Master of Science in Forensic Science

The mission of the Master of Science in Forensic Science is to teach and continually emphasize forensic science foundational principles in all aspects of instruction to students who have a solid background in the natural sciences thereby helping to produce a future generation of competent, credible and ethical forensic scientists.

The program is a full-time two year program designed to prepare students for the challenges of forensic science in the 21st century by providing theoretical and practical background in all areas of criminalistics, a meaningful research experience, and opportunities to develop excellent written and oral communication skills.

The Forensic Science Program

The Forensic Science program is accredited by the Forensic Science Educational Programs Accreditation Commission and is housed within the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences which is located in the Pool Science Center.  Student research and laboratory coursework are performed in a variety of laboratories available to students and faculty. In January 2005, two state-of-art laboratories were opened.  The forensic science program has laboratories and instrumentation for research and instruction in pattern analysis, crime scene reconstruction, microscopy, and forensic chemical and biological analysis.  In addition to existing crime scene reconstruction and forensic science research laboratories, students in the forensic science program have state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and instrumentation for coursework and research. Students also have use of several computer labs on campus including the Allen Center for Nutrition Computer Lab located in the Miller portion of the Science Center.

Full-time faculty contributing teaching and research to the program include:

  • Lawrence Quarino, Director of the Graduate Program and Associate Professor of Forensic Science, Ph.D., City University of New York.

  • Jeanne Berk, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Ph.D., Seton Hall University.
  • Thomas A. Brettell, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Ph.D. Villanova University.

  • Alan Hale, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Ph.D., Idaho State University.
  • K. Joy Karnas, Associate Professor of Biology, Ph.D., University of Arizona.
  • Jacqueline Speir, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Ph.D. Rochester Institute of Technology.

  • Marianne E. Staretz, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Ph.D. State University of New York at Binghamton.

  • Lindsey Welch, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Ph.D., Lehigh University

Half-time faculty contributing teaching and research to the program include:

  • Gerald Caprio, M.S. William Paterson College
  • Peter Diaczuk, M.S., John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  • Janine Kishbaugh, M.S., Cedar Crest College.
  • Thomas Pritchett, M.S., Murray State University.

Program Goals and Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Master of Science in Forensic Science students will:

  1. Have the necessary theoretical and practical background in all the primary areas of Criminalistics for a career in Forensic Science. These topics include crime scene reconstruction, pattern analysis, microscopy, forensic molecular biology and forensic chemistry and toxicology..
  2. Have an understanding of proper expert witness courtroom testimony and have demonstrated the ability to provide testimony.
  3. Know the value of professional ethics as guidelines for professional conduct and the personal characteristics expected of professionals in the Forensic Science community. Graduates will also be knowledgeable of professional codes of ethics outlined by various professional forensic science organizations.
  4. Understand the value of research in forensic science and demonstrate the ability to be research scientists.
  5. Know the necessity of good oral and written communication skills for Forensic Science professionals and show proficiency in both.
  6. Realize the importance of aspiring to leadership positions in forensic science research, administration and public policy.

General Admissions Requirements

Students are admitted to graduate programs at Cedar Crest College on the basis of individual qualifications. Requests for application materials and all correspondence relating to admission should be addressed to:

Cedar Crest College
School for Adult and Graduate Education
100 College Drive
Allentown, PA 18104-6196.
Phone: 610-740-3770
Fax: 610-740-3786
Online Application Materials:

On campus, the main office for the School for Adult and Graduate Education is located in Blaney Hall, Room 105 and is open Monday, Tuesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.- 6:30 p.m.

Students are encouraged to visit the campus to discuss their educational plans. Upon request a campus visit may be arranged along with an opportunity to meet with the Program Director of the Forensic Science program. For more information, please contact Dr. Lawrence Quarino at 610-606-4661 or

Typically, the application deadline is March 1 for the coming academic year.

The general admissions requirements for the Master of Science in Forensic Science program are as follows:

  • An applicant must have a completed application form.
  • An applicant must have official transcripts sent to the School of Adult and Graduate Education.
  • An applicant must possess a B.S. degree in a natural or forensic science (or its equivalent coursework in a relevant field).
  • An applicant must have a minimal cumulative GPA of 3.0. An applicant must have completed the GRE General Test.
  • The applicant must submit two letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to the candidate’s scientific ability.
  • Applicants from institutions other than Cedar Crest may be asked to undergo a successful interview with members of the forensic science faculty before acceptance into the program.

