Fundamentals of Forensic Questioned Documents


The goal of this online course is to provide the student with an orientation and overview of questioned documents in regards to forensic science. This course covers equipment, training, handwriting identification, distortion, disguise, signatures, variation, forged signatures, the Video Spectral Comparator (VSC), the Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA), and questioned documents in court.

Cost: $125.00. This course takes 27 hours to complete, on average.


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

  • Describe the types of document examinations as a comparison process.
  • Identify reference collections and scientific equipment.
  • Differentiate between class and individual handwriting characteristics.
  • Discuss concepts and techniques of the Video Spectral Comparator (VSC) and Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA).
  • Appreciate the role of a questioned document examiner as an expert witness.

Course Structure and Schedule

This is a non-credit course offering 5.02 ILUs. (What is ILU?) Average completion time for the course is 27 hours. The instructor should be notified if an extension is required.  The course cost is $125.00 per registration. A certificate of completion will be issued to students successfully meeting course requirements.

Table of Contents

Unit 1: Overview and Introduction of Questioned Documents

Unit 2: Equipment, Training, and Organizations

Unit 3: Handwriting Identification

Unit 4: Distortion, Disguise, and Samples

Unit 5: Signatures and Variations

Unit 6: Non-Genuine or Forged Signatures

Unit 7: Video Spectral Comparator (VSC)

Unit 8: Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA)

Unit 9: Questioned Documents in Court


There are no prerequisites for this course.  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 was a correct answer on a quiz, marked incorrect?

Answer: Quizzes are graded automatically by the computer. However each quiz will be reviewed by the instructor in order to double check the system. The instructor is able to update your grade if necessary.

Do I have to respond to the discussion questions?

Answer: Yes, all discussion questions for this course are required and are graded.

Who do I contact if I’m having problems with the course?

Answer: If you are having trouble with registration or accessing the online course, please call OIT at 304-293-4444. Make sure you state that you are a non-credit eCampus student. If the problem is related to the course material, please email the instructor who will respond to your email as soon as possible.

Can I look at the material while taking the quiz?

Answer: Yes, the quiz open in a new window so you can review the course information.

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

Sarah is a Instructional Coordinator 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:, 304-293-9540.

Alicia Holman is a Forensic Project Coordinator with the Forensic Science Initiative. She joined FSI in 2007 as a student worker and has since received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology and Investigations at West Virginia University. Alicia is currently overseeing a grant which will present defense and prosecuting attorneys the opportunity to learn more about the basic precepts of forensic science.

Registration Information 

Registration is accepted year-round for this course. Click on the "Register Now" button at the top to register online through our secure server. You will be receiving email with your online course access information within five working days. Please check your spam or junk folder in case the confirmation email was misplaced there. Call 1-800-253-2762, or email if you have any questions. Major credit cards are accepted.

Check our FAQ page for refund policy and class access information.

Group Discount

We offer discounts for groups over 10. All individuals in the group need to register for the same course to take advantage of the discount. Discount rates vary by group size as follows:

  • 10-20 people 10% off
  • 21-30 people 15% off
  • 31-40 people 20% off
  • Above 40, contact for special pricing

How to register for a group discount:

  1. One contact person for each group registers.
  2. Click on “Register Now” button at the top of the page.
  3. Click on “add to cart” to add course to cart.
  4. Sign into online registration system with existing account.
  5. If not, click on “Create New Profile.”  Choose “Create a Student Profile (single user).”  Create your profile.
  6. How many students to register?  Enter total number of students in your group.
  7. Checkout with credit card.
  8. Send a list of each student(s) contact information to  (Include full name, email, phone, date of birth).
  9. Course access instructions will be sent by email within 5 business days.

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


Robert Hebert

“By way of introduction, I am Robert Hebert, a 16-year veteran with the Port of Lake Charles (La.) Harbor Police Department; I also served some years as a Navy Master-at-Arms.

It's delightful and encouraging to find WVU Professional Development courses in time when budget restrictions are so tough on departments' training. The courses are simple to follow and accessible at the most convenient times. They are in-depth and focus on the particulars that a lab specialist, crime scene evidence collection specialist, investigator or first response officer need to know.

I've completed Forensic Questioned Documents and Bloodstain Pattern Analysis; I'm currently enrolled in Death Investigation and Shooting reconstruction.

All of these things, a first responder officer needs to know. In a larger department, this information would help the first responder prepare the scene for chief investigators, and make those officers (first responders) more valuable in the event they might be needed to help collect evidence (as would be the case with fragile evidence). In a small department, often the first responder is the chief investigator. So, that in itself says it all: we never know when we might be thrust into a position whereby we must collect the evidence, and all the particular follow-ups.

I'm so appreciative of WVU's contribution to the law enforcement and forensics community. The information is invaluable and most timely. I've encouraged my fellow officers to explore these great courses. Keep up the great work!

Michael Kouris

"All the classes that I have enrolled in have been great. The courses have so much information. I am very confident that any situation I come in contact with will aid me.

I want to thank all the teachers and staff of West Virginia University for the service they provide to law enforcment and other public service employees.

Great Courses."