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					          U.S. Department of Justice
          Office of Justice Programs

          National Institute of Justice

                                                     Special   REPORT

          Education and Training in Forensic Science: A Guide for Forensic
          Science Laboratories, Educational Institutions, and Students
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
810 Seventh Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20531

John Ashcroft
Attorney General

Deborah J. Daniels
Assistant Attorney General

Sarah V. Hart
Director, National Institute of Justice

This and other publications and products of the National Institute
of Justice can be found at:

National Institute of Justice

Office of Justice Programs
Partnerships for Safer Communities

          Education and Training in
          Forensic Science
          A Guide for Forensic Science Laboratories,
          Educational Institutions, and Students

          Developed and Approved by the Technical Working Group for
          Education and Training in Forensic Science

          NCJ 203099
Sarah V. Hart

Findings and conclusions of the research reported here are those of the authors and do not
reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The National Institute of Justice is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also
includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Office of Juvenile
Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime.
Message From the Director

Forensic scientists play a pivotal role in the   This publication is especially timely as
criminal justice system, providing crucial       President Bush has directed DOJ to
information about the evidence to the trier      undertake a $1 billion, 5-year program to
of fact. Because the work they do both           improve the Nation’s capacity to use DNA
at the crime scene and in the laboratory         evidence as a routine law enforcement tool.
often must be used in court, it is especial­     This capacity-building plan seeks to improve
ly important that the training and educa­        all aspects of the system—evidence collec­
tion of forensic scientists provide a solid      tion, presentation, analysis, and use in
scientific background and a broad base in        court. Ensuring that this Nation has an
criminalistics.                                  adequate pool of trained forensic scien­
                                                 tists is critical to achieving this goal.
Interest in forensic science has increased
dramatically in the past 10 years. In            I commend the hard work of the mem­
response to this interest, many universi­        bers of the Technical Working Group that
ties have begun to offer degrees in foren­       created this consensus document. They
sic science at both the undergraduate and        are representative of forensic science edu­
graduate level. To ensure that these pro­        cators, laboratory directors, forensic sci­
grams adequately prepare practitioners           ence trainers, education professionals,
for their careers in operational laboratories,   prosecutors, and defense attorneys. Their
the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has         collective expert knowledge, experience,
supported West Virginia University’s estab­      and dedication to the task made this effort
lishment of the Technical Working Group          a success.
for Education and Training in Forensic
Science for the purpose of recommending          Educational programs and training models
best practices for educational curriculums       will vary based on the needs of the particu­
in forensic science. These recommenda­           lar organization and jurisdiction in which
tions encompass the current best practices       they are implemented. The criteria set forth
and procedures for initial and continuing        in this document can serve as a guide for
training models to provide those seeking to      universities to promote quality education
become forensic scientists with the educa­       and training in forensic science disciplines
tional and practical knowledge and skills        by promoting a consistent approach while
necessary to effectively support their role      tailoring their programs to meet the needs
in the criminal justice system.                  of the applicable community.

                                                                                Sarah V. Hart
                                                                 National Institute of Justice

Technical Working Group on Education and
Training in Forensic Science
The Technical Working Group on Education
and Training in Forensic Science (TWGED)
                                                 Education and Training in
is a multidisciplinary group of content area     Forensic Science
experts from across the United States and        Planning Panel
Canada, from both urban and rural jurisdic­
tions, each representing his or her respec­      Dr. Jack Ballantyne
tive agency or practice. Each individual is      Associate Professor
involved in educating and/or training foren­     Department of Chemistry
sic scientists (as students or professionals).   University of Central Florida
They represent academia, forensic science        Orlando, FL
laboratories, professional forensic science
                                                 Inspector Mark Dale
organizations, and the legal system.
                                                 Laboratory Director
At the outset of the effort to develop this      New York State Police
Guide, the National Institute of Justice         Albany, NY
(NIJ) created a planning panel—composed
                                                 Dr. Allison Eastman
of forensic science educators, crime labo­
                                                 Supervisor of DNA Services
ratory directors, and trainers—to define
                                                 New York State Police
needs, develop initial strategies, and steer
                                                 Albany, NY
the larger group. This planning panel first
determined that an NIJ technical working         Linda Errichetto
group would provide the best approach            Laboratory Director
for addressing the demonstrated needs.           Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Additional members of the technical work­         Forensic Laboratory
ing group were then selected from recom­         Las Vegas, NV
mendations solicited from the planning
panel and national organizations, includ­        Dr. Terry Fenger
ing the American Academy of Forensic             Director
Sciences, American Society of Crime              Marshall University Forensic Science
Laboratory Directors, American Society            Center
of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory         Huntington, WV
Accreditation Board, International Associa­
tion for Identification, Drug Enforcement        Barry Fisher
Administration, Federal Bureau of Investi­       Director
gation, George Washington University,            Scientific Services Bureau
West Virginia University, Marshall Univer­       Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office
sity, and the National Forensic Science          Los Angeles, CA
Technology Center.
                                                 Dr. Jane Homeyer
During a 1-year period, the 47 members           Forensic Science Training Unit Chief
and 2 designees of the TWGED listed              Laboratory Division
below worked together to develop this            Federal Bureau of Investigation
Guide:                                           Quantico, VA

     Peter Marone                             Garry Bombard
     Central Lab Director                     Director of Training
     Division of Forensic Sciences            Illinois State Police Department
     Commonwealth of Virginia                 Forensic Sciences Command
     Richmond, VA                             Chicago, IL

     Dr. Carl Selavka                         Dr. Robert Briner
     Director                                 Director
     Massachusetts State Police Crime         Southeast Missouri Regional Crime
      Laboratory                               Laboratory
     Sudbury, MA                              Cape Girardeau, MO

     Dr. Ian Tebbett                          Dr. Michael Bourke
     Education and Training Consultant        DNA Manager
     University of Florida                    Connecticut Department of Public Safety
     Gainesville, FL                          Meriden, CT*

     Dr. Michael Yura                         Dr. Yale Caplan
     Director                                 Director
     Forensic Identification Program          National Scientific Services
     West Virginia University                 Baltimore, MD
     Morgantown, WV
                                              Elizabeth Carpenter
                                              Laboratory Director
     Additional Technical                     Oregon State Police Crime Laboratory
                                              Portland, OR
     Working Group Members
                                              Alan Clark
     Dr. José Almirall
                                              Associate Deputy Assistant Administrator
                                              Office of Forensic Sciences
     Forensic Science Program
                                              Drug Enforcement Agency Headquarters
     Florida International University
                                              Washington, DC
     Miami, FL
                                              Dr. Peter DeForest
     Kathleen Barch
                                              Professor of Criminalistics
     Deputy Director
                                              John Jay College
     Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification
                                              City University of New York
      and Investigation
                                              New York, NY
     London, OH
                                              Dr. Christopher D’Elia
     Dr. Clifton Bishop
                                              Vice President for Research
     Curriculum Coordinator and Advisor
                                              State University of New York
     Forensic Identification Program
                                              Albany, NY
     West Virginia University
     Morgantown, WV                           Dr. Jamie Downs
                                              Director/Chief Medical Examiner
                                              Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences
                                              Auburn, AL

Dr. David Foran                       Susan Johns
Assistant Professor                   Bureau Chief
George Washington University          Illinois State Police
Department of Forensic Sciences       Springfield, IL
Washington, DC
                                      Dr. Graham Jones
Dr. James Fox                         President
Lipman Family Professor of Criminal   Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board
 Justice                              Medical Examiner’s Office
College of Criminal Justice           Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Northeastern University
Boston, MA                            Dr. Karen Kershenstein
Dr. Robert Fraas                      KWK Enterprises
Director                              Fairfax Station, VA
Forensic Science Program
Eastern Kentucky University           Kevin Lothridge
Richmond, KY                          Deputy Director
                                      National Forensic Science and Technology
Dr. Robert Gaensslen                   Center
Director of Graduate Studies          Largo, FL
Forensic Science Program
University of Illinois at Chicago     Joseph Polski
Chicago, IL                           Chief Operations Officer
                                      International Association for Identification
Dr. Howard Harris                     Mendota Heights, MN
Forensic Science Program              Lawrence Presley
University of New Haven               Director of Criminalistics
West Haven, CT                        National Medical Services
                                      Willow Grove, PA
Dr. Neal Haskell
Forensic Entomologist                 Victor Reeve
St. Joseph’s College                  Laboratory Director
Rensselaer, IN                        California Criminalistics Institute
                                      Sacramento, CA
Carol Henderson, J.D.
Professor of Law                      Gerald Richards
Shepard Broad Law Center              Richards Forensic Services
Nova Southeastern University          Laurel, MD
Fort Lauderdale, FL
                                      Dr. Kathy Roberts
Dwane Hilderbrand                     Assistant Professor
Scottsdale Crime Laboratory           California State University
Scottsdale, AZ                        Los Angeles, CA

Karen Irish                           Linda Rourke
Director of Forensic Sciences         John Jay College
Baltimore County Police Department    City University of New York
Towson, MD                            Bayside, NY*

       Dr. George Sensabaugh                       Wayne Williams, J.D.

       Professor of Biomedical and Forensic        Electronic Consultant/Attorney-at-Law

        Sciences                                   Hyattsville, MD

       University of California
       Berkeley, CA                                Amy Wong

                                                   Laboratory Director

       Dr. Charles Tindall                         Virginia Division of Forensic Science

       Director of Forensic Science                Fairfax, VA

       Metropolitan State College of Denver
       Denver, CO                                  Kenneth Zercie

                                                   Assistant Director

       Dr. Victor Weedn                            Connecticut State Police Forensic 

       Principal Research Scientist and Director    Laboratory
        of Biotechnology and Health Initiatives    Meriden, CT
       Carnegie Mellon University
       Pittsburgh, PA                              *Designee who attended one meeting as
                                                   a proxy for a TWGED member.
       Dr. Jeffrey Wells
       Associate Professor
       Department of Justice Sciences
       University of Alabama at Birmingham
       Birmingham, AL

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and    Crime Laboratory Directors, Robert S.
West Virginia University (WVU) wish to         Conley from the American Society of
thank the members of the Technical Work­       Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory
ing Group on Education and Training in         Accreditation Board, Thomas C. Smith
Forensic Science (TWGED) for their exten­      from the American Bar Association,
sive efforts and dedication to the enhance­    Criminal Justice Section, Jennifer S.
ment of education and training in forensic     Mihalovich from the American Board of
science. The TWGED members, who are            Criminalistics, Thomas Janovsky from the
national experts representing academia,        Drug Enforcement Agency, Dick Johnson
forensic science laboratories, professional    from the National White Collar Crime
organizations, and the legal system, gener­    Center, Dr. Michael Baer from the Ameri­
ously gave their time to draft and review      can Council on Education, Dr. Jay Siegel
this document. In addition, thanks are         from Michigan State University, Dr. Ray H.
extended to the agencies and organiza­         Liu from the University of Alabama–
tions that TWGED members represent             Birmingham, Dr. David A. Rowley from
for their flexibility and support, which en­   the George Washington University, and
abled the participants to see this project     Dr. Philip H. Yeagle from the University of
to completion.                                 New Haven. NIJ, WVU, and TWGED also
                                               would like to thank the numerous individu­
NIJ and WVU would like to thank all the        als and organizations who were sent a draft
individuals from various national organiza­    of the Guide for review and comment.
tions who responded to the request for
nominations of experts with a wide             WVU would like to thank President David
expanse of knowledge and experience            Hardesty, Provost Gerry Lang, Vice Presi­
from different areas of forensic science,      dent for Research John Weete, Director of
both in practice and education. It was from    the Forensic Identification Program Michael
their recommendations that the members         Yura, Forensic Identification Program
were selected. In particular, thanks to        Administrative Assistant Lori Britton, and
Mary Fran Ernst from the American              Projects Director Max M. Houck for their
Academy of Forensic Sciences, Keith K.         commitment and dedication to the forensic
Coonrod from the American Society of           sciences and this project.

