The Defiance College forensic science program brings together the fields of chemistry, biology, physics, medicine, and criminal justice. The major teaches a strong science background coupled with a foundation in criminal justice and legal concepts. This provides students with the skills needed to analyze crime scene evidence while following legal procedures that preserve evidence for use in court.
Students work closely with professors as they learn such skills as evidence analysis from arson accelerants, DNA fingerprinting, presumptive tests for narcotics, trajectories for ballistics, human anatomy for drawing evidence from remains, and the legal procedures for taking evidence to court. In the classroom, at mock crime scene investigations, and while interning, forensic science majors prepare for positions in crime labs or in a forensics graduate program.
This 127-hour degree program includes two internships or cooperative education experiences. Internships allow students to work with regional crime laboratories and local police departments to gain experience in both laboratory forensic investigations and crime investigation. In addition, all students have a senior research project in forensics. Past projects have included topics such as ballistics, biological decomposition rates, and gun powder residue patterns. Students graduate with the hands-on experience, technical skills, and diverse knowledge they need to be successful in their next life stage, whether that be employment or graduate school.
Benefits of the Program
As part of forensic science lab, students are required to solve a crime scene as an assignment. Students use cameras, test the bloodstains, and analyze fingerprints as if it is a real crime scene. For a senior research project, students in this major present their project results at multiple local and regional conferences, the most popular being the Ohio Academy of Sciences annual meeting.
Defiance College students, under faculty supervision, have re-examined actual cold cases using techniques taught in their respective programs and uncovered vital information that provided law enforcement with additional leads and lines of investigation. This experience is extremely valuable due to the practical application of interdisciplinary cooperation, as well as the knowledge and skills gained.
The Detectives of Defiance “Got Clue?” summer camp is run every year with a roughly equal mix of volunteer students from digital forensic science, forensic science, and criminal justice. The students work together to create crime scene scenarios and simulate the evidence used to create the crime scene. This integration of disciplines not only provides an enriching experience for the campers who attend the camp - it provides DC students with genuine experience at tackling common, real-world situations. The ability to integrate and de-conflict multiple forensic disciplines at a single crime scene is a skillset that is badly needed by many agencies in the real world.
Students have the opportunity to apply and grow their skills while carrying out a research project through Defiance College’s innovative McMaster School. As a McMaster scholar, students are enabled to become active world citizens by researching and crafting projects that address a global issue, then teaming with faculty to carry out the project in an effort to alleviate human suffering in the world. Previous forensic science majors have completed projects in such places as Belize, Cambodia, and Ghana.
A dual major or minor gives students extra flexibility in their career choices and sets them apart from other candidates when applying for employment.
For students who would like to specialize in crime scene-related aspects of forensic science, complementary minors might include chemistry or criminal justice.
Forensic examiners are often required to produce evidence to prove a suspect’s intent. Psychology as a minor would allow a successful graduate to leverage advanced technical skills with a working understanding of human motivation.
After College — What's Next?
A degree in forensic science will prepare a student to work in a crime laboratory, administrative agency laboratory, private industry, or other clinical settings. Experiences with various scientific instruments offered at Defiance College can prove to be indispensable for a job search.
Agencies that have benefitted from services provided by forensic science internship
students and graduates as employees in the past five years are listed below:
- Stow Police Department
- Oberlin Police Department
- Schaumburg Police Department
- Toledo Police Department & Crime Lab
- Illinois State Police Department
- Defiance County Sheriff’s Office
- Henry County Sheriff’s Office
- Fayette Sheriff’s Office
- Lucas County Coroner's Office
- Franklin County Coroner's Office
- Ohio Attorney General's Office
- NW OH Juvenile Detention, Training, & Rehabilitation Center
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- US Drug Testing Laboratories, Inc.
- Bowling Green BCI Lab
- London BCI Lab
- Lubrizol Corporation
Faculty, along with most crime laboratory directors, encourage the student to consider a graduate degree prior to seeking employment in the field. Students may consider law school following completion of their studies at Defiance College. A law degree with an undergraduate degree in forensic science may be appealing to those seeking to become a prosecutor, defense attorney, or to work for a governmental administrative agency. The degree may also be a form of pre-med study for those seeking to attend medical school or attain an alternative job preparation degree.
In Their Own Words
"I chose Defiance College because of the forensic science program. As a student, I gained valuable knowledge that is practical to a real world forensic laboratory setting and has led to the success in my career. The small campus atmosphere allowed me to personally get to know my professors and they were always able to answer any questions I had. The curriculum of the forensic degree really gives students the ability to explore different career paths within the forensic profession which is hard to find at any other college across the country."
--Brian Jones, 2012 Graduate
"Defiance College provided a thorough and integral background of the sciences involved
in forensic science. The extracurricular activities I participated in rounded out
my focus on studying forensic science with a larger view of the outside world. I truly
believe each aspect of what I participated in while at Defiance College helped to
give me the best footing to go further not only with my schooling, but with my career.
The knowledge I gained from DC's program gave me a leg up in graduate school with
increased skills in the area of forensics, and ultimately provided extra confidence
and experience when interviewing for careers in my field. I am currently a Forensic
Scientist in the DNA section at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) in
the London office where I perform Forensic Biology analysis and DNA Extraction."
--Brittany (Heaton) Mulinix, 2012 Graduate
"Our goal is to deliver education that leads to career opportunities. In a changing industry, it is important that we work closely with students and ensure that we are meeting their needs. Forensic science faculty is committed to educating students with the latest instrumentation and skills needed to be successful in any job environment. Our students get hands-on training with state-of-the-art instrumentation which becomes a rare skill to have in a competitive job market."
Somnath Dutta, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry
Nathan Griggs, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Alyson Laframboise, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology