UIC Connect - Forensic Science
Information for New Students
Welcome to the M.S. Forensic Science Program at UIC. If you have been admitted to this program, and plan to attend, you will be interested in the information on this page. We are pleased that you have chosen this program for your graduate studies. This page's purpose is to provide practical information about UIC to get you settled in, oriented, and registered. We usually have a reception for new graduate students so you can meet faculty, continuing students, and one another. You will receive e-mail about the date and time. Traditionally, it has been on the Friday preceding the week classes actually start. Keep Dr. Larsen, the DGS for the program, informed of your current e-mail. It often changes as people graduate from college and move on.
You will need some academic advising as you prepare to register for the fall semester. Dr. Larsen, the program DGS will be your academic advisor, and you can e-mail or call him with any questions or issues concerning classes and/or registration. A lot of information is provided here for you, and you may not need to contact the DGS. After you understand what courses you should be registering for in Fall, you can register for classes. Sometime after you receive your official admission letter from the Office of Admissions and Records you will receive, usually via email, information on when you may register and instructions, if it was not included with your admission letter. Registration, including changes to any existing registration, begins a number of months before the term and continues through the first official ten days of the term. During the registration period, all registration activity is done by the student using Student Self-Service, which may be accessed from UIC Web For Student. When attempting to register, if you receive an error message directly pertaining to the class or section you are requesting, consult with the department offering the course as an override may need to be input into the system to allow you to continue to register. Once the override has been added you still have to register for the course in Student Self-Service. If you receive an error message that you do not understand, consult the Registration Help Line at (312) 996-8600.
All of you (except Illinois State Police employees or any other special case students) should be taking at least 12 hours in the fall, i.e., we expect you to be full time graduate students. You should register for BPS 580, BPS 583, BPS 584, and BPS 587, the required courses. That adds up to 11 hours. You should probably take 2 to 3 hrs more. Sometimes, BPS 585 is offered as a three-credit elective course. BPS 542 (Pharmacodynamics of Substance Abuse) may be of interest to those interested in drug chemistry and/or toxicology when it is offered. Note that for the 4 credit lecture-lab courses, you may have to register for two Course Reference Numbers (CRNs) to be properly registered (even though it is a single course). On-line registration requires that you obtain an "enterprise" username and password. The system should walk you through this process. You won't get closed out of any forensic science courses. They all have the "BPS" prefix. This "enterprise" username and password is DIFFERENT FROM what will be your "ACCC" username and password. The ACCC ones will be set up on-line when you set your e-mail account. You will need the ACCC username and password for a number of purposes besides e-mail.
If you are intent on being a DNA analyst some day, you need to have credit courses (undergrad or grad doesn't matter) in molecular biology, genetics or molecular genetics, biochemistry and preferably biostatistics to satisfy SWGDAM guidelines. If you are lacking one or more of these courses, you can take them as a grad student. You will find these courses in other departments. But be careful. Most of the grad courses with titles along these lines are heavy-duty first year PhD student classes, and are not for the fainthearted. Example: BioS 524. You can take GCLS 501 (biochemistry) or GCLS 502 (molecular biology). These courses are for Ph.D. students on the west side of campus who lack the background offered by the courses. They will be time-consuming. You will be with all Ph.D. students in these courses. You could also take undergraduate courses to satisfy one or more of these SWGDAM requirements, but realize that these courses would not count toward your M.S. Bios 220 (Mendelian and Molecular Genetics), for example, is undergraduate. They will, however, count toward your credit hour load -- if you have an assistantship or waiver, you will have a minimum credit load: typically 8 hours for a 50% assistantship in fall or spring, and 12 hours for a pure waiver in fall or spring. If you took one or more of the SWGDAM-required biochemistry, molecular biology, or genetics courses in undergraduate school, we recommend you save the course syllabi. Employers may ask you for the syllabi to convince them that you took an appropriate course in satisfaction of the SGWDAM requirement.
If you are analytical chemistry oriented and were a chemistry major in college, you can take MdCh 562. This is an introductory spectroscopy course for medicinal chemistry PhD students. If you have an interest in drug chemistry / forensic toxicology, you can take several courses as electives related to that specialty, including BPS 542, Pharmacodynamics of Substance Abuse, and Pcol 430 (Toxicology) when they are offered. Both are 2 cr hrs. Watch the timetable for these courses if you are interested.
The i-Card is the official identification card of the University for students, staff and faculty. It is important to obtain the i-Card and carry it with you at all times. The i-Card is needed to enter certain labs and buildings, for access to certain student-related events and services, and to check material out of the library. Once you have registered for a course you may obtain your i-Card. This should be done as soon as possible following your registration. You will need to bring a print-out of your registration and either a driver’s license, state ID card, or passport to the i-Card Office. Complete information, including locations, is available from the i-Card Office.
Illinois state law requires proof of certain immunizations for students in most situations. The policy and contact information are available at the Office of Medical Immunization Records. It is important that you read this information carefully as registration for future terms is not allowed if you are not in compliance at that time. Graduate students are not required to have tuberculosis immunizations.
