Application, Admission Requirements, Costs
Applicants are encouraged to apply online. All applications are now
electronic, paper applications are no longer available.
Application materials may be obtained at the UIC Graduate College Admissions page.
Applicants for this M.S. degree must have an earned bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in the physical or biological sciences. Chemistry and Biochemistry are the preferred undergraduate majors. Those whose interests tend towards drug chemistry, toxicology, trace evidence / materials analysis, and other aspects of forensic chemistry are advised to major in chemistry. Those whose interests tend toward biological evidence analysis and DNA are advised to major in Biochemistry. Biological science majors should take analytical chemistry (quantitative analysis), instrumental analysis, and a semester each of biochemistry and physical chemistry, to strengthen their applications. We do not admit students who lack undergraduate physical or biological science degrees. Students who are interested in forensic DNA analysis should take one course each in: biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology.
Applicants to this program should understand that it is highly competitive. We offer admission to approximately 15 applicants each year, with the expectation that 10-12 will actually attend. In recent years, an admitted student profile has consisted of a chemistry or biochemistry major from a strong undergraduate program with a GPA of at least 3.40 / 4.00 and GRE scores of not less than 1250 (verbal score + quantitative score) and 5.0 or higher in analytical writing. We do not encourage and do not normally admit students on non-degree or limited standing status, and we admit only to the fall semester. The program generally receives approximately 75 applications per year.
A minimum overall GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for undergraduate work is required. Applications are strengthened by GPAs of 3.25/4.00 in basic science and mathematics courses. Official transcripts of undergraduate study must be submitted, as must transcripts of any graduate courses taken. The GRE General Test is required, and scores must be submitted. The GRE General Test now includes a writing assessment segment.
Applicants whose native language is not English (primarily applicants from countries in which English is not the primary language) must submit the results of a TOEFL iBT Examination or the IELTS. For this program, the TOEFL iBT recommended scores are: Writing 22, Speaking 23, Listening 21, Reading 21, and Total 87, or higher.The IELTS recommended scores are minimum of 6 on all subtests, and a total score of 6.5.
A one-page statement of purpose should be submitted, concisely describing why you seek admission to this program, and how you believe its completion will further your educational and career plans. Our goal is to educate and train forensic scientists for the nation's forensic science laboratories. The program is not appropriate for students whose interests are in forensic medicine, anthropology, entomology, psychology, psychiatry, criminal profiling, or crime scene investigation.
Three letters of recommendation are required. There are Graduate College forms for this purpose.
An application will be strengthened by:
Cumulative QPR (GPA) of 3.25/4.00 overall, and/or 3.25/4.00 in core science and mathematics courses;
GRE scores of Verbal + Quantitative equaling 1250 or better; Scores of 5.0 or higher in the Writing Assessment
Strong, persuasive letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your academic background and ability, and who can judge your potential for graduate study;
Statements of purpose that indicate good concordance between your own educational and career plans and expectations, and what this program offers.
Applications are accepted only for Fall semester entry. The application deadline is February 1st for the following Fall semester every year. All application materials, transcripts and test scores must be in our hands by February 1st.Students with truly outstanding credentials should submit all application materials by the first week of January to allow possible consideration for university fellowships.
A complete application consists of the following:
The application itself (preferably on-line),
The current application fee,
Official transcripts -- that must be sent directly from the issuing college or university,
GRE scores (Institution Code 1851; Department Code 0999),
TOEFL scores (if applicable) that must be sent directly from the testing service,
A personal Statement of Purpose, and
THREE letters of recommendation.
You may also send a letter asking to be considered for a graduate assistantship, and indicating why you believe you are qualified for an assistantship. Send ALL items to:
Director of Graduate Studies, Forensic Science Program (M/C 866)
UIC College of Pharmacy, Room 335
833 S. Wood St.
Chicago, IL 60612-7231
We will see to it that your checks, original paper applications, original transcripts, etc., are transferred to the Office of Admissions and Records.
Where to Send Application Materials and Follow-up
It is important that you send your application materials to Forensic Science, not to the Office of Admissions and Records. Items sent to OAR can be lost or may not reach the department by the deadline date. In addition, we need GRE scores and transcripts by the deadline date. Requesting that ETS send scores or that a Registrar send transcripts to UIC does not guarantee that they will arrive and be entered into our system. We encourage applicants to send us student (unofficial) copies of transcripts and GRE scores, with the understanding that official copies will be forthcoming.
