Forensic Science Degree Requirements
The program includes at least 38 credits of required graduate coursework, in addition to 6 to 12 semester hours of research, 6 to 12 semester hours of practicum/internship, plus mandatory participation in a symposium/seminar series. Students working full-time with two or more years of relevant laboratory experience at a forensic laboratory who are completing the program on a part-time basis may have the practicum/internship requirement waived with approval of the Program Director.
Fall Semester (14-17 credits)
- FS 518 Crime Scene Investigation and Reconstruction (2 credits)
- FS 519 Forensic Pattern Analysis (2 credits)
- FS 570 Criminal Law and Ethics (3 credits)
- FS 561a Forensic Science Symposium (1 credit)
- CH 518 Instrumental Analysisin Forensic Toxicology and Chemistry (3 credits)
- 3 credit Elective BI 440 Biochemistry as needed OR CH 407 Polymers and Biopolymers OR BI 438 Bioinformatics
- MA 141 Statistics (3 credits) as needed
Spring Semester (16 credits)
- FS 515 Research Methods in Forensic Science (1 credit)
- FS 504 General Principles of Pharmacology (3 credits)
- FS 530 Forensic Serology (3 credits)
- FS 535 Forensic Chemistry (3 credits)
- 3 credit Elective BI 433 Molecular Biology as needed OR FS 555 Biotechnology
- 3 credit Elective BI 404 Genetics as needed OR BI 421 Human Genetics OR CH 203 Equilibrium and Analysis
Summer Coursework (4 credits)
- FS 596 Research Project in Forensic Science (4 credits)
Fall Semester (20 credits)
- FS 525 Forensic Toxicology I (3 credits)
- FS 526 Forensic Toxicology II (3 credits)
- FS 531 Forensic DNA Analysis (3 credits)
- FS 512 Forensic Trace Evidence Analysis (3 credits)
- FS 536 Advanced Forensic Chemistry (3 credits)
- FS 533 Quality Management in Forensic Science (1 credit)
- FS 596 Research Project in Forensic Science (4 credits)
Spring Semester (17 credits)
- FS 586 Graduate Practicum in Forensic Biology (4 credits)
- FS 587 Graduate Practicum in Forensic Chemistry (4 credits)
- FS 588 Graduate Practicum in Forensic Toxicology (4 credits)
or FS 583 Graduate Internship in Forensic Science [external] (6-12 credits)
- FS 596 Research Project in Forensic Science (4 credits)
- FS 520 Moot Court (1 credit)
Forensic Science Courses (FS)
504 General Principles of Pharmacology This lecture-based course provides a general introduction to pharmacology as applied to forensic issues, divided into two sections: Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics. In Pharmacokinetics, there is a detailed discussion of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of drugs with an emphasis on drug transport, active metabolites and drug interactions. In Pharmacodynamics, there is a discussion of receptor-drug binding characteristics and efficacy. Various pharmacological effects are discussed, such as, therapeutic, toxic, idiosyncratic, hypersensitive and lethal effects with clinical examples to illustrate the differences. There is a detailed pharmacological discussion of various drug classes.
512 Forensic Trace Evidence Analysis This lecture/laboratory-based course is designed to provide the student with a foundation for the analysis of trace evidence in criminal cases. This course includes the forensic analysis of hairs, fibers, glass, paint, and soil, and the use of microscopy and other analyses in the identification and comparison of trace evidence. Lectures are supplemented with laboratory exercises.
515 Research Methods in Forensic Science This lecture-based course is designed to familiarize the student with the basic methods and techniques of research and the preparation of research papers. It is designed to instill proper practices for creating an experiment and reporting those results and ideas in an appropriate manner. In this course, students learn how to research a topic and design an experiment. The students then are asked to dissect and critique relevant scientific journal articles to understand the intent and content of each section. Finally, the students utilize the skills they learned and developed in the previous weeks of the class to prepare a literature survey or design an experiment on a particular research topic.
