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About the Forensic Chemistry Undergraduate Program

photo of pipette and test tubes

About the FEPAC Accredited B.S. in Forensic Chemistry

Forensic chemistry is the application of chemistry and related sciences to criminal investigation. The program prepares students to work in crime laboratories or other law enforcement agencies, such as FDA, OSHA, and EPA, or for graduate work in forensic chemistry, forensic science or analytical chemistry. The FEPAC-accredited B.S. in Forensic Chemistry degree was created in 1976 by the late Dr. James Y. Tong, a faculty member in Chemistry & Biochemistry at Ohio University, and it is one of the longest-standing programs of its kind in the country.


The Forensic Chemistry program is accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) through the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). FEPAC promotes academic quality through formal accreditation of forensic science programs in the United States. All programs that FEPAC accredits are located within institutions that are accredited by a regional accreditation organization. The FEPAC accreditation process and policies employ rigorous, consensus standards that assure and advance academic quality at accredited institutions.

Innovative Program in a New 21st Century Building

Be one of the first to graduate from an innovative and cutting-edge Forensic Chemistry program in a new state-of-the-art building. The new 69,000-square-foot building includes undergraduate instructional laboratories that open to light-filled student collaboration spaces, as well as a Research Instrument Facility that will put research results on display next to student labs.

Forensic Chemistry at Ohio University

Forensic chemistry is the application of chemistry and related sciences to criminal investigation. Ohio University’s four-year Forensic Chemistry program prepares students for careers in crime laboratories or other law-enforcement agencies, such as FDA, OSHA, and EPA, or for graduate work in forensic chemistry, forensic science or analytical chemistry. This major is offered through the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department and results in a chemistry degree with a strong application to forensic investigation. Because it is a chemistry degree, it is more rigorous in terms of natural science requirements than forensic science degrees conferred from a social science or criminal justice department. Due to the nature of Forensic Chemistry, you must be aware that you will likely be subjected to a rigorous background check as well as a polygraph examination when applying for internships and jobs. Below are three links that you must read and consider.

Program Mission, Goals, and Objectives

Mission Statement

The mission of the Forensic Chemistry program at Ohio University is to provide a transformative learning community that will prepare students for 1) successful careers related to forensic chemistry and the forensic sciences and 2) a variety of graduate and professional degrees including analytical chemistry, forensic science, medicine, law and biomedical and environmental research.

Goals of the Program

  1. To prepare each graduate to be qualified and experienced for forensic laboratory. employment or post-graduate programs in graduate or professional schools.
  2. To attract and retain the highest quality students and provide them with unique and personal learning opportunities.
  3. To provide students with a sound basis in forensic science, chemistry, and law enforcement.
  4. To provide students with hands-on laboratory experience in the use of modern experimental methods and chemical instrumentation.
  5. To provide students with training in the design of experiments, use of scientific literature, and the presentation of scientific results.
  6. To provide opportunities for students to participate in research activities and to present research results at scientific meetings or through publication in scientific journals.
  7. To provide opportunities for students to participate in internship programs outside of Ohio University.
  8. To provide students with an effective advising system, both for the purpose of managing their course programs at Ohio University and for career planning.

Objectives of the Program

At the completion of the degree program, a student will

  1. Be able to demonstrate problem-solving and critical-thinking skills so as to knowledgeably discuss forensic chemical principles in their historic and current contexts.
  2. Be able to review the existing scientific literature and critically assess merit, novelty, and validity of scientific papers.
  3. Be able to apply modern methods of forensic analysis in a laboratory setting.
  4. Be able to design appropriate experiments to obtain meaningful results in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner.
  5. Be confident and competent in using technologies/instrumentation to gather and analyze data.
  6. Have acquired broad knowledge in the field of forensic science, law enforcement techniques, chemistry, and biochemistry, such that he/she could be a contributing member of a scientific team.
  7. Be practiced in communicating and defending forensic evidence in oral and written (electronic) formats.

The student's abilities in these areas are evaluated through practical exercises, laboratory reports, assignments, examinations and competency tests and are reflected in the student's grades in certain classes.

The Ohio University Forensic Chemistry program serves the national, state, and local communities. Service helps the program maintain relevance with respect to research and the curriculum. Ohio University has relationships with coroner's offices, crime labs, and state patrol labs, which have accepted interns and hired our graduates from our program for several decades.

Graduates are well-equipped for a broad range of professional opportunities. Approximately 40 percent of the graduates have pursued advanced degrees in fields such as forensic chemistry, chemistry, biochemistry, toxicology, medicine, and law. Approximately 30 percent are directly employed as laboratory chemists in crime labs at the local, regional and federal levels. The remaining graduates work in a variety of chemistry-related and non-chemistry-related employment sectors such as laboratory chemists, quality control/quality assurance labs, pharmaceutical analysts, paint and polymer chemists and as software and computer engineers.

Student Performance

American Board of Criminalistics Forensic Sciences Aptitude Test (FSAT) Rankings

Ohio University's Forensic Chemistry 2023 graduating class took the American Board of Criminalistics Forensic Sciences Aptitude Test as part of the program evaluation. The aptitude test is a broad test of forensic science and not specific to forensic chemistry. The department paid for the examination, and 9 out of 9 students participated.

Ohio University was one of 12 undergraduate programs that participated in the FSAT program in the first half of 2022 and ranked third overall. A total of 137 undergraduate students were tested.

The following rankings show how OHIO students ranked compared with the other participating undergraduate schools.