It is recommended that the applicant have completed the following coursework at the undergraduate level:

  1. Two semesters of general (freshman) chemistry and two semesters of organic chemistry.
  2. Two semesters of calculus (differential and integral preferred).
  3. Two semesters of physics.
  4. Two semesters of general (freshman) biology.

Note: Although it is recognized that some students may not finish the designed program in the desired two-year time frame (see maximum period of candidacy), it is not designed to be a part-time program. Students wishing to enter the program part-time will be considered but must complete the program in the required time frame (see maximum period of candidacy).

Admissions Decisions

An Admissions Committee composed of full and half-time faculty members working in the program will make admission decisions based upon the criteria specified above. Each applicant will be considered from a holistic perspective. The Program Director reserves the right to ask the prospective candidate for additional information.


Matriculation is required for any student who plans to receive financial aid and graduate degree. A student applies for matriculation by submitting a completed application for admission to the School of Adult and Graduate Education. After submitting a complete application, students receive a letter from the College informing them of the decision concerning their acceptance as a degree candidate. Students are matriculated into the program once they have registered for classes during their first semester of academic study. Graduate programs may permit non-matriculated and visiting students to enroll in graduate courses on a case-by-case basis. In the event that a graduate course reaches its enrollment maximum, matriculated students are given preference over non-matriculated students.

Students who have completed all coursework but not their master’s thesis will be required to maintain matriculation by registering for Continuing Research (FSC 599, 1 credit) for each semester until they complete the program. If students do not maintain matriculation they must request a leave of absence (see below).

Transfer Credit Policy

Students entering the program may transfer up to 6 credits of coursework. The transferred coursework, however, must be equivalent to courses listed in the curriculum and must have been completed within ten years of the date of enrollment in the program (the first day of classes of a student’s first academic year). Once matriculated in the program, students will not receive any credit for coursework taken at another institution.

Degree Program Retention Policy

Students must complete every class with a minimum of a B-.  Students who receive a C or withdraw from a course are only allowed to repeat the class one time.  If students do not receive a grade of B- or above the second time that they take a course, they will be dropped from the program.  Students receiving a grade of F in a course taken for the first time will also be dropped from the program.

Leaves of Absence and Course Withdrawals

Students wishing to take a leave of absence from the program may request to do so in writing to the Director of the program. The granting of the requested leave is at the discretion of the Program Director pending approval from the Dean of the School of Adult and Graduate Education. A granted leave of absence has no bearing on the maximum period of candidacy. Students can withdraw from no more than 2 courses during any one semester. If students need to withdraw from more than 2 courses during any semester for any reason, they should request a leave of absence from the Director.

Maximum Period of Candidacy

Unless compelling and exigent reasons exist, students must complete the program in three academic years beginning from the semester of matriculation.  Requests for a waiver of the maximum period of candidacy must be made in writing to the Director and approved by both the Director and the faculty.  Such requests must clearly explain the reason(s) for the extension.  Unless a waiver is granted, a student will be dropped from the program after the maximum period of candidacy has expired.

Completion of the Graduate Program and Graduation

To successfully complete the MSFS, a student must adhere to the following:

  • Complete all required coursework with no grade lower than a B- in any course.
  • Successful completion of a master’s thesis.   Approval is noted by the signatures of each member of the committee on the Approval Page of the thesis.  Once approved, a minimum of three copies of the thesis need to be bound.  One bound copy must be sent to the library.
  • Successful completion of a graduate thesis research seminar presented to students and faculty.  Approval is granted by the student’s seminar committee.
  •  Apply to the Registrar for graduation by the published application deadline.
  • Fulfill all financial responsibilities to the College.

Graduate Tuition and Fees

M.S.F.S. Application fee (non-refundable) $50.00
Forensic Science Graduate Tuition, per credit $716.00

Undergraduate Tuition rate per credit, daytime students $907.00

Deposit (non-refundable) due upon acceptance to the program $500.00
Masters Thesis Fee (non-refundable) $300.00
Full-Time/Part-Time Student Activity Fee, per semester $10.00
Full-Time Technology Fee, per semester $100.00
Part-Time Technology Fee, per semester $50.00

Note: The College reserves the right to change fees and charges as necessary. Books, supplies, lab materials and other program costs are not included in the tuition. The deposit is credited toward the tuition cost for the first term.

