Forensic Toxicology Program

College of Pharmacy
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Application Information

Application, Admission Requirements, Costs

Applicants are encouraged to apply on line. For applicants unable to do so, paper applications are still available, probably as .pdf file downloads from the Graduate College website.

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 Chemistry or in Biochemistry. Biochemistry majors should take analytical chemistry (quantitative analysis), instrumental analysis, and a semester of physical chemistry, to strengthen their applications.

Applicants to this program should understand that it is highly competitive. We offer admission to approximately 4 applicants each year. 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.

A minimum overall GPA of 3.25 on a 4.00 scale for undergraduate work is required. Applications are strengthened by GPAs higher than 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 toxicologists for the nation's 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 60th percentile (verbal)  and 70th percentile (quantitative) 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.

Deadline

Applications are accepted only for Fall semester entry. The application deadline is May 15th for the following Fall semester every year. All application materials, transcripts and test scores must be in our hands by May 15th. This deadline is for the Fall 2011 but in subsequent years we expect it to be 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 Toxicology Program                                                                                                                                               Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences (M/C 865)
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 the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, 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 (May 15th), 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 toxicology graduate students directly from the department / program. Teaching (and sometimes research) assistantship is available on a competitive basis once a year. Forensic toxicology generally has one "25%" TA providing for 10 hours/week of work during the academic year, nominal hourly compensation, and a tuition and service-fee waiver. In addition, we may have one full tuition and service fee waiver (exclusive of assistantship) available to forensic toxicology 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.

Assistantships

Although the assistantship and waiver available to the forensic toxicology 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.

Other Important Information - Employment in Law Enforcement

It is important that applicants to forensic science and forensic toxicology 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.