Forensic Science (BS)

Forensic Science (BS)


The major in Forensic Science is designed to provide academic and professional training for students seeking to work in forensic science laboratories, or who are planning to pursue careers as research scientists, teachers or medical professionals. The major draws primarily from chemistry (organic, analytical and physical) with courses in biology, physics and law. Students may specialize in one of three tracks: Criminalistics, Molecular Biology, or Toxicology.

Learning outcomes. Students will: 

  • Draw appropriate scientific conclusions from evidence and experimental data. 
  • Understand the role of creativity in problem solving. 
  • Apply scientific principles in gathering and interpreting scientific data. 
  • Acquire broad fundamental concepts, theories, and principles in physical and biological sciences. 
  • Use the primary scientific literature effectively in their own research. 
  • Describe the scientific progress that has led to their research project. 
  • Accrue hands-on laboratory and practical research skills, including emphasizing the role of quality assurance and objectivity in scientific data collection and how these relate to the system of professional ethics in science. 
  • Develop competence in oral and written forms of scientific communication. 


Admission Requirements. To be admitted to the Forensic Science major, students must have at least an 81 CAA (high school academic average) and one of the following:

1. Took New York State Chemistry Regents Exam; OR
2. Took the AP Chemistry Exam; OR
3. Earned at least 3.5 units of High School Mathematics; OR
4. Earned at least a score of 50 on the CLEP Chemistry exam.

Students who do not meet above criteria can attend John Jay with an undeclared major and take introductory science and mathematics courses to achieve admission to the major by performing very well in these courses.

Students who wish to transfer into the Forensic Science major must have earned a Mathematics/Science GPA of 2.5 or higher in science major courses to be admitted. Transfer students from non-science majors will need to meet the criteria stated above.

Credits Required.

Forensic Science Major


General Education




Total Credits Required for B.S. Degree


Coordinator. Professor Nicholas Petraco, Department of Sciences (212-484-1315,

Advisor. Professor Sandra Swenson, Department of Sciences (212.237.8820,

Science Internship Directors. Professor Linda Rourke for forensic science laboratory internships (646.557.4501,, Edgardo Sanabria-Valentin for research internships (212.393.6489,

Advising resources. 
Four-year Plan of Study (for students who place into MAT 105)
Four-year Plan of Study (for students who place into MAT 141)
Forensic Science Major Advising Resources

Additional information. An internship is required for the forensic science degree. This can be fulfilled by either FOS 401 or FOS 402. The internship requirement is to be completed after the junior year in the Forensic Science major progression. Consult the course descriptions in this bulletin or the designated coordinator for proper program planning. Please note that certain courses have specific prerequisites that must be taken for timely progression through the major. The chemistry or biology taken in the freshman year of the Forensic Science major fulfills the science component of the general education requirements.

Students who enrolled for the first time at the College or changed to this major in September 2015 or thereafter must complete the major in the form presented here. Students who enrolled prior to that date may choose either the form shown here or the earlier version of the major. A copy of the earlier version may be obtained in the 2016-2017 Undergraduate Bulletin

Course information. To be placed into BIO 103, students must take a Biology placement exam AND be majoring in Forensic Science.  In addition, MAT 105 (or higher depending on math placement) is a pre- or co-requisite for BIO 103. Some students may be required to begin the major in the BIO 101-102 paced sequence depending on their placement score.

To be placed into CHE 103, students must take a Chemistry placement exam AND be majoring in Forensic Science. In addition, MAT 105 (or higher depending on math placement) is a pre- or co-requisite for CHE 103. Some students may be required to begin the major in the CHE 101-102 paced sequence depending on their placement score. For physics prerequisites, see mathematics requirement section noted above.

Academic Standards/GPA Requirement. Students must maintain a GPA of 2.0 or better in the science and mathematics courses of the major to qualify for progression to the sophomore- and junior-level courses in the major. Students not maintaining the necessary GPA will be dropped from the major. Students may appeal this decision to the department chairperson.

Honors in the Major: Students must have completed FOS 401 Forensic Science Laboratory Internship or FOS 402 Undergraduate Research Internship with a grade of B+ or higher, completed all requirements for the major and have earned at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA in courses above the 100-level in the major.  Credit for courses required as prerequisites for major courses and transfer credits applied to the major will not be calculated into the major cumulative GPA.  Students must also have earned at least a 3.2 overall cumulative GPA.  This honor will be noted on the student’s transcript.

Please note: The majority of courses required for the degree in Forensic Science are not available in the evening.

FOUNDATIONAL COURSES                                                                                   Subtotal: 0-3 credits

May be required depending on math placement
MAT 141 Pre-Calculus

Advisors recommendation: MAT 141 fulfills the Required Core: Math and Quantitative Reasoning area of the Gen Ed Program depending on individual student’s placement.

PART ONE. SCIENCE AND MATH REQUIREMENTS                                  Subtotal: 56-59 credits

Freshmen Year

BIO 103 Modern Biology I
BIO 104 Modern Biology II
CHE 103 General Chemistry I
CHE 104 General Chemistry II
MAT 241 Calculus I
MAT 242 Calculus II
                                                                                                                                                  Total Credit Hours: 15-18

BIO 101 + BIO 102 may be taken in place of BIO 103
CHE 101 + CHE 102 may be taken in place of CHE 103

General education info: Students are required to take BIO 103 for the Required Core: Life and Physical Science Gen Ed requirement. Three credits count toward general education; the two additional credits for the STEM variant are counted toward the major. Students are required to take BIO 104 OR CHE 103 for the Flexible Core: Scientific World Gen Ed requirement. Three credits count toward general education; the additional credits are counted toward the major.

MAT 241 is required for the major if not taken for the Required Core: Math and Quantitative Reasoning Gen Ed requirement.

Note: This program has received a waiver to specify particular courses students must take in some areas of the Common Core. If students take different courses in these areas, they will be certified as having completed the Common Core areas, but it may not be possible for them to finish their degree program within the regular number of credits.

Sophomore Year
CHE 201 Organic Chemistry I
CHE 202 Organic Chemistry II
CHE 220 Quantitative Analysis
LAW 202 Law and Evidence
PHY 203 General Physics I
PHY 204 General Physics II 
                                                                                                                                                        Total Credit Hours: 23

Junior Year

CHE 302 Physical Chemistry II
CHE 315 Biochemistry
CHE 320 Instrumental Analysis I
CHE 321 Instrumental Analysis II 

MAT 301 Probability and Mathematical Statistics I
                                                                                            Total Credit Hours: 18

PART TWO. SPECIALIZATIONS                                                                           Subtotal: 14 credits

Criminalistics Track
Junior year 

FOS 313 An Introduction to Criminalistics for Forensic Science Majors

Senior year 
FOS 401 Forensic Science Laboratory Internship OR FOS 402 Undergraduate Research Internship
FOS 415 Forensic Science Laboratory I
FOS 416 Forensic Science Laboratory II

Toxicology Track
Junior year
TOX 313 Toxicology of Environmental and Industrial Agents

Senior year
FOS 401 Forensic Science Laboratory Internship OR FOS 402 Undergraduate Research Internship
TOX 415 Forensic Pharmacology 
TOX 416 Analytical Toxicology

Molecular Biology Track
Junior year
BIO 315 Genetics

Senior year 
BIO 412 Molecular Biology
BIO 413 Forensic DNA Analysis and Interpretation 
FOS 401 Forensic Science Laboratory Internship OR FOS 402 Undergraduate Research Internship

                                                                                                                                      Total Credit Hours: 70-76

                                                                                                                                                 Last Updated: 2/7/18