About This Report
The results of forensic investigations often      coursework in specialized, forensic, and
can be the difference between acquittal           laboratory sciences and other classes
and conviction in a court of law. The validi­     that complement the student’s area of
ty of those results depends on the knowl­         concentration.
edge, skills, and experience of the forensic
scientists working to obtain them. The            Graduate degree. Graduate programs can
National Institute of Justice, with support       move students from theoretical concepts
from the West Virginia University, created        to discipline-specific knowledge. Exemplary
the Technical Working Group for Education         curriculums can include such topics as
and Training in Forensic Science (TWGED)          crime scenes, physical evidence, law/
to establish best practices for educating         science interface, ethics, and quality assur­
and training forensic scientists. The work­       ance to complement the student’s ad­
ing group developed the consensus crite­          vanced coursework. Graduate programs
ria and recommendations presented in this         should be designed with strong laboratory
report. This information serves students as       and research components. Access to
they prepare for a career in forensic sci­        instructional laboratories with research-
ence, educational institutions as they            specific facilities, equipment, and instru­
develop and revamp curriculums, and               mentation and interaction with forensic
forensic scientists as they advance their         laboratories are required to enhance the
knowledge, skills, and abilities in the           graduate-level experience. By emphasizing
constantly evolving forensic science              written and oral communication and report
disciplines.                                      writing, graduate programs can prepare
                                                  students for future courtroom testimony.

                                                  Forensic scientists have an ongoing obliga­
What does the working                             tion to advance their field through training
group recommend?                                  and continuing professional development.
                                                  Training programs should include written
A solid educational background in natural
                                                  components (e.g., instructor qualifications,
sciences with extensive laboratory course­
                                                  student requirements, performance goals,
work establishes the groundwork for a
                                                  and competency testing), and their con­
career in forensic science. Strong personal
                                                  tent should contain several core and
attributes, professional skills, certification,
                                                  discipline-specific elements guided by
and professional involvement also are criti­
                                                  peer-defined standards. Continuing profes­
cal to the professional growth of prospec­
                                                  sional development—mechanisms through
tive and practicing forensic scientists.
                                                  which forensic scientists remain current or
Undergraduate degree. Undergraduate               advance their expertise—should be struc­
forensic science degree programs are              tured, measurable, and documented.
expected to deliver a strong and credible
science foundation that emphasizes the
scientific method and problem-solving
                                                  Who should read this report?
skills. Exemplary programs would be               Forensic science laboratory managers in­
interdisciplinary and include substantial         volved with hiring and training forensic
laboratory work, as most employment               scientists, educational institutions that offer
opportunities occur in laboratory settings.       or are seeking to establish forensic science
Natural sciences should dominate under­           programs, and individuals beginning or con­
graduate curriculums and be supported by          tinuing careers in forensic science.

Message From the Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii

Technical Working Group on Education and Training in Forensic Science . . . . . . v

Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix

About This Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Qualifications for a Career in Forensic Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Undergraduate Curriculum in Forensic Science. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Graduate Curriculum in Forensic Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Training and Continuing Education in Forensic Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Appendix A: Forensic Science Careers Outside the Traditional Forensic 

Science Crime Laboratory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Appendix B: Non-TWGED Reviewers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Appendix C: Forensic Science Professional and Certification Organizations . . 41

Appendix D: Technical and Scientific Working Groups. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

Appendix E: Technical and Scientific Working Groups’ Educational Criteria . . . 45

Forensic science plays a crucial role in the      employees’ academic background, which
justice system by providing scientific and        may assist laboratories in posting and fill­
foundational information for investigations       ing forensic science positions. The Guide
and the courts.1 The Technical Working            also provides structure for the continuing
Group on Education and Training in For­           education of practicing forensic scientists
ensic Science (TWGED) focused primarily           and training to enhance a current employ-
on education and training in those disci­         ee’s knowledge, skills, and abilities
plines traditionally and generally associat­      (KSAs).
ed with the work of forensic science
laboratories, commonly referred to as             Educational institutions can use this Guide
“criminalistics.” (For more information           to gauge the curriculum and structure of
on criminalistics, see “What Is ‘Criminal­        their forensic science academic programs.
istics’?”) Criminalistics is the profession       As a reflection of the forensic science
and scientific discipline directed toward         community’s needs and requirements,
the recognition, identification, individualiza­   this Guide also may provide direction and
tion, and evaluation of physical evidence in      ideas for the design or expansion of these
legal proceedings by the application of the       programs.
natural sciences. There are many other
forensic science specialty areas whose            In addition, prospective forensic science
educational and training requirements are         students can use this Guide to assist them
distinctly different from the traditional lab­    in evaluating forensic science academic
oratory science areas, such as forensic           programs. It can also provide guidance
computer science, forensic entomology,            regarding the requirements, career paths,
and forensic psychology; these are more           and expectations for a career in forensic
fully described in appendix A.                    science.

How to Use This Guide                             Background
This Guide is intended for use by forensic        As stated in NIJ’s 1999 publication
science laboratories in hiring and training       Forensic Sciences: Review of Status and
forensic scientists, educational institutions     Needs, the educational and training needs
offering or seeking to establish forensic         “of the forensic community are immense.
science programs, and individuals begin­          Training of newcomers to the field, as well
ning or continuing careers in forensic            as providing continuing education for sea­
science.                                          soned professionals, is vital to ensuring
                                                  that crime laboratories deliver the best
Forensic science laboratories can use this        possible service to the criminal justice
Guide in a variety of ways. It offers sug­        system. Forensic scientists must stay up
gested qualifications for prospective             to date as new technology, equipment,


       “Criminalistics is the science and profession         “Serology” is the study of blood groups (blood
       dealing with the recognition, collection, identifi­   types). In the 1970s, a number of proteins, some
       cation, individualization, and interpretation of      of which were enzymes, came into use as addi­
       physical evidence, and the application of the         tional individual characteristics of blood and
       natural sciences to law-science matters. The          physiological fluids, and the term “forensic bio­
       term originated from the book Handbuch fur            chemistry” came into use. With the introduction
       Untersuchungsrichter als System der                   of DNA typing in the mid-1980s, forensic scien­
       Kriminalististik (3d ed., 1898) by Hans Gross, an     tists no longer used blood types, enzymes, or
       investigating magistrate and professor of crimi­      other proteins to characterize biological evi­
       nology at the University of Prague. He described      dence. The term “forensic molecular biology”
       the need for a scientifically trained investigator    tries to capture forensic DNA analysis. “For­
       who could undertake certain technical aspects         ensic biology” usually now means the analysis
       of an investigation and could also serve as liai­     of blood and physiological fluids, including DNA
       son between scientific specialists who might          typing. Some specialized areas such as analysis
       assist in the investigation of criminal activity.     of botanical evidence also are part of “forensic
       This concept was popular in Europe, where a           biology.”
       number of forensic science institutes were
       developed to apply the tools and techniques of        “Forensic chemistry” sometimes means the use
       the natural sciences to the investigation of          of analytical chemical methods to analyze con­
       crime and, generally, in official governmental        trolled substances (illegal drugs). It also com­
       inquiries.”a                                          monly encompasses the use of chemical
                                                             methods to analyze fibers, glass, soil, paint, and
       The following specialized areas may be included       other materials. These materials have often
       under the criminalistics umbrella: biology (in­       been called trace evidence in forensic science,
       cluding biochemistry, molecular biology, and          but lately, some professionals have come to rec­
       DNA analysis);b chemistry; toxicology; micro­         ognize that “trace” is a misleading term for this
       scopy; analysis of controlled substances, fire        class of evidence. For one thing, it implies that
       debris, explosive residues, hairs, fibers, glass,     there is a small quantity, which is not necessari­
       soil, paint and other materials, and fingerprints     ly true. Microscopy is commonly used to con­
       and other impressions (such as footwear and           duct these types of examinations.
       tire tracks); questioned documents; toolmark
       and firearms identification; and reconstruction       Fingerprint analysis includes automated finger­
       and reconstruction patterns.                          print identification system (AFIS) technologies,
                                                             methods for developing latent fingerprints, and
       Like other scientific and technical subjects,         fingerprint comparison and identification. The
       forensic science and criminalistics have special­     latter two areas are most often identified with
       ized terminology that may not always be clear to      criminalistics.
       nonspecialists. In addition, professionals in the
       field may not agree on the meaning of every           Toolmark and firearms identification refers to
       term. To help make this document more accessi­        the use of class and individual markings made
       ble, some of the terms used to describe special­      by tools or firearms to attribute markings to spe­
       ized areas of criminalistics are discussed here.      cific tools or bullets and/or cartridge cases to
                                                             specific weapons.
       In biological evidence analysis, the term “for­
       ensic serology” was common for a long time            Questioned documents, sometimes called
       because blood groups were among the individ­          “forensic document examination,” includes sev­
       ual features of blood and physiological fluids.       eral different types of examinations: comparing

                                                            EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

      handwriting with known handwriting samples to        the documentation and analysis of patterns such
      determine whether or not a document was writ­        as bloodstain or glass fracture patterns. Recon­
      ten by a specific individual; examining machine-     struction as a part of criminalistics usually
      prepared documents (e.g., typewriting) to            implies not only studying patterns but also incor­
      determine what type of machine or whether a          porating laboratory-based physical evidence
      specific machine was used to prepare the docu­       analysis (and at times, analysis of the crime
      ment; analysis of forgeries, counterfeit money, or   scene) into the final hypothesis.
      identification documents; and restoration of dam­
      aged or altered documents.                           Note
                                                           a. Barnett, P. “Criminalistics,” McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of
      “Reconstruction” uses physical evidence and its      Science & Technology, 9th ed. M. Licker (ed.). New York:
      analysis to help put together past events in time    McGraw-Hill, Inc., 2002.

      and/or space. Reconstructions typically require      b. Words defined in the glossary are set in bold/italic type on
                                                           first use to distinguish them from other text.

methods, and techniques are developed.                     physical evidence, jury expectations, legal
While training programs exist in a variety                 requirements, accreditation and certifica­
of forms, there is a need to broaden their                 tion requirements of laboratories and per­
scope and build on existing resources. 2                   sonnel, impending retirement of a large
                                                           number of currently practicing forensic sci­
Forensic Sciences: Review of Status and                    entists, and increased public awareness
Needs made a number of recommenda­                         of forensic science through the popular
tions, including seeking mechanisms for—                   media. The increased demand places a
                                                           greater responsibility on educational insti­
■	   Accreditation/certification of forensic               tutions and the forensic science commu­
     academic training programs/institutions.              nity to meet this challenge. TWGED was
                                                           created in response to the needs ex­
     Setting national consensus standards of
                                                           pressed by the justice system, including
     education in the forensic sciences.
                                                           the forensic science and law enforcement
■	   Establishing independent, community-                  communities, to establish best practices
     wide, consensus standard-setting bod­                 for training and education in forensic
     ies, such as Technical Working Groups.                science.

