The forensic chemistry concentration requires an additional 30 credits in chemistry, calculus, forensic science and elective credits beyond the core requirements and is offered for those students who are interested in graduate study or careers in the chemical analysis of forensic evidence, including the areas of drug analysis, toxicology and trace evidence analysis. Students also will be prepared for work in private analytical laboratories. Students completing the forensic chemistry concentration will be eligible for a minor in chemistry.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the laws of criminal procedure and rules of evidence
  • Demonstrate proper crime scene investigation and reconstruction
  • Demonstrate ethical and professional duties and responsibilities of the forensic scientist
  • Be able to apply basic principles and laboratory procedures of chemistry to forensic science
  • Demonstrate capabilities, use, potential and limitations of forensic laboratory theory and techniques

Special requirements

The forensic science program requires a minimum of 120 credits including completion of the College of Humanities and Sciences general education requirements, 46-48 forensic science core program credits and 33 (forensic biology), 30 (forensic chemistry) or 31 (physical evidence) concentration-specific credits.

Students in the forensic science program must receive a minimum grade of C in all FRSC and FRSZ courses, as well as the following:

CHEM   101
CHEZ   101
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
4
CHEM   102
CHEZ   102
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
CHEM   301Organic Chemistry3
BIOL   151
BIOZ   151
Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
4
BIOL   152
BIOZ   152
Introduction to Biological Sciences II
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II
4
PHYS   201General Physics4-5
or PHYS   207 University Physics I

Additionally, a grade of C grade or better in all CHEM/CHEZ courses is required for enrollment in all courses for which they are a prerequisite.

For the forensic chemistry concentration, a minimum of three additional credit hours of advanced study (200- to 500-level) in an area of specialization must be taken. It is recommended that these credits be CRJS, BIOL, PHYS, MATH or CHEM courses. FRSC   202 is not applicable for the major.

Degree requirements for Forensic Science, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with a forensic chemistry concentration

General Education requirements

University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II3
UNIV   200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
Approved humanities/fine arts3
Approved natural/physical sciences3-4
Approved quantitative literacy3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences3-4
Total Hours21-24
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)
HUMS   202Choices in a Consumer Society1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities3
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)
Approved H&S General Education electives6-8
Experiential fine arts 11-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement)0-8
Total Hours11-23
1

Course offered by the School of the Arts

Collateral requirements

Required courses:3 - 10
Calculus with Analytic Geometry (fulfills University Core quantitative literacy)
Critical Thinking About Moral Problems (fulfills H&S literature and civilization)
Basic Practice of Statistics
Total Hours3-10

Major requirements

BIOL   151
BIOZ   151
Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
4
CHEM   101
CHEZ   101
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
4
CHEM   102
CHEZ   102
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
CHEM   301
CHEZ   301
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
5
CHEM   302
CHEZ   302
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory II
5
CHEM   303
CHEZ   303
Physical Chemistry
and Physical Chemistry Laboratory I
5
CHEM   309
CHEZ   309
Quantitative Analysis
and Quantitative Analysis Laboratory
4
CHEM   409
CHEZ   409
Instrumental Analysis
and Instrumental Analysis Laboratory
5
FRSC   300Survey of Forensic Science3
FRSC   309Scientific Crime Scene Investigation3
FRSC   365Forensic Microscopy4
FRSC   375Forensic Evidence, Law and Criminal Procedure3
FRSC   400
FRSZ   400
Forensic Chemistry
and Forensic Chemistry Laboratory
5
FRSC   490Professional Practices in Forensic Science3
MATH   201Calculus with Analytic Geometry4
PHYS   201General Physics4-5
or PHYS   207 University Physics I
PHYS   202General Physics4-5
or PHYS   208 University Physics II
STAT   314Applications of Statistics4
Total Hours73-75

Concentration electives

Select three credits in BIOL/BIOZ, CHEM/CHEZ, CRJS, FRSC/FRSZ, MATH or PHYS (200- to 500-level)3
Total Hours3

Open electives

Select zero to nine open elective credits0-9
Total Hours0-9

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

What follows is a sample plan that meets the prescribed requirements within a four-year course of study at VCU. Please contact your adviser before beginning course work toward a degree.