We strongly recommended that you follow up to insure that items have been received. We recommend that you ask your recommendation letter writers to provide you with their letters in sealed envelopes for transmittal to us by you. This strategy insures that you know that all the items have been forwarded. We must have transcripts, GRE scores and three reference letters in our hands by the deadline date (February 1st), or the closest business day thereafter. The deadline is absolute. All the materials must be in our hands by this date in order for the application to be considered complete, on time, and receive full consideration. Assembling and transmitting your application materials in advance of the stated deadline is a good practice.
Applicants with truly outstanding academic credentials, GRE scores, and undergraduate research experience, may be candidates for university fellowships. We encourage that applications from those students be submitted no later than January 2nd.We will nominate, at our discretion, outstanding applicants for competitive fellowships. Applicants who fit into that category will be notified directly, and will receive early acceptance into the program. To be competitive in the fellowship competitions, applicants are typically chemistry or biochemistry majors from larger, competitive undergraduate institutions, with overall GPAs of 3.5 or better (on a 4.0 scale), GRE verbal and quantitative scores that sum to 1400 or higher, and they often have undergraduate research experience.
Costs and Financial Aid
UIC tuition is based on a "range plan," according to which tuition charges for each semester are based on the number of credit hours for which a student is registered. Tuition charges typically change every academic year. Current information may be found on the Admissions and Records web site. Tuition for this program is according to the current Graduate base rate. Certain fees are payable by every graduate student.
Limited financial aid is available for forensic science graduate students directly from the department / program. Teaching (and sometimes research) assistantships are available on a competitive basis once a year. Forensic science generally has two "25%" TAs providing for 10 hours/week of work during the academic year, nominal hourly compensation, and a tuition and service-fee waiver. Ordinarily, one of these positions will be held by a second-year student, while a second position is available for an entering student. In addition, we may have one or two full tuition and service fee waivers (exclusive of assistantships) available to forensic science students. They are awarded on a competitive basis. Students with the strongest academic records generally get preference in our selection of TA and waiver recipients.
There are a number of graduate fellowships and scholarships from sources within and outside UIC. Consult the Graduate College fellowship office as well as the Graduate College fellowships page for more information. University fellowship and Abraham Lincoln fellowship nominations are made by the programs. Students cannot apply for them. We normally do nominate (at our discretion) applicants with truly exceptional records for university fellowships. In recent years, we have had some success. The majority of offers are made to Ph.D. students, and applicants for terminal M.S. programs like ours are probably at a competitive disadvantage. But some of our applicants are competitive. There is generally a "recruitment" round of competition with a January submission deadline.
Although the assistantships and waivers available to the forensic science program are very limited, there are numerous opportunities for assistantships on this campus. If we hear about such positions, we will contact accepted students.
There are usually both research and graduate assistantships available. "Research" generally involves working in someone's lab, doing experiments and other laboratory work. "Graduate" assistantships generally involve office work. These assistantships are usually "50%" - this means 20 hours per week, and the stipend is around $1,500 per month. They may be for Fall, for Spring, or both. Summer semester appointments may be separate. A "25%" appointment would mean half the hours and half the stipend of a "50%" appointment. The university's main web site regularly posts "positions available" at www.uic.edu/announce/. These change daily. Some will want you to start the next day. If you are able to come to Chicago in the summer in order to get a position, that might pay off in the long run. If you would like to accept an assistantship for Summer semester, and you have been admitted for Fall, we may be able to "back up" your admission to summer to enable you to accept the assistantship. These assistantships generally carry tuition and service fee waivers, but some do not. You should ask to make sure. Some assistantships (especially RAs) might not have waivers attached (i.e., you would only get paid).
This program is probably the only one where so many opportunities for assistantships and potential tuition waivers exist on the campus. Most forensic science students have taken advantage of these opportunities.
Other Information - Employment in Law Enforcement
It is important that applicants to forensic science programs understand that many of the employment opportunities are in law enforcement agencies. Many of these law enforcement agencies have strict rules about what constitutes an acceptable background for employment in their organization. They often do thorough background investigations of individuals who apply for employment. They may even do background investigations on applicants for internships. Some of them also conduct polygraph tests, as well as the testing of urine and hair for drugs, as part of the pre-employment background. Background checks are designed to reveal past or present drug abuse, dishonesty, or other factors that might compromise a person's integrity. Many agencies have guidelines with respect to past drug use. Sometimes the guidelines have to do with lifetime use, and sometimes they have to do with the time that has elapsed since the last instance. We remind you of these facts in case they affect you. If these background factors might affect you, you may want to check and be sure you can fall within the acceptable background limits for most of the law enforcement agencies for whom you may want to work as a forensic scientist. As general guidelines, most agencies tolerate some marijuana use in your past, but usually no 'hard' drug use (such as cocaine, heroin, and so forth). If you are not a citizen of the United States (or at least a Permanent Resident) you may have difficulty finding employment in law enforcement agency laboratories.