Skip to content

The Forensics Program offers an interdisciplinary hands-on forensic science curriculum that focuses on mock casework and crime scenes to promote critical thinking skills and prepares the student for a professional and ethical career in public and private forensic laboratories, research facilities and medicolegal death investigations. The forensics undergraduate program offers a comprehensive curriculum in an environment that supports diversity and promotes ethical decision-making.

This program provides the student with a rigorous science-centered curriculum reflective of real-world expectations in the field of forensic science. Being taught by practitioners, the perspectives offered to the student mimics authentic situations to best prepare for supporting the forensic community. This program’s curriculum was developed based on the published standards of the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), which sets high academic standards The student will take a required set of classes including sciences with laboratory activities, statistics, and calculus. The core forensic courses would include physical evidence analysis, crime scene investigation, legal considerations, and ethics/responsibilities. The student will then be able to further tailor their degree with forensic electives. 

Program Goals

Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in the Forensics program are able to:

Program Concentrations

Forensic Chemistry

The Forensic Chemistry concentration offers a career-specific forensic curriculum, tailored to career ambitions that reflect real-world expectations and current practices within the crime laboratory. This concentration will prepare students for careers in toxicology, drug chemistry, trace evidence analysis, and additional employment opportunities within the chemistry field and scientific testing laboratories. Mock cases including evidence analysis, sample preparation, analytical instrumentation, quality assurance standards, and mock testimony promote critical thinking skills, proficiency in evidence testing, and effective communication of case information.

Forensic Biology

This Forensic Biology concentration offers a career-specific forensic curriculum, tailored to career ambitions and goals that reflect real-world expectations and current practices preparing students for careers as aserologist, DNA analyst or forensic biologist. This concentration provides the opportunity for students to study biology in more depth, with specific applications to forensics and additional hands on experiences while meeting the highest standards in forensic education. Students are provided with mock cases to allow them the opportunity to analyze samples, review data, interpret results and testify regarding conclusions.

Crime Scene Investigation

The Crime Scene Investigation concentration offers a career-specific forensic curriculum, tailored to career ambitions and goals that reflect real-world expectations and current practices preparing students for careers in crime scene investigation, medico-legal death investigation, and additional employment opportunities within the criminal justice system. Mock crime scenes, physical evidence interpretation, analysis activities, mock testimony, and case studies promote critical thinking skills and effective communication of case information. Students will develop knowledge of law theory and practices that are fundamental to the field of forensics. Using mock crime scenes and evidence, students will demonstrate proper evidence collection, processing, documentation, and preservation.

Program Leads

 Jillian  Yeakel

Jillian Yeakel Instructor and Program Lead of Forensic Science

View Profile

Program Courses

This program requires a total of 47 – 59 semester hours. The semester hour value of each course appears in parentheses( ).

BTEC 340 – Forensic Biotechnology (3 credits)

This course is designed to introduce the student to the hands-on techniques and opportunities in the field of biotechnology for the forensic field. The course will cover topics including introduction to biotechnology, DNA applications in forensic investigation, spectroscopic techniques, molecular biotechnology, and DNA fingerprinting, etc. The course will cover various techniques used in biotechnology (very significant for forensics) such as PCR, DNA immobilization, and DNA diagnostics. There will be field visits, case studies, and group discussions about the latest events in the field of forensic biotechnology.

FORS 225 – Legal Procedure (2 credits)

This course will provide an introduction to legal theory and procedure, legal terms including types of evidence admitted in court, admissibility of expert testimony, and the specialized drafting of an expert report which shall include a review and logical use of the evidence. The student will also experience the art of testifying. Offered Spring Semester, annually.

FORS 230 – Quality Assurance and Case Management (1 credit)

Forensic laboratory accreditation is critical in forensic science. Accreditation standards and recommendation from federal forensic science organizations will be discussed. The student will demonstrate an understanding of quality assurance and quality control procedures that are used within accredited forensic laboratories. Safety procedures, personal protective equipment (PPE), case management, and movement of the evidence through the crime lab will be discussed. Offered Spring Semester, annually.

FORS 250 – Forensic Photography (3 credits)

This course will focus on basic photography skills including different features available on a standard digital single-lens reflex (dSLR) camera and peripheral equipment such as digital flash, tripod and sync cord. The student will complete various activities on the fundamentals of forensic photography including composition, proper lighting, painting with light, scale reference and bounce flash. Photograph documentation of specific types of evidence such as fingerprints, bloodstain pattern, impression evidence and injuries will be discussed. Offered Spring Semester, annually.