Topic | Ranking

Crime Scene | 8

Forensic Anthropology | 10

Forensic Entomology | 8

Digital Evidence | 6

Forensic Pathology | 10

Photography | 4

General Biology | 9

General Chemistry | 5

General Physics | 9

Metrics | 3

History | 10

Statistics | 9

Ethics/Legal | 5

Evidence Handling | 7

QA/QC | 11

Safety | 7

Forensic Bio/DNA | 10

Drugs/Tox | 1

FA/Pattern/QD | 8

Trace/Fire Debris | 5

James Y. and Harriet Tong Forensic Chemistry Scholarship and Anthony Andrews Scholarship 

The department offers several competitive scholarships and awards to undergraduate chemistry majors. Some scholarships are specific to forensic chemistry majors, including the James Y. and Harriet Tong Forensic Chemistry Scholarship and the Anthony Andrews Forensic Chemistry Scholarship for students showing aptitude as forensic chemists.

Previous Winners of the Tong Scholarship

  • 2006 Cynthia Cipolla
  • 2007 Cynthia Cipolla
  • 2009 Abigail Hunt
  • 2010 Rachael Kyper
  • 2011 Ashley March
  • 2012 David Griffiths
  • 2013 Jenna Silverman
  • 2014 Kimberly Belvin
  • 2015 Anne Marie Esposito
  • 2016 Andrew Petry
  • 2017 Andrew Petry
  • 2018 Aleea McConaughey and Kimberly Dominguez
  • 2019: Allison Miller and Demi Reed
  • 2020: Jamey Seals
  • 2021 Erin Gannon and Makayla Young
  • 2022 James Fortunato and Gabrielle Gosciewski

Previous Winners of the Andrews Scholarship

  • 2020 Grace Groborchik
  • 2021 Grace Groborchik and Josie Franks
  • 2022 Josie Franks

Student Retention

Student retention, as defined here, tracks the number of students who remain within Ohio University’s forensic chemistry program each year. The greatest change in student retention numbers occurs during the first year of college, which is largely due to students electing to change their major to another field in Ohio University’s College of Arts & Sciences. The reasons for this range from a change in student academic interests to the challenges associated with taking rigorous classes in math and science.

As an example, of the 2018-2019 academic year first-year students who left the major, 85 percent have stayed at Ohio University. Of those 85 percent, 70 percent remained in the College of Arts & Sciences, 10 percent went to the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, and 5 percent went to the College of Health Sciences and Professions. These numbers include first-year students who placed into and enrolled in major courses as well as those placed into and enrolled in preparatory courses.

The forensic chemistry program at Ohio University maintains a greater than 90 retention retention rate for upper-class students (juniors and seniors). According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the national average student retention rate by public universities is 81 percent (2016 data). However, these data simply refer to retention by an institution and do not include data about students changing majors.

Employment Data

OHIO's first B.S. forensic chemistry student graduated in 1978, and as of Spring 2022 there have been 452 graduates from the program.

There were 77 graduates from 2014-2021, of which 71 replied to a recent survey. The responses showed that several are enrolled in a graduate program or have obtained or are currently pursuing a graduate degree. Job titles held by our recent graduates include: Criminalist, Controlled Substance Analyst, Quality Assurance Chemist, Forensic Toxicologist, Research Technician, Ammunition Specialist, Associate Chemist, and Forensic Chemist Laboratory Scientist I.

Of the 71 who replied to the survey, 40 are employed in chemistry-related and non-chemistry-related employment sectors such as laboratory chemists, quality control/quality assurance labs, pharmaceutical analysts, paint and polymer chemists; 15 are employed in a crime laboratory; 12 are currently enrolled in or have completed a graduate program, and 4 are employed in other positions such as a Compliance Account Manager at a law firm, and Veterinary Technician at an Emergency Veterinary Clinic.


Frequently Asked Questions

I have already taken classes at another undergraduate institution, will any of my classes transfer?

The College of Arts & Sciences answers questions related to transfer credit. You should contact the college office or undergraduate admissions directly.

I have taken AP classes. Will they count for anything?

These decisions are made by the university and college admissions offices. See Advanced Placement Examination Credit.

Are there any scholarships available and if so, how do I apply?

To guarantee consideration for all chemistry scholarships, a student must complete a FAFSA form through the Office of Student Financial Aid and meet the other qualifications: 1) Shall be pursuing or intending to pursue a B.S. degree in any of the chemistry majors (chemistry, forensic, environmental, pre-med, pre-pharm, pre-dent); 2) Shall have been admitted as a full-time student to the Ohio University Athens campus; 3) Shall have applied for university-sponsored tuition scholarships through the Office of Student Financial Aids and Scholarships; 4) Shall have demonstrated ability or potential for successful performance in college-level study and for a career in chemistry. Some scholarships are restricted to forensic chemistry majors only and you may apply after you have completed one year in the program.

Do you require an internship at a forensic laboratory?

No, internships are not required. We do encourage them, and we will assist you in finding internship opportunities. We also offer the ability to earn course credit for your internships by submitting a written summary and presenting a seminar to the forensic faculty about your experiences during your internship.

Can I get involved with forensic chemistry or chemistry research?

Yes, of course. Our chemistry faculty members are very research active and usually supervise two to five undergraduates per semester (in addition to graduate students). Usually, an undergraduate student will select an adviser in his or her junior year and stay with that adviser until he or she graduates. It is the student’s responsibility to contact faculty members to discuss potential projects. Usually, students elect to sign up for research credit; each credit hour requires three hours in the lab.