What is Forensic Examiner at WVU like?
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:
At a Glance
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