Jul 16, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Forensic Science, M.S.F.S.

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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 CFSRE 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 CFSRE
  • 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;

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 (CFSRE) 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 CFSRE 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 CFSRE 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 well-rounded 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 internship practicum at the CFSRE 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.

Degree Requirements (59-61 credits)

(The program includes at least 48 credits of required graduate coursework, in addition to 8 to 10 semester hours of research, 6 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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