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Forensic ExaminerMajor

With world-class training facilities and a solid STEM foundation, this major prepares you to tackle the investigation of a crime from start to finish.

By the numbers200+

Partnerships with vetted forensic internship sites around the U.S.

Overview

What is Forensic Examiner at WVU like?

Description

Just 100 years ago, forensic investigation of even the most complicated crimes relied on little more than a notebook, perhaps a photograph or two and some common sense.

Today, the practice of examining and identifying evidence involves a sometimes bewildering array of technology and equipment. Teams of specialists work together to generate the critical information needed to solve a case. It requires a surprising depth of scientific and professional knowledge to be a successful part of this modern process.

Forensic Examiner students are treated as scientists first. Investigators and laboratory analysts need to understand how their tools work, both to get maximum performance and so that they can effectively defend their choices on the witness stand. To meet this goal, students spend two years mastering fundamental biology, chemistry and physics. Math and statistics, more important now than ever, are also essential parts of the STEM curriculum for future forensic scientists.

After building that strong foundation, students move into two years of specialized courses emphasizing professional skills and applications. These courses are taught by a faculty with a variety of deep skill sets, both in practical casework and in academic research and understanding, and with an average course size fewer than 20 students.

In the two-semester crime scene investigation course progression, students gain the practical skills to identify, collect and preserve evidence at even the most unusual crime scenes. World-class facilities such as the four crime scene houses, vehicle garage and large collection of staging props make these classroom experiences as realistic as possible.

Beyond the scene, core laboratory competencies for investigators such as fingerprint development and classification, photography, microscopy and documentation are integrated across the curriculum, so that they are repeatedly practiced and deeply mastered. A departmentally-facilitated internship makes use of those skills in a real, professional environment before graduation, helping hone skills and focus student interest.

Based on their individual interests and skills, students can shape their curriculum to best suit their goals through their elective courses. That could be an interest in pattern evidence like firearms evidence or footprints, or it might lean more into investigative skills such as bloodstain pattern analysis or gravesite recovery.

Forensic Examiner program highlights:

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At a Glance

Next Steps

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Fast Facts

What makes Forensic Examiner at WVU unique?


Research and Academic Opportunities

All Forensic Examiner students complete a rigorous internship experience in their junior year. The vast majority of graduates rate this as the most important thing they did in college. Students are supported through choosing and applying for internships to carefully vetted sites, such as the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office or Texas Department of Public Safety – and even the FBI.

Most Forensic and Investigative Science faculty accept and encourage undergraduate research. Undergraduates have presented research at both regional and national conferences. Some recent areas of undergraduate research:

  • Efficacy of computer-assisted pattern matching of shoe prints
  • Methods for recovery of fingerprints from thermal paper
  • Likelihood of fingerprint recovery from swine skin
  • Measuring sampling bias in forensic entomology
  • Matching of duct tape ends
  • Similarity of markings from consecutively-manufactured firearms
  • Evaluation of presumptive tests for gunshot primer residue
  • Evaluation of networked, tablet-based crime scene investigation

Depending on the project, undergraduates can begin research as soon as their freshman year. Some projects can go on for several years, even sparking an interesting graduate project. Many students take part in the WVU Undergraduate Research Office’s Research Apprenticeship Program and Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Program, depending on their interests.

Early College Program

Get a head start (and save money) in our High School ACCESS program for high school students. Choose from online, on-campus or dual credit courses that fulfill requirements for general education or Forensic Examiner. Online courses to consider for this major include:

  • FIS 201: Introduction to Forensic Identification
  • FIS 202: Crime Scene Investigation Overview

Living-Learning Communities (LLCs)

Live, study and pursue outside-the-classroom learning in a residence hall community that shares your interests:

Student Organizations

Connect with other students who share your academic interests as a member of:

View all of the student organizations you can join.

