Master of Science, Forensic Science
Elizabeth Gardner, Ph.D.
The Master of Science in Forensic Science program is designed to prepare individuals for careers in various forensic science and conventional analytical laboratories, emphasizing the application of scientific methods and technologies to legal proceedings. With thoughtful planning, many students have found the program offerings helpful in building a strong foundation to pursue doctoral (Ph.D. and M.D.) studies. The program also offers, in conjunction with the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, the opportunity for students to pursue a graduate certificate in computer forensics that involves additional, elective coursework. Students may also pursue a certificate in forensic accounting, offered in conjunction with the Department of Accounting and Information Systems.
The program support includes many UAB faculty members from other departments, personnel from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences' Birmingham laboratory, the Jefferson County Medical Examiner's Office, and local forensic science-related private institutions. In addition, the program maintains a close working relationship with the DNA profiling laboratories of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and hosts the editorial offices of the Forensic Science Review (the only review journal in forensic science). Faculty research and practice focus especially on forensic aspects of drug chemistry and DNA-based identification.
Minimum admission requirements include a B.S. degree in Chemistry, Biology, or a related natural science. Coursework should include the completion of one year of general chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, and quantitative analysis. Coursework is designed for qualified students to begin in fall and complete the program in 21 months. Admission is granted for the fall term only.
According to the National Institute of Justice (2004), students wishing to pursue a career in forensic science should be aware that positions in these fields usually require extensive background checks similar to those required for law enforcement personnel, and are likely a condition of employment. (National Institute of Justice (2004). Education and Training in Forensic Science: A Guide for Forensic Science Laboratories, Educational Institutions, and Students. NCJ Report 203099. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, pp. 7-10).
Graduates from the UAB Master of Science in Forensic Science program are very successful in gaining employment within a year of graduating. During the period 2010-2012, 26 students completed the program. Of these, 21 are working in a laboratory, are teaching, or continuing their education (e.g., pursuing a doctorate, professional degree, or second master's degree). Thirteen of the graduates are employed in forensic science laboratories, ranging from those operated by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to a toxicology laboratory in New Mexico.