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FAQ's

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1.  How science and math intensive is the Forensic Science Program?

Very! In the first two years, students are expected to complete the following courses with a C or better:

    • General chemistry (2 semesters)
    • Organic chemistry (2 semesters)
    • Calculus (2 semesters)
    • Physics (2 semesters)
    • Biology (2 semesters) or microbiology (1 semester) & molecular biology (1 semester)
    • Statistics (1 semester) 
    • Forensic science (2 semesters) 


The forensic science and supporting courses taken junior and senior year are incredibly math and science intensive, and require the foundational knowledge gained by completing the prerequisites above. You will be expected to know and apply the principles from the courses listed above, as well as fundamentals of geometry and trigonometry on a daily basis. A strong foundation in the sciences is an absolute must for someone who intends to graduate from our program.

2.  Is a forensic science degree necessary to work as a crime scene investigator or in a crime lab?

Educational requirements for CSI careers range from high school diploma plus job experience to bachelors degree, and most often, a degree in any field is accepted (although degrees in job-related fields like forensics or criminals justice are preferred). Most crime labs will accept applicants with degrees in chemistry, biology, or other natural sciences as well as those with a forensics degree. 

3.  Do law enforcement officers or federal agents need a forensic science degree?

No (or not necessarily). Most law enforcement agencies – whether they are local, state, or federal – require a four-year degree of some kind, but not specifically a forensic science degree. If you have a specific agency in mind, it is highly recommended you check their website as to what type of degree they might require.

4.  Can I do a 5-year program where I earn both the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Forensic Science from Penn State?

There is an option for a 5-year program in Forensic Science through Penn State, and it is exclusively offered through the Schreyer Honors College. Check out their website for more information about Schreyer and its qualifications if you are interested.

5. Can I complete the Bachelor's degree at Penn State, and then apply for their two-year Master's degree?

No. If you earn the Bachelor’s degree in Forensic Science from Penn State, you are ineligible from applying for the Master’s in Forensic Science at Penn State. You can, however, apply to other graduate level programs offered here.

5.  What is the average class size for forensic science classes?

Lectures generally have 30-35 students and labs usually have 12-16 students.

6.  What degree is earned after completing the Forensic Science program?

Students earn a Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) degree in Forensic Science.

7.  Is there a Forensic Science minor?

No, we currently do not offer a minor in Forensic Science.

Contact Us

To schedule a Campus Tour or speak with a representative, contact Megan Holmes in the Future Students Office:

Phone: 814-865-2609
Email: mas900@psu.edu

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