Freshman year
Fall semesterHours
BIOL   151
BIOZ   151
Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
4
CHEM   101
CHEZ   101
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
4
UNIV   111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I Focused Inquiry I 3
Experiential fine arts course 1-3
 Term Hours: 12-14
Spring semester
CHEM   102
CHEZ   102
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
HUMS   202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
MATH   200 Calculus with Analytic Geometry 4
STAT   210 Basic Practice of Statistics 3
UNIV   112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II Focused Inquiry II 3
 Term Hours: 15
Sophomore year
Fall semester
CHEM   301
CHEZ   301
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
5
PHYS   201
General Physics
or University Physics I
4-5
STAT   314 Applications of Statistics 4
UNIV   200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
 Term Hours: 16-17
Spring semester
CHEM   302
CHEZ   302
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory II
5
CHEM   309
CHEZ   309
Quantitative Analysis
and Quantitative Analysis Laboratory
4
MATH   201 Calculus with Analytic Geometry 4
PHYS   202
General Physics
or University Physics II
4-5
 Term Hours: 17-18
Junior year
Fall semester
CHEM   303
CHEZ   303
Physical Chemistry
and Physical Chemistry Laboratory I
5
FRSC   300 Survey of Forensic Science 3
PHIL   201 Critical Thinking About Moral Problems 3
Approved H&S diverse and global communities course 3
 Term Hours: 14
Spring semester
FRSC   309 Scientific Crime Scene Investigation 3
FRSC   365 Forensic Microscopy 4
FRSC   375 Forensic Evidence, Law and Criminal Procedure 3
BIOL/BIOZ, CHEM/CHEZ, CRJS, FRSC/FRSZ, MATH or PHYS (200- to 500-level) 3
Foreign language (101-level) or open electives 0-4
 Term Hours: 13-17
Senior year
Fall semester
CHEM   409
CHEZ   409
Instrumental Analysis
and Instrumental Analysis Laboratory
5
Approved H&S General Education elective 3-4
Approved H&S science and technology course 3-4
Foreign language (102-level) or open elective 0-4
 Term Hours: 11-17
Spring semester
FRSC   400
FRSZ   400
Forensic Chemistry
and Forensic Chemistry Laboratory
5
FRSC   490 Professional Practices in Forensic Science 3
Approved H&S General Education elective 3-4
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior course 3-4
 Term Hours: 14-16
 Total Hours: 112-128
 

FRSC   202. Crime and Science. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Introduces the scientific theory, concepts and practices used in any physical science by relating them to the analysis of physical evidence performed in forensic laboratories and the fundamentals of crime scene investigation, and their relationship to the criminal justice system and criminal investigations. Not applicable for credit toward B.S. in Forensic Science.

FRSC   300. Survey of Forensic Science. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: BIOL and BIOZ   151. Pre- or corequisites: CHEM and CHEZ   301, and UNIV   200 or HONR   200. Open only to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. Introduces the theory, concepts and practices used in the analysis of physical evidence performed in crime laboratories, and the fundamentals of crime scene investigation. Also introduces ethical and quality assurance issues of crucial importance in modern crime laboratories.

FRSC   309. Scientific Crime Scene Investigation. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture/laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM   301 and either FRSC   300 or 350. Open only to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. Provides scientific theory of crime scene investigation and crime scene reconstruction and basic knowledge of proper crime scene protocol and evidence processing techniques. Includes the processes for documentation, collecting and preserving physical evidence.

FRSC   310. Forensic Anthropology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ANTH   210. A comprehensive overview of forensic anthropology including its development and the theory and methodology on which it is based. Crosslisted as: ANTH   310.

FRSC   325. Forensic Medicine. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: FRSC   300, CHEM   301 and CHEZ   301. Open only to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. An investigation of topics in death scene investigations as well as autopsy findings associated with natural and unnatural deaths.