518 Crime Scene Investigation and Reconstruction This lecture/hands-on based course provides students with an in-depth review of crime scene processing and evaluation. Dr. Edmond Locard stated that when you enter a crime scene you bring things in with you and when you leave you take things away. This is known as the Locard exchange principle. This course discusses how to document and collect physical evidence from various types of crime scenes without contaminating the scene. Students are taught proper techniques for photographing the crime scene as well as for the collection of evidence, latent fingerprinting, shoe/tire impressions trace evidence and DNA collection. Students will be able to reconstruct the entire crime scene for court presentation.
519 Forensic Pattern Analysis This lecture/laboratory-based course provides students with an overview of the principles and concepts on which pattern evidence analysis is based. Methods of analysis for various types of forensic pattern evidence including fingerprints, footwear impressions, tire marks, tool marks, blood spatter analysis and fired bullets and cartridges are discussed. Students use mechanical, chemical and visual techniques to develop and analyze these types of pattern evidence.
520 Moot Court The culmination of laboratory analysis of evidential material in criminalistics and other forensic disciplines is its presentation in court, where the analyst has the opportunity to explain the testing they performed, interpret their results, and defend their validity and reliability. This course prepares the forensic science student in the preparation and presentation of scientific information to lay audiences, and it helps students to understand the dynamics of the courtroom. This is achieved through lectures and moot court format. Instructors may utilize reports and projects prepared in other courses to provide the subject matter for the students’ testimony. Students are videotaped for self-critique.
525 Forensic Toxicology I This lecture/laboratory-based course presents the major fields that constitute general toxicology: workplace drug testing; performance enhancement; performance impairment, e.g., DUI; “date rape”; and postmortem toxicology. It covers methods, procedures, education training and certification requirements, work performance and court testimony as well as the nature and content of applicable regulations and guidelines. Lectures, interactive sessions and demonstrations are used to demonstrate techniques and their application.
526 Forensic Toxicology II This lecture/laboratory based course is built on hands-on, systematic methods and procedures for detection/exclusion of case-pertinent foreign chemicals in autopsy specimens at concentrations that are relevant to general and specific case issues. Lectures and reports by students will parallel, challenge and amplify the progress of the systematic laboratory work. Instruction will cover: the effects of pre-analytical factors on choices of analytical methods and procedures: principles, applicability and limitations of methods and factors in arriving (or not) at "reasonable forensic toxicological certainty," opinions regarding identities, quantities and case-issue questions in general (hypothetical) and specific (actual) cases.
530 Forensic Serology This lecture/laboratory-based course covers the biochemical basis of forensic testing procedures and includes classical serological and electrophoretic techniques. It examines fundamental genetic and statistical principles and their application to forensic biology. Court testimony in the area of forensic biology also is addressed. Practical and laboratory exercises demonstrate the techniques and their applications.
531 Forensic DNA Analysis This lecture/laboratory-based course covers the basic principles of DNA functions and chemistry, capillary electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction, and STR multiplexing of nuclear DNA. It examines the history of forensic DNA techniques as well as surveying current trends including mitochondrial and single nucleotide DNA polymorphism techniques. Testimony in admissibility and Daubert hearings are addressed. Practical demonstrations illustrate the techniques and their applications.
533 Quality Management in Forensic Science This lecture-based course discusses theoretical and practical applications of forensic science laboratory management. Expectations for the professional practice of forensic science are changing, driven by developing technology, legal precedent and government regulation. Professional organizations also play a role in governing the qualifications of people practicing in the field and setting standards for ensuring that valid science is practiced and admitted to court. This course emphasizes various quality measures, including quality control and quality assurance, proficiency testing, professional certification and laboratory accreditation standards. Issues related to bias, error and uncertainty also are explored. The class reviews critiques of the forensic sciences that are the basis for development of scientific working groups (SWGs) in various disciplines and proposed areas for improvement in forensic science including research, education, validation, and management of laboratories.
535 Forensic Chemistry This lecture/laboratory-based course is designed to provide the student with a foundation in the theories, techniques and vocabulary of the unique field of forensic chemistry. This course covers forensic chemistry techniques and principles relating to controlled substances, ignitable liquids, fire debris and explosives. A review of organic and analytical chemistry as they relate to forensic chemistry is discussed. Prerequisites: Students should have completed General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis courses.
