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2018-19 Graduate Catalog 
    Jun 25, 2022  
2018-19 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Forensic Science, M.S.F.S.

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  • Karen Scott, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of the Forensic Science Program
  • Heather Harris, JD, MS, Assistant Professor
  • Shane Tobe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Clinical Faculty

  • Barry Logan, Ph.D., ABFT, National Forensic Science Director of NMS Labs and President of the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education

Adjunct Faculty

  • Edward Barbieri, Ph.D., Assistant Laboratory Director, Forensic, NMS Labs.
  • Catherine Brown, M.S.F.S., Research Technician, Center for Forensic Science Research and Education
  • Melissa Friscia, M.S.F.S., Laboratory Support Scientist, Center for Forensic Science Research and Education
  • Sherri Kacinko, Ph.D., Toxicologist III, NMS Labs
  • Heather McKiernan, M.S.F.S., Director of Academic Programs at The Center for Forensic Science Research and Education
  • Mandi Mohr, M.S.F.S., Forensic Scientist II, Center for Forensic Science Research & Education
  • Richard Nilsen, M.S., J.D., Commander, Forensic Services Unit and Assistant DA, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office
  • Allen Stewart, M.S., Deputy Sheriff, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department

Laboratory Instructor

  • Fran Diamond, Criminalistics Technical Leader at NMS Labs

About the Program

  • Small class sizes;
  • One of only a select few Master’s in Forensic Science programs accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC);
  • Offered in collaboration with The Center for Forensic Science Research & Education and NMS Labs using their state-ofthe- art facilities;
  • Renowned American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) and American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT) certified faculty;
  • Guaranteed Internship at The Center for Forensic Science Research & Education;
  • Preparation for careers in private, state and federal agencies as well as other associated scientific disciplines;
  • Provides a strong scientific foundation to pursue doctoral studies;
  • Arcadia University-sponsored student participation in professional meetings;
  • Active research programs in various forensic science disciplines;
  • Opportunity to attend autopsies and consult on cold case investigations;
  • Become recognized by the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) by taking the Forensic Science Assessment Test (FSAT) prior to graduation;

A Growing Profession: Forensic Science is broadly defined as the application of science to the purposes of law. It is highly interdisciplinary by nature and has become a vital part of the judicial and regulatory system worldwide. Professional forensic scientists, law enforcement personnel, and criminal justice employees all recognize the growing need for highly qualified specialists who can follow established protocols in the collection, preservation, analysis and presentation of forensic evidence.

National Recognition: The Arcadia University Master of Science in Forensic Science (M.S.F.S.) program is nationally accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS). Arcadia University is one of only a select few institutions in the country to hold this accreditation which recognizes the high-quality graduate forensic science curriculum offered through this program.

Affiliations: The Master of Science in Forensic Science (M.S.F.S.) degree is offered by Arcadia University in partnership with the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education and in collaboration with NMS Labs, one of the nation’s premier ASCLD-LAB and ISO 17025 accredited forensic science laboratories. Both facilities are located about 5 miles from Arcadia University in Willow Grove, PA. Some of the coursework is conducted at the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education facilities, and forensic practitioners from NMS Labs provide support for the instruction.

Guaranteed Internship and Real-World Experience: Arcadia faculty believe that hands-on forensic science opportunities are an essential part of the educational experience. Arcadia’s guaranteed internship at the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education is a unique benefit of Arcadia’s program. This highly desirable, comprehensive, and intensive 12-week internal internship program gives every student valuable real-world experience and career preparation in one of the following areas: Forensic Biology, Forensic Toxicology, Forensic Chemistry and Trace Analysis.

Forensic Science Mission Statement:  The mission of the Forensic Science program at Arcadia University is to provide high quality, competent, and professional master’s level forensic science education and training. This mission is  to be accomplished through contact with internal and external professional practitioners and academicians; through research, internships, and other forensic science activities intended to increase the students’ knowledge of forensic science, and through competent and ethical professional training.

Believing that the program’s mission can be achieved through productive interactions among practitioners, academicians, and related forensic science activities, Arcadia University seeks:

  • To provide a comprehensive graduate program in the areas of forensic biology, chemistry, toxicology and trace evidence analysis and to serve as a model for forensic science education excellence.
  • To promote scholarly inquiry into the knowledge and techniques fundamental to the practice of forensic science.
  • To provide outstanding resources for students in their professional forensic science development.
  • To produce competent and skilled forensic science professionals who can serve as outstanding practitioners and leaders in the forensic science field.

