Forensic Chemistry

Forensic science is the scientific method of gathering and examining information about the past, which is then used in a court of law. Forensic chemists analyze non-biological trace evidence found at crime scenes in order to identify unknown materials and match samples to known substances. Different analytical methods are used to reveal what chemical changes occurred during an incident, which helps reconstruct the sequence of events. Forensic chemists analyze physical evidence and samples for clues to solve crimes.

What’s Special About Forensic Chemistry at Ship?

Our class sizes are small, meaning students and professors have close relationships. This accessibility in and out of the classroom is key to students achieving their individual goals within the field of chemistry. You will have the opportunity to undertake research to obtain experience in individual scientific investigation. Students also have the opportunity to apply for grants to receive funding for research expenses.

Our students are welcome to apply for an internship at the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office Forensic Laboratory located nearby in Carlisle. This unique experience allows students in the forensics concentration to apply what they learn in the classroom to real world criminal cases.

Where Can Forensic Chemistry Get Me?

The forensics concentration has a curriculum that includes the Bachelor of Science in chemistry with additional courses in biology and criminal justice to prepare a student for application to a master’s program in forensic science. Ultimately, these students will be candidates for employment in the forensic chemistry field.

Forensic scientists are vital to the criminal justice process. Most forensic scientists work for federal or state crime laboratories.

Possible careers in forensics:

  • Forensic Analyst
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Digital Forensic Examiner
  • Forensic Research Technician
  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Coroner

The average salary for forensic science jobs in Pennsylvania is $61,000.

How Do Students in the Forensics Concentration Spend Their Time?

Students interested in studying forensics must complete the chemistry core curriculum, along with additional courses in chemistry, biology, and criminal justice. Students who would like to graduate with American Chemistry Society certification need to take an additional two credits in research and CHM312 Seminar. The undergraduate catalog details specific course requirements.

Our students have plenty of opportunities to gain hands-on experience through labs, internships and research.

We provide access to a wide variety of instruments for use in course work and research. Learning how to use these instruments is key to preparation for internships, careers and graduate programs.

Each faculty member is devoted to providing students with the opportunity to perform research, the focus of which is tuned to the individual student’s interests and career goals. Students have opportunities to collaborate with faculty on research projects as early as their freshman year.

Chemistry majors may also consider joining Chemistry Club. There are a lot of great educational and leisure activities for members to enjoy while making a difference around campus and the surrounding area. Participation in activities and services through the club stands out on a resume and is a great way to network and create lifelong relationships.

Our students also have the opportunity to compete for various awards while they complete their degree.

Shippensburg University chemistry students can become recipients of the following awards:

  • Freshman Chemistry Award
  • Eastman Kodak Scholarship Award in Chemistry
  • Undergraduate Award for Achievement in Organic Chemistry Sponsored by the American Chemical Society and the Joint Polymer Education Committee
  • Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh
  • Analytical Chemistry Award
  • American Chemical Society Award
  • American Chemical Society Dinner
  • American Institute of Chemists Award
  • Class of 1920 Award in Sciences – Chemistry
  • Dr. Louise Lienemann Chemistry Scholarship Fund
  • APSCUF/SU Student Award
  • ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry
  • ACS Division of Organic Chemistry Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry
  • The Dr. James A. Beres and Merry Jean Beres Student/Faculty Research Endowment for the Department of Chemistry Award