Bachelors in Forensic Science


The Forensic Science program at SJSU offers Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees with concentrations in Chemistry and Biology and a Minor in Forensic Studies for students interested in forensic investigations. Students in the BSFS majors take basic and advanced biology and chemistry courses to build a strong foundation in the sciences, and complement these with courses in forensic science applications. The curricula of each major is designed to meet the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Forensic Education Program Accreditation standards. Interdisciplinary research in forensic science is very active and externally funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Keck Foundation,  the California Association of Criminalists (CAC) student scholarships and support from partnerships with California city, county, and state crime laboratories, academic institution partnerships and over 6 biotechnology partnerships. Students have presented over 35 peer reviewed presentations at local, regional, national and international science meetings, published their work in scientific journals, and our own peer reviewed Journal, Themis as well as in our FS forum newsletter.  Our forensic science student group is extremely active on and off campus running a forensic science seminar series, volunteering and running numerous events and conferences and supporting the department, college and university through their service.  

What is Forensic Science?

Forensic science is defined as the application of the sciences as it pertains to legal matters or problems.  Forensic science includes anthropology, botany, criminalistics, entomology, engineering, genetics, information technology, medicine/pathology, molecular biology, odontology, serology, toxicology and many other disciplines. All of these are specialized sections in forensic science.

What is Criminalistics and What do Criminalists do?

Criminalistics is one of many divisions in the field of forensic science.  Criminalistics is “the profession and scientific discipline directed toward the recognition, identification, individualization and evaluation of physical evidence by application of the natural sciences to law-science matters.”    Criminalists draw from a wide spectrum of knowledge learned in chemistry, biology, genetics, molecular biology, geology, physics, statistics, a working knowledge of civil and criminal law and other disciplines to investigate and solve crimes.

Criminalists may also be required to investigate and process crime scenes.  Crime scene investigation involves the recognition, documentation, collection, preservation and interpretation of physical evidence.  Criminalists bring evidence back to the laboratory where analysis may be conducted.  Interpretations are made about the relevance of items from crime scenes by associating evidence to specific sources and reconstructing the crime scene.   A criminalist will associate and identify evidence, interpret results, reconstruct the crime scene and write a report summarizing the findings.  Finally, criminalists testify in a court of law, teaching the judge and jury about the conclusions reached in the laboratory.

Program Learning Outcomes:

The SJSU Forensic Science program delivers coursework and training to: 
  1. Understand the scientific basis of investigative and analytical methods through academically rigorous coursework
  2. Learn and practice state-of-the art forensic science and CSI methodologies through hands-on activities, laboratories, seminars, workshops and internships
  3. Acquire requisite knowledge of the legal aspects of investigation and evidence through courses, and attendance at court hearings and moot court
  4. Enhance awareness of the interface of forensic science, law, ethics, human rights, society, culture and humanity
  5. Provide the tools needed to understand the probabilities and the limits of evidence, and decision making under conditions of uncertainty
  6. Empower graduates to become agents of change to recognize, document and report errors and injustices in the practice of forensic science and crime scene investigation.



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

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