Forensic Science 101: An Introduction


Forensic science describes the science of linking people, places, and things that are involved in criminal activity. The goal of this online course is to provide the student with a basic, introductory overview of forensic science. The student will learn the fundamentals of the different disciplines that encompass the field of forensic science.

Cost: $175.00. This course takes 40 hours to complete, on average. (AVAILABLE SUMMER 2015)


Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Define forensic science.
  • List disciplines within forensic science.
  • Describe the procedures of crime scene investigation.
  • Discuss the importance of safety procedures and evidence handling at the crime scene and/or at the laboratory.
  • Describe the different types of physical evidence and pattern evidence.
  • Describe the different types, parts, and forensic applications of the microscope.
  • Discuss the processes of chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques.
  • List and recognize the different fingerprint pattern types and characteristics.
  • Define forensic chemistry and the disciplines within that section.
  • Define forensic biology and the disciplines within that section.
  • Define trace evidence and discuss the different types of trace evidence.
  • Discuss the role of forensic expert witnesses, the rules of evidence, and the importance of Frye and Daubert court cases.
  • Describe quality assurance and know its importance.

Course Structure and Schedule

This is a non-credit course offering 5.40 ILUs. (What is ILU?) Average completion time for the course is 40 hours. The course cost is $175.00 per registration. A certificate of completion will be issued to students successfully meeting course requirements. (AVAILABLE SUMMER 2015)

Table of Contents:

Unit 1: Introduction
Unit 2: Crime Scene Investigation
Unit 3: Basics of Evidence
Unit 4: Microscopy
Unit 5: Spectroscopic Techniques and Separation Methods
Unit 6: Pattern Evidence
Unit 7: Friction Ridge Examination
Unit 8: Forensic Chemistry
Unit 9: Forensic Biology
Unit 10: Trace Evidence
Unit 11: Other Areas of Forensic Science
Unit 12: Science and Law
Unit 13: Forensic Laboratory Quality Assurance


There are no prerequisites for this class.  A printable version of the course content is available in PDF format in the course library for future reference. Course readings are also available in PDF format.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my answer marked wrong, when I know it is the correct answer?

Answer: All quizzes are reviewed and manually graded by the instructor which can take up to 72 hours after the quiz is submitted.  Keep in mind grading is not performed on weekends, holidays, or after close of business.  The updated grade will appear in the “my grades” tab in the course once it has been updated. 

Are discussion posts required?

Answer: Yes, all the discussion posts in this course are required.

Computer Requirements

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Quicktime
  • Adobe Flash Player
  • Java

There are free software plug-ins available in the Getting Started area of the course.

Basic computer skills required (i.e. turning on your computer, navigating to websites, etc.). The course is user-friendly but support is available if needed.

All Students: Using Internet Explorer (IE) 10? Read info on eCampus Main Page

Instructor Information

Check our FAQ and Refund Policy for refund and class access information.


Josh Connelly“I am very grateful that West Virginia University offers these online courses for forensic professionals. If not for the NIJ grant, I may not have had the opportunity to take these classes. With budgetary constraints on law enforcement agencies across the country, it is nice to still be able to attend training that would otherwise be unattainable. I am recommending these courses to my co-workers and I know they will get as much out of the program as I have. Thanks and I look forward to taking more classes in the future.”

Ryan MatsonI was extremely appreciative of the opportunity to take the online Forensic Science Introductory Course through the Forensic Science Initiative. Having served as a patrol officer for five years, this course helped me learn much more about the different methods and technology involved in processing a scene and identifying suspects, victims, and other people who may have been at the scene. I will definitely put the knowledge I gained in this course to use, and hope to develop my interest in the area of forensics through taking more courses as I move to the identification unit next year. The opportunity to communicate with other law enforcement and government personnel throughout the country who are in similar stages of their career was also outstanding. This course helps provide an introduction to forensic science and was interesting, easy to navigate and fun, too! I am very happy the initiative is available to allow people within the law enforcement community to gain a deeper understanding of forensics, and test the waters to see if it is something they would like to pursue further.

Catherine kibbey“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the online courses that you provide. They are very helpful, and provide quite a bit of information for continuing students. There are three people from my department who have benefitted from your classes. Keep up the good work!”