536 Advanced Forensic Chemistry This lecture/laboratory-based course is designed to build on those topics covered in Forensic Chemistry. This course covers forensic chemistry analytical techniques and principles relating to controlled substances, fire debris, and ignitable liquids. Prerequisites: FS 535
555 Biotechnology This course includes lectures and limited laboratory demonstrations in DNA technology. The topic areas include: classical examples of biotechnology, automated DNA quantitation, PCR and RT PCR analysis, slab-gel and capillary electrophoresis, detection methods (fluorescent dyes), genetic analyzers, STR, Y-STR, SNP (nuclear DNA) genotyping, mtDNA sequencing, DNA database analysis, and applications of biotechnology to various fields with an emphasis on their use in the forensic sciences.
561a Forensic Science Symposium This is a wide-ranging introduction to key areas and “hot topics” in forensic science, as presented by a series of guest lectures by leading practitioners in the field.
570 Criminal Law and Ethics This lecture-based course provides the student with an introduction to the American criminal justice system. Through discussion and analysis of the U.S. Constitution, the Pennsylvania Constitution, Federal (and state) Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal (and state) Rules of Evidence and case law, students develop a practical understanding of modern criminal jurisprudence. Special emphasis and consideration is given to the ethical obligations of criminal justice practitioners, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement officers and expert witnesses.
583 Graduate Internship in Forensic Science This is a supervised external full-time internship at a pre-approved facility. Students are exposed to forensic analysis in an operational forensic laboratory and are evaluated by the forensic science program external internship committee and the sponsoring forensic laboratory. Credit depends on number of hours in the internship, with a minimum of 300 hours (6 credits) required to a maximum of 600 hours (12 credits). Other numbers of hours will be prorated accordingly.
586 Graduate Practicum in Forensic Biology This is a supervised internal full-time practicum at the Fredric Rieders Family Renaissance Foundation. Principles of the forensic analysis of blood and other biological materials as well as the procedures involved in DNA profiling of evidence (including DNA extraction, quantitation, amplification and detection) are used to process casework samples, perform analyses, interpret results, write reports, and participate in moot court experiences. Students have multiple hands-on casework samples, laboratory experiences, and the assistance of forensic practitioners in the preparation and execution of appropriate reports, analyses, and court testimonies.
587 Graduate Practicum in Forensic Chemistry This is a supervised internal full-time practicum at the Fredric Rieders Family Renaissance Foundation. Principles and techniques of the forensic identification of drugs including the weighing and sampling of drug evidence as well as presumptive and confirmatory drug identification are used to process casework samples, perform analyses, interpret results, write reports, and participate in moot court experiences. Students have multiple hands-on casework samples, laboratory experiences, and the assistance of forensic practitioners in the preparation and execution of appropriate reports, analyses, and court testimonies. Students also learn those analytical techniques used for the forensic analysis of trace evidence.
588 Graduate Practicum in Forensic Toxicology This is a supervised internal full-time practicum at the Fredric Rieders Family Renaissance Foundation. Principles and procedures used in the forensic analysis of drugs and toxins, including their detection, extraction and purification from biological matrices, and quantitation are used to process casework samples, perform analyses, interpret results, write reports, and participate in moot court experiences. Students have multiple hands-on casework samples, experiences with screening procedures and analytical methodologies and the assistance of forensic practitioners in the preparation and execution of appropriate reports and court testimonies.
589 Independent Research This course is designed for the student to independently integrate his or her graduate coursework studies and to incorporate his or her learning, research and/or internship experiences into a formal presentation. The presentation should demonstrate a comprehensive and detailed understanding of their area of specialization.
596 Research Project in Forensic Science This course consists of original laboratory-based research in some aspect of forensic chemistry, biology or toxicology, comparing existing testing modalities or experimenting with novel techniques. Projects involve all stages of a research task—proposal, experimental design, data collection, analysis— and are supervised by a member of the regular Arcadia University teaching faculty, another member of the Forensic Science teaching faculty, and a forensic practitioner or someone with specialized knowledge. The culmination of this research should result in students meeting together to compare projects and prepare their capstone presentations.
