Mason Offers Graduate Certificate in Forensic Science

Posted: July 30, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Mention the word “forensics” to someone, and it likely conjures up images of beautiful people miraculously solving crimes in convenient 60-minute time periods while driving fast cars and removing their sunglasses at particularly dramatic moments.

The latest technology is always available in their lab, and the resulting data provide iron-clad proof of guilt.

If you talk to the professionals, however, you get a very different picture of what it is like to work in the field of forensics.

Mason’s College of Science (COS) now offers that opportunity with a new Graduate Certificate in Forensics (FRSC). The first course, Introduction to Forensic Science, is available this fall. It will be taught by William Whildin, the medicolegal investigator for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Virginia, Northern District.

The certificate program was created partially in response to the growing national student interest in forensics fostered by popular TV shows such as “CSI,” “Cold Case,” “Bones” and many others, but it was also created in response to the substantial local and regional demand for graduates trained in the technical and legal aspects of forensic science.

For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for forensic science technicians are predicted to increase by 21 percent or more from now until 2016.

The COS is working closely with forensics agencies at the local, state and federal level to ensure that students will receive up-to-date instruction that includes regular interaction with, and instruction from, current forensic practitioners. Students who complete this program should be well prepared for jobs in forensic science.

The FRSC certificate requires students to complete 18 credits of graduate courses. It will be offered in two concentrations, one in Forensic Science and the other in General Forensics.

Students applying for admission into the Forensic Science concentration should have an undergraduate degree in biology or chemistry, whereas those applying to the General Forensics concentration may hold a bachelor’s degree in any field.

An unusual element of the certificate program is the Forensics Capstone Course, which is shared by the two concentrations. In this class, students from the two concentrations will combine their skills as members of interdisciplinary investigation teams as they analyze a “real world” crime scene.

Other courses in the program are:

  • Crime Scene Analysis

  • Toxicology

  • Criminal Law

  • Chemical Analysis

  • Issues in Forensic Anthropology

  • Forensic DNA Sciences

  • Introduction to Biochemical Forensics

Completion of the certificate will enhance the careers of students who are already working in this area and can also serve as a useful intermediate step toward later enrollment in a graduate degree program in forensics.

Although this is the first program in forensics within the COS, there are plans for additional programs. A minor in forensic science is currently in development at the undergraduate level, and an MS program is under consideration.

More information about the Graduate Certificate in Forensics is available online. Interested students are encouraged to contact the program director, Timothy Born, if they have questions.

Reprinted in part from the COS web site.

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