FAQs (June 2010)
Q) What forensic degree does Ohio University offer?
A) The degree title is Forensic Chemistry. It is much more similar to a chemistry degree than any other major. It is therefore likely to be more rigorous (in terms of natural science requirements) than degrees such as “forensic science” conferred from a social science or criminal justice department.

Q) What department or college grants the degree?
A) The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Q) Is the degree accredited?
A) Yes, the Forensic Chemistry degree has full FEPAC accreditation (part of American Academy of Forensic Sciences) through 2012. Click here to see a copy of our letter of accreditation. We are one of about a dozen undergraduate programs to hold accreditation.

Q) I really want to be a CSI; is this degree right for me?
A) Firstly, the job description of a CSI is nothing like that shown on the various TV shows. See this list of career documents for more information. Of the few ‘real’ CSI jobs available, they usually involve the collection of evidence (with possible inclusion of fingerprint developing) and the detailed recording of the crime scene. You do not necessarily need the rigor of our chemistry degree to perform these duties. That said, our degree would certainly not inhibit your chances of obtaining this kind of job.

If you would not consider pursuing a degree in chemistry, the forensic chemistry major is probably not for you.

Q) What classes are required to complete the degree?
A) See this link for details

Q) I have already taken classes at another undergraduate institution; will any of my classes transfer?
A) The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) answers questions related to transfer credit. This link will help for students attending a school in Ohio. You should contact the college office or undergraduate admissions directly. Typically, CAS requires a college transcript and a detailed syllabus of each class to make these decisions.

Q) I have taken AP classes. Will they count for anything?
These decisions are made by the university and college admissions offices. See this article for a list of AP transfer credits.

Q) Are there any scholarships available and if so, how do I apply?
A) 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 intensding to pursue a BS 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 OU 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 succesful performance in college level study and for a career in chemistry.

Some scholarships are restricted to forensic chemistry majors (BS3310) only. You should consult with University’s Office of Admissions website for information about University-level scholarships and other financial assistance.

Q) Do you require an internship at a forensic laboratory?
A) No, internships are not required, but 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 presenting submitting a written summary of your internship experiences, and by presenting a seminar to the forensic faculty about your experiences during your internship.

Internships in forensic labs are tpyically unpaid and take place in the summer between the junior and senior years. Most labs require a GPA of at least 3.0/4 and prefer to have letters of recommendation from departmental faculty. Feel free to contact the program director, Dr. Harrington, for help about locating internship positions.

Q) Can I do anything else with a Forensic Chemistry degree other than be a forensic chemist?
A) Yes, of course. Historically, about 40% of our alumni have successfully completed M.S., Ph.D., J.D., VMD, and M.D. degrees in a variety of natural science and professional areas, including chemistry, biochemistry, physics, toxicology, pharmacology, pharmacy, law and medicine. Advanced degrees are usually stepping-stones to careers in industry, government and academic careers.

In addition to learning to be a forensic chemist, the coursework prepares you to think and act as an analytical chemist. Our graduates are therefore competitive for any employment opportunities related to analytical chemistry. Employment areas include the following:

State/Government: DEA, EPA, FDA, FBI, Defense Agencies, National Laboratories.

Industry: Crime labs, analytical labs, chemical industry, pharmaceutical labs, biomedical labs, metallurgy labs, paint/polymer industrial labs, cosmetic and fragrance labs, food manufacturers etc.

Q) I still have a year to go before I graduate from high school. Are there any classes or subjects I should focus on?
A) We recommend any advanced natural science classes you can take, especially (in order of slight preference) chemistry, mathematics, physics and biology. You will be expected to take a number of classes in each of these areas at the college level (see list of required courses for examples). The University accepts AP credit according to the following table.

Q) I have a choice of languages at my high school: would Latin help in my science classes?
A) We do not recommend one foreign language over any others. However, you should be aware that you can receive university credit for multiple years of foreign language instruction at the high school level. See the CAS website for details.

Q) What honors programs are available and what do they offer?
A) Within the Department, we offer an Honor’s degree. This entails signing up for additional research credit with a research advisor of your choice and writing a senior thesis on your research accomplishments. Honor’s students typically plan on pursuing advanced degrees in chemistry.
Another option for above-average students is the Honor’s Tutorial College (HTC). You can develop your own specialized program and receive one-on-one tutorial-style instruction from faculty.

Q) Can I get involved with forensic chemistry or chemistry research?
A) Yes, of course. Our chemistry faculty members are very research active and usually supervise 2-5 undergraduates per quarter (in addition to graduate students). Usually, an undergraduate student will select an advisor in his/her junior year and stay with that advisor until he/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 while performing undergraduate research and this typically means three hours in the lab for each credit hour.

Q) What facilities support the forensic chemistry program?
A) See this link for details.

We also make use of research equipment in faculty members’ labs and around campus for undergraduate research.

Back to top