements. The majority of forensic scientists work in crime laboratories
in the general area called criminalistics. The relative percentages
of the fields represented by the AAFS are as follows: Criminalistics
(32.1%); Pathology (17.9%); General (11.2%); Toxicology (10.4%);
Odontology (8.3%); Anthropology (5.2%); Questioned Documents (5.2%);
Engineering (3.4%); Psych./Behavioral Science (3.3%); Jurisprudence
Q:What programs of study are available to FIU students?
A: The International Forensic Research Institute (IFRI) based in
the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry coordinates a variety
of undergraduate and graduate programs. At the undergraduate
level students can complete a Forensic Science Certificate which
accompanies a bachelor’s degree, normally in chemistry
or biology, and there is also a B.S. in Chemistry with a Forensic
Science Concentration. At the graduate level there is a M.S.
in Forensic Science, a report option M.S. in Forensic Science
for practicing forensic scientist and students can also complete
Ph.D. in Chemistry or Biology working on forensic related projects.
These forensic science programs are designed for students in
the natural sciences and, while students may minor in other areas
such as criminal justice, these programs are not appropriate
for criminal justice majors.
Q: What programs of study should I take to become be a crime scene
technician, medical examiner, crime lab scientist?
A: Popular TV shows such as “Cold Case ” and “CSI” often don’t accurately reflect the actual job
functions and training of forensic scientists, and students are
encouraged to read recent papers on the educational requirements
of forensic scientists such as (ABC2003 paper). The FIU Forensic
Science programs are primarily designed to educate students for
employment in crime laboratory positions. Students interested in
crime scene investigation should consider a bachelor's degree with
a forensic science certificate. Crime scene investigation training
is often gained on the job and administered by the law enforcement
agency hiring the investigator. Students interested in becoming
a medical examiner/coroner should follow FIU’s pre-medical
program with details available at www.fiu.edu/~preprofc/ and should
also visit the National Association of Medical Examiners web page
Q: To whom do I speak about the undergraduate Forensic Science Program including certificate admission and completion?
A: Dr. Alberto Sabucedo. Interested students should also see an
undergraduate advisor and follow the B.S. curriculum in their primary department. Please see www.fiu.edu/~ifri for details.
The undergraduate program director is Alberto Sabucedo. Any questions about the certificate should be directed to him. Dr. Sabucedo, CP306, 305-348-7406
The certificate is designed to accompany a
bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences. Students should
also see an undergraduate advisor and follow the B.S. curriculum
in their primary department. A bachelor’s degree in chemistry
is preferred by crime lab directors as detailed in recent papers
on forensic science education (ABC
Almirall and Furton, JFS Furton, Hsu, Cole). Application forms are available at https://registrar3.fiu.edu/Forms/.
Q: With whom should I speak about my Forensic Science M.S. status including
approval for graduation?
A: The Forensic Science Graduate
Bruce McCord, Ph.D., Associate Director
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, CP 313,
Graduate Program Director
Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199
The prerequisite for the
M.S. program is a bachelors degree in the natural sciences
with a GPA of
a GRE of 1000 (verbal and quantitative) and a TOEFL score of
550 for students whose native language is not English. Applications
are due by March 1 each year. Students must also send two letters of recommendation
and a letter from a faculty sponsor. Application forms are available
Q. How do I obtain a faculty sponsor?
A: You must contact an
FIU faculty member from the following list and request that
they sponsor you. You should take
to become familiar with the research projects taking place
in the laboratories of prospective sponsors and pursue
with them. The following faculty have expressed an interest
in directing the research projects of forensic science
Q: With whom should I speak about becoming a doctor and other pre-health
A: The Pre-health Professions Advisor, Dr. Barbara Roller,
305-348-7289, ECS 486, www.fiu.edu/~preprofc/
Q: With whom should I speak about my Chemistry B.A./B.S. status including
being reinstated and approved for graduation?
A: The Chemistry Undergraduate Program Director,
Dr. Keller, CP 325, Call 305-348-2606 for an appointment.
Q: With whom should I speak about my Chemistry M.S. or Ph.D. status including
approval for graduation?
A: The Chemistry Graduate Program Director,
Dr. O'Shea, CP310, 305-348-3968.
Q: With whom should I speak if I can’t resolve
my problems speaking with the contacts listed above?
A: The Director of the International
Forensic Research Institute, Dr.
Frequently asked questions for students interested in the MS, MSFS or PhD programs at the Department of Chemistry, FIU
Q: How do I find out more information about your department?
A: Please look over our website and also fill out the preliminary application at
Q: How do I apply?
A: You must send application materials including a transcript, GRE scores, TOEFL (if foreign student) and 3 letters of reference to both the graduate school and to the Department of Chemistry. This will ensure speedy review of your files. If you do not send information to both addresses, your application may be delayed. There is an on-line application for the graduate school at http://gradschool.fiu.edu/admissions.html
The address for the chemistry department is
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Florida International University
Miami , FL 33199
Dr. Kevin O’Shea is the graduate chair firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Bruce McCord is the forensic graduate chair. email@example.com
Q: The on-line application doesn’t work with my computer. What do I do?
A: Contact the graduate school for a paper application
Graduate Admissions Office
PC 231, University Park Campus
11200 S.W. 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
Phone: (305) 348-7442
Fax: (305) 348-7441 or (305) 675-2498
Q: I am having trouble with the application:
A: Contact the Graduate Secretary in Chemistry
Rosa Espindola firstname.lastname@example.org (305) 348-6246
Q: The MSFS application says I need a faculty sponsor.
A: As there are a limited number of spots for persons interested in forensic biology, we require that all students lacking a chemistry degree or its equivalent have a sponsor in Chemistry, Biochemistry or Biology. Those persons with a BS in chemistry do not need a sponsor. To obtain a sponsor you can either write to faculty members whose research you are interested in or we will contact them on your behalf once your application materials are in.
Q: I have missed the deadline can I still apply?
A: Yes. Once our deadline is past, we move to a system of rolling admissions in which we evaluate applicants when openings become available.
Q: What types of scholarships are available?
A: We have a limited number of research and teaching assistantships. These are available mainly to Ph.D. applicants who apply before the deadline. There are also special scholarships available to applicants with particularly strong academic records.
Q: What are your minimum cutoffs for admission?
A: We require a GPA of 3.0/4.0 for all applicants to our graduate school In addition, we look for GRE scores above 1000 for MS students and above 1100 for Ph.D. students.
Please call the IFRI office at 305-348-6211 or visit our web page
at www.ifri.fiu.edu for additional information.
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