Forensic Science

FS Student Rebecca Sargent


Forensic science is the application of scientific principles and methods to determine facts of legal significance. The B.S. in Forensic Science at Western Carolina University is a laboratory-based degree with a curriculum that focuses heavily on science and mathematics courses. The outstanding curriculum was designed by retired F.B.I. agent Dr. Mark Wilson, and seeks to prepare students for work in crime laboratories following graduation. All students in the program will receive hands-on training on equipment and instrumentation that is found in crime laboratories worldwide. Additionally, our program boasts a highly qualified forensic faculty to provide you with excellent training in this exciting discipline.

Note: We are not affiliated with the WCU FOReST decomposition facility (the "body farm"). For more information about the FOReST, please contact Director Dr. Cheryl Johnston (828-227-2816,

The Program

Students begin the program as "Pre-Forensic Science" majors. During the freshman and sophomore years, all pre-forensic science students are required to complete a rigorous core set of basic science courses including:

  • one semester of General Biology (BIOL 140)
  • one year of General Chemistry (CHEM 139/140)
  • one year of General Physics (PHYS 130/131)
  • one semester of Organic Chemistry (CHEM 241)
  • one semester of Calculus I (MATH 153)
  • one semester of Statistics (MATH 270)

When the core set of science courses has been satisfied with a G.P.A. of 2.75 or better, the student is eligible to take a comprehensive entrance examination which covers all of the areas presented in the core. The minimum score for the examination is a 70% or better. When the above criteria is met, the student's application package will be reviewed by a committee, and a decision regarding entry into the program will be made.

We currently offer two concentrations for Forensic Science students to choose from. The Biology and Chemistry concentrations have similar curricula with the exception of specialized science courses taken during the junior and senior years. The Biology concentration prepares students for work in crime laboratories as DNA technicians. These students typically complete research projects and internships in forensic science, biochemistry and molecular biology laboratories. The Chemistry concentration prepares students for analytical chemistry work in crime laboratories handling casework including toxicological investigations, arson analysis, etc. Neither concentration will prepare students for investigative work at crime scenes.

The Forensic Science Program at Western Carolina University has cutting-edge research facilities that have been designed to mimic crime laboratories nationwide. Our upper-level coursework enables students to gain hands-on experience using advanced analytical instrumentation. 

See the Facilities

The Forensic Science Program at Western Carolina University is interdisciplinary and enables you to complete coursework in many different departments. Follow the links below for additional information about related programs.

For more information about the Forensic Science Program at WCU, contact:

  • Interim Program Director Dr. Kelly Grisedale (828-227-3970,
  • Mrs. Brittania Bintz, (828-227-3680,
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