Forensic toxicology is a discipline that plays a vital role in the criminal justice system. It involves the analysis of chemical substances in the body to aid in investigations. The evidence that forensic toxicology can uncover is so valuable, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it is an indispensable part of the criminal justice field.
Experts in this area are known as forensic toxicologists. During an investigation, a forensic toxicologist is called in when there’s a need to find out if toxic chemicals or drugs played a role in the death of a person. The forensic toxicologist evaluates chemical levels in the body to help establish facts about drug use or poisoning, and to determine the cause of death. They also identify foreign, toxic, or otherwise hazardous chemicals found in the body.
In other words, forensic toxicologists have the expertise to find traces of alcohol, illegal narcotics, prescription drugs, poisonous metals, gases, and other toxic materials in the body, tissues, and biological fluids, through various chemical processes.
The services and expert opinion of forensic toxicologists are highly sought after in criminal cases. Because of that, forensic toxicology has become one of the most in-demand professions in the field. A career as a forensic toxicologist is challenging yet fascinating, and it is lucrative as well. If you, like many others, are dreaming of getting into this great career, know that it starts with a degree from one of the top forensic toxicologist colleges in the United States.
There are many schools, colleges, and universities across the country offering degree-level training programs in forensic toxicology. Below are more details.
Requirements to Fulfill
Before enrolling in a forensic toxicology college, you must fulfill some basic requirements first. The requirements for becoming a forensic toxicologist may vary from state to state and from school to school. Generally, though, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or a GED, be in good physical and mental health, and have a clean criminal record. It’s also a plus if you have prior knowledge of subjects like biology, chemistry, mathematics, anatomy, and physiology.
Degrees You Can Earn
Various degree programs in all levels are available from the top forensic toxicologist colleges, including associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctoral degrees. Although you can find jobs with an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in forensic toxicology, it is recommended that you earn at least a master’s to really enhance your skills and competitiveness. And it’s even better to earn a doctorate-level degree in forensic toxicology, as most employers prefer that.
Listed below are the different programs, along with a short description of each:
- Associate’s Degree Program – An associate’s degree in forensic toxicology is a two-year degree program. With this degree, you can find entry-level jobs as a crime scene technician, a laboratory technician, or an evidence custodian, among others. It is a valuable stepping stone towards a bachelor’s degree program.
- Bachelor’s Degree Program – A bachelor’s degree in forensic toxicology is a four-year degree program. Students of this program are required to spend at least one semester interning in a forensic lab. The coursework includes classes in legal procedures, the chain of evidence, communication, and others.
- Master’s Degree Program – A master’s degree program in forensic toxicology takes two years to complete. To be eligible for this program, students must first complete a baccalaureate program. The coursework of the master’s degree program includes more advanced subjects like drug design theories, the effects of drugs on human and non-human species, neurochemical pharmacy, molecular biology, and criminal law, among others.
- Doctorate Degree Program – Doctorate-level degree programs in forensic toxicology, or PhD toxicology programs, are generally research-intensive programs. If you have a master’s degree, you’ll be eligible to apply to a doctorate degree program. During the first two years, you’ll study various courses such as general pathology, biostatistics, and cardiovascular biology. In the final year of your doctorate degree program in forensic toxicology, you’ll be required to prepare a dissertation on any toxicology subject of your choice. You’ll generally be allowed five years to work on your dissertation.
When looking into schools offering forensic toxicology degree programs, it is highly recommended that you pick only those that are accredited. That’s because degrees from non-accredited colleges may not be recognized by most employers. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences-Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (AAFS-FEPAC) accredits schools that meet its standards of quality. Look for AAFS-FEPAC accreditation to make sure you’re getting into a high-quality program.
Listed below are some of the top colleges offering degree programs in forensic toxicology, along with their mailing address:
George Washington University
Department of Forensic Science
2100 Foxhall Road, NW
Washington DC 20007
University of Florida Forensic Science
Office of Registrar
201 Criser Hall
Gainesville, FL 32611
Biomedical Forensic Sciences
School of Medicine
72 E. Concord St., R806
Boston, MA 02118
Michigan State University in East Lansing
Forensic Science Masters Program
Michigan State University
655 Auditorium Road, Room 560A
East Lansing, MI 48824
University of Florida in Gainesville
Master’s in Forensic Toxicology
University of Florida
P.O. Box 100484
Gainesville, FL 32611-0484
Phone: (352) 578-3052
Fax: (352) 273-8716
University of Illinois at Chicago
Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences (MC 865)
Forensic Toxicology Program
833 South Wood Street
Chicago, IL 60612
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