■	   Funding by NIJ of forensic academic
     research and development programs.                    Origin of the Planning Panel
■	   Ensuring that all forensic scientists have
                                                           and the Technical Working
     professional orientations to the field,               Group
     formal quality-assurance training, and                In the summer of 2001, the American
     expert-witness training.                              Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the
In recent years, the demand for forensic                   American Society of Crime Laboratory
scientists has increased for many reasons,                 Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board
including population demographics, in­                     (ASCLD/LAB), and the American Society
creased awareness of forensic science                      of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD)
by law enforcement, increased numbers                      encouraged NIJ and WVU to establish
of law enforcement officers, database                      TWGED. NIJ and WVU selected a 10­
automation in several categories of                        member planning panel. The members


    represented forensic science laboratory         Chronology
    directors, educators, and trainers. The
    rationale for their involvement was two­        The planning panel meeting. In the sum­
    fold: They represented the diversity of the     mer of 2001, the planning panel met in
    professional disciplines and each organiza­     Morgantown, West Virginia, to prepare the
    tion is a key stakeholder in the future of      project objectives and begin the guide
    education and training in forensic science.     development process. The planning panel’s
                                                    objective was to develop an outline for a
    The planning panel was charged with             guide based on existing programs in foren­
    developing an outline for a guide for edu­      sic science education and current models
    cation and training in forensic science. The    for forensic science training and present it
    planning panel also was charged with iden­      for review to the assembled TWGED at a
    tifying experts to serve as members of          later date. During this initial session, the
    TWGED.                                          planning panel identified five distinct topics
                                                    for inclusion in the Guide, which were dis­
    Candidates for TWGED were recommend­            tilled into four final sections.
    ed by law enforcement and forensic sci­
    ence organizations and educational              The Guide’s content has the following
    programs that educate and train forensic        format:
    scientists, prosecutors, and defense attor­
                                                    ■    An introduction.
    neys. The following criteria were used to
    select TWGED members:                           ■	   A section on model criteria that sets
    ■	   Each member was nominated/selected              forth minimum recommendations.
         for the position by the planning panel     ■	   A section on implementation that
         and/or national organizations.
                                                         describes how to execute the
    ■	   Each member had specific knowledge              recommendations.
         in education and/or training in forensic   ■	   A summary that justifies performing the
    ■	   Each member could commit to the
                                                    TWGED meetings. In November 2001,
         project for at least a 12-month period.
                                                    TWGED met in Morgantown, West Virginia,
    Forty-nine experts (20 forensic science         and in January 2002, it met in San Diego,
    educators and trainers, 22 forensic sci­        California. The group was separated into
    ence laboratory managers, 2 attorneys,          four committees to draft the sections of
    and 5 experts from other organizations)         the Guide: Qualifications for a Career in
    from 20 States, the District of Columbia,       Forensic Science, Undergraduate Curricu­
    and 1 Canadian province were invited to         lum in Forensic Science, Graduate Curricu­
    be members of the working group. This           lum in Forensic Science, and Training/
    distribution of expertise brought together      Continuing Education in Forensic Science.
    all of the necessary resources to produce       An editor from Aspen Systems Corporation
    this Guide.                                     attended each of the breakout sessions to
                                                    facilitate the drafting process. When the
                                                    breakout sections were completed, the full
                                                    TWGED assembled to evaluate their work.

                                               EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

The planning panel reassembled in San         changes. In addition, the planning panel
Antonio, Texas, in March 2002 to review       reviewed the Guide’s glossary, title, intro­
comments from the TWG and incorporate         duction, a list of forensic science profes­
them into the Guide.                          sional and certification organizations
                                              (appendix C), and a list of the scientific
In April 2002, TWGED met in Arlington,        and technical working groups (appendix D)
Virginia, to review, revise, and complete     and any published educational require­
the initial document. The draft was edited    ments from them (appendix E).
and TWGED members were asked to rec­
ommend persons, organizations, or agen­
cies they felt should comment on the
draft. This draft was then sent to these
stakeholder organizations and to all TWG      1. Words defined in the glossary are set in bold/italic

                                              type on first use to distinguish them from other text.

members. (See appendix B for a list of
non-TWGED reviewers.)                         2. National Institute of Justice, Forensic Sciences:

                                              Review of Status and Needs, Issues and Practices,

Finally, in August 2002, the planning panel   Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice,

met in Las Vegas, Nevada, to review the       National Institute of Justice, February 1999,

latest draft, make revisions, and approve     NCJ 173412, p. 4.

Qualifications for a Career in

Forensic Science

Introduction                                     hiring processes. The hiring process may
                                                 include written and practical tests, phone
Forensic science plays a crucial role in the     interviews, and one-on-one personal inter­
criminal justice system. As an applied sci­      views or interviews conducted by a panel.
ence, it requires a strong foundation in the     New employees may be hired provision­
natural sciences and the development of          ally or go through a probationary period.
practical skills in the application of these     Provisional employment offers may be
sciences to a particular discipline. A foren­    revoked either before or after reporting
sic scientist must be capable of integrating     for duty.
knowledge and skills in the examination,
analysis, interpretation, reporting, and tes­
timonial support of physical evidence. A         Model Candidate
properly designed forensic science pro­
gram should address these needs and              A model candidate for all forensic science
strengthen the student’s knowledge,              practices possesses personal integrity,
skills, and abilities in these areas. A com­     holds a baccalaureate degree (at a mini­
bination of education and practical training     mum) in the natural sciences, and has
can prepare an individual for a career in        additional KSAs that fulfill the recommen­
forensic science.                                dations set forth in this Guide.

Most of the Nation’s practicing forensic         Personal characteristics
scientists are employed in crime labora­
tories associated with law enforcement or        Because forensic science is part of the
other government agencies. Forensic              criminal justice system, personal honesty,
scientists come to the profession with           integrity, and scientific objectivity are para­
diverse undergraduate science degrees.           mount. Those seeking careers in this field
They also may go on to earn graduate             should be aware that background checks
degrees. This document contains sugges­          similar to those required for law enforce­
tions for model programs in forensic sci­        ment officers are likely to be a condition
ence at both the undergraduate and               of employment. The following may be con­
graduate levels. A combination of person­        ducted and/or reviewed before an employ­
al, professional, and academic criteria will     ment offer is made and may remain as
influence a prospective forensic science         ongoing conditions of employment (this
examiner’s suitability for employment.           list is not all inclusive):

Government entities’ hiring processes are        ■   Drug tests.
driven by civil service regulations or collec­
                                                 ■   History of drug use.
tive bargaining agreements that are specif­
ic to the branch of government, State, or
                                                 ■   Criminal history.
locality. Private laboratories have their own


    ■   Personal associations.                      Claims in this regard are subject to
                                                    verification through the background inves­
    ■   Polygraph examination.                      tigation process.
    ■   Driving record.
                                                    Professional skills
    ■   Past work performance.                      A variety of skills are essential to an indi-
                                                    vidual’s effectiveness as a forensic science
        Credit history.
                                                    professional, including:
    ■   Medical or physical examination.
                                                    ■	   Critical thinking (quantitative reasoning
    Personal candor in these areas is critical.          and problem solving).
    In addition, an individual’s history of com­
                                                    ■    Decisionmaking.
    munity service and outside activities may
    also be considered.                             ■    Good laboratory practices.

                                                    ■    Awareness of laboratory safety.
    Academic qualifications
    Forensic scientists need to have a strong       ■    Observation and attention to detail.
    fundamental background in the natural sci­
    ences. For example, new hires who ana­          ■    Computer proficiency.
    lyze drugs, DNA, trace, and toxicological
                                                    ■    Interpersonal skills.
    evidence in forensic science laboratories
    typically have a degree in chemistry, bio­
                                                    ■    Public speaking.
    chemistry, biology, or forensic science
    from an accredited institution. Although        ■    Oral and written communication.
    forensic scientists involved in the recogni­
    tion and comparison of patterns (such as        ■    Time management.
    latent prints, firearms, and questioned
    documents) historically may not have            ■    Prioritization of tasks.
    been required to have a degree, the trend
    in the field is to strengthen the academic      For some of these skills, systematic tools
    requirements for these disciplines and          are available that may be used to measure
    require a baccalaureate degree, preferably      skill or proficiency at or after the time of
    in a science. The academic qualifications       hire.
    required for some of the emerging disci­
    plines, such as digital evidence, are cur­
    rently being defined and will be published      Model Career Path for
    by the appropriate groups. Achieving the
    appropriate academic qualifications is dis­
                                                    Forensic Scientists
    cussed in greater detail later in this Guide.   A model career path for a forensic scien­
                                                    tist begins with formal education and
    Copies of diplomas and formal academic          continues with training, postgraduate
    transcripts are generally required as proof     education, certification, and professional
    of academic qualification. Awards, publi­       membership. Exhibit 1 depicts stages of
    cations, internships, and student activities    a career path in forensic science.
    may be used to differentiate applicants.

                                                            EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

                                                           personnel, and the public how credential­
Exhibit 1. A Model Career Path in Forensic Science         ing can positively impact the overall effec­
                                                           tiveness of forensic science practice.

                                                           Implementation: Keys to a
                             Obtain required degree
       Meet           NO
                                                           Career in Forensic Science
 pre-employment              Ensure personal
                             qualifications are met
  qualifications?                                          Pre-employment preparation
                             Develop professional skills
                                                           Competitive candidates can demonstrate
             YES                                           the knowledge, skills, and abilities that
                                                           establish their readiness for a forensic
    Employment                                             science position. These KSAs may include
                                                           areas important to all potential forensic
                                                           science practitioners, including but not
    by employer                                            limited to quality assurance, ethics, pro­
      of KSAs              YES                             fessional standards of behavior, evidence
                                      Pursue               control, report writing, scientific method,
                                     additional            inductive and deductive reasoning, statis­
   Completion of                     discipline            tics, and safety. Documentation of course­
   initial training
    program for
                                                           work and practical experiences involving
      specific                                             these KSAs can significantly enhance the
      discipline                                           objective information available to an
                                                           agency evaluating potential new hires.
                             Casework and continuing
                             professional development
  Competency test
                                (e.g., certification,
                              advanced degrees, etc.)      On-the-job training
                                                           After hire, on-the-job training by the hiring
                                                           agency is common. This initial training is
                             Professional involvement      generally completed within 6 months to 3
                                (e.g., research, teach,
                                   present, mentor)        years of the date of hire, depending on the
                                                           trainee, agency, and forensic science spe­
                                                           cialty. Some specialties have established
                                                           peer-based objective standards adopted
                                                           throughout the field, while others vary
Credentials                                                from agency to agency.
A forensic scientist’s career path should
demonstrate continued professional devel­                  Certification
opment that is documented by creden­
tials. A credential is a formal recognition of             Accreditation applies to forensic science
a professional’s knowledge, skills, and abil­              laboratories, whereas certification applies
ities. Indicators of professional standing                 to analysts or examiners. Individuals
include academic credentials, professional                 whose competencies have been certified
credentials, training credentials, and com­                by an independent, peer-based, appropri­
petency tests. Exhibit 1 underscores for                   ately credentialed certifying body are high­
students, laboratory managers, agency                      ly desirable to employers.