Tuition and fees are set by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. The tuition and fee schedule at UIC is fairly elaborate so it is important to understand what your charges will be, as well as your payment obligations. This information is available from the Office of Admissions and Records website.
If you have been granted an assistantship there are a number of important steps that have to be undertaken to ensure timely processing and receipt of your first stipend check.
- You will receive a formal letter of offer from the unit (usually your academic program) that is attempting to hire you.
- After you have accepted and returned the formal letter of offer for the assistantship, the unit that is hiring you will complete the necessary information in the university database.
- When the hiring unit completes the previous step, it will trigger an email to you with logon and other information for an online system called NESSIE.
- In NESSIE, you will need to complete the HR Application and Payroll information (demographic, educational, and bank deposit information).
- After that is completed in NESSIE, you will be instructed by your hiring unit to complete a Statement of a Drug-Free Workplace and I-9 forms, which you submit to the hiring unit. The I-9 form is viewable in Nessie and includes a list of acceptable official identification you will need to bring in with the completed forms.
- For international students on a visa, the hiring unit will send appropriate information to the Office of International Services to initiate an Employee Clearance form.
- The processing for international students on a visa allows less flexibility in regards to the start date, so it is important to complete the necessary steps in a timely fashion.
Only after all these stages have been successfully completed will the appointment become official and allows you to begin your duties and receive the monthly stipend, which is paid on the 16th. In addition, if the appointment comes with a tuition waiver (contact your unit to find out exactly which parts of the tuition and fees are waived and which are not), it is only at this stage that the waiver is available to be applied to your account, assuming you have also correctly registered for the total hours required to receive the waiver. If the appointment for the assistantship is offered or processed late, or any of the steps outlined above are delayed, there is a possibility of missing your first monthly stipend check. Although you will receive an adjusted payment a month later (assuming the beginning date is properly processed and assuming you worked for that period), not having the first check can cause financial issues you did not anticipate. Therefore, if you do not receive timely responses you should always contact the hiring unit to ensure procedures have not been overlooked. See the Graduate College website for additional assistantship information.
If you have received a tuition and service-fee waiver only from Forensic Science, all the above steps should be unnecessary. But if issues arise in getting your waiver posted, you can contact Lisa Knepshield in the Graduate College.
For those who may be interested, campus housing on the west side of campus (the medical school campus, where Pharmacy is located) is available. Additional information is available by clicking this housing link. We are happy to put you in touch with current students who may be able to advise you on the situation wirth off campus housing. Generally, if you live in campus housing (probably the SSR), you won't need a vehicle. Parking in Chicago can be a problem. If you plan to bring a vehicle, check on the parking situation where you intend to live. Graduate students are entitled to a CTA pass that permits you to ride on the "El" trains and the CTA buses during the academic year. You can get around Chicago pretty easily on the CTA system.
Support and financial aid matters
Assistantships and waivers directly available to the forensic science program have been offered to and accepted by specific individuals. If positions should open up, we will contact others directly. We have disseminated information -- usually by mass e-mail -- about assistantships we know of, and will make you aware of any other assistantship opportunities that come up.
Concerning potential assistantships or positions in the College of Pharmacy or elsewhere on campus:
Regularly watch the UIC Events Calendar web site http://www.uic.edu/htbin/eventcal/eventcal.fcgi?type=all. On the left side navigation bar, there is a link to "position available" for "position available" postings. 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 plan 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. The maximum percent appointment you can have is 67% (about 26 hours / week). To be a research assistant, you must be a student -- so, you must be admitted, and you will have to be registered for a minimum number of credit hours in summer term. If you are seriously thinking of accepting a summer appointment, contact the DGS as soon as possible to try and take care of some of these matters. If you have a summer appointment, it would typically continue into fall semester, but at no more than "50%", i.e., 20 hours per week, as described below. You should look mainly for "graduate assistant" positions, either research or graduate assistant.
The graduate asstships generally carry tuition waivers, but you might want to make sure. There are some that might not (i.e., you would only get paid). In general, 50% asst'ships pay around $ 1,500 / month, and "50%" is typical for a grad student in the academic year- it means 20 hours/week of work. In some departments, you may get ten checks (instead of twelve), i.e., you could get paid Sept through June but not in July & Aug, even though the total money will be the same. Lesser % appointments will be worth proportionally less. Tuition waivers mean that you are excused from tuition and the service fee. This is worth a bundle if you are not from Illinois; it is still worth quite a bit even if you are. If things become available in the Pharmacy building, we will let you know. Generally, to be considered for assistantship positions, just e-mail the contact person and say you are interested and available. If you have any experience or skills that would make you a more attractive candidate, tell the contact person what those are. Some of these jobs are in research labs. Others are in offices. Attach to the e-mail a short resume if appropriate. You may be able to arrange a phone interview and not have to come to Chicago just for that.
You can accept assistantship support up to 50%. So, if you have a 25% appointment, you can look for another 25% appointment to make up the difference in funding support. A 50% appointment will pay about $1,500 per month. A 25% appointment will pay about one-half of that.