The forensic school system at West Virginia University (frequently shorted to WVU) is often regarded as one of the most robust and comprehensive forensic school programs in the United States. In addition to the various departments at WVU which include a college of law, school of medicine, school of pharmacy, school of journalism and many others the forensic school program stands out as perhaps the most unique and least well known of the many accredited departments.
The lack of public awareness about the forensic school is surprising given the high profile nature of the partner that helped bring the program to the West Virginia University campus. A partnership between WVU and the FBI formed what became an accredited curriculum by the highly respected American Academy of Forensic Sciences. What is particularly special about the structure of the West Virginia University offering is that there is a great deal of breadth and depth with regards to the specific fields of study.
When most people think about the term forensic science their minds conjure up potentially misleading images of visuals they have seen in television shows like CSI or Dexter and in the movies. In actuality the term forensics as it is commonly used refers to a wide spectrum of applications with regards to implementing scientific scrutiny in a manner that advances the understanding of legal implications as they relate to better understanding details of alleged crimes. Trivia buffs will be interested to learn that the etymology behind the word forensics derives from the Latin “forensis” which means “before the forum.” Essentially the Latin correlation relates to authenticating evidence surrounding an event before taking that information to the forum. In this context the Roman use of the word forum essentially means court or trial in modern English.
The West Virginia University forensic school options provide a great deal more than merely bloodstain analysis and toxicology report classes (although those courses are offered). The WVU offerings are as follows:
o Computer forensics (digital storage – also referred to as digital forensics)
o Toxicology forensics (chemicals, i.e. poisons)
o Odontology forensics (dentistry)
o Bloodstain analysis (spatter patterns)
o Textile forensics (cloth and clothing)
o Criminology (sociological behavior study)
o Forensic accounting (auditing and scrubbing number for court proceedings)
o Dactylography (fingerprint analysis)
o Forensic entomology (insect study as it relates to bugs decomposing flesh)
Through specially designed laboratories and staged crime scene locations students at WVU get the closest thing to real world experience available. Lab work is complimented with classroom learning which is primarily held in the Ming Hsieh Hall building on campus. Prospective students interested in majoring in any of the previously described fields are encouraged to contact the University of West Virginia and ask for additional information pertaining to their forensic school.