     Outstanding laboratories seek certification     accomplished through professional
     from an organization that is accredited by      involvement: research; mentoring; teach­
     the Forensic Specialties Accreditation          ing; and participating in professional organ­
     Board or another program that is based          izations, community outreach, publishing,
     on nationally or internationally recognized     and other professional activities.
     standards (see appendix C). A credible cer­
     tification program requires a meaningful
     evaluation of credentials, examination, an      Summary
     ethics component, and periodic recertifica­
     tion. Recertification requires a person to      A strong educational background in the
     undergo a minimum amount of continuing          natural sciences, personal attributes such
     education and may require demonstration         as honesty and integrity, and additional
     of continued competency. Certification has      professional skills are necessary to pre­
     been used by some employers as a pre­           pare a candidate for a career in forensic
     requisite for employment and/or advance­        science. In addition to formal academic
     ment, and it may enhance an individual’s        education and employer-provided training,
     credibility as an expert witness.               a level of self-motivated professional
                                                     development, including certification and
                                                     involvement in the field, provides tremen­
     Professional involvement                        dous growth opportunities for both experi­
     While casework is the primary focus of a        enced professionals and those entering
     forensic scientist, he or she can also strive   the field.
     to advance the profession. This may be

Undergraduate Curriculum in

Forensic Science
Introduction                                         Acculturation into the forensic science
                                                     and justice communities.
Forensic science is an applied science that
covers an array of disciplines. Regardless      ■	   Provision of a foundation for professional
of the area of forensic science pursued, an          certification.
undergraduate degree in forensic science
                                                ■	   Emphasis on a wide range of courses
should be interdisciplinary, combining a
strong foundation in the natural sciences            (e.g., public speaking, ethics, and statis­
with extensive laboratory experience.                tics) that may not be required in the cur­
                                                     riculums of other natural science majors.
A model undergraduate forensic science
degree program should provide a strong          Most forensic science employment occurs
and credible science foundation that em­        in a laboratory setting. Results of laborato­
phasizes the scientific method and the          ry analyses are typically used by law en­
application of problem-solving skills in        forcement to investigate crimes, identify
both classroom and laboratory settings.         or eliminate suspects, and assist courts
Graduates of an undergraduate forensic          in reaching fair and just determinations.
science program should have acquired            Although not exhaustive, the following list
KSAs that include scientific writing, public    presents types of evidence typically exam­
speaking, laboratory skills and safety prac­    ined by professionals working in forensic
tices, and computer software application        science laboratories (also see “What Is
skills.                                         ‘Criminalistics’?”):

                                                ■    Controlled substances (drugs).
The strengths of a model undergraduate
forensic science degree include—
                                                ■	   Toxicological specimens, including body
■    Preparation for becoming a forensic             tissues, body fluids, and breath.
     science professional.
                                                ■	   Trace evidence, including hairs, fibers,
■	   Opportunities to establish a network of         paint, glass, and explosives and fire
     forensic science contacts.                      debris.

                                                ■    Biological specimens, including DNA.
■	   An educational background directly
     linked to the work in a forensic science
                                                ■    Firearms.
                                                ■    Fingerprints.
■	   Exposure to the breadth of forensic
     science disciplines.                       ■	   Impression evidence, including tool-
                                                     marks, tiremarks, and shoeprints.


     ■   Questioned documents.                       University general education
     ■   Crime scene.                                General education courses are courses
                                                     that the university requires the student to
     The science curriculum described herein         take. They may include language, humani­
     is not generally required for prospective       ties, social sciences, mathematics, techni­
     crime scene specialists; however, it is         cal writing, computer science, and public
     highly recommended. Students seeking            speaking. The actual number of credit
     to work in alternative areas of forensic sci­   hours required may vary from university to
     ence, such as forensic computer sciences,       university but generally ranges from 36 to
     may require other curriculums or further        40. Some forensic degree coursework
     specialized training (see appendix A).          may count toward fulfilling this require­
                                                     ment. Carefully selected general educa­
                                                     tion courses can complement the
     Model Curriculum:                               student’s main program of study.
     Undergraduate Degree
     in Forensic Science                             Natural science core
                                                     Certain natural science courses are
     This section of the Guide provides mini­
                                                     required for any student in forensic sci­
     mum recommendations for a model
                                                     ence. Unlike other criminal justice profes­
     undergraduate degree in forensic science.
                                                     sionals, a forensic scientist requires a
     Such a degree provides an educational
                                                     foundation in chemistry, biology, physics,
     foundation that meets the current hiring
                                                     and mathematics.
     requirements of forensic science laborato­
     ries. This curriculum emphasizes the            The minimum general core requirements
     strong natural science foundation that is       recommended for undergraduate forensic
     essential to prepare a student for a suc­       science programs (34–38 total credit
     cessful career in forensic science. Refer       hours) include—
     to exhibit 2 for an overview of the model
     curriculum.                                     ■   General chemistry I and II and lab for sci­
                                                         ence majors (8 credit hours).
     This curriculum is not designed to produce
     case-ready forensic scientists. Laboratory      ■   Organic chemistry I and II and lab (8
     managers, educators, and students may               credit hours).
     realize that prior to beginning casework,
     additional on-the-job training and possible     ■   Biology I and II for science majors (4–8
     postgraduate studies may be necessary to            credit hours). (Classes with laboratory
     meet the specific needs of the individual           components are preferable, if available.)
                                                     ■   Physics I and II for science majors and
     Peer-based working groups have promul­              lab (8 credit hours).
     gated specific education requirements
                                                     ■   Calculus (3 credit hours).
     (see appendixes D and E). Forensic sci­
     ence laboratories and graduate programs
                                                     ■   Statistics for science majors (3 credit
     may require more than the recommended
     credit hours of specific coursework.                hours).

                                                                       EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

Exhibit 2. Sample Curriculum for Forensic Science Undergraduate Degreesa
                                                         Chemistry/Trace                                     Firearms/Impression
                                                       Evidence/Controlled                                   Evidence/Questioned
                                   Biology                 Substances                  Toxicology             Documents/Prints

University General        Courses required by the university, which may include language, humanities, social sciences, technical
Education (36–40 hrs)     writing, mathematics, computer science, and public speaking. Credit hours required will vary from university
                          to university. Some forensic degree coursework may count toward fulfilling these requirements.
Natural Science Core      Biology I, IIb             Biology I                  Biology I                   Biology I
(34–38 hrs)               Calculus                   Calculus                   Calculus                    Calculus
                          General Chemistry I, IIb   General Chemistry I, II    General Chemistry I, II     General Chemistry I, II
                          Organic Chemistry I, IIb   Organic Chemistry I, II    Organic Chemistry I, II     Organic Chemistry I, II
                          Physics I, IIb             Physics I, II              Physics I, II               Physics I, II
                          Statistics                 Statistics                 Statistics                  Statistics
Specialized Core          Biochemistry               Analytic Chemistry         Analytic Chemistry          Inorganic Chemistry
(12 hrs)                                               Quantitativeb             Quantitative
                          Genetics                   Inorganic Chemistry        Biochemistry                Instrumental Analysis
                          Instrumental Analysis      Instrumental Analysis      Instrumental Analysis       Optics/Lasers
                          Molecular Biology          Physical Chemistry         Physical Chemistry          Physical Chemistry
Forensic Science          Forensic Science Survey    Forensic Science Survey    Forensic Science Survey     Forensic Science Survey
Core (6 hrs)              Forensic Professional      Forensic Professional      Forensic Professional       Forensic Professional
                           Practicec                  Practice                   Practice                    Practice
Forensic Laboratory       Forensic Biology           Forensic Chemistry         Forensic Chemistry          Internship
Science (9 hrs)           Internship                 Internship                 Internship                  Microscopy
                          Microscopy                 Microscopy                 Microscopy                  Physical Methods
                          Physical Methods           Physical Methods           Physical Methods
Additional Coursesd       Cell Biology               Advanced Instrumental      Advanced Instrumental       Crime Scene
(19 hrs)                                              Analysis                   Analysis
                          Introduction to Criminal   Drugs                      Drugs                       Image Analysis
                          Legal Evidence             Introduction to Criminal   Introduction to Criminal    Introduction to Criminal
                                                      Justice                    Justice                     Justice
                          Microbiology               Legal Evidence             Legal Evidence              Legal Evidence
                          Population Genetics        Analytical Toxicology      Analytical Toxicology       Materials Science
                          Immunology                 Materials Science          Pharmacology
                          Public Speaking            Pharmacology               Public Speaking
                                                     Public Speaking
a. These examples are based on a minimum of 120 semester hours to obtain a degree. Credit hours as described above are meant to
indicate semester credit hours.
b. Laboratory courses.
c. This course includes ethics, testimony, evidence, chain of custody, etc.
d. Electives listed here are not exhaustive, and students may wish to tailor courses according to their areas of concentration.

Specialized science courses                                          Specialized science courses may be
                                                                     selected from any of the following (mini­
An undergraduate degree in forensic sci­                             mum 12 credit hours and minimum of 2
ence is expected to be an interdisciplinary                          laboratory courses):
degree that includes substantial laboratory
work and an emphasis on advanced (i.e.,                              ■   Biochemistry.
upper level) coursework in chemistry or
biology. Students can use these additional                           ■   Molecular biology.
courses to begin to specialize along a
forensic science discipline track, such as                           ■   Genetics.
forensic biology or forensic chemistry.
                                                                     ■   Population genetics.


     ■    Inorganic chemistry.                               ■	   Evidence identification, collection, and
     ■    Analytical/quantitative chemistry.
                                                             ■    Quality assurance.
     ■    Physical chemistry.
                                                             ■    Courtroom testimony.
     ■    Instrumental analysis.
                                                             ■    Technical or scientific writing.
     ■    Cell biology.

     ■    Pharmacology.                                      Forensic science laboratory
     ■    Calculus II.                                       In addition to a strong foundation in the
                                                             natural sciences, forensic science pro­
                                                             fessionals are expected to recognize con­
     If pursuing a career as a forensic DNA                  cepts integral to forensic science, such as
     examiner, coursework in the above areas                 individualization, reconstruction, associa­
     is required by the FBI Quality Assurance                tion, and chain of custody of evidence.
     Standards for Forensic DNA Testing                      Because the work product of a forensic
     Laboratories.1                                          scientist is used by the justice system, it
                                                             is expected to meet legal as well as scien­
                                                             tific standards. The following courses are
     Forensic science core                                   designed to give the student an under­
     It is essential to cover certain forensic sci­          standing of the application of scientific
     ence topics in specific courses or as por­              analysis to the legal system (a minimum of
     tions of courses that combine several                   15 credit hours, for which a minimum of 9
     topics. Include the following topics as                 credit hours are expected to be laboratory
     core elements in the forensic science                   science courses):
                                                             ■    Forensic chemistry and lab (3).
     ■    Introduction to law/justice system.
                                                             ■    Forensic biology and lab (3).
     ■    Ethics/professional practice.
                                                             ■    Physical methods in forensic science
     ■	   Forensic science specialty overview                     and lab (3).
          (survey course).
                                                             ■    Internship (up to 6) or independent
                                                                  study/research (up to 6).

          SUMMARY OF CREDIT HOURS                            ■    Microscopy and lab (3).
          ■   36–40 hours of general university
              requirements.                                  Additional courses
          ■   46–50 hours of natural and specified science   Students are advised to select additional
                                                             courses (approximately 19 credit hours)
          ■   15 hours of forensic science courses (9 of     that give them greater depth in their specif­
              which should include laboratory work).         ic area of concentration (see exhibit 2 for
          ■   19 hours of additional courses.                examples). Additional courses may be nec­
                                                             essary to satisfy admission requirements
          Total: 120 credit hours                            into some graduate programs.