Program Structure and Design

Our curriculum is unique in that it covers a variety of specialties, unlike other graduate programs that require a commitment to a single field of study, making for more wellrounded forensic practitioners. The curriculum involves classroom and laboratory exposure to the field of criminalistics including forensic biology, chemistry and trace analysis as well as forensic toxicology. Coursework emphasizing the development of problemsolving abilities is designed to encourage a concentration in these forensic science specialty areas and expose students to both relevant laboratory techniques and relevant medico-legal developments. An emphasis on laboratory coursework provides students with significant hands-on experiences. Students are afforded the opportunity to reinforce their laboratory skills via internship arrangements with practicing forensic laboratories, including NMS Labs in Willow Grove, PA and the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office. An nternship practicum at The Center for Forensic Science Research and Education is guaranteed for all students. These experiences, coupled with the completion of an independent research project, ensure that Arcadia graduates are well prepared for careers in forensic science and that they are well received by the forensic science community.

The M.S.F.S. program focuses primarily on the fields of forensic biology, chemistry, toxicology, and trace evidence analysis.

  • Forensic Biology involves the analysis of biological fluids and tissues collected at crime scenes and from articles of physical evidence for the purpose of identification and individualization. A forensic biologist employs a wide range of laboratory methods and instruments for body fluid identification and forensic DNA analysis.
  • Forensic Chemistry involves the forensic application of chemical theories, techniques, and instrumentation to the analysis of illicit drugs, arson, explosives, and other trace evidence materials.
  • Forensic Toxicology involves the detection and characterization of chemical substances exhibiting adverse or toxic physiological effects. A forensic toxicologist uses a wide range of laboratory methods, which may include spectrophotometric and chromatographic analyses.
  • Trace Analysis involves the proper collection, preservation identification and comparison of items such as glass, paint, hairs, fibers and soil. A forensic trace evidence examiner will use instrumental, mechanical, chemical and visual techniques to analyze these types of trace evidence.

Program Design

The Forensic Science program offers a variety of core and elective courses. In their first year of study, students are given the opportunity to make up any deficiencies in biology and chemistry coursework depending on their undergraduate backgrounds and have the opportunity to take advanced courses in these fields. This provides students with a strong scientific foundation which is required and essential in the field of forensic science. The remainder of the first-year courses concern both general and specific topics in forensic science. The second year of study allows for further specialization in chemical, biological, and toxicological coursework. Students also complete internship experiences and research projects in the second year.

The First Year

In their first year of study, students enrolled in the M.S.F.S. program take a set of core courses designed to develop a strong broad-based foundation in the forensic sciences. In addition to our M.S.F.S. faculty, some of the courses are taught by adjunct faculty recruited from the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education, NMS Labs as well as from local and state law enforcement agencies.

Summer Term

After the first year, students will be required to engage in a research project mentored by a faculty member affiliated with the University or its partners. Research may be performed on campus or at an external laboratory.

The Second Year

In the second year students obtain additional depth of knowledge by taking specialized coursework in forensic biology, forensic toxicology, forensic chemistry and trace evidence analysis. Students must also complete a laboratory practicum/internship and research project mentored by a faculty member affiliated with the University or its partners.

Admission Requirements

Program-specific admission requirements:

  1. A Graduate application, including personal statements, must be completed online at
  2. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or better, with at least a 3.25 in the major. It is expected that students have an undergraduate degree in the natural or physical sciences.
  3. One official transcript from each college, university or professional school attended. Transfer credits included on a transcript must include grades earned; if not, an official transcript from the original school must be submitted. Transcripts must be sent from the issuing school in a sealed envelope and contain the appropriate signatures and seals to be considered official.
  4. Completion of at least two semesters of general chemistry with laboratories, two semesters of organic chemistry with laboratories, and two semesters of general biology with laboratories.
  5. Three current letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s ability to study graduate-level science.
  6. Test scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), taken within the last five years.
  7. International applicants should visit for detailed information on admission requirements and application procedures. TOEFL/IELTS results are required for all students for whom English is a second language or who have not earned degrees or diplomas from post-secondary institutions in English-speaking countries (e.g. the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand). A courseby-course evaluation of all transcripts by an independent evaluation service based in the United States also is required.
  8. It is highly recommended that prospective undergraduate students have completed coursework in genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, statistics, and instrumental/analytical chemistry.
  9. An interview with the Admissions Committee may be required.
  10. Arcadia Undergraduate students desiring assured admission must submit their completed applications by November 1 of the academic year of graduation from Arcadia University.

