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: $0-225. This course takes 40 hours to complete, on average.
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 $225 per registration (with the exception of public lab employees, law enforcement, public attorneys, and federal employees – please see "Registration Information" below). A certificate of completion will be issued to students successfully meeting course requirements.
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.
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Adobe Flash Player
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.
Samantha Neal is the Instructional Coordinator for the Forensic Science Initiative, a program that develops research, scientific resources, and professional training for forensic scientists and related professionals. Her primary responsibilities are the development and coordination of online continuing education courses in forensic science and continuing education programs. She has undergraduate degrees in both Forensic and Investigative Sciences and Chemistry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-293-5836
Sarah is a Forensic Science Technician with Forensic Science Initiative. She has a Bachelor's in Biology from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Sarah has also earned her Master's in Forensic Science from Towson University. During her graduate studies, Sarah was involved in research funded by the NIJ. The project focused on finding new serological tests using DNA as the substrate. Her responsibilities include assisting with online classes, developing a relationship with vendors, and helping with training. Sarah is a native of Wyckoff, NJ. Contact: email@example.com, 304-293-9540.
Please read below to determine your eligibility. If you have any eligibility questions please contact Forensic Science Initiative at FSI@mail.wvu.eduBEFORE you register. Registration is accepted year-round for this course.
For general FAQs for the FSI online courses please click here.
“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.”
I 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.
“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!”