Graduate Assistantships in Forensic Science

Graduate assistantships are designed to promote the educational goals and objectives of the masters program by providing students with opportunities to actively participate in a range of instructional and research activities which serve to promote mastery of knowledge in the field of forensic science. To this end, graduate assistants are placed with individual forensic science faculty and are expected to work a minimum of 10 hours per week.

The duties of a graduate assistant may include:

  • The development of new laboratory exercises for undergraduate forensic science students.
  • Assisting faculty in the instruction of undergraduate coursework laboratories as well as the assessment of student performance in the laboratories.
  • Serve as a lecturer or primary lab instructor in the event that assigned faculty is absent.
  • Provide background information in the form of literature searches for faculty projects.
  • Assist in the implementation and development of workshops for the Forensic Science Training Institute as well as other professional activities associated with the Forensic Science Program.

Students wishing to apply for a graduate assistantship may do so as part of the admissions process or they can apply directly through the Program Director.  To be eligible to receive an assistantship, a student must:

  • Be enrolled for a minimum of 6 credits during the semester of the assistantship or be actively conducting thesis research.
  • Submit an application requesting an assistantship to the Program Director.
  • Successfully interview with the faculty member with whom the student will be placed if requested.

Assistantships are awarded on a semester basis and recipients are selected on a competitive basis by the Program Director in consultation with the faculty to whom graduate assistants will be assigned. The number of assistantships available in any given academic year and the stipend to be awarded to each graduate assistant is determined by the Program Director in consultation with the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Provost. The decision of the Program Director in regard to award recipients is final and is not subject to appeal.

Program of Study for the M.S. in Forensic Science

The Master of Science in Forensic Science program is a two-year program including summer. During the first year, students are required to write  thesis proposal  and select their thesis committee as part of the 2-credit Thesis Prospectus course (FSC 500) which is offered during the spring semester.  The thesis committee will consist of a primary mentor and two other individuals.  All members of the thesis committee must have at a minimum a master’s degree. The primary mentor must be a member of the Cedar Crest College faculty and the second reader must be external to the Forensic Science Program and the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences.  The selection of the second reader may, for instance, be a faculty member from another department at Cedar Crest College, a faculty member from another institution, or a forensic science practitioner.  The role of the secondary reader is to provide the student with technical guidance in consultation with the primary reader.  The third reader must be a faculty member from the Cedar Crest College Forensic Science Program who will perform a technical and administrative review of the thesis.  The composition of the thesis committee must be approved by the Faculty.

Undergraduate prerequisites include biochemistry and genetics. Students accepted into the program without these courses must register for these courses at the undergraduate level during the first year.

Students will be required to perform the bulk of their master’s thesis research during the summer between the first and second year.  Research can be performed on campus or at an external laboratory (requires prior approval from the Program Director and faculty). Cedar Crest offers two summer sessions and students will be required to register for both sessions.

During the second year Graduate Seminar course, each student will be required to present a one-hour seminar on the results of their research as part of FSC 504 (Seminar).  However, the seminar will only be conducted with the approval of the primary mentor.  Students requiring additional time to prepare for the seminar may do so as long as they do not exceed the required timeframe for completion of the degree.  A committee of faculty is responsible for writing a review of the seminar and providing a grade to the instructor of the Graduate Seminar.  Students will also be required to write a thesis during the second year.  The progress of the thesis writing will be monitored during the Seminar Course.  Students requiring additional time to complete the thesis may do so as long as they do not exceed the required timeframe for completion of the degree.   Students are also required to register for 1 credit of research in both semesters under FSC 599 in the academic year immediately after summer research.

Course Sequence

Fall I:
FSC 503 Professional Communication - 2 credits
FSC 505/506 Chemical Separations/Analytical Spectroscopy - 4 credits (2 and 2)
FSC 509/515 Crime Scene Reconstruction/Advanced Forensic Pattern Analysis - 4 credits (2 and 2)
FSC 513 Advanced Microscopy - 3 credits
BIO 560 Research Design and Statistics - 3 credits
CHE 307 Biochemistry I* - 3 credits
*only required if not taken at the undergraduate level

Spring I:
FSC 500 Thesis Prospectus - 2 credits
FSC 510 Recent Advances in Forensic Biology - 4 credits
FSC 511 Molecular Biology - 3 credits
BIO 313 Genetics* - 3 credits
*only required if not taken at the undergraduate level

Summer I:
FSC 501 Research I - 3 credits

Summer II:
FSC 502 Research II - