Bachelors in Forensic Science

The Forensic Science program at San José State University offers Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in Forensic Chemistry and Forensic Biology for students with a career interest in crime lab work. Students in the forensic science major take basic and advanced biology, chemistry, and physics courses to build a strong foundation in the sciences, and complement these with coursework in forensic science applications. The curricula of each major concentration meet the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Forensic Education Program Accreditation standards. 

Interdisciplinary research in the forensic science program is active and externally funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Keck Foundation, and the California Association of Criminalists (CAC) student scholarships, with additional support from partnerships with California crime laboratories, academic institutions, and biotechnology companies. Students in our program have presented at local, regional, national and international science meetings and conferences, and published their work in scientific journals.
Our Forensic Science Student group (FSS) is extremely active on and off campus. Members of FSS run a forensic science seminar series, volunteer at local events and conferences, and support the department, college, and university through their service.  


What is Forensic Science?

Forensic science (also called “criminalistics”) is defined as the application of physical sciences to legal matters or legal questions.  Forensic science includes many sub-disciplines such as anthropology, biology, botany, chemistry, entomology, engineering, genetics, latent fingerprints, information technology, medicine/pathology, psychology, odontology, serology, toxicology, and others. All of these are considered specializations within in forensic science.

The job of a forensic scientist is to analyze physical evidence, using various laboratory instruments and techniques, for use in criminal cases. A forensic scientist also interprets test results, writes reports, and testifies in court, typically as an expert witness.

What is Criminalistics and What do Criminalists do?


B.S. Forensic Science Program Learning Outcomes:

At the end of a Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science, students will be able to:

  • Ethically apply forensic science techniques to solve problems of crime, social justice, political oppression, and other injustices in service to humanity, including identifying, documenting, and reporting errors and injustices in the practice of forensic science and crime scene investigation.
  • Apply and explain in written, pictorial, and verbal forms fundamental sciences (i.e. biology, chemistry, computer, etc.) with expertise congruent with concentration and laboratory, instrument, and statistical techniques supporting investigative and analytical protocols and methods used in forensic science.
  • Explain concepts, theories, histories, and limitations associated with the field, including evidential value in the context of known facts, determinants of influence and credibility of evidence, ethical decision-making under uncertainty, and critical analysis of individual, institutional, and societal reliance on forensic science.
  • Describe ways forensic science contributes to and is delimited by other areas of the law, ethics, criminal justice, human rights, institutions, and society.
  • Practice, critically evaluate, and report state-of-the-art forensic science and CSI methodologies in laboratory and field settings, adhering to empirical evidence, tolerating ambiguity, acting ethically, and recognizing the roles and responsibilities of forensic scientists in society.


Curriculum & Requirements

B.S. Forensic Science, Concentration in Biology

See the SJSU catalog for current degree requirements

Major Form to apply for graduation with 4-year road-map for incoming majors (Prior to Fall 2016)

Major Form to apply for graduation with 4-year road-map for incoming majors (After Fall 2016)

B.S. Forensic Science, Concentration in Chemistry

See the SJSU catalog for current degree requirements

Major Form to apply for graduation with 4-year road-map for incoming majors (Prior to Fall 2016)

Major Form to apply for graduation with 4-year road-map for incoming majors (After to Fall 2016)