Forensic Science

Degree OfferedM.S.F.S.
DirectorElizabeth Gardner
Phone(205) 934-2069
Web site

Prospective students should use this checklist to obtain specific admissions requirements on how to apply to Graduate School.

Program Information

The Master of Science in Forensic Science program is designed to prepare individuals for careers in various forensic science and conventional analytical laboratories, emphasizing the application of scientific methods and technologies to legal proceedings. With thoughtful planning, many students have found the program helpful in building a strong foundation to pursue doctoral studies.

The program support includes many UAB faculty members from other departments, personnel from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences' Birmingham laboratory, the Jefferson County Medical Examiner's Office, and local forensic science-related private institutions.  In addition, the program maintains a close working relationship with the DNA profiling laboratories of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and hosts the editorial offices of the Forensic Science Review (the only review journal in forensic science). Faculty research and practice focus especially on forensic aspects of drug chemistry and DNA-based identification.

Minimum admission requirements include a B.S. degree from accredited programs in Chemistry, Biology, or Forensic Science. Coursework is designed for qualified students to begin in fall and complete the program in 21 months. Admission is granted for the fall term only.

According to the National Institute of Justice, students wishing to pursue a career in forensic science should be aware that positions in these fields usually require extensive background checks similar to those required for law enforcement personnel, and are likely a condition of employment.  (National Institute of Justice, 2004. Education and Training in Forensic Science: A Guide for Forensic Science Laboratories, Educational Institutions, and Students. NCJ Report 203099.  Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, pp. 7-10).

Graduates from the UAB Master of Science in Forensic Science program are very successful in gaining employment within a year of graduating.  During the period 2012-2015, 31 students completed the program. Of these, 28 are working in a laboratory or continuing their education (e.g., pursuing a doctorate, professional degree, or second master's degree).  Eighteen of the graduates are employed in forensic science laboratories, ranging from those operated by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to the Greensboro N.C. Police Department.

Additional Information

Dealine for Entry Term(s)Fall
Deadline for All Application Materials to be in the Graduate School OfficeJanuary 31. Later applications will be considered before April 30th if vacancies are available
Number of Evaluation Forms RequiredThree
Entrance TestsGRE (TOEFL and TWE also required for international applicants whose native language is not English.)

For detailed information, contact Dr. Elizabeth Gardner, UAB Department of Justice Sciences, 1201 University Blvd.,  Suite 210,  Birmingham, Alabama 35294-4562.
Telephone: 205-934-2069
Physical Address (for directions): 1201 University Blvd.  Suite 210, Birmingham, AL 35294.


FS 565. Cold Case Analysis. 3 Hours.

Introduction to the methods used in analyzing unsolved cases, including innovative uses of technology, 3rd party investigators, and teams.

FS 567. Forensic Toxicology. 3 Hours.

Discussion of drugs and poisons found in biological evidence, including the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of drugs and poisons, evidence collection and handling, selection of the most appropriate evidence, and analytical methods of detection.

FS 572. Molecular Genetics for Forensic Scientists. 3 Hours.

Prokaryotic and eukaryotic gene structure and function. Independent project required.

FS 650. Advanced Questioned-Death Investigation. 3 Hours.

Examination of forensic pathology as used in local medical examiners’ offices.

FS 653. Advanced Investigation of Fires and Explosions. 3 Hours.

Introduction to arson investigation including overview of specific techniques used in case investigation.

FS 670. Elements of Forensic Science. 3 Hours.

Introduction to philosophical considerations and historic landmarks in the discipline; overview of major sub-disciplines in forensic science; examination of the ethics and expert witnesses and their role in forensic science.

FS 671. Conventional Criminalistics. 3 Hours.

Exploration of basic methodologies and approaches for identifying, collecting, and analyzing trace and pattern evidence, including an overview of microscopy.

FS 672. Advanced Conventional Criminalistics. 3 Hours.

Examination of advanced methods for the analysis of trace and pattern evidence.
Prerequisites: FS 671 [Min Grade: C]

FS 673. Forensic Drug Analysis. 3 Hours.

Exploration of the isolation, identification, and quantification of commonly abused drugs and common poisons; interpretation of findings and correlation with legal applications.

FS 674. Biological Methods in Forensic Science. 3 Hours.

Examination of biological evidence in crime laboratory, including identification of bloodstains and semen stains, and DNA typing of blood, bloodstains, and other body fluids.
Prerequisites: FS 572 [Min Grade: C]

FS 676. Advanced Biological Methods in Forensic Science. 3 Hours.

Discussion of current issues and trends in forensic DNA analysis, including advanced analysis of biological evidence samples.
Prerequisites: FS 674 [Min Grade: C]

FS 677. Advanced Drug Chem. & Toxicology. 3 Hours.

Discussion of relevant analyses conducted for drugs and poisons occurring in biological evidence; examination of the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of detected substances.
Prerequisites: FS 567 [Min Grade: C]

FS 679. Seminar in Forensic Science. 3 Hours.

Review of forensic science in the literature. Review, discussion, and presentation of forensic science student research.

FS 680. Graduate Internship in Forensic Science. 1-3 Hour.

Field experience in a forensic science laboratory.
Prerequisites: FS 698 [Min Grade: C] or FS 699 [Min Grade: C]

FS 686. Special Topics in Forensic Science. 3 Hours.

In-depth review of 3-4 topics in forensic science presented by practitioners in the field.

FS 698. Directed Research in Forensic Science (Non-Thesis). 1-3 Hour.

Independent study in a student's substantive area of interest under the direction of a faculty member.
Prerequisites: FS 679 [Min Grade: C]

FS 699. Thesis Research in Forensic Science. 1-3 Hour.

Independent study in a student's substantive area of interest under the direction of a faculty member Admission to candidacy and successful defense of thesis proposal.

FS 703. Laboratory Rotation III: Drug Analysis. 3 Hours.

FS 704. Laboratory Rotation II: Biological Methods. 3 Hours.


Drexler, Steve, Adjunct Faculty; Conventional Criminalistics
Gardner, Elizabeth A., Associate Professor and Director, Master of Science in Forensic Science Program, 2007, B.S. (Penn State), PhD. (Michigan State), Drug Chemistry, Legal Highs, Gun Powder Residue, Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, Pharmaceutical Spam
Glass, Jay, Adjunct Faculty; Questioned Death Investigation
Harper, Curt, Instructor; Forensic Toxicology
Linville, Jason G., Teaching Assistant Professor, 2004, B.S. (Ohio), M.S., Ph.D. (UAB), Forensic Biology, Entomology, Forensic Science Education
Matteo, Dan, Adjunct Faculty; Forensic Drug Chemistry
Rector, Mitch, Adjunct Faculty; Conventional Criminalistics
Valencia, Karen, Instructor; Forensic Toxicology
Warner, Gary, Instructor and Director of Research in Computer Forensics, 2007, B.S. (UAB), Digital Forensics, Cybercrime and Security