FORS 270 – Crime Scene Investigation (3 credits)

This is a fundamental course in forensic death investigations. The areas of specialized focus include the causes, manner, physical circumstances, and mechanisms of both natural and unnatural deaths. Death scenes are examined and investigations reviewed, with evidence pertaining to how people die. In addition, the course looks at the various legal considerations and methods germane to concluding equivocal death determinations.

FORS 315 – Forensic Entomology (4 credits)

The forensic entomologist can use a number of different techniques including insect species succession, larval weight, length, and technical methods such as the accumulated degree-hour technique. The student is introduced to standard forensic procedures and, when practical, will see and use those procedures.

FORS 325 – Forensic Toxicology (3 credits)

This lecture/laboratory-based course will provide the student with an overview of the principles and concepts of forensic toxicology. The student will be exposed to pharmacology before learning the key topics in forensic toxicology. The lectures will introduce the student to various drug classes including central nervous system depressants, stimulants, and psychotics. The student will learn the use and abuse of these drugs along with their effects on the human body. Offered Spring Semester, annually.

FORS 330 – Forensic Instrumentation (3 credits)

The student will discuss and complete hands-on activities mocking actual casework. Scientific instrumentation and sample preparation will be discussed for a variety of samples commonly analyzed in forensic chemistry and biology. A specific focus will be on the theory, sample considerations, use of instrumentation, controls and standards, limitations, and documentation.  Two hours of lecture, three hours of laboratory per week. Offered Spring Semester, annually.

FORS 340 – Forensic Biology (3 credits)

This lecture/laboratory-based course will provide the student with an overview of the principles and concepts of forensic biology. The student will be exposed to serology and DNA analysis as it applies to forensic science. The lectures will introduce the student to the basis of biological evidence including both the techniques to identify various biological fluids as well as the methodology required to analyze it. Select activities will be completed to introduce some of the forensic biology lab work that accompanies the material learned in the lectures. Offered Fall Semester, annually.

FORS 345 – Drug Chemistry (3 credits)

Drugs, substances, and certain chemicals used to make drugs are classified into categories or schedules depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential. This course will explore Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) as defined within the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) of the United States. Different CDS classifications will be discussed including their origins, synthesis, pharmacological effects, and chemical structure, and properties. This course will teach hands-on wet chemistry and analytical instrumentation methods. Offered Fall Semester, annually.

FORS 350 – Trace Evidence Analysis (3 credits)

The student will utilize microscopy, perform chemical analyses, and interpret analytical data to determine the identity and/or probative value of evidence recovered during the commission of a crime. This course will address a variety of evidence, specific instrumentation, and analytical processes. Topics will include gunshot residue analysis, fiber, glass and paint comparisons, low explosive identification and polarized light microscopy. Offered Spring Semester, annually.

FORS 355 – Crime Scene Management (3 credits)

This course offers the student advanced knowledge and training in crime scene investigation, resource management, and coordination of various complex crime scenes. The student will learn personnel management considerations for security and safety, theory, and investigation, as well as workplace resilience, cognitive bias, and management of potential occupational stress or hazards specific to the position. Event-specific investigations and complex scenes will be analyzed, and the student will design and evaluate action plans and outcomes.

FORS 362 – Medico-Legal Death Investigation (3 credits)

This course is a study of the process known as medico-legal death investigation. The course introduces the student to the legal systems surrounding the investigation of the cause and manner of death. The role of forensic pathology and the application of pathology to law are studied in relation to crime scene investigation. Natural, accidental, homicide and suicide deaths are explored in the perspective of the forensic pathologies.

FORS 368 – Forensics Anthropology (3 credits)

Forensic anthropology is a science applied to law which focuses on the identification of remains, human or non-human, that are beyond recognition due to decompositional changes and are more or less skeletonized. Osteology is the study of bone. The student studies basic human skeletal anatomy involving the axial and appendicular skeleton. The student uses that knowledge in osteology to determine sex, age, stature, and ancestry of unknown individuals. The student is then able to apply knowledge to casework and have a general understanding of forensic anthropology laboratory practices.

FORS 380 – Special Topics in FORS (3 credits)

This course covers topics in forensic science. It is an in-depth study of a selected specialized area and the content varies by semester.

FORS 390 – FORS Directed Study (0 credits)

This course is designed for the student who demonstrates an interest in an area of study not offered or who wishes to pursue a discipline in greater depth than possible through existing courses. A directed study counts as an elective and may not be used for accelerated or remedial credit. A learning contract between the student and instructor defines the responsibilities of the parties and specifies the learning objectives and standards for successful completion of the project. A calendar of meeting times and deadlines shall be a part of that contract.

Take the Next Step

Get More Information

Questions about our programs? Reach out to a member of our team and get personalized answers.

Apply Now

Create an account and start your free online application to Harrisburg University today.