Forensic Toxicology

Forensic toxicology is a sub-discipline of forensic science that is concerned with the study of toxic substances or poisons. Toxicology encompasses methods and procedures from many disciplines, including chemistry, biochemistry, epidemiology, pharmacology, pathology, and physiology.

Toxicologists are essentially applied scientists and therefore will have a strong interest in the sciences and math. The certificate, when combined with a major in a laboratory science such as chemistry, provides preparation for both the American Board of Forensic Toxicology and the National Registry in Clinical Chemistry certification exams. These certifications can lead to careers in hospital, crime, or commercial laboratories, as well as with law enforcement agencies, medical examiners, or private testing companies.

Students of forensic toxicology obtain knowledge about the absorption, distribution, and elimination of drugs, poisons, metals, gasses, and other substances that can harm the human body. This information can be critical in homicide cases and other criminal investigations.

The work of a forensic toxicologist requires patience and the ability to follow specific steps in a set manner to achieve reliable results. The field is constantly being updated in terms of new developments and techniques and is best suited for individuals with the willingness to learn and update their skills continuously. Many of the tests that toxicologists perform also require excellent fine motor skills.

UWM also offers certificates in Forensic Science and in Death Investigation. 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 classes that are part of the forensic toxicology certificate.

Certificate Requirements

Total Credits

21 credits

Required Courses (18 credits)

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

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

Chem 524 - Instrumental Analysis, 3 credits

BMS 610 - Pharmacology, 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)

Anthro 403 - The Human Skeleton, 3 credits

Anthro 404 - Seminar in Human Evolutionary Physiology, 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 Forensic Toxicology:

  • Anthro/BMS/Chem/Crm Jst 285 - Medicolegal Death Investigation, 3 credits
  • 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 405 - Forensic Anthropology, 3 credits
  • Bio Sci 539 (663) - Laboratory Techniques in Molecular Biology, 4 credits
  • Chem 194 - First-Year Seminar: (with forensic subtitle), 3 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.