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 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.
About the Program
The Forensic Science program at San Jose State University is housed within the Department of Justice Studies, and aims to produce professional forensic scientists with adaptable scientific skills accompanied by a thorough grounding in theory and practice. We offer students hands-on training in crime laboratory methodologies and crime scene investigation techniques to prepare them for a career in federal or state police services, national and international forensic institutions, government laboratories, and private organizations. Students can obtain a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in biology, chemistry, or digital evidence.
We value student engagement in the program with other students, faculty, and community organizations. We have a robust Forensic Science Students organization, which can provide plenty of information on navigating the forensic science program, finding internships, and preparing for your career. Our forensic science faculty routinely offer opportunities to students to participate in research conducted within our lab. Through the internship, students gain first-hand experience in the day-to-day working of forensic laboratories with our faculty or with one of our many community partners, including the Santa Clara County District Attorney Crime Lab, Coroner’s Office, or local law enforcement.
Recent Program Announcements
- April 2021: Careers in Forensic Science and Law Enforcement: Tips from the Experts: Series of open discussions and workshops focusing on helping Justice Studies and Forensic Science students to launch a successful career.
- June 2020: Did you know that we now have a Digital Evidence concentration to go alongside our Chemisty and Biology concentrations? Well, if you didn't, here is some more information on it. Feel free to share this widely.
- April 2020: For Fall 2020, we have three FS 160 Special Topics classes schedule to run. One of those classes is Rosa Vega's Death Investigation course. For more information see the course advertisement and last year's syllabus.
- February 2020: In Fall 2020, the forensic science program will have a new concentration: Digital Evidence. If you are interested in the program, please review the major form and contact Dr. Bryce Westlake.
Forensic Science Resources
Advisors assist students with questions about curriculum, course sequencing, as well as fulfilling requirements for graduation. We highly recommend students meet with advisors once a semester. Majors and minors are advised by professors assigned by last name on a drop-in basis during office hours or by appointment. Assignments and hours vary per semester.
Forensic Science Handbook
This handbook is intended to provide students with information about the Justice Studies Department, important policies about our curriculum, and to be a resource for frequently asked questions. We plan on updating the handbook each Academic Year, providing students with the most up-to-date information.
- Forensic Science Speaker Series
- CSI Summer Camp
- Forensic Science FLP in Scotland
- Forensic Science Students (FSS)
- Study Abroad (International Experience)
- Scholarship Opportunities
- Jobs and Organizations
- Specialized Courses
- Tentative Course Offerings