WVUteach

Do you want a another career option? You can earn a secondary teaching certificate through WVUteach while completing a four-year degree in WVU's Forensic Examiner major. One degree, two degree options.

Careers

How does this degree prepare students for a career?

As this degree is rather professionally focused, the majority of Forensic Examiner graduates go on to jobs associated with law enforcement, either as scene investigators or laboratory examiners. In 2018, a survey of past-year graduates found that 90% of them were either employed or had gone on to graduate school. Those who go on to graduate school tend to take jobs that are more laboratory-oriented, such as fingerprint comparison, firearms examination or trace evidence analysis.

The Forensic Examiner major also meets the criteria for most professional schools, such as medical, dental or osteopathic schools. For students interested in pursuing careers in pathology, the emphasis on investigative thinking and familiarity with death investigation procedures would be a valuable asset.

Possible Careers

Wondering what you can do with a degree from WVU's Forensic Examiner major? Check out these ideas from WVU Career Services and the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). A median salary is the midpoint of what people typically earn—half of those surveyed earned above the median salary, and half earned below.

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Employers

Graduates from this major have gone to work at:

Courses

What are the courses like in Forensic Examiner at WVU?

FIS 201:
Introduction to Forensic Identification

A survey course in forensic science including overview of the history and components of fingerprint classification systems crime scene analysis, and death investigation. This course is open to non-majors.

FIS 302:
Crime Scene Investigation 1

An introductory course providing basic competencies required for crime scene examiners. The course will focus on developing a consistent approach to the processing of a crime scene with a major focus on recovery/processing evidence.

FIS 405:
Latent Fingerprint

A course designed to teach identification techniques used in fingerprint development for processing crime scenes and evidence for latent prints, focusing on latent print development and preservation, including crime scene processing and blood prints.

FIS 409:
Blood Stain Pattern Analysis

Scientific analysis of blood patterns at crime scene investigations and their applications in solving crimes.

FIS 485:
Professional Ethics in Forensic Science

Foundational ethical concepts as they relate to forensic science and other associated professional cultures. Applied case-study examples are used to analyze ethical and moral boundaries of practice.

Cost and Aid

How much does Forensic Examiner at WVU cost? And how can you save?

Tuition and Fees

Estimated rates for the 2019-20 academic year. Rates are subject to change. Anyone that is not a current West Virginia resident will be charged non-resident rates. That includes international students.

West Virginia Resident
Per Credit $409
Per Semester $4,908
Fall and Spring Semesters $9,816
Non-Resident
Per Credit $1,111
Per Semester $13,332
Fall and Spring Semesters $26,664
International
Per Credit $1,111
Per Semester $13,632
Fall and Spring Semesters $27,264
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Ways to Save

Here are a few ways for you to save on the cost of attending WVU in addition to university scholarships.

Early College Program

Get a head start (and save money) in our High School ACCESS program for high school students. Choose from online, on-campus or dual credit courses that fulfill requirements for general education or Forensic Examiner. Online courses to consider for this major include:

  • FIS 201: Introduction to Forensic Identification
  • FIS 202: Crime Scene Investigation Overview

Learn About Our HS ACCESS Early College Program

Transfer Articulation Agreements

To simplify the transfer process, we have formal agreements with certain institutions. These agreements outline the courses you should take to prepare for transferring to WVU.

Review the full list of transfer articulation agreements to see if your institution is listed.

Learn How to Transfer Course Credits

Requirements

What are the requirements to apply for Forensic Examiner at WVU?

To be admitted to WVU's Forensic Examiner major, first-time freshmen must meet WVU's first-time freshman admission requirements for the 2020-21 academic year. They also must meet the following admission requirement. Interested in transferring? Review the transfer admission requirements.

For direct admission to the Forensic Examiner program:
  • ACT Math: 22
  • SAT Math: 540

If you don't meet the admission requirements for WVU's Forensic Examiner major, check out some related programs.

Next Steps

I like this major. What are the next steps?

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