General Admissions Procedures

Upon enrollment into their programs, all students must provide proof of medical insurance and also provide information about their health and medical history. If needed, medical insurance can be purchased through the University. Information and applications are available in the Office of Student Health Services.

Application Deadline

Completed applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis starting January 15. Those received after January 15 will be reviewed based on availability of space in the attending class.

Deferred Admission

A student admitted to the full-time program and who wants to defer his or her admission for one year must submit a request to do so in writing to the Director. Deferrals will be granted by the Department on an individual basis. Once the deferral is granted, the student must submit the required deposit to reserve his or her seat in the class. This deposit will be credited toward tuition. Students who are granted a deferral must understand that they will be subject to the prevailing tuition at the time of matriculation to the program.

Part-Time Program Admission

Students working full-time may enroll in and complete the M.S.F.S. program on a parttime basis. Although designated as a parttime program, the coursework will continue to be offered at existing times. Students will generally take 1 to 2 courses per semester and adjust their work schedule to attend and complete course requirements. Matriculated student requirements are similar to the admission requirements for the full-time program. Students will apply to the program using the same procedure as students applying to the full-time program. Admission to the part-time program may occur in either Fall or Spring semesters. Applicants to the matriculated part-time program with two or more years of relevant laboratory experience at a forensic laboratory may have the GRE requirement waived.

Personal Academic and Professional Ethics

Students interested in the program should be aware of the National Institute of Justice Report entitled “Qualifications for a Career in Forensic Science.” This document details the personal, professional and academic criteria which will influence a prospective forensic science examiner’s suitability for employment. With regard to personal characteristics, the document states that “Because forensic science is part of the criminal justice system, personal honesty, integrity, and scientific objectivity are paramount. Those seeking careers in this field should be aware that background checks similar to those required for law enforcement officers are likely to be a condition of employment. The following may be conducted and/or reviewed before an employment offer is made and may remain as ongoing conditions of employment (this list is not all inclusive): drug tests, history of drug use, criminal history, personal associations, polygraph examination, driving record, past work performance, credit history, and medical or physical examination. Personal candor in these areas is critical.”

Support Services

Professional counseling services are available through the Arcadia University Counseling Center.


Tuition for 2018-19: $30,600/year

*Part-time FS students are charged $1,290/credit


  • Registration: $50 per semester
  • Technology: $50 per semester
  • Parking: $50 per semester or $100 per year (Fall and Spring) before 4 p.m. No charge after 4 p.m.

Additional Expenses (estimated):

  • Books and supplies (estimated): Year one $500; Year two $500
  • Room and Board: Off Campus
  • Travel: Varies

Included in tuition cost:

  • Registration, travel and hotel accommodations for 1 national and 1 regional forensic science meeting.
  • Registration fee for sitting the FSAT once per year.
  • Personalized lab coat.


Financial Aid

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid is available to assist qualified students in covering tuition and related expenses, as well as living costs.  Upon review for admissions, students are automatically reviewed for partial-tuition scholarships.  Graduate students who have been accepted into a degree program are enrolled for at least 6 credits per semester are eligible to apply for financial aid.  Please visit for information regarding available aid options and visit to complete required forms online.

Graduate Assistantships/Graduate Student Employment

Graduate Assistantships/Graduate Student Employment may be available to graduate students registered for at least 9 credits per semester. Students may apply for assistantships/graduate student employment upon acceptance and registration. Questions regarding graduate assistantships should be directed to the Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies at 215-572-2925.

Federal Loans

Graduate students are eligible to borrow through the Federal Direct Stafford Loan and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan programs provided they are taking at least 6 credits per semester (in the summer, 6 credits over all summer sessions combined satisfies this requirement). For more information, visit

Degree Requirements (72 credits)

(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.

First-Year Coursework

Second-Year Coursework

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