Forensics at the University of Alabama
The Alabama Forensics Council Scholarship offers money awards for students interested in forensics at the University of Alabama. On average, the Council offers about 20 scholarships each year. You can get more information by calling the College of Communication and Information Sciences at 205-348-2687.
University of Alabama Computer Forensics Certificate
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers two different certificate programs in Computer Forensics, jointly between the Computer & Information Science and the Justice Science Departments. You can go for the first certificate — called Category A — if you are already enrolled as a graduate student working toward your degree in criminal justice, forensic science, or your MS/Ph.D. in computer science. The Category B certificate is what you’ll want if you’re not at UAB as a student, but instead just want to learn more about computer forensics, and how to use the skills on-the-job, either in the work you do now or for prospective employers.
The certificate program is no joke — this is not something you’ll pick up in a week-long training seminar like many certificates. It requires a full 21 credit hours to complete, spread over the fall, spring and summer semesters of a single year. In the fall, you’ll take Introduction to Computer Forensics; Law, Evidence & Procedure; Computer Crime & Forensics; and Network Programming. In the spring, you’ll have to knock out a Seminar course; Internetworking and Intranets; and Computer Security. Finally, you can use your summer semester to finish up Digital Documents, Security & Intellectual Property.
Of course, you have to be enrolled as a graduate student already to take the A-level Certificate program, but for the B-level Certificate, you only have to have a minimal competency in programming and forensic science. UAB defines this as skills at the level of their 100-level course in Python Programming and their 100-level Intro to Forensic Science course. You don’t have to have these courses per-se, but you have to be familiar with the topics at the level these courses would get you up to.
For more information, contact the Computer and Information Sciences department at 205-934-8620.
University of Alabama Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS)
UAB offers a program that leads to a chemistry- or biology-focused masters in forensic science. Depending on your interests in research, you can choose either the thesis option (where you have to complete 36 semester hours of courses plus 3-6 hours of research, then prepare, present and defend your research), or a non-thesis option of 48 semester hours. The required courses are pretty standard fare: introductions to forensic science, criminalistics, forensic biology, forensic drug analysis, law, and a seminar series that you take over multiple semesters.
Depending on how much bio or chem you had as an undergrad, UAB may let you opt out of some of the required courses, particularly the ones in graduate-level biochemistry, DNA, and the two semesters of graduate level analytical chemistry.
There are ton of forensic electives at UAB to choose from, and you’ll find them very focused on biology, molecular genetics, pharmacology and toxicology. The unique ones that stand out are Advanced Questioned Death; Forensic Anthropology; Evolution & Population Biology; Biological & Chemical Weapons; and Toxicants.
UAB is good about offering graduate assistant positions, where they pay you about $850 a month and knock off half of your tuition. Another upside is that UAB offers 4 students part-time (20 hours per week) positions with the Alabama Dept. of Forensic Science, for $500 a month. Tuition is about $170 per semester credit for in-state students, and about $400 per semester credit hour for out-of-state students. Unlike a lot of other schools, UAB will consider you an in-state student for tuition purposes if you work as a graduate assistant, research assistant, or DNA fellow at the Alabama Dept. of Forensic Sciences. This is a huge deal, really, way more than even the pay of the job brings. UAB also participates in the so-called Academic Common Market, an agreement between states to admit students from different states as in-state tuition payers. For UAB, this includes AK, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MY, MI, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA and WV. There’s one thing to watch out for, though: work-study students do not qualify for in-state tuition.
There are some merit-based scholarships that are doled out, but there is no separate application required. The school will reach out to you if they want you badly enough.
To apply, you’ll need a 3.0 GPA, a minimum 1100 on your verbal and quantitative GRE, as well as undergraduate courses in general chem (2 semesters), organic chemistry (2 semesters), and quantitative analysis (1 semester). You have to get a B or better in these courses, too.
Admission is pretty competitive, too, with UAB getting around 100 applications each year for the limited number of spots. Get your application in some time between May and January, because they look at all the complete applications in February, and make decisions in early March.