About the Program
Forensic science - the application of the methods of science to legal matters - is an exciting, complex and multidisciplinary program of study. In it one employs the principles of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics, as well as social science theory and law, to help solve crimes and serve justice. Forensic science offers students who have a bachelor's degree in a natural or physical science an opportunity to apply their knowledge to serve justice. The program includes courses in criminal justice, forensic science, and law. Research in the forensic sciences takes place throughout a student's tenure.
Michigan State University has long been recognized as a premier institution for research and education in forensic science. The School of Criminal Justice administers the oldest continually functioning educational degree program in forensic science in the United States, with Professor Ralph Turner first establishing a criminalistics program in 1947. Over time the Bachelors program changed to a graduate specialization, then a full-fledged Masters program in 2002.
Michigan State University is home to a number of excellent resources for the study of forensic science. The School of Criminal Justice maintains modern laboratory facilities containing equipment and instrumentation for the analysis of virtually any type of physical evidence, from chromatography equipment for drugs, explosives, and arson evidence, to microscopy techniques for trace evidence analysis, to genetic analyzers for the analysis of DNA.
The Forensic Science Masters program at Michigan State University is designed to give students a broad theoretical and practical background in the scientific, legal, and investigative aspects of forensic science while providing the opportunity to study one of the major disciplines in depth. There are three concentrations offered: Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Biology, and Forensic Anthropology.
Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice has some of the most modern research and teaching forensic science laboratories in the country. Housed in the Chemistry Building, the forensic chemistry laboratory contains state-of-the-art equipment including gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, FTIR, capillary electrophoresis, HPLC, fluorescence spectrophotometer, and polarized light microscopy. Additional laboratory instrumentation is available in the chemistry department. The DNA laboratories, located in Giltner Hall, include PCR and genetic analysis equipment (AB 3500 genetic analyzer), electrophoresis equipment, digital photography equipment, and multiple thermocyclers. The forensic anthropology labs, located in Fee Hall, are equipped with bench space for osteological exams, a stereozoom microscope, an image superimposition center, and a GE portable X-ray unit.
The laboratory headquarters of the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division is conveniently located near the MSU campus. This full-service laboratory is available as a source of research resources and internship placements. Faculty in the Forensic Science Program and elsewhere on the campus regularly consult with the state police and conduct joint research projects with the help of forensic science students.
Through its career development and internship offices, the School of Criminal Justice provides internship opportunities for forensic science students, giving them a chance to learn firsthand how a crime lab works. Many interns carry out research projects under the auspices of laboratory personnel. Academic credit is awarded for successful completion of internship placement.
Although the Master of Science degree in Forensic Science is administered by the School of Criminal Justice (College of Social Science), several colleges and departments cooperate in offering this interdepartmental degree. These include the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Human Medicine, and Natural Science, as well as the departments of Anthropology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Radiology, Resource Development, Statistics and Probability, and Zoology. Also participating are the Center for Advanced Microscopy, the Genetics Program, and the Medical Technology Program.