Forensic behavioral sciences, a program that prepares students interested in traditional criminal justice careers with the application of behavioral sciences, will be offered as a major at Fresno State beginning in fall 2019. It is believed to be the only undergraduate degree program in forensic behavioral sciences in the country.

The Criminology Department developed the forensic behavioral sciences curriculum in recent years with the idea of it eventually becoming a standalone major to further distinguish it from the other three options in the department (law enforcement, corrections and victimology).

“It consists of coursework that will better assist our students to meet the requirements for entrance to graduate and professional programs in forensic-based fields, including forensic psychology, forensic anthropology, forensic social work, forensic nursing, criminology and criminal justice,” said Dr. Candice Skrapec, criminology professor and coordinator of the forensic behavioral sciences major.

Skrapec believes it’s important to have the major available to students because the legal system increasingly relies on the specialized knowledge, skills and expertise found only among professionals within the forensic behavioral sciences. The new major is the first step in a student’s preparation for acquiring the knowledge, skills and expertise the legal system needs, she said.

There are almost 500 students under the forensic behavioral sciences option currently offered within criminology — making it the second most popular choice among criminology students and larger than most departments on campus.

“We look forward to serving our department and adding to its reputation as being a leader in criminology,” Skrapec said. “Most of all, we look forward to helping our students realize their full potential as future forensic behavioral sciences professionals.”