The Forensic Science Concentration provides a rigorous education in chemistry with an emphasis on Analytical Chemistry. Analytical chemistry determines the identity and concentration of materials. This emphasis provides knowledge, skills, and perspectives that are well-suited to either a forensic laboratory or any of the many quality assurance labs found in a wide variety of workplace environments. A recent survey by the American Chemical Society found that Analytical Chemists are the largest component of the chemistry workforce, recognizing that nearly every industry has a need to know and validate the composition of the materials they work with.
Chemistry is the study of matter, and an understanding of matter and materials is necessary in healthcare, manufacturing, and scientific research. It is a fundamental area of knowledge that provides a foundation for most other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) areas. Chemistry graduates also have skills in data gathering, data interpretation, and problem solving that translate well into desirable careers outside of science.
STEM graduates have a wide variety of career options, both in STEM areas and in non-STEM areas. The 2012 STEM Report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce provides interesting data on the value of a STEM degree. STEM graduates will have lifetime earning substantially greater than non-STEM graduates ($2.2 million vs. $1.7 million). Nationally, 43% of STEM graduates work outside of a STEM area, often choosing a highly-paid non-STEM occupation, demonstrating the versatility of a STEM degree. Meanwhile, STEM occupations such as chemistry are growing more quickly than the economy as a whole (17% vs. 10%).
The American Chemical Society 2013 Salary Survey shows that chemists have low unemployment (3.5%) compared to the overall unemployment rate (7.4% according to Bureau of Labor Statistics). The median salary for a BS Chemist is $73,300. Using your chemistry degree for a graduate or professional degree results in higher salaries (e.g. median for PhD chemist is $102,000). A BS Chemistry graduate earns a 23% higher salary than the average BS degree graduate (www.salaryexplorer.com).
Skills and interests suited to a career in chemistry
Successful chemistry majors develop strong problem-solving skills, including comfort with math and working with abstract ideas. While facts and knowledge are present, chemistry courses focus on understanding how and why nature behaves as it does, and relies little on rote memorization. Many chemistry majors enjoy tinkering with things and find great satisfaction with the laboratory work including manipulation of materials and operating analytical instruments.
About the program
The Forensic Science Concentration provides a flexible curriculum to allow students to customize their education to suit the career aspirations. This flexibility is well-suited for students completing pre-medical, pre-dental, or pre-pharmacy requirements. Major electives provide breadth of experience through coursework in biology as well as non-science courses in judicial process or communications to complement a rigorous chemistry curriculum. Coursework in judicial process is important for a forensic scientist, and advanced communications skills are universally valued by employers. A minor is not required for this degree.