Do you love watching crime investigation shows like CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, and Criminal Minds? Have you ever imagined yourself solving crimes through careful analysis and critical thinking? Do you have excellent attention to detail, a firm sense of justice, and a strong stomach? If so, Buffalo State College’s Forensic Chemistry Program might be perfect for you.
In the past few years, TV shows like those we listed above have given forensic chemistry a big image upgrade. As a result, colleges and universities like ours have seen forensic chemistry grow rapidly into one of the most popular majors. However, it’s important to be aware that real forensics teams deal with far less homicide than those on TV. Since the vast majority of deaths are a result of natural causes, it is unlikely you will be solving murders every day of your career. In addition, very few forensic specialists interrogate suspects, set up sting operations, or make arrests—although there’s nothing stopping you from whipping off your sunglasses and delivering a cool line once in a while. Read on to learn more about our forensic chemistry program.
“In our 300-level criminal lab you come into class and there will be a fake dead body,” said Samantha Katus, who graduated in 2017 and wants to become a medical examiner. “You have to write up formal lab reports just like you’re a criminal lab technician. You take the pictures and try to figure out what happened by analyzing blood splatters and trajectory angles to see what weapon was used. It’s one thing to read a case out of textbook; it’s another to get hands-on experience for what you will be doing in the field.”
Since 1971, Buffalo State’s bachelor of science degree in forensic chemistry has provided a high-quality and well-rounded experience for its students.
Our program offers rigorous training in the theories and practical aspects of chemistry with a focus on analytical techniques. The classwork contributes to the development of both the practical aspects of forensic practice, as well as the training of future forensic practitioners. This program also meets the requirements for certification by the American Chemical Society and fully prepares students to enter a professional career not only in forensic science, but also in analytical chemistry. We prepare each student individually for the rigors of forensic analyses, research, and legal mandates.
In today’s world, textbooks are only a part of the information that can be used to enhance one’s knowledge. Students in this program also need to be open-minded, ethical, adaptable, and able to develop critical thinking skills to ensure success in the continually evolving field of forensic chemistry.
What makes Buffalo State’s forensic chemistry program an excellent choice? Here are just a few reasons:
Buffalo State College is committed to providing its students with opportunities to develop their skills and enhance their career potential outside the classroom. Program-related opportunities open to chemistry and forensic chemistry students include:
Your success in our forensic chemistry program can benefit greatly from forensic internships, volunteer programs, and research programs during your time in school. Such opportunities can provide you with an introduction to the forensic careers available and help you get hands-on experience working beside an experienced crime scene investigator. Students have interned in forensic laboratories in many locations including:
While most student internships occur in forensic laboratories in New York State, we have had students intern in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Ontario, Canada. Analytical Chemistry and Instrumental courses are required, so the student may make an appointment with the instructor any time after their junior year and when they are on their way to fulfilling the prerequisites.
Unlike many other science programs, forensic chemistry is quite specialized. About 90 percent of forensic chemists graduates work in laboratories associated with a federal, state, or local police departments; medical examiner's offices and morgues; government agencies such as the FBI; public and private universities; hospitals; quality control testing laboratories; or law firms. There is also a growing number of private labs that carry out forensic analyses. According to the survey of the American Academy for Forensic Sciences (AAFS), more than 10,000 job opportunities in the field of forensic science are expected over the next decade to address an expanding case backlog.
Although employment rates will differ regionally and depend on national and statewide funding, local populations and state crime rates, employment opportunities will always exist. The expected employment opportunities for forensic scientists can, in part, be driven by the continued scientific and technological advances. New methods and instrumentation for the chemical/biological sciences have created unprecedented and revolutionary opportunities to collect and examine criminal evidence. This has created backlogs in forensic laboratories, particularly in DNA analyses. Other areas in which forensic chemistry majors can seek employment include:
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