                                                 EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

Implementation: Keys                            to cover the curriculum and to allow an
                                                appropriate mix of instruction and scholarly
to Ensuring Curriculum                          activity. The faculty members’ interests
Success                                         and qualifications are expected to be suffi­
                                                cient to teach the courses and plan and
Significant additional funding is necessary     modify the courses and curriculum.
to bolster existing forensic science under­     Faculty members are expected to have
graduate programs and to create new pro­        knowledge and experience appropriate to
grams. Funding can create an incentive for      the course being taught and to recognize
programs to provide students with the           advisory duties as a valued part of their
highest quality forensic science education.     workload.
The following are essential for the proper
implementation of a successful undergrad­
uate academic program:                          Adjunct faculty
                                                Practicing forensic scientists, often re­
Objectives and assessments of                   quired as adjunct faculty, are expected
institutional effectiveness                     to have the knowledge and experience
                                                appropriate to the course being taught.
A program is expected to provide docu­          However, it is essential that full-time
mented, measurable objectives, including        faculty oversee the curriculum for all
expected outcomes for graduates. The            coursework and maintain institutional
program is expected to regularly assess its     standards.
progress against its objectives and use the
results to identify areas for program im­
provement and to modify the program             Facilities
objectives.                                     Laboratories and computing facilities that
                                                are available, accessible, and adequately
Institutional support                           equipped and supported are essential to
                                                enable students to complete their course­
A forensic science curriculum is expected       work and support the teaching needs and
to enjoy a level of institutional support       scholarly activities of the faculty. Such insti­
equal to other natural science programs         tutional facilities as the library, classrooms,
(e.g., biology or chemistry). Forensic sci­     and offices are expected to be adequate to
ence undergraduate programs that are            support the program objectives. A library
undersupported can be upgraded according        where faculty and students have access
to these recommendations, and new pro­          to books, periodicals, and electronic re­
grams can be eliminated if the proper           sources (with adequate support for data­
facilities and operating budgets are not        base searching) is essential to a successful
available. Funding sources could include        program. The institution is also expected to
competitive Federal funding, other public       subscribe to several referred forensic sci­
and private sources, and the host college or    ence journals.
university. Institutions are expected to pro­
vide an appropriate variety of courses and
offer them often enough to allow students       Student support
to complete the program in a reasonable         It is essential that each student has ade­
amount of time.                                 quate and reasonable access to equip­
                                                ment currently being used in forensic
Full-time faculty                               science laboratories and appropriate to
                                                the course of instruction. This equipment
An adequate number of full-time faculty         may be located in the forensic science
members ensures continuity and stability


     department, natural science department,          ■    A tool to help students select a program.
     or nearby cooperating operational forensic
                                                      ■	   A means for forensic scientists and
     science laboratories. Students should be
     afforded ample opportunity to interact with           potential employers to judge graduates’
     their instructors and be offered timely               credentials.
     and informed guidance about program
                                                      ■    An improvement of program quality.
     requirements, course options, and career
     opportunities.                                   ■	   A high level of competency for
     Faculty support
     Sufficient support for faculty enables the
     program to attract and retain high-quality       Summary
     faculty capable of supporting the pro-           Forensic science is an applied multidis­
     gram’s objectives. Support is expected           ciplinary profession based on the natural
     to include opportunities to attend profes­       sciences. Therefore, it is essential that stu­
     sional meetings, recognition of scholarly        dents studying forensic science have edu­
     activities, adequate time for administrative     cation and training consistent with this
     duties, and clerical support.                    scientific foundation. The strengths of an
                                                      undergraduate forensic science education
     Collaboration with forensic                      include professional preparation, network­
     science laboratories                             ing, links to laboratories, work-related
                                                      knowledge, and preparation for profession­
     Academic forensic science programs are           al certification. Recommendations regard­
     expected to establish working relation­          ing this scientific foundation have been
     ships with forensic science laboratories, if     set forth as best practices for a proposed
     possible. Collaboration can provide mean­        forensic science undergraduate curricu­
     ingful internships, employment opportuni­        lum. These recommendations include core
     ties, guest lecturers, adjunct faculty, direct   natural science courses, extensive labora­
     interaction with forensic scientists, and        tory experience in both the natural and
     cooperative research.                            forensic sciences, special topics in foren­
                                                      sic science, and other supporting course­
     Accreditation                                    work. The forensic science undergraduate
                                                      degree is designed to prepare students
     The institution granting the degree is
                                                      for entry into traditional forensic science
     expected to be accredited by an accredit­
                                                      laboratory employment and for graduate-
     ing body recognized by the U.S. Depart­
                                                      level education and training in many other
     ment of Education.
     At the time of this writing, there is no
                                                      In addition, this section provides recom­
     mechanism for accrediting forensic sci­
                                                      mendations for implementing a successful
     ence undergraduate programs. When this
                                                      forensic science program, including pro­
     mechanism is implemented, it is strongly
                                                      gram objectives and assessments, institu­
     recommended that all such programs seek
                                                      tional support, faculty qualifications, the
     accreditation.2 Accreditation provides
                                                      role of adjunct faculty, facility require­
     many benefits, including—
                                                      ments, support of students and faculty,
     ■	   An external means of program                collaborations with forensic science labo­
          validation.                                 ratories, and program accreditation.

                                                         EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

Notes                                                   2. In fall 2003, the Forensic Science Education
                                                        Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC)—a
1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Quality Assurance   committee of the American Academy of Forensic
Standards for Forensic DNA Testing Laboratories,        Sciences—began a pilot accreditation program.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal     FEPAC’s standards are based on this Guide. FEPAC
Bureau of Investigation, 1998,      plans to begin formal accreditation of undergraduate
congress/congress02/forensicstd.htm.                    and graduate forensic science programs in 2004.

Graduate Curriculum in
Forensic Science

Introduction                                  for leadership roles in public and private
                                              laboratories and academic institutions. A
The minimum prerequisite for entry into a     full discussion of forensic science doctoral
graduate-level forensic science program is    programs goes beyond the scope of this
a baccalaureate degree in forensic science    Guide.
or a natural science, in addition to such
college or university requirements as         The forensic sciences encompass many
grade point average and Graduate Record       disciplines. This section focuses on the
Examination scores.                           following:

A fundamental background in the natural       ■    Controlled substances (drugs).
sciences is central to the education of
                                              ■	   Toxicological specimens, including body
a forensic scientist who examines phys­
ical evidence in a laboratory setting. A           tissues, body fluids, and breath.
graduate-level forensic science program
                                              ■	   Trace evidence, including hairs, fibers,
is expected to do more than educate stu­
                                                   paint, glass, and explosives and fire
dents in theoretical concepts. It should
provide the student with critical thinking
ability, problem-solving skills, and ad­      ■    Biological specimens, including DNA.
vanced, discipline-specific knowledge. It
is likely that increasing numbers of foren­   ■    Firearms.
sic scientists may seek graduate-level edu­
cation in the forensic or natural sciences,   ■    Fingerprints.
which may facilitate career advancement.
                                              ■	   Impression evidence, including tool-
Most graduate programs in forensic sci­            marks, tiremarks, and shoeprints.
ence can lead to a master of science
(M.S.) degree. The graduate curriculum        ■    Questioned documents.
recommendations later in this chapter
                                              ■    Crime scene.
refer to programs that award an M.S. in
forensic science. Students earning this
                                              An institution’s educational objectives
degree are expected to be prepared for
                                              and resources govern the nature of any
employment in operational forensic
                                              graduate program, and these can vary
science laboratories.
                                              considerably. The institution is expected
A need also exists for doctoral programs in   to be strongly committed to programs
the natural sciences with an emphasis on      intended to prepare students for a career
forensic science research. Advanced edu­      in forensic science in accordance with
cation is necessary to prepare forensic       these best practices.
scientists, academicians, and researchers


     Model Curriculum: Graduate                       prerequisites for entry into a graduate
                                                      forensic science program. Other degrees
     Degree in Forensic Science                       may provide sufficient prerequisite courses
     Existing graduate programs in North              for consideration.
     America include master of science in
                                                      Master’s programs in forensic science can
     forensic science/criminalistics and master
                                                      be organized in many ways to reflect the
     of science in a natural science (e.g., chem­
                                                      institution’s mission, the available facilities,
     istry, biology) with a track or emphasis in
                                                      and the interests and capabilities of the
     forensic science. Program and other con­
                                                      students and faculty. Regardless of how
     siderations have led to a wide variation
                                                      the program is organized, all graduate
     in the content and structure of these
                                                      students are required to take the core
                                                      curriculum consisting of a minimum of
     An exemplary program will contain the            30 semester credit hours. Students who
     following elements (discussed in detail          enter a graduate forensic science program
     below):                                          with undergraduate coursework or degrees
                                                      that emphasized forensic science may
     ■    Forensic science topics.                    have their specific coursework adjusted
                                                      to reflect this background.
     ■	   Rigorous academic coursework in a
          specialized area(s).                        Syllabuses are expected to be current and
                                                      describe the content of the course and
     ■    Research component.                         required textbook(s).
     ■    Laboratory component.                       An exemplary graduate forensic science
                                                      curriculum will contain the following
     ■	   Interaction with operational forensic       topics:
          science laboratories and professional
          societies.                                  ■    Crime scenes.
     ■	   Qualified faculty with appropriate foren­   ■    Physical evidence concepts.
          sic science experience.
                                                      ■    Law/science interface.
     ■	   Sufficient faculty-to-student ratio and
          support personnel.                          ■    Ethics and professional responsibility.

     ■	   Adequate academic resources (library,       ■    Quality assurance.
          journal subscriptions, laboratory space,
                                                      ■	   Specific course(s) covering the following
          equipment, etc.).
                                                           topic areas:
     ■	   Student support in the form of assistant­
          ships and/or fellowships.                        — Analytical chemistry and instrumental
                                                             methods of analysis.

     Curriculum recommendations                            — Drug chemistry/toxicology.
     A bachelor of science degree in a forensic
                                                           — Microscopy and materials analysis.
     or natural science (or its equivalent course­
     work in a relevant field) is preferred for            — Forensic biology.
     entering a forensic science graduate
     program. At a minimum, the courses                    — Pattern evidence.
     described in exhibit 2 are expected to be

                                                   EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

Forensic science programs may offer               critically evaluated by the forensic science
specializations, tracks, or concentrations        faculty.
in different areas such as analytical chem­
istry or molecular genetics. All forensic         Institutional accreditation
science programs are expected to offer
rigorous graduate-level academic course­          The institution granting the degree is
work in appropriate subjects. The syllabus        expected to be accredited by an accredit­
descriptions should indicate that the             ing body that is recognized by the U.S.
courses are advanced, comprehensive,              Department of Education.
and current. Advanced courses may be
scheduled regularly to enable students to         Faculty requirements
take the courses in proper sequence and
with reasonable flexibility. In addition, it is   At least 75 percent of full-time science
expected that a number of specialized             faculty teaching in a forensic science grad­
graduate-level courses may be required to         uate program should have an appropriate
suit the students’ interests and enhance          doctoral degree; faculty who have had
the research experience. A graduate semi­         experience working in a forensic science
nar is recommended that includes regular          laboratory are preferred. The scientific and
attendance at presentations by experts on         educational capabilities of the faculty
original research and other relevant topics.      should be distributed over the major pro­
                                                  gram areas, and courses should be taught
                                                  by persons qualified in each specialty.
Research component                                Also, an adequate number of highly com­
The student is expected to conduct a              petent faculty allows for regular offerings
research project, prepare a written report,       of the full range of courses needed for
and present the results of the research           graduate education in forensic science.
in a public forum prior to graduation. The
research component of the program may             Library requirements and
include preparatory coursework in re­             information retrieval
search methods and statistics. The ideal
research project is well defined, stands a        A library where faculty and students have
reasonable chance of completion in the            access to books, periodicals, and electron­
time available, and requires the student          ic resources (with adequate support for
to use advanced concepts and a variety of         database searching) is essential to a suc­
experimental techniques and instruments.          cessful program. An institution with a
Research in forensic science advances the         broad spectrum of research activity may
body of knowledge and elevates the sta­           require extensive holdings and is expected
tus of the profession.                            to subscribe to several referred forensic
                                                  science journals. Further, students are also
                                                  expected to learn how to retrieve specific
Communication skills                              information from the enormous and rapidly
Effective written and oral communication          expanding literature.
skills are essential to the well-trained sci­
entist. Forensic scientists are expected to       Classroom and laboratory
be proficient in written and oral communi­        requirements
cation. Frequent exercises in writing and
oral presentation are expected to be part         Classrooms and laboratories are expected
of the forensic science curriculum and be         to meet appropriate academic and safety


     requirements for the number of students         combines formal, structured specialty
     in the program. In addition to instructional    training with an academic program. These
     laboratories, faculty and students are          programs can serve as a valuable compo­
     expected to have access to laboratories         nent of a comprehensive and experiential
     with research-appropriate facilities, equip­    training program. Such a program can pro­
     ment, and instrumentation.                      vide hands-on training and experience in
                                                     a forensic specialty so the student can be
                                                     ready to perform the casework after com­
     Laboratory experience
                                                     pleting the program. This program option
     The laboratory component is expected to         may include discipline-specific simulated
     include the use of appropriate instrumen­       casework analysis, oral boards, moot
     tation and give students sufficient hands-      courts, data review and interpretation,
     on knowledge of forensic science and            and report writing. This option can extend
     competence to—                                  the normal time for completion of a gradu­
                                                     ate degree.
     ■	   Anticipate, recognize, and respond prop­
          erly to chemical and biological hazards.

