Forensic Science Certificate Program

Administered by the International Forensic Research Institute (IFRI), the Certificate in Forensic Science is an Academic Certificate designed to provide a focus for those students who are interested in pursuing a career in the forensic sciences. The program is suitable for students majoring in chemistry, biology or another natural science who wish to enter the field of forensic science. The program also allows access to persons in the community who have already earned a BS/BA in Chemistry or Biology and are currently working in this area to develop or upgrade their skills. The field of forensic science is interdisciplinary and requires significant training in the natural sciences.

FIU’s Certificate of Forensic Science is a program accreditted by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (one of only 12 such programs in the U.S.) to offer an undergraduate degree that meets the AAFS requirements and accreditation criteria. Students who earn the preferred B.S. in the natural sciences with the additional education and training provided by this certificate would receive recognition as earning an accreditted degree by the AAFS. Recent studies confirm that crime lab directors have a preference for the B.S. in chemistry/biochemistry, followed by biology and forensic science degrees with significant chemistry components (minimum of 6 semesters on average) [1-2].

The prerequisites for the forensic science core courses are completed prior to taking any of the certificate courses and are as follows:

  • 1 calculus course (3 credits),
  • 1 statistics course (3 credits),
  • 1 general biology course with lab (4 credits),
  • 2 physics courses with labs (8 credits),
  • 2 general chemistry courses with labs (8 credits),
  • 2 organic chemistry courses with labs (8 credits),
  • one semester of analytical chemistry with lab and (4 credits)
  • one semester of biological chemistry/biochemistry (3 credits).

The certificate will be awarded at the time of awarding the Bachelor's degree, or upon completion of this work if the student already has a Bachelor's degree. The program consists of 18 credits detailed below. Application forms are available here. An M.S. in Forensic Science is also available and the equivalent graduate level courses taken may also be applied to the Certificate Program. Please visit IFRI’s homepage at for more information on the MS in Forensic Science.

Certificate of Forenic Science Required courses (15 credits)

  • CHS 3501 Survey of Forensic Science (3 credits)
  • CHS 4503C Forensic Science (3) or CHM 5542 Forensic Chemistry (3)
  • CHS-3510C Forensic Evidence (3) or CHS 5531 Forensic Analysis (3)
  • CHS 4533C Forensic Biochem. Appl. (3) or BSC 5406 Forensic Biology (3)
  • CHS 4591 Forensic Science Internship (3) or CHS 6946 Graduate Forensic Internship (3)

Elective courses:

Three credits chosen from the following in consultation with your departmental advisor:

  • PCB 4524† Molecular Biology (3) & PCB 4524L† (1);
  • PCB3063† Genetics & PCB3063L†; BOT 1010 Introductory Botany (3);
  • CHM 4130§ Instrumental Analysis (3) & CHM 4130L§ (1);
  • CHS 5539 Forensic Toxicology (3);
  • CCJ 3024 Overview of Criminal Justice (3);
  • CCJ 3101 Law Enforcement System (3);
  • CCJ 3271 Criminal Procedure (3);
  • CCJ 3101 Law Enforcement System (3);
  • GLY 3030 Environmental Geology (3);
  • SOP 4842 Legal Psychology (3);
  • STA 5664 Forensic Statistics (3)

Note: A total of 19 additional semester hours that provide greater depth in the student’s area of specialization are required as part of the upper division requirements for the bachelors degree in chemistry§, biology† or other natural science. Students are also encouraged to take the General Knowledge Exam of the American Board of Criminalistics immediately following the completion of the certificate requirements.

Students who have not earned a BS in Chemistry or Biology from FIU must also meet the "Specialized Courses Requirement" for FEPAC. A minimum of 12 additional semester hours in more advanced coursework in chemistry or biology are required. Note: These classes shall be consistent with the degree program (Chemistry or Biology). For example, FIU BS Chemistry student graduates meet this requirements by completing the following courses:

  1. Introduction to Analytical Chemistry (3 credits) with Lab (1)
  2. Physical Chemistry I (4) with lab (1)
  3. Physical Chemistry II (4) with lab (1)

A review of the student transcript for non-FIU students will be required to ensure meeting this FEPAC standard.

For additional information please call (305)-348-6211 or contact one of the Coordinating Committee members below:

  • Anthony P. (Tony) DeCaprio, Ph.D., DABT, Director, Forensic Science Certificate Program; ( or
  • Pupi Tomassini, IFRI Sr. Secretary; 305-348-6211 (

International Forensic Research Institute (IFRI)
Florida International University (FIU)
Department of Chemistry - CP304
University Park, Miami, FL 33199
Tel: (305)-348-6211
Fax: (305)-348-3772

[1] Furton, K.G., Hsu, Y.L. and Cole, M.D. What educational background is required by crime laboratory directors?, J. Forensic Sci. 44 (1999) 128-132;

[2] J.R. Almirall and K.G. Furton, Trends in Forensic Science Education: Expansion and Increased Accountability, Analyt. Bioanalyt. Chem. 376 (2003 1156-1159).

Steps to Complete the Certificate Program in Forensic Science

Note: A minimum of a 2.5 overall GPA is required for admission to the Forensic Science Certificate Program

  1. Students must be advised by the Program Director Prior to completing the Application
  2. Students complete the application (Application forms are available here). and turn in the completed application to the IFRI secretary (Monica Prieto) in CP304. This form provides the Registrar's Office with both the information and the authorization needed to officially recognize the student as "certificate-seeking."
  3. Once the application is approved by the Certificate Program Director, it is forwarded to the Registrar's office and a file is created for the student and kept in the Department of Chemistry offices. Ms. Prieto is the custodian of the files.
  4. The student will then receive a letter from the Certificate Director informing them that they are admitted to the Certificate Program and they can begin taking courses (after all the pre-requisite courses are completed)
  5. In the last semester or two of the program, the student meets again with the Certificate Program Director to arrange for an internship at an operational laboratory.
  6. Student then notifies certificate program director that all the required courses (including the internship) have been completed.
  7. The Certificate Program Director verifies completion of all the program requirements and submits a request for awarding the Certificate to the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences who then forwards the request to the Office of the Registrar.
  8. The Certificate is sent back to the Certificate Program Director to be given to the student.