This course has been developed as an introduction to the principles underlying the science of fingerprints. Students will obtain a general understanding of the methodology involved and a foundation to begin comparing all friction ridge skin. It will provide you with a basic, introductory overview of all friction ridge skin, including fingerprints, palm prints, and foot prints. You will learn classification and basic processing and development techniques, but this will in no way replace the physical practice required when dealing with actual casework. These units are designed to be an educational introduction to the science of fingerprints. Naturally, more education and training is required to be considered an expert latent fingerprint examiner.
Cost: $0-225. This course takes 33 hours to complete, on average.
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
Describe how to use and understand the current terminology of the science.
Determine the correct pattern type of a fingerprint.
Define the three different levels of detail used to accurately compare fingerprints.
Describe the ACE-V methodology and how to use it to make accurate decisions when comparing fingerprints.
Discuss the current controversies surrounding the science.
Course Structure and Schedule
This is a non-credit course offering 3.88 ILUs. (What is ILU?) Average completion time for the course is 33 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: History of Fingerprints
Unit 2: Morphogenesis of Friction Ridge Skin
Unit 3: Structure of Friction Ridges/Pattern Types
Unit 4: Other Types of Friction Ridge Skin
Unit 5: Classification Systems
Unit 6: Types of Fingerprints and Methods of Fingerprinting
Unit 7: Development and Preservation of Latent Fingerprints
Unit 8: Fingerprint Comparisons
Unit 9: AFIS and Automation
Unit 10: Legal Issues
Unit 11: Case Studies
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
Do I need to have prior knowledge of fingerprints?
Answer: No. The course is an introductory course and the basics of fingerprints will be taught.
Mozilla Firefox (recommended) or Internet Explorer
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Macromedia Flash Player
(Free software plug-ins are 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
Anthony Iten is a Forensic Science Technician with Forensic Science Initiative. He graduated from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota with a Bachelors of Arts degree and Forensic Science Certificate. Anthony has spent time working in the Drug Chemistry and Latent Print sections in the St. Paul Police Department Crime Lab in St. Paul, Minnesota. His responsibilities include online course development and assistance in training professionals in the forensic field. He is currently developing a Latent Print online course. Contact: email@example.com, 304-293-5186
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 have been in the field of Law Enforcement and Forensics for over 25 years. I have amassed thousands of hours of training during that period. Having participated in three forensic programs offered by WVU, I wish to comment on the experience that I have had. The courses are very well constructed, and the goals are reasonable and attainable if you stay with the process. The instructors are very knowledgeable, and are willing to help on any issue. I have participated in many different courses using different formats in the way the courses were taught. My WVU experience was one of the best I have had in my career. The program should be used by as many people in the field as possible.”
"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.