     ■	   Keep legible and complete laboratory       Implementation: Keys to
          records.                                   Ensuring Graduate Program
     ■	   Conduct qualitative and quantitative
     ■	   Use and understand instrumentation         Increased funding is essential for graduate
          and fundamental techniques.                forensic science education to meet the
                                                     demonstrated needs of the profession.
     ■	   Analyze data and evaluate experimental     Currently, no sustainable source of State
          results.                                   or Federal funding exists to support gradu­
                                                     ate education or research in forensic sci­
          Assess reliability of results and draw
                                                     ence. The National Institute of Justice has
          reasonable conclusions.
                                                     traditionally provided virtually all research
     ■	   Communicate effectively through oral       funding for the forensic sciences, but addi­
          and written reports.                       tional funding from alternative sources is

     Interaction with operational                    In addition to State and private sources,
     laboratories                                    funding may be available from the follow­
     Academic programs are expected to inter­        ing Federal agencies: U.S. Department
     act with operational forensic science labo­     of Justice, National Science Foundation,
     ratories. Cooperative efforts may take the      National Institutes of Health, U.S. Depart­
     form of internships, adjunct faculty interac­   ment of Energy, National Security Agency,
     tion, staying current in the discipline, col­   U.S. Department of Education, and U.S.
     laborative research, visiting scientist         Department of Commerce. In light of
     programs, and seminars.                         homeland security and terrorism con­
                                                     cerns, funding may also be sought from
     An option within a graduate program may         the Centers for Disease Control and
     be a residency or fellowship based on           Prevention, Federal Aviation Administration,
     the model that medical schools use that         U.S. Department of Defense, Food and
                                                     Drug Administration, Federal Emergency

                                                 EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

Management Agency, and U.S. Department          Accreditation
of Homeland Security.
                                                At the time of this writing, no mechanism
Support for graduate student education is       exists for accrediting forensic science
essential to successful future operations       graduate programs. When this mechanism
of the graduate programs in forensic sci­       is implemented, it is strongly recommend­
ence. Ideally, this support may be provided     ed that all programs seek accreditation.
to educational institutions in the form of      Accreditation provides many benefits,
competitive training grants. In addition,       including—
individual graduate research fellowships
                                                ■	   An external means of program
may be available. Programs may also take
advantage of existing institutional graduate         validation.
support mechanisms.                             ■	   A valuable tool to help students select a
Appropriate legislative bodies can allow             program.
programs to forgive student loans for grad­     ■	   A means for forensic scientists and
uates who obtain full-time employment in
                                                     potential employers to judge the creden­
public forensic science institutions.
                                                     tials of graduates.
In addition to research and student sup­        ■    Improvement of program quality.
port, funding also is needed for the acqui­
sition and maintenance of equipment and         ■	   A high level of competency for
major research instrumentation and labora­           graduates.
tory renovation. Institutions offering foren­
sic science programs need to provide for
ongoing costs associated with the labora­
tory component of the curriculum and pro­
gram administration.

Training and Continuing Education

in Forensic Science

Introduction                                    training record. The training record may
This section outlines model criteria and
implementation approaches for the train­        ■	   Documentation that entry requirements
ing and continuing professional devel­               have been satisfied.
opment of forensic scientists. Model
                                                ■	   Detailed description of program struc­
criteria are presented separately for train­
ing to attain competency and for post-               ture, content, and assessment.
competency continuing professional
                                                ■    Trainee performance documentation.
                                                ■	   Certificate or statement of successful
Training is the formal, structured process
                                                     completion of the training program.
through which a forensic scientist reaches
a level of scientific knowledge and exper­
tise required to conduct specific forensic
analyses. Appropriate training is required      Model Criteria
before an individual is assigned case           Model criteria are intended as a guide for
analysis responsibilities.                      formulating training and continuing profes­
                                                sional development programs. These
Continuing professional development is
                                                model criteria can provide a common
the mechanism through which a forensic
                                                framework across forensic disciplines and
scientist remains current or advances to a
                                                thereby help ensure that programs are
higher level of expertise, specialization, or
                                                consistent and contain essential elements.
responsibility. All forensic scientists have
an ongoing obligation to remain current in
their field through continuing education        Training
and other developmental activities noted        Model training criteria include entry
in exhibit 1. Similarly, laboratory manage­     requirements, program structure and
ment and its parent agency have an ongo­        content, assessment mechanisms, and
ing responsibility to provide support and       documentation.
opportunities for this continuing profes­
sional development.                             Entry requirements should include—
Recognition of any training or continuing       ■	   Specified minimum academic and expe­
professional development requires proper             riential requirements consistent with
documentation. The agency or training                recognized, peer-defined standards (e.g.,
entity is expected to keep a permanent,              scientific working groups, American
official training record and provide the             Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/
trainee with a copy. The trainee is en­              Laboratory Accreditation Board, and
couraged to keep a personal copy of the


          American Board of Criminalists) (see              and preservation of evidence; and chain
          appendixes C, D, and E).                          of custody.

     ■	   Applicant awareness that ongoing back­       ■	   Communication—includes written, ver­
          ground security clearances and random             bal, and nonverbal communication skills;
          drug testing may be required. Factors             report writing; exhibit and pretrial prepa­
          such as drug use, credit and criminal his­        ration; and trial presentation.
          tory, and personal references may affect
          career opportunities.                        Discipline-specific elements guided by
                                                       recognized peer-defined standards can be
     Exemplary program structure includes the          incorporated as appropriate. Topics
     following written components:                     include—

     ■    Learning objectives.                         ■    History of the discipline.

     ■    Instructor qualifications.                   ■    Relevant literature.

     ■    Student requirements.                        ■    Methodologies and validation studies.

     ■    Detailed syllabus.                           ■    Instrumentation.

     ■    Performance goals.                           ■    Statistics.

     ■    Periodic assessments.                        ■    Knowledge of related fields.

     ■    Competency testing.                          ■    Testimony.

     Program content can be designed to in­            The trainee’s progress is expected to be
     clude both discipline-specific and core ele­      assessed at appropriate intervals. Assess­
     ments. Core elements are essential topics         ment mechanisms may include—
     that lay the foundation for entry into pro­
                                                       ■    Oral exams.
     fessional practice regardless of the spe­
     cialty area. They include the following:
                                                       ■    Written exams.
     ■	   Standards of conduct—includes profes­
                                                       ■	   Laboratory practicals and laboratory
          sional ethics training.
     ■	   Safety—includes biological, chemical,
                                                       ■    Mock trials.
          and physical hazards.
                                                       ■	   Assessment of technical performance
     ■	   Policy—includes such administrative and
          laboratory policies as standard operating         by appropriate senior staff.
          procedures, quality assurance, accredita­
          tion, and security.                          Continuing professional
     ■	   Legal—includes expert testimony, depo­
          sitions, rules of evidence, criminal and     Continuing professional development
          civil law and procedures, and evidence       encompasses competency maintenance,
          authentication.                              skill enhancement, and other aspects of
                                                       professional activities. It is important that
     ■	   Evidence handling—includes interdisci­       continuing professional development be
          plinary issues; recognition, collection,     structured, measurable, and documented.

                                                 EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

Structure. Courses for continuing profes­       and ensure high standards of professional
sional development are expected to include      practice. The examples below offer guid­
the following predefined components:            ance for implementation.

■   Learning objectives.
■   Instructor qualifications.                  Different disciplines require varying levels
                                                and combinations of approaches. The
■   Detailed syllabus or program description.   approach depends on the relative degree
                                                of academic and experiential learning
                                                required to attain and maintain competen­
■   Documentation.                              cy. For example, the questioned-document
                                                discipline may require more experience-
Measurement. Assessment mechanisms              based skill, whereas forensic biology may
include—                                        require more academic knowledge.

■   Oral exams or reports.                      Some peer groups (see for example,
                                                appendixes C and D) provide guidance
■   Written exams or reports.                   regarding frequency of training and contin­
                                                uing professional development. It is rec­
■   Peer-reviewed publications.                 ommended that this guidance be
                                                considered when choosing any approach.
■   Instructor or presenter evaluation.         Some approaches include—
■   Laboratory practicals and exercises.        ■    Instructor led.
■   Observation of technical performance.       ■    Professional conferences/seminars.
Documentation. An agency is expected            ■    Distributed learning.
to keep a permanent, official record of
employees’ continuing professional devel­       ■    Apprenticeship.
opment activities. The employee is encour­
aged to keep a personal copy of his/her         ■    Residency.
record. The agency’s record is expected
to include a description of the activity, its   ■    Internship.
format, and documentation of perform­
                                                ■	   Teaching and presentations by
ance (when available), such as academic
credit, continuing education credit, certifi­        trainee/employee.
cates, and/or abstracts of proceedings.
                                                ■    Independent learning.

Implementation: Making                          Administration
the Most of Training and                        It is recommended that forensic laborato­
Continuing Professional                         ries establish a process to oversee, co­
                                                ordinate, and document all training and
Development                                     continuing professional development.
Training and continuing professional devel­     Training and continuing professional devel­
opment based on the model criteria can          opment programs are expected to under­
be implemented in a variety of ways to          go external periodic audits.
maximize opportunities, minimize costs,


     It is recommended that continuing educa­        Funding
     tion and training courses include—
                                                     Resources are needed to properly support
     ■    Qualified instructor(s).                   training and continuing professional devel­
                                                     opment. In addition to their regular duties,
     ■    Written course syllabus/outline.           qualified forensic scientists and supervi­
                                                     sors are expected to receive time to con­
     ■    Written course objectives.                 tinue professional development and to
                                                     mentor trainees. Agency management is
     ■    Instructor/course evaluation.              expected to plan for any effects that reallo­
                                                     cating laboratory resources may have on
     ■    Mechanism for student assessment.
                                                     case productivity.
     ■    Documentation of student performance.
                                                     Agencies can partner to develop and pro­
     ■	   Quantifiable element, such as continuing   vide intensive formal discipline-specific
          education units, academic credits, num­    programs for trainees. These programs
          ber of hours, or points.                   can relieve operational forensic science
                                                     laboratories of the in-house mentoring
     Although seminars, lectures, professional       needed to qualify individuals to conduct
     meetings, and inservice classes may be          casework. This partnering model also can
     less structured than a formal course, they      be extended to continuing professional
     also add to the professional development        development, with agencies working
     of forensic scientists. Content and atten­      together to develop and provide standard­
     dance are expected to be documented             ized training curriculums and materials for
     and available for external audits.              use across several agencies. Although
                                                     these partnerships can significantly reduce
                                                     costs, funding for student attendance may
     Sources                                         still be needed.
     The sources of training and continuing pro­
     fessional development can be internal           When considering the costs of continuing
     and/or external to a forensic science labo­     professional development, some scientific
     ratory. Training partnerships are valuable      working groups recommend minimum
     because they provide broad perspectives                                   ”
                                                     mandatory “contact hours. For example,
     and facilitate consistency of professional      the Scientific Working Group for the
     practice. Sources include—                      Analysis of Forensic Drug Samples
                                                     (SWGDRUG) recommends that a mini­
     ■    Government agencies.                       mum of 20 contact hours per year be
                                                     devoted to continuing professional devel­
     ■    Academic institutions.                     opment for each drug examiner. FBI
                                                     Quality Assurance Standards for Forensic
     ■    Training academies and institutions.       DNA Testing Laboratories require 1 day of
                                                     continuing professional development per
     ■    Private industries and organizations.      year, and this has been adopted as the
                                                     requirement for DNA examiners for com­
          Professional societies.
                                                     pliance with ASCLD/LAB standards.
     ■    Mentors.
                                                     In the absence of external guidelines on
                                                     contact time per year, some agencies
                                                     impose their own contact time require­
                                                     ments. Alternatively, some agencies

                                                EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

specify a training and continuing profes­      can lead to organizational failure to meet
sional development budget of, for exam­        stakeholder agencies’ service goals and
ple, $1,000–$1,500 per year for each           quality requirements.
examiner. Such funds are used to support
travel and fees for both outside learning      Regardless of the mechanism used, it is
opportunities and implementation of in­        essential that a reasonable foundation be
house programs. It is recommended that         put in place to offset the direct and indi­
1–3 percent of the total forensic science      rect costs of an adequate program of
laboratory budget be allocated for training    training and continuing professional
and continuing professional development.       development.

