Forensic and Investigative Sciences - BS, Science Emphasis

Forensic and Investigative Sciences (BS - Science Emphasis), an accredited program by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), is a life sciences-based education, which develops skills in problem solving and critical thinking, essential for many career opportunities.  The FEPAC accreditation provides students earning this degree with the qualifications needed to sit for the Texas Forensic Science Commission Forensic Analyst Licensing Exam.  During the 84th Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature passed SB-1287, which required all forensic analysts to be licensed beginning January 1, 2019. See Tex. S.B. 1287, 84th Leg., R.S. (2015). The term "forensic analyst" means any person who on behalf of a crime laboratory accredited under this article technically reviews or performs forensic analysis or draws conclusions from or interprets a forensic analysis for a court or crime laboratory.  Pursuant to its legislative mandate, the Commission established qualifications and adopted administrative rules with regard to forensic analyst licensing that are published in Tex. Admin. Code Chapter 651, Subchapter C

Forensic and investigative scientists rely upon state-of-the-art scientific discoveries and technologies as tools to seek answers to critical questions in a variety of settings. Molecular, organismal, environmental, and ecological sources of information are often analyzed and interpreted in industrial, regulatory, legal, medical and associated professions. Graduates will be competitive for employment opportunities in forensic quality assurance laboratories, homeland security and investigative services at local, state and national levels. Graduates will also be well prepared for opportunities to enter post-graduate studies or professional schools including medicine, law, forensic nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine.

Forensic science is a critical element of the criminal justice system.  Forensic scientists examine and analyze evidence from crime scenes and elsewhere to develop objective findings that can assist in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crime or absolve an innocent person from suspicion. 

The forensic scientist's skill is to use all the information available to determine facts.  Issues of law and/or fact that may require forensic science expertise range from questions of the validity of a signature on a will, to a claim of products liability, to questions of whether a corporation is complying with environmental laws. The work of the forensic scientist reduces the number of cases entering the overloaded court system by assisting the decision-makers before a case reaches the court. This decision is based on scientific investigation, not circumstantial evidence or the sometimes-unreliable testimony of witnesses.

Common forensic science laboratory disciplines include forensic molecular biology (DNA), forensic chemistry, trace evidence examination (hairs and fibers, paints and polymers, glass, soil, etc.), latent fingerprint examination, firearms and toolmarks examination, handwriting analysis, fire and explosives examinations, forensic toxicology, and digital evidence.  Some forensic disciplines practiced outside forensic laboratories include forensic pathology, forensic nursing, forensic psychiatry, forensic entomology, and forensic engineering.  

Many forensic scientists work for universities, police agencies (state, city, and local agencies), federal agencies, and criminal investigation arms of the military forces and their support laboratories. Others work for coroners, medical examiners, hospitals, and district attorney's offices. 

As crime continues to evolve with technology and society, forensic scientists will be challenged to respond by adapting established technologies and, where necessary, developing new ones. These emerging forensic science disciplines will continue to be of vital importance to the courts and to society in general.