Forensic Biology

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there wide interest in Forensic Science?

Over the past 10-15 years, forensic science has seen a great deal of interest because of the explosion in technology, and, in part, because of the popular CSI programs on TV.

At UAlbany: We receive over 40 requests a year for information about the graduate forensic science program.


What is a degree in "Forensic Science?"

Many Universities offer degrees called “Forensic Science” at both the bachelors and masters level. The programs train students in the interactions between an academic specialty and the legal system: forensic biology, forensic anthropology, forensic psychology, forensic chemistry, forensic accounting, forensic computer science, etc.

A graduate program is for the student who wants to eventually become a technical leader, a supervisor or a director of a forensic science laboratory. An undergraduate four-year program is for the student who wants to become a non-supervisory practitioner, an investigator who wants to work and be a valuable asset to a lab but not to run it . An undergraduate degree in forensic science is not a pre-requisite for graduate study in forensic science. Many graduate programs would prefer the strongest possible degree in the relevant academic specialty.

At UAlbany: Our Degree is specifically directed towards the new techniques in Molecular Biology, DNA analysis, and the other Forensic Science disciplines (i.e. Forensic Chemisty, Toxicology, Physical Evidence etc.).

Are all Forensic Science programs the same?

Definitely not! They differ in focus depending upon their area of specialization, and they differ in competence. Some programs are little more than a loose grouping of the courses that any student would take, whereas other programs are very focused with specialized courses taught by experts practitioners and instructors in forensic science.

At UAlbany: The program is specifically directed to train students to work in forensic DNA analysis labs. It has been designed in consultation with the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center.

What criteria should I use to make a judgement?
  1. How long has the program been in existence and how many students have graduated?

    At UAlbany: The program was started in 2001, and has graduated over 100 masters students.

  2. Are there forensic practitioners that are part of the faculty for the forensic science program at that college or university?

    At UAlbany: The program is a collaboration between the University and the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center. Many of the instructors are active participants in real-world forenic investigation.

  3. Is there a forensic science laboratory/agency associated with the academic program?

    At UAlbany: YES, the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Lab.

  4. Does the program include internships or research projects?

    At UAlbany: Each student must complete a 6-credit internship project in a laboratory that offers up-to-date training and laboratory expertise in areas that are potentially applicable to forensic biology.

  5. Are students that have graduated from the program hired in an accredited forensics agency?

    At UAlbany: Students have been very successful at competing for jobs as DNA Analysts and Forensic Scientists. [see Alumni]

  6. Is the University or College respected and accredited?

    At UAlbany: The University at Albany is one of the University Centers of the State University of New York. The forensic science program culminates in a Masters Degree in Forensic Biology awarded by the Department of Biological Sciences.

  7. What about the facilities and faculty? Are students learning up-to-date theory and practicing on state-of-art technology?

    At UAlbany: All students in the Forensic Biology Program have access to state-of-the-art forensic science training facilities, located on the second floor in the Department of Biological Sciences.