The professionalism expected of forensic
science staff requires that appropriate        Summary
resources for training and development be
provided by the parent agency. Forensic        Model criteria are presented as a frame­
science is a labor-intensive undertaking, in   work for achieving and maintaining profes­
which the quality, experience, and techni­     sional competency in forensic sciences.
cal currency of personnel performing the       Implementation of these criteria will
work are paramount. Neglecting ongoing         extend learning opportunities and promote
staff training and professional development    high standards of professional practice.

Apprenticeship: A relationship where an individual works for an entity while learning

Biology: The science concerned with the growth, development, and functioning of living

Certification: A peer-based voluntary process of credentialing that involves objective
review of academic degrees, minimum mandatory experience in the discipline, and suc­
cessful completion of a written examination. Certifying organizations should satisfy the
requirements of ISO Guide 17024 for the accreditation of certifying bodies. See appendix
C for a list of certifying organizations.

Chemistry: The science that studies the structures, functions, transformations, and inter­
actions of basic elements and matter.

Competency Testing: The evaluation of a person’s ability to perform work in a functional
area prior to the performance of independent casework.

Continuing Professional Development: The mechanism through which an individual
remains current or advances to a higher level of expertise, specialization, or responsibility.

Core Elements: Concepts, theories, and information that represent the foundation of a
science or area of study.

Credentialing: Formal recognition of a professional’s knowledge, skills, and abilities
(KSAs) in a particular field of expertise. This recognition is documented by academic
degrees, professional certifications, and completion of specialty training programs.

Crime Laboratories: Facilities that receive, process, and analyze evidence (obtained
through civil or criminal investigations) using scientific or technical methods and opinion
testimony with respect to such physical evidence in a court of law; equivalent to forensic
science laboratories.

Criminalistics: The profession and scientific discipline of recognizing, identifying, individ­
ualizing, and evaluating physical evidence in legal proceedings by the application of the
natural sciences.

Distributed Learning: Educational methods that use models of distant, distributed, or
remote education, such as video, the Internet, networked multimedia, and independent
or proctored study models.

Forensic Science: The profession of assisting criminal and civil investigations and litiga­
tion through science.

Forensic Science Laboratories: Facilities that receive, process, and analyze evidence
obtained through civil or criminal investigations using scientific or technical methods and
opinion testimony with respect to such physical evidence in a court of law; equivalent to
crime laboratories.

     Internship: An indepth educational or training program that offers a period of supervised
     practical experience in a forensic science setting.

     Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs): The level of information, qualifications, and
     experience needed to perform assigned tasks. Knowledge refers to acquired principles
     and practices related to a particular job; skills refer to acquired psychomotor behaviors;
     and abilities are the talents, observable behaviors, or acquired dexterity.

     Laboratory Exercises: An educational activity where scientific concepts, principles, and
     methods that relate to laboratory procedures are demonstrated.

     Laboratory Practicals: An educational testing situation that emphasizes hands-on meth­
     ods and procedures.

     Materials Analysis: The characterization of composition and structure (including defects)
     of a material that is significant for a particular product, study of properties, or use. In
     forensic science, this typically refers but is not limited to the analysis of trace evidence.

     Natural Sciences: Sciences, such as biology, chemistry, or physics, that deal with the
     objects, phenomena, or laws of nature and the physical world.

     Personal Associations: Social and professional relationships that may reflect on the
     morals, values, and citizenship of an individual.

     Pre-Employment Qualifications: The suggested milestones, including a required
     degree, personal character qualifications, and professional skills, that should be obtained
     before seeking employment in a crime laboratory or a forensic science laboratory.

     Provisional Employment: Introductory period of employment that allows the employee
     and agency to determine if the employee is suited for the job. During the provisional
     employment period, employees may be terminated at the discretion of the appointing
     authority, without access to a grievance procedure. A normal provisional employment
     period is 6 to 12 months; however, it can be extended as specified in the agency’s

     Professional Involvement: Activities that advance a profession, such as research, men­
     toring, teaching, and participating in professional organizations, community outreach,
     publishing, and others.

     Quality Assurance: Those planned and systematic actions necessary to provide sufficient
     confidence that a laboratory’s products and services will satisfy quality requirements.

     Residency: The tenure of a professional in specialized training, usually occurring after an

     Trace Evidence: Any evidence that, because of its size or texture, is easily transferred
     from one location to another and retained there. Forensic science laboratories may cate­
     gorize differently what constitutes trace evidence.

     Training: Training is the formal, structured process through which a forensic scientist pro­
     gresses from a current level of scientific knowledge and expertise to the level of compe­
     tency required to conduct specific forensic analyses.

Appendix A. Forensic Science Careers
Outside the Traditional Forensic Science
Crime Laboratory
The primary focus of this document is the        pathology and/or clinical pathology) and
education and training of individuals work­      forensic pathology board examinations
ing in forensic science laboratories.            administered by the American Board of
Careers outside the traditional forensic sci­    Pathology. The principal professional
ence laboratory span a wide range of activ­      organization is the National Association of
ities, including pathology, engineering,         Medical Examiners (http://www.thename.
anthropology, and others. Interested stu­        org).
dents should realize that in some of these
fields, the total number of practicing foren­
sic scientists is quite small, and career        Forensic Psychiatry
opportunities may be limited. In some
cases, professionals function as part-time       Forensic psychiatrists are medical doctors
forensic science consultants. Most fields        who serve as researchers and clinical prac­
can be approached with an undergraduate          titioners in the many areas in which psy­
degree in natural science followed by a          chiatry is applied to legal issues. They
forensic-based graduate program (e.g., an        conduct psychiatric evaluations to deter­
entomology degree followed by a graduate         mine civil and criminal competence, psy­
forensic entomology program).                    chological trauma, criminal responsibility,
                                                 etc. Forensic psychiatrists may serve
Students are advised to discuss possible         prison systems and mental hospitals and
career paths with established profession­        act as consultants to prosecutors and
als in the field. Examples of forensic sci­      criminal defense attorneys. They are
ence careers outside traditional forensic        licensed physicians who have completed
science laboratories are described below.        medical school and 4 years in psychiatry
This list is not all inclusive, and the inter­   internship and residency and have
ested student may investigate other possi­       received training in forensic psychiatry.
ble career areas in forensic science.            They have passed general medical certifi­
                                                 cation exams and psychiatry board exami­
                                                 nations administered by the American
Forensic Pathology                               Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
                                                 ( The principal pro­
Forensic pathologists are medical doctors        fessional organization is the American
who serve as medical examiners and               Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
sometimes as coroners. They determine            (
the cause and manner of death through
autopsies and death investigation. They
are licensed physicians who have complet­        Forensic Psychology
ed medical school, 5 years of pathology
internship and residency, and 1 year of          Forensic psychology applies the science
forensic pathology fellowship. They have         and profession of psychology to questions
passed general medical certification             and issues relating to the law and the legal
exams as well as pathology (anatomic             system. Forensic psychology includes psy­
                                                 chological evaluation and expert testimony

     regarding such criminal forensic issues as     structural failure analysis, and related
     trial competency, forensic behavioral analy­   investigations. The American Academy of
     sis, civil commitment and guardianship,        Forensic Sciences (AAFS) (http://www.
     and others. Forensic psychologists must has an engineering sciences
     obtain a graduate degree, be licensed by a     section. Certification in the forensic engin­
     State board, and may be board certified by     eering sciences is available from the Inter­
     the American Board of Professional Psych­      national Institute of Forensic Engineering
     ology (ABPP) ( The        Sciences.
     American Academy of Forensic Psychol­
     ogy (AAFP) is the education and training
     arm of the American Board of Forensic          Forensic Anthropology
     Psychology (ABFP) (,
     which is responsible for board certifica­      Forensic anthropologists are physical
     tions in forensic psychology. Both AAFP        anthropologists who generate biological
     and ABFP are part of the ABPP  .               profiles (sex, age, height, etc.) for unidenti­
                                                    fied human skeletal remains, identify
                                                    unknown individuals, and evaluate skeletal
                                                    trauma. Forensic anthropologists are often
     Forensic Nursing                               university based and consult for medical
     Forensic nurses perform a wide range of        examiner offices, although some are
     functions, including serving as sexual         employed directly by medical examiner
     assault nurse examiners (SANEs) and case       offices. They have graduate degrees in
     reviewers for medical malpractice attor­       physical or forensic anthropology and may
     neys. Forensic nurses are typically regis­     be certified by the American Board of
     tered nurses, and some have bachelor of        Forensic Anthropology. The largest group
     science degrees in nursing or graduate         of forensic anthropologists works for the
     degrees. Many nursing educational pro­         military in the U.S. Army’s Central Identi­
     grams now have specific forensic nursing       fication Laboratory–Hawaii [Now the Joint
     curriculums. The principal professional        POW/MIA Accounting Command]
     organization is the International Associa­     (http://www. The principal
     tion of Forensic Nurses (http://www.           professional organizations are AAFS,                            Forensic Anthropology Section, and the
                                                    American Association of Physical
                                                    Anthropology (
     Forensic Engineering
     In addition to the usual categories of engi­
     neering, engineering sciences include
                                                    Forensic Entomology
     physics, chemistry, geophysics, etc. The       Forensic entomologists are often universi­
     forensic work of individuals in these fields   ty based and consult for medical examin­
     is most often related to civil litigation,     ers, coroners, law enforcement agencies,
     although occasionally their skills are need­   and attorneys. They use insect evidence to
     ed in criminal casework. Forensic engi­        help reconstruct the circumstances (e.g.,
     neers usually have engineering degrees         time of death, movement of the body)
     and, in the United States, are often regis­    surrounding human death. Most are Ph.D.
     tered professional engineers. Alternatively,   entomologists who have become board
     scientists engaged in this work often have     certified in forensic entomology by the
     doctorates in their respective fields. The     American Board of Forensic Entomology
     range of forensic activity in the engineer­    (
     ing sciences includes accident reconstruc­     entomology). The principal profession­
     tions, product failure investigations,         al organizations are AAFS and the

