New SHSU forensic science program addresses national concern

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Sam Houston State University’s new doctoral forensic science program offered by the College of Criminal Justice is up for approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Forensic laboratories and services are important components of criminal investigation, the administration of justice and are requested by a variety of agencies. Publicly funded laboratories provide examination, reporting and testimony on physical evidence in criminal matters for state, county, municipal, and federal jurisdictions, according to new program documents submitted to the TSUS and THECB.

Dean of the College for Criminal Justice Vincent Webb, Ph.D., concurs with the need for more education in forensic science at the doctoral level.

“There has been a national commission, and other groups have stated that there is an important need to develop and improve forensic science education and forensic science itself,” Webb said. “We are developing this program in response to that need.”

According to Webb, the program will not only improve the education of forensic science, but it will also provide education for future instructors of forensic science as well.

“This program is to train high level forensic scientists,” Webb said. “These will be the people who actually do the research to improve forensic science. They will be the people who will go on to educate students in forensic science as well.”

According to the most recent Census of Publicly Funded Crime Laboratories from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there is a real need for qualified personnel to perform critical functions.

Webb said that the new degree program will increase the number of doctoral students at SHSU and that the school will be able to meet the need for forensic scientists.

“If you look it at the doctorial programs that are offered on this campus, it is an important increase in number in doctoral students,” Webb said. “Our mission is to meet the needs for the state of Texas and of course the nation. There is a profound need for more forensic scientists, and we are going to be able to meet that need.”

The degree is among the last that the THECB has direct powers to approve or deny after the Texas Legislature passed laws limiting their ability over the summer, Dean of Graduate Studies Kandi Tayebi, Ph.D., said in a previous article.

She expects to hear from the board about approval within the month.