Forensic Justice LL.M.

May 13, 2019
Next Start Date
Per Credit Hour


West Virginia University's LL.M. in Forensic Justice is the first of its kind to be acquiesced by the American Bar Association. This program was developed to equip defense attorneys and prosecutors with a deeper understanding of forensic science and evidence in order to better argue cases with DNA or other forensic evidence. The WVU College of Law and WVU Department of Forensic and Investigative Science have partnered together to create this innovative degree that prepares attorneys to succeed in a courtroom where justice and forensic science collide.


The West Virginia University College of Law is approved by the American Bar Association Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Since 1952, the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education as the recognized national agency for the accreditation of professional schools of law.


Applicants must have a J.D. from an American Bar Association accredited university (or equivalent, as determined by the WVU College of Law in accordance with ABA guidelines) with a GPA of at least a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or other demonstrated indication of likelihood of success. In addition, demonstrated interest or commitment to the fields of science, forensic evidence, and the law is a must. Applicants may include newly graduated J.D. students, legal professionals returning for study after years of practice, or qualified international students.

Application Requirements

  • Apply online at
  • Submit two letters of recommendation via LSAC's Credential Assembly Service and released to WVU Law
  • Request official transcripts from all law schools attended be sent to Credential Assembly Service and released to WVU Law
  • Submit a personal statement detailing (1) your reason(s) for applying to the Forensic Justice Program and (2) one of the following: (a) how a WVU Law LL.M. will help you achieve your goals or (b) your professional activities since earning your J.D.


Residents Non-Residents
Tuition and Fees

for academic year 2018-2019


Per Credit Hour


Per Credit Hour

Financial aid is available. Students are encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine their eligibility for federal and state funds as well as scholarships. WVU’s FAFSA Code is 003827.


The LL.M. in Forensic Justice is a one-year program requiring 30 credit hours, evenly split between courses offered by WVU Law and courses offered by the Department of Forensic and Investigative Sciences. Candidates will also be required to complete a substantial piece of written work, final paper, or field-work project. Students in the program may also have the option to include up to 4 credits in their course of study from relevant WVU graduate-level programs, such as statistics, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, provided that the prerequisite course requirements have been met. Course work will also be completed during the in-person residencies.


View Curriculum



The curriculum consists of the following courses:

Forensic Justice LL.M Seminar:

Seminar covering a wide range of topics relating to the role that forensic evidence plays in the criminal justice system, the strengths and weaknesses of various forensic disciplines, and other relevant topics.

LAW 712 Analytical Methods for Lawyers:

An introduction and overview to economic and analytical concepts to assist lawyers in the interpretation and presentation of data, including decision analysis, probability, economics, and statistics as they relate to the practice of law.

LAW 661 Forensic and Expert Evidence:

Teaches students how to use evidence in the courtroom and gives realistic examples of how particular rules are used during litigation. Students will also learn when and how to make objections based on the evidence used to support their case.

LAW 688-D Science and the Law:

This is a survey seminar in science and the law, broadly examining issues connecting the two disciplines and their inter-development. The course requires students to analyze subtle nuances between various judicial decisions, legislative enactments, and legal rules concerning scientific developments, which may often appear in conflict.

FIS 432/632 Biological and Chemical Evidence:

This course reviews the main types of evidence studied through biological and chemical methods: DNA, arson residue, controlled substances, toxicology, and questioned documents/ink analysis.

FIS 514 Impression and Trace Evidence:

This course reviews impression and trace evidence, notably: latent prints, footwear, ballistics, bloodstain patterns, trace evidence, and questioned documents/handwriting and signatures.

FIS 480 Forensic Quality Assurance:

This course examines accreditation schemes for labs, controls and methodologies for labs, and how they are implemented. A major addition included in this course for LL.M. students is the implementation of court testimony activities focused on aspects of quality assurance.

FIS 501 Foundations of Criminalistics:

This course reviews the core theories and the fundamental principles of forensic science at an advanced level with particular attention dedicated to problems related to evidence interpretation.

FIS 620 Forensic Casework Practicum:

This course brings together FIS Masters students with LL.M students to process a crime scene and analyze the evidence through presentation of such evidence in the courtroom. This course is a unique opportunity for attorneys to work with forensic analysts throughout the entire process of developing a case to prepare students for real-world cases upon degree completion.

Research Paper or Field Work:

Students are required to complete either a research paper or field work in conjunction with the LL.M. Seminar. For students hoping to contribute to the growing body of literature focusing on the intersection between law and forensics, there is the option to write a research paper on an important issue in this growing field. Alternatively, those students wishing to enter private practice or the public sector may wish to work on real world problems to prepare for other cases upon graduation.




The following prerequisites are required:


It is expected that the majority of LL.M. candidates will already have taken both Evidence and Criminal Procedure as J.D. students. In the case of practitioners, prerequisite courses will be waived if not met. Prerequisites may also be waived at the discretion of the Program Director after an individual consultation with the student.

Career Information

Students who graduate from WVU Online with the Forensic Justice LL.M. degree may be prepared for the following careers. These are only a few examples of some of the many opportunities that will be open to you with this degree. Advanced degrees or certifications may be required for some positions.


Law Professor

Projected Growth: 10-14% *Bright Outlook

Judge, Magistrate Judge

Projected Growth: 5-9%

Forensic Science Technician

Projected Growth: 15% or higher *Bright Outlook


Projected Growth: 5-9%

Fraud Examiner & Investigator

Projected Growth: 10-14% *Bright Outlook

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

Projected Growth: 5-9%

Private Investigator

Projected Growth: 10-14% *Bright Outlook
Information about careers on this list comes from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) of the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA).