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To the Prospective Forensic Student


To the Prospective Forensic Student

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  • To the Prospective Forensic Student
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    Thank you for your interest in EWU's forensic chemistry program.

    This program is one of several BS degree options in chemistry offered by EWU, so forensics students take the same core set of courses as other chemistry majors. We have made a few revisions to the program so check with your advisor as soon as possible. To be officially accepted as a student in this program, a student must have completed a specified set of core courses (51 quarter credit hours) with an average grade of 3.0.

    You will need to contact the General Undergraduate Advising Office to arrange for an advising appointment at 509-359-2345. They will be able to look at your transcripts and your application to place you in the proper courses, particularly for mathematics. They can arrange to do this over the phone. After the first quarter, advisors in the chemistry department will help you. The central office number for chemistry is 509-359-2447.

    If you are planning on transferring to EWU after attending a community college, there are a few things that you should know. Some of the science courses that you take may transfer directly to EWU, but that is something you will want to find out about in advance. Check with the Undergraduate Advising early in this process. To have any chance of graduating from EWU to two years, transfer students coming in with an AA degree should have taken a year of general chemistry and should be ready to take calculus.

    If you are still in high school and want to know what to take, emphasize mathematics and science and be sure not to skip mathematics your senior year. Historically, students who do so test in at a low level and start out behind in math. Due to the volume of inquires we receive, we cannot provide individual guidance on what courses to take in high school or at other colleges. Please refer to the web site and work with your teacher, professors, or counselors.

    If you need application information, please contact the Admissions Office: ADMISSIONS WEB PAGE

    Important points to keep in mind about forensic science and related careers:

    1. Jobs like those depicted in CSI don't exist. Make sure you have realistic expectations before diving in. The web site has lost of information and links to assist you in your research. A good place to start is on the "Jobs" page. It will give you an overview of the typical selection of jobs available to forensic scientists.
    2. The entry-level requirement to work in a forensic science laboratory is a BS degree in a natural science. Law enforcement and criminal justice programs do not meet this requirement. Thus, if you want to work in forensic science, you need to get a science degree.
    3. Our degree is a chemistry degree with an emphasis in forensics and a large compliment of biology for DNA work. The major is specifically designed to meet entry-level work in state, local, and federal forensic science labs. It also gives you the flexibility of a chemistry degree, which will open up additional opportunities for graduate school, professional school, and other entry-level positions.
    4. Because it is a chemistry/science degree, there are no on-line or distance learning courses available. Most courses have associated labs that require you to be present in the laboratory.
    5. The curriculum meets emerging certification and accreditation guidelines being developed by working groups associated with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
    6. This is a science degree and, thus, is no picnic. Motivation, hard work and perseverance are essential. You must complete mathematics through calculus and you will have to maintain a high GPA in science and mathematics classes. That being said, it is also a fun degree with real world applications and a different challenge every day. Prepare to work hard and enjoy it!
    7. Your forensic science classes will be taught by people who have worked in forensic labs and by forensic scientists with the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and Idaho State Patrol (ISP). Your education will prepare you for the real world by learning from people who have been there.
    8. The Washington State Patrol built a new crime laboratory on the EWU campus, a stone's throw away from the Science Building on the Cheney campus. The lab serves all of Washington state east of the Cascade Mountains and will have training and teaching facilities. This provides a unique opportunity for collaboration, research and integration with a working crime laboratory.
    9. This program includes a competitive internship for which you must formally apply. Selection will be based on grades, coursework, and written and oral communication skills. You must have been accepted into the Chemistry/Biochemistry - BS Forensic option to apply. All interns will be subject to a background check by the law enforcement agency for which they work. This check will include investigation of past use of drugs, felony convictions, etc. If this presents a problem, this major is a really bad idea for you. If you have additional questions about the background check, contact the Washington State Patrol directly. We are unable to answer such inquiries. See their web site at
    10. Although it is possible to finish this degree in four years starting as a freshman, your math background is the key. You must arrive on campus ready to take MATH 106 (Pre-calculus) or you must anticipate several extra quarters of work.
    11. If you come in as a transfer student, the time required to finish will depend on what courses transfer in and upon your mathematics and science background. It may be possible to finish in two additional years, but there are no guarantees. If you have questions about transferring courses and EWU equivalents, contact the Office of Admissions directly.
    12. If you already have a degree and wish to pursue this major, you will need to talk with the Admissions Office to determine your status, what classes could transfer in; each case is unique. For most students however, this program will take at least an additional 2 years given the heavy load of science courses which must be taken in series.
    13. If you plan to work in this field, you will subject to a background investigation and will most likely have to take a polygraph test. Past drug use will be part of this investigation. If this presents a problem, a career in forensic science is unlikely to impossible. See#9 above for more information. Please don't ask us to answer specific questions about your situation - only a law enforcement agency can do this.

    Finally, due to the large number of inquiries we receive, it is difficult to reply to individual emails, particularly if the information you ask for is found in this letter or on the web site. Please double check these resources prior to contacting us with additional questions.

    Than you for your interest in Eastern Washington University. We hope to see you here soon!

    Contact Information

    Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
    226 Science Building
    Cheney, WA 99004

    phone: 509.359.2447
    fax: 509.359.6973

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