General Information – Forensic Program

Forensics.What does the word mean? Certainly, it conjures up images from the popular media – CSI, The Practice, Monk. Forensics means `tracking down the bad guy,’ a task that mingles intrigue and danger with scientific skill. It is a task that captures everyone’s imagination. It also raises many questions, such as “What is the field of forensics really like?”

Iowa State University has an academic program that can answer many of your questions about this field. Our program was developed with the assistance of crime lab directors in several states to serve the best interests of our students and to help meet the needs of the forensics community.

The Graduate Certificate is meant to complement a program of study at Iowa State that leads to any graduate degree in an established academic major. It is recommended only for students with a very strong background in mathematics, physical or life sciences or engineering. Coursework for the Certificate is at the graduate level. Qualified undergraduates may also enroll, provided they are admitted to the Graduate College as a certificate student for at least one semester. Iowa State does not offer a major in Forensic Sciences at either the graduate or undergraduate level, but it does have an undergraduate major in Criminal Justice.

The primary goal of our Certificate program is to prepare a generation of scientists who can contribute productively to the sciences and technologies involved in forensics and counter-terrorism, particularly at the research and development level.

To earn the Certificate, you will take an interdisciplinary set of courses that will broaden and enrich your perspective of forensic science, attend a series of seminars given by seasoned scientists in the field, and participate in a professional conference at which you can make valuable contacts.

After you earn the Certificate, you will be…

  • Educated in a diverse array of topics that contribute to the interdisciplinary field of forensic science
  • Well informed about the needs for R & D in forensic science
  • Able to propose a research project related to forensic science
  • Informed about forensic science as a career choice
  • Aware of the possibility of offering your expertise as a scientist to law enforcement agencies within your community
  • Aware that forensic sciences can be used as an educational tool in your post-graduate capacity as a professor/teacher, parent or community volunteer