Death Investigation

The Certificate in Death Investigation trains students to identify and carry out the key investigative tasks conducted at every death scene.

As the name suggests, medico-legal death investigators investigate deaths that are suspicious, violent, or unexpected, focusing specifically on evaluating the decedent at a death scene. Death investigators therefore tend to have medically-oriented backgrounds in fields such as anatomy, anthropology, or natural science, as well as broader training in forensic science.

Our certificate combines areas of study from biological and clinical sciences, anthropology, chemistry, and criminal justice. Courses include both lecture presentations and laboratory experiences that cover fundamental areas of forensic science and provide unique instruction on essential techniques. Guest speakers from the profession frequently are brought in to convey their expertise to students.

The certificate, when combined with a major in a laboratory science, provides preparation for the American Board of Medico-Legal Death Investigators national certifying exam and a career in forensic science. Students who obtain this certificate are more marketable for jobs in law enforcement, death investigation, pathology, and toxicology.

UWM also offers certificates in Forensic Science and in Forensic Toxicology. All three certificate programs are jointly sponsored by the College of Letters & Science, the College of Health Sciences, and the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. Students take coursework across all of these areas including biology, biomedical sciences, chemistry, anthropology, and criminal justice.

Download our fact sheet to the right to learn more about the coursework required for this certificate.

Certificate Requirements

Total Credits

24 credits

Required Courses (21 Credits)

Anthro/BMS/Chem/Crm Jst 281 - Dead Men Do Tell Tales: An Introduction to Forensic Science, 3 credits

Anthro/BMS/Chem/Crm Jst 285 - Medicolegal Death Investigation, 3 credits

Anthro/BMS/Chem/Crm Jst 481 - Criminalistics, 3 credits

Anthro 403 - The Human Skeleton, 3 credits

Anthro 405 - Forensic Anthropology, 3 credits

Crm Jst 110 - Introduction to Criminal Justice, 3 credits

Crm Jst 480 - Criminal Evidence and Investigation, 3 credits

One Course Selected From (3 Credits)

BMS 610 - Pharmacology, 3 credits

HCA 212 - Drugs Used and Abused, 3 credits

Additional Courses with Forensic Content

Check prerequisites or consult the instructor for eligibility. These courses are recommended, but are not required, for the Certificate in Death Investigation:

  • Anthro/BMS/Chem/Crm Jst 585 - Internship in Forensic Toxicology, 1-3 credits
  • Anthro/BMS/Chem/Crm Jst 589 - Internship in Death Investigation, 1-3 credits
  • Anthro/BMS/Chem/Crm Jst 594 - Internship in Forensic Science, 1-3 credits
  • Anthro 404 - Seminar in Human Evolutionary Physiology, 3 credits
  • Bio Sci 539 (663) - Laboratory Techniques in Molecular Biology , 4 credits
  • Chem 194 - First-Year Seminar (with forensic subtitle), 3 credits
  • Chem 524 - Intermediate Analytical Chemistry, 3-5 credits
  • Chem 602 - Biochemistry: Cellular Processes, 3 credits
  • BMS 555 - Toxicology and Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, 1 credit
  • BMS 560 - Molecular and Genetic Diagnostics, 2 credits
  • BMS 561 - Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, 1 credit

Additional Requirements

All options within the certificate require at least a basic knowledge of chemistry and biology. To meet this requirement, prior to registering themselves in the Forensic Sciences Certificate Program, students must successfully complete Chem 100 (Chemical Science) or equivalent and Bio Sci 100 (Survey of Zoology) or equivalent.

To receive the certificate, students must complete at least one half of the required credits on the UWM campus.

GPA Requirement

The College requires that students attain at least a 2.500 GPA for all credits in the certificate attempted. To receive the certificate, students must complete at least one half of the required credits on the UWM campus.