Forensic Science Advising

Deborah Exton
Department of Chemistry
University of Oregon
dexton at
Forensic Science is the application of scientific principles and technological practices to the study and resolution of criminal, civil and regulatory issues. The role of the forensic scientist is twofold: to analyze physical evidence and to provide expert testimony in a court of law. This information is helpful in determining the innocence or guilt of the suspect.

In recent years there has been a large increase in the number of students interested in pursuing forensic science careers. The University of Oregon provides advising for these students, but does not offer a degree in Forensic Science. This does not mean, however, that future forensic scientists should attend college elsewhere because it is not necessary to have a degree in Forensic Science to obtain work in a forensic laboratory. For more information about this and other common concerns, refer to the Student Resource page provided by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.

Recommended Courses:

To work as a scientist in a crime lab or to enter a graduate program in Forensic Science, it is generally necessary to have a Bachelor's degree in either chemistry, biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, or forensic science. Incoming students should take General Chemistry and math during the freshman year. Beyond that, the major and courses that you choose depend upon the forensic discipline in which you wish to work. If possible, elective courses in criminal justice, criminal law and criminal procedure can also be taken. Because it is also necessary to have good writing and public speaking skills, students should take coursework and focus on activities that allow them to improve these skills.

A complete listing of schools with graduate and undergraduate programs in Forensic Sciences is provided by the American Academcy of Forensic Sciences.

Useful Links to Forensic Science related sites:

Forensic Laboratories in Oregon: