Social Science Forensics, Minor

Department of Anthropology

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This minor is designed to meet the needs of students interested in exploring the social science options in forensic science but who are not in a lab-based major, such as chemistry, biology, or computer science. Scientific inquiry will be a component, however the emphasis of the minor is the application of social and behavioral sciences in forensics - such as death investigation, written/oral medico-legal reports, field/crime scene techniques and documentation, identification and evidence collection.

  • A minor is earned in conjunction with a bachelor's degree.

    To receive a minor (18 - 24 units) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject matter areas with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0. At least 12 units of the minor must be unique to that minor and not applied to any other minor.

In addition to University Requirements:

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

No more than fifty percent of the units used to satisfy minor requirements may be used to satisfy major requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 18
Major GPA C
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Fieldwork Experience/Internship may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.

Purpose Statement

Forensic science is the application of a wide spectrum of sciences and techniques that aid in detecting and solving crime, identifying individuals (victims and offenders) involved in crime, reconstructing events before, during and after the crime, and service to the courts and legal system. In the Social Sciences Forensic Minor, students develop an understanding of the social, cultural, historical and political differences in the United States and globally, impacting forensic science development and its application in theory and method in criminology, criminal justice and law enforcement systems. These include issues of gender, ethnicity, social inequality, and changing cultural dynamics and values affixed to human life, civil rights and criminal justice. Students who complete the minor are also expected to write and communicate effectively in medico-legal terminology for entry level work in crime investigation and to document evidence according to accepted protocols that preserve evidentiary integrity and ensure acceptability in court, to work effectively in teams as found in forensic investigative units, and have working familiarity with the interdisciplinary nature of forensic science such that they can identify relevant fields that contribute to an investigation. Students will have an understanding of various technical field skills relevant to crime scene investigation. Students who complete the Social Science Forensic minor will have knowledge of career options and be more competitive and well-rounded for entry level, non-lab based forensic work such as death investigation, law enforcement, or victim/offender identification.
The focus of the minor is on the social, cultural, political, legal, historical and global contexts that contribute to forensic knowledge and technical field skills. Students will have opportunities to learn experientially with simulated investigation strategies designed to teach hands-on field methods in a controlled environment. Students will engage in project-based course work that imitates real life scenarios and emphasizes team work concomitant with real crime scene investigation and a variety of applied techniques at the introductory level. The Social Science Forensics minor can prepare students in the application of medico-legal writing, imagery (including photography), composite sketching, forensic archaeology, forensic anthropology, death investigation work (often done for medical examiners reports), crime investigation, criminal law procedure, and gender and ethnicity issues influencing law enforcement and forensic work – all of which reflect important issues of our day.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Identify key historical and current events, scientific breakthroughs, and social/cultural changes in the United States and globally that have contributed to the evolution of forensic science;
  • Communicate effectively through demonstrated reading comprehension, analytical skills, and written work and/or oral presentation that demonstrates a proficiency appropriate for social and behavioral investigative reports and court related documentation in Arizona and the United States in general;
  • Recognize and describe the significance of historical and social context and its impact on forensic science;
  • Critically assess the needs of a variety of investigative scenarios and determine what area(s) of forensic science should be applied and what it can contribute;
  • Demonstrate competence with hands-on field and lab skills (with a grade of C or better) as to victim/offender identification and crime scene reconstruction;
  • Identify and explain how forensic science varies across natural, social and behavioral sciences;
  • Identify and explain how the application of forensic science varies across other forms of investigations (i.e. legal, crime, psychological, medical, etc.);
  • Summarize and differentiate relevant theories, methods and techniques as they apply to forensic sciences;
  • Summarize and differentiate relevant names of those whose work pioneered resulting laws, methods, and theories in forensic science and,
  • Collaborate effectively in teamwork where necessary, utilizing technical skills, critical thinking, ethics, and adaptive ability in order to execute group-oriented projects and/or exercises toward a goal.
The Social Science Forensics minor is designed to give students the advantage of social science field skills and background knowledge to be able to qualify for entry level forensic work. Students completing the minor will be better positioned to make informed decisions on areas of expertise in which they may wish to concentrate, and to continue their education in specialized forensic programs or graduate studies if they choose. The Social Science Forensics minor on student transcripts will also enhance their employment pursuits.


Minor Requirements
  • Take the following 18 with a Grade of "C" or better in each course:

    Select three from (9 units):
    Select two from the following (6 units):
    A student may choose a special topics designated course (ANT or CCJ 299-399-499) or internship (ANT 408 or CCJ 408) to fulfill credits from the elective category (course must have both forensic relevance and significant social science content, and advisor consent).

    Topics courses must have an applied component in addition to forensic relevance and significant social science content.  Please consult with your advisor.

    Anthropology majors may only use 6 units of ANT coursework from their major towards this minor.
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.