FRSC   365. Forensic Microscopy. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 4 lecture/laboratory hours. 4 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM   301 and either FRSC   300 or 350. An in-depth course in the theory and practical application of microscopy to the examination, identification and individualization of physical evidence submitted to forensic laboratories.

FRSC   375. Forensic Evidence, Law and Criminal Procedure. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Pre- or co-requisites: FRSC   300 or FRSC 350. Open only to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. The law of criminal procedure and rules of evidence as applied to forensic science. Topics will include scientific versus legal burdens of proof, legal terminology and trial procedure.

FRSC   385. Forensic Serology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM   301 and either FRSC   300 or 350. Examines the application of basic chemical, biological, immunological and microscopic laboratory techniques to the examination and identification of body-fluid stains, including both presumptive and/or confirmatory identification of blood, semen, saliva, urine and feces. Applies methods that are used in forensic laboratories to identify the species of origin and includes a review of advanced methods for automated serological analysis. Laboratory exercises will supplement lectures to give students practical knowledge of the laboratory procedures.

FRSC   391. Topics in Forensic Science. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable lecture hours. 1-3 credits. Maximum total of 6 credits for all forensic science topics courses may be applied to the major. Prerequisites: CHEM   301 and either FRSC   300 or 350. A study in selected topics in forensic science. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and additional prerequisites.

FRSC   400. Forensic Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: FRSC   300 or 350, CHEM   409 and CHEZ   409. Provides an understanding of presumptive and confirmatory chemical analyses used in a forensic laboratory for the characterization and identification of physical evidence, such as accelerants and explosives, paints and polymers, suspected drug substances, and toxicology. Chemical analyses as pertaining to firearms, toolmarks and glass will also be explored.

FRSC   410. Forensic Pattern Evidence. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture/laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: FRSC   309. Open only to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. Covers topics in pattern evidence analysis including analysis of latent prints and impression evidence of footwear and tire treadmarks as applied to forensic casework. Covers both the theoretical and practical aspects using lectures and laboratory exercises focusing on the visualization, examination and interpretation of pattern evidence.

FRSC   412. Forensic Analysis of Firearms and Toolmarks. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture/laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: FRSC   365. Open only to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. An investigation of topics in firearms and toolmark examination for forensic applications. The course covers both theoretical and practical aspects using lectures and laboratory exercises.

FRSC   438. Forensic Molecular Biology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: BIOL   310 or equivalent; CHEM   302 and CHEZ   302. Provides an understanding of molecular biology testing methodologies as applied to analysis of forensic samples. Current topics in forensic DNA analysis will include quality assurance, DNA databanking, contemporary research and population genetics. Crosslisted as: BIOL   438.

FRSC   445. Forensic Toxicology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM   301-302 and CHEZ   301. Provides a comprehensive overview of the basic principles of toxicology and the practical aspects of forensic toxicology. Students will learn to define the toxic agents most commonly resulting in legal problems in U.S. society and also the process by which the U.S. judicial system is aided by scientific investigation. Crosslisted as: PATH   445.

FRSC   490. Professional Practices in Forensic Science. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM   301, either FRSC   300 or 350, and one additional forensic science course. Restricted to seniors in forensic science with at least 85 credit hours toward the degree. An examination and evaluation of historical and current issues in the scientific analysis of physical evidence in criminal investigations. Individual and group activities relating to professional practices (ethics, quality control and testimony) of forensic scientists.

FRSC   492. Forensic Science Independent Study. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-3 credits. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM   301 and either FRSC   300 or 350. Open only to forensic science majors with junior or senior standing and a minimum GPA of 2.5. A determination of the amount of credit and the written permission of both the instructor and the program director must be procured prior to registration for the course.

FRSC   493. Forensic Science Internship. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 credits. May be taken only once. Prerequisites: 27 forensic science core program credits and at least a 2.75 GPA. Open only to forensic science majors with senior standing. An application is required in advance of admission with permission of the internship coordinator. Through placement in an approved organization, the student will obtain a broader, more practical knowledge of forensic science and its applications. Written progress and final reports are required. Graded as pass/fail.