597 Research Project in Forensic Chemistry This course consists of original laboratory-based research in some aspect of forensic chemistry that can be taken repeatedly for credit with approval of the sponsoring professor and program director. Projects involve all stages of a research task—proposal, experimental design, data collection, analysis— and are supervised by a member of the regular Arcadia University teaching faculty, another member of the Forensic Science teaching faculty, and a forensic practitioner or someone with specialized knowledge. The culmination of this research should result in students meeting together to compare projects and prepare their capstone presentations.
598 Research Project in Forensic Biology This course consists of original laboratory-based research in some aspect of forensic biology that can be taken repeatedly for credit with approval of the sponsoring professor and program director. Projects involve all stages of a research task—proposal, experimental design, data collection, analysis—and is supervised by a member of the regular Arcadia University teaching faculty, another member of the Forensic Science teaching faculty, and a forensic practitioner or someone with specialized knowledge. The culmination of this research should result in students meeting together to compare projects and prepare their capstone presentations.
Biology Courses (BI)
404 Genetics A study of the classical and modern views of the nature of the gene, its transmission and its function, this course includes microbial and population genetics. Three class hours and three laboratory hours weekly. Prerequisites: BI 101 and 102; or permission of the instructor.
433 Molecular Biology This study of the molecular structure and functioning of the gene includes in-depth investigation of current areas of molecular research in biological fields such as medicine, development, population biology and evolution. Laboratory involves techniques of molecular biology including DNA purification and analysis, cloning and the polymerase chain reaction. Three class hours and three laboratory hours weekly. Prerequisites: BI101, 102, 204, CH101, 102; or permission of the instructor.
438 Bioinformatics This is an interdisciplinary course in Bioinformatics offered by the Departments of Computer Science/Math and Biology. The focus of this course is on genomics including concepts in gene structure and function. Students gain knowledge in the utilization of genome databases/browsers and bioinformatic tools employed for gene model prediction (annotation), and use those tools to annotate sequences from various eukaryotic genomes. Students are given instruction on algorithm design based on pattern-matching and gain hands-on experience in the use of algorithms to help predict gene models and to test those models for accuracy within the context of the programming language Perl. Collaboration between students trained in different disciplines (math, computer science, biology) is encouraged in order to address issues in genomics and to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the field. Prerequisites: BI101/BI102; CS101/CS102.
440 Biochemistry This course introduces students to the basic concepts in biochemistry through lecture and problem sets. A biomedical perspective is used throughout. Students learn the basic principles governing the structure and function of biochemical systems. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.
Chemistry Courses (CH)
203 Equilibrium and Analysis This examination of the principles and theory of chemical equilibrium in the context of quantitative chemical analysis includes selected traditional analytical laboratory techniques frequently applied to analyses of systems of biological and environmental interest. It also introduces instrumental techniques of analysis. Prerequisite: CH102; or permission of the Chair.
404 Instrumental Methods of Analysis I This study of the theory and practice of instrumental analysis includes electrochemical, spectrophotometric, chromatographic, mass spectral and nuclear magnetic resonance methods of analysis as background for the separation, identification and analysis of chemical substances. Three class hours and four laboratory hours weekly. Prerequisites: CH 203, CH 301, CH 302 highly recommended.
407 Polymers and Biopolymers This course is a coherent introduction to modern polymer chemistry designed for students interested in chemistry, physics, engineering and biochemistry. Specifically, this course aims to broaden the perspective of students in the different technical areas to the point where they can appreciate the scope and importance of polymers, biopolymers and contemporary polymer technology. Emphasis is placed on the nature and synthesis of polymers; biological polymers and their reactions; thermodynamics and kinetics of polymerization; and physical characterization, fabrication, testing and uses of both natural and synthetic polymeric materials Four class hours weekly. Prerequisites: CH 201, CH 202.
Math Courses (MA)
141 Elementary Statistics
This is an introduction to basic statistical techniques and their applications to the sciences, social sciences and business administration. It includes the collection and presentation of data, measures of central tendency and variability, probability, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, correlation and regression, and introduction to analysis of variance. Students learn to use common computer packages in statistics. Prerequisite: MA 100 or placement exam.