Entomological Society of America               appendix, relatively new, and many areas
(                       of the field are not yet defined. Useful
                                               sources for information about forensic
                                               computer science are the National White
Forensic Odontology                            Collar Crime Center (
                                               and the Scientific Working Group on
Forensic odontologists are dentists and        Digital Evidence (SWGDE) (http://www.
oral pathologists who most often consult
for medical examiner offices; few are
employed full time by medical examiner
offices. They identify people from dental
structures and analysis/comparisons of
                                               Forensic Toxicology
bitemarks. They have received a D.D.S.,        Forensic toxicologists are scientists who
D.M.D., or equivalent degree and been          provide services in postmortem cases
certified in forensic odontology by the        (support death investigations), human
American Board of Forensic Odontology.         performance cases (driving under the influ­
The principal professional organization is     ence of alcohol and/or drugs) and work­
AAFS, Forensic Odontology Section.             place testing (mandatory job-related
                                               alcohol/drug testing). Although some toxi­
                                               cologists work within the criminalistics/
Forensic Computer                              crime laboratory structure, most work in
                                               other government and private laboratories.
Science/Digital Evidence                       B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees are com­
Forensic computer specialists are comput­      mon. The work, which encompasses the
er and information scientists/technicians      determination and interpretation of drugs
who may be involved in the recovery and        and their metabolites in biological fluids,
examination of probative information from      requires significant training in chemistry,
digital evidence. The types of evidence        biology, physiology, and pharmacology. The
include both hardware (desktop comput­         principal membership organizations are
ers, laptop computers, network servers,        the Society of Forensic Toxicologists
and other digital equipment including cam­     ( and the Toxicol­
eras, personal digital assistants, pagers,     ogy Section of AAFS. Many toxicologists
software programs, databases, electronic       are certified by the American Board of
mail, etc.). The discipline of forensic com­   Forensic Toxicology as Diplomates or
puter science is, by comparison with the       Forensic Toxicology Certification Board
other forensic disciplines listed in this      Specialists.

Appendix B. Non-TWGED Reviewers

C.G.G. Aitken                              Charles Cornett
The University of Edinburgh                University of Wisconsin–Platteville
Department of Mathematics and Statistics   Department of Chemistry and Engineering
The King’s Buildings                        Physics
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK EH9 3JZ            One University Plaza                        Platteville, WI 53818

Sanford Angelos                            W. Raymond Cummins
Senior Forensic Chemist                    Director
U.S. Department of Justice                 Program in Forensic Science
536 South Clark Street                     University of Toronto
Suite 800                                  3359 Mississauga Road
Chicago, IL 60605                          Toronto, Ontario, Canada L5L 1C6       

Sevil Atasoy                               Harold Deadman
Director                                   Department of Forensic Sciences
Institute of Forensic Science              The George Washington University
Istanbul University                        Washington, DC 20052
Adli Tip Enstitus
34303 Cerrahpasa                           Hiram Evans
Istanbul, Turkey                           Adjunct Professor                            California State University–Los Angeles
                                           San Bernardino County Sheriff’s
Suzanne Bell                                Department Laboratory
Eastern Washington University              9500 Etiwanda Avenue
Department of Chemistry                    Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91729-6979
226 Science Building             
Cheney, WA 99004                  Ken Furton
Robert Bost                                Forensic Science Programs
Director                                   Florida International University
Master of Science in Forensic Science      Miami, FL 33199
University of Central Oklahoma
Department of Chemistry                    Brian Gestring
Edmond, OK 73034                           New York City Office of Chief Medical
JoAnn Buscaglia                            520 First Avenue
FBI Academy                                New York City, NY 10016
Forensic Science Research Unit
Quantico, VA 22135                         David Gibo                  Associate Professor of Zoology
                                           University of Toronto
                                           3359 Mississauga Road
                                           Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 1C

     Dennis Hilliard                            Gary Laughlin
     Director                                   McCrone Research Institute
     Rhode Island State Crime Laboratory        2820 South Michigan Avenue
     University of Rhode Island                 Chicago, IL 60616
     220 Fogarty Hall-URI
     41 Lower College Road                      Richard Li
     Kingston, RI 02881                         Program Coordinator                                College of Criminal Justice
                                                Sam Houston State University
     Patricia Huck                              Criminal Justice Center
     International Criminal Investigative       C–207
      Training Assistance Program (ICITAP)      Huntsville, TX 77341–2296
     U.S. Department of Justice       
     1331 F Street NW, #500
     Washington, DC 20004                       Charles Lindqosf
                                                University of Alabama at Birmingham
     Tom Johnson                                Department of Criminal Justice
     Dean                                       Birmingham, AL 35294
     School of Public Safety and Professional
     University of New Haven                    Ray Liu
     300 Orange Avenue                          Director
     West Haven, CT 06516                       Graduate Program in Forensic Science
     tataj@charger.newhaven.ct                  University of Alabama at Birmingham
                                                901 15th Street South
     Lawrence Kaplan                            Birmingham, AL 35294–2060
     Professor of Chemistry           
     Williams College
     Chemistry Department                       Bruce McCord
     Williamstown, MA 01267                     Associate Professor                       Ohio University
                                                Department of Chemistry and
     Lawrence Kobilinsky                         Biochemistry
     Associate Provost                          136 Clippinger Laboratories
     John Jay College of Criminal Justice       Athens, OH 45701–2979
     899 Tenth Avenue                 
     New York City, NY 10019                      Jerry Melbye
     Susan Land                                 Forensic Science Program
     5304 South Broadway Circle                 University of Toronto
     #3206                                      3359 Mississauga Road
     Englewood, CO 80110                        Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 1C6            

     Karl Larsen                                Marilyn Miller
     Illinois State Police                      University of New Haven
     Forensic Science Center                    Forensic Science Department                    300 Orange Avenue
                                                West Haven, CT 06516

Michael Moeller                              Lawrence Quarino
Department Head                              Director of Forensic Science
Department of Chemical and Industrial        Department of Chemistry
 Hygiene                                     Cedar Crest College
University of Northern Alabama               Allentown, PA 18104
UNA Box 5021, 129 Wesleyan         
Florence, AL 35632
                                             Rex Riis
Andre Moenssens                              Director
Professor of Law, Emeritus                   South Dakota Forensic Laboratory
University of Missouri–Kansas City           Miller-Matthews Building
5100 Rockhill Road                           3500 East Highway 34
Kansas City, MO 64110                        Pierre, SD 57501                

Turhon Murad                                 Walter Rowe
California State University–Chico            Professor of Forensic Science
Department of Anthropology                   Department of Forensic Sciences
315 Butte Hall                               The George Washington University
Chico, CA 95929–0400                         Washington, DC 20052                

Niamh NicDaeid                               Richard Saferstein
Strathclyde University                       Forensic Science Consultant
Forensic Science Unit                        20 Forrest Court
204 George Street                            Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
Glasgow, Scotland, UK G1 1XW                      Jay Siegel
                                             Professor of Forensic Science
Dale Nute                                    School of Criminal Justice
Florida State University                     Michigan State University
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice   506 Baker Hall
634 West Call Street                         East Lansing, MI 48824
Tallahassee, FL 32306–1127         
                                             Moses Schanfield
David Petersen                               Chair
Assistant Director                           Department of Forensic Science
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension              The George Washington University
Forensic Science Laboratory                  102 Samson Hall
1246 University Avenue                       2036 H Street NW
St. Paul, MN 55104–4197                      Washington, DC 20052       

Joseph Peterson                              Fred Smith
University of Illinois at Chicago            Director, Forensic Science Program
Department of Criminal Justice               University of Alabama–Birmingham
1007 West Harrison Street          
Chicago, IL 60607

     James Starrs                              Peter Striupaitis
     Professor of Law and Forensic Science     Illinois State Police
     The George Washington University
     720 20th Street, NW
     Washington, DC 20052                      Pat Thiel
                                               Professor of Chemistry
     Steven A. Steiner                         Iowa State University
     Associate Professor                       1605 Gillman Hall
     Department of Chemistry and Engineering   Ames, IA 50011
     University of Wisconsin–Platteville       J.W. Thorpe
     1 University Plaza                        Strathclyde University
     Platteville, WI 53818                     Forensic Science Unit
                                               204 George Street
     David Stoney                              Glasgow, Scotland, UK G1 1XW
     McCrone Research Institute      
     2820 South Michigan Avenue
     Chicago, IL 60616

Appendix C. Forensic Science Professional and
Certification Organizations
Professional Organizations
American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS),

American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD),

American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE),

Association of Firearms and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE),

Association of Forensic Quality Assurance Managers (AFQAM),

California Association of Criminalists (CAC),

California Association of Toxicologists (CAT),

Clandestine Laboratory Investigating Chemists Association (CLIC)

International Association for Identification (IAI),

Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists (MAAFS),

Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (MAFS),

National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C),

Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS), http://www.neafs,org

Northwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (NWAFS),

Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT),

Southern Association of Forensic Scientists (SAFS),

Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (SWAFS),

Certification Organizations
American Board of Criminalists (ABC)a

American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA)b

American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (ABFDE)a

American Board of Forensic Entomology (ABFE)b

     American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO)a

     American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT)a

     American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI)a

     American Board of Pathology—Forensic Pathology (ABP(FP)c

     American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology—Forensic Pathology (ABPN–FP)c

     Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners (AFTE)b

     Association of Forensic Document Examiners (AFDE)a

     Forensic Toxicologist Certification Board (FTCB)a

     International Association for Identification (IAI)a

     International Institute of Forensic Engineering Sciences (IIFES)a

     a. Represented on the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB).

     b. Recognized as a certification board representing that discipline but not yet formally represented on FSAB.

     c. Accredited by the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Appendix D. Technical and Scientific Working
NIJ-Sponsored Technical Working Groups
Technical Working Group for Bombing Scene Investigation (TWGBSI)

Technical Working Group for Crime Scene Investigation (TWGCSI)

Technical Working Group for Death Investigation (TWGDI)

Technical Working Group for Digital Evidence (TWGDE)

Technical Working Group for Eyewitness Evidence (TWGEYEE)

Technical Working Group for Fire/Arson Scene Investigation (TWGFASI)

Technical Working Group for Mass Fatality Forensic Identification (TWGMFFI)

FBI-Sponsored Scientific Working Groups
Scientific Working Group on Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (SWGSTAIN)

Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence (SWGDE)

Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM)

Scientific Working Group on Firearms and Toolmarks (SWGGUN)

Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, Study, and Technology (SWGFAST)

Scientific Working Group on Imaging Technologies (SWGIT)

Scientific Working Group on Materials Analysis (SWGMAT)

Scientific Working Group on Microbial Genetics and Forensics (SWGMGF)

Scientific Working Group on Forensic Document Examination (SWGDOC)

DEA-Sponsored Working Group
Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (SWGDRUG)

National Center for Forensic Science-Sponsored
Working Group
Technical Working Group for Fire and Explosions Investigations (TWGFEX)

Appendix E. Technical and Scientific Working
Groups’ Educational Criteria
Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis            ”
                                           System, Forensic Science Communi-
Methods (SWGDAM), “Training Guide-         cations 4(2), 2002,
lines, Forensic Science Communications     lab/fsc/backissu/april2002/swgittraining.htm.
3(4), 2001,
fsc/backissu/oct2001/kzinski.htm.          Scientific Working Group on Materials
                                           Analysis (SWGMAT), “Trace Evidence
Scientific Working Group on Imaging                                      ”
                                           Quality Assurance Guidelines, Forensic
Technologies (SWGIT), “Guidelines and      Science Communications 2(1), 2000,
Recommendations for Training in Imaging
Technologies in the Criminal Justice       jan2000/swgmat.htm.

About the National Institute of Justice
NIJ is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Institute provides objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to enhance
the administration of justice and public safety. NIJ’s principal authorities are derived from the
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