North America - CND
  North America - US
  South America



  University Programs
  Latest Job Postings


  Crime Scenes



The forensic science training and research program at West Virginia University
May 17, 2004

Submitted by
Jeffrey D. Wells, Associate Professor of Forensic Biology.

Forensic science is a relatively new subject on the WVU campus. There have been some growing pains, however both academic training and research activities are increasing rapidly. In 2001 we graduated our first three students with a B.S. in the subject. The undergraduate program has since split into the Forensic & Investigative Science (FIS) major offered within the School of Arts and Sciences and the Forensic Biometrics major offered by the School of Engineering. WVU played a leading role in the recent US Department of Justice sponsored effort to establish forensic science education guidelines - see The university is also a partner in the Forensic Resource Network, through which National Institute of Justice funds are used to improve the quality of forensic science research and practice in this country.

A prospective FIS student enrolls for two years as a pre-major (basically a typical science curriculum plus a forensic science survey course) then applies to enter the program. Each student chooses the latent examiner, chemistry, or biology emphasis. Recent faculty hires in forensic chemistry and biology have led to new advanced courses in these subjects. WVU staff members have extensive practical experience with methods of death investigation such as skeletal analysis and the "police sciences" such as blood spatter analysis. Current and retired government crime lab employees also regularly serve as adjunct criminalistics instructors.

Most FIS courses takes place within shared university classroom and teaching laboratories, however two houses on campus are used exclusively for mock crime scenes. A dedicated garage facility for teaching vehicle investigation is scheduled for completion in time for spring semester 2005. Efforts are underway to increase forensic science instructional capacity by hiring additional staff, purchasing new analytical equipment, and renovating space for FIS labs and classrooms.

The short-term goal is to be able to admit up to 100 undergraduate students each year while maintaining a program as rigorous and well supported as are the other natural sciences. Graduate-level training in the form of a forensic science certificate that may be earned in association with a Ph.D. or M.S. in a separate primary discipline will begin fall of 2004.

WVU is in Morgantown , a city of approximately 27,000 residents not counting WVU students, located 70 miles south of Pittsburgh. Living conditions are those of a typical college town, and the area offers extensive opportunities for outdoor recreation.

For more information about this program please contact:
Dr. Clifton Bishop at
Lori Britton at

© 2003,, (Best View 800x600, Internet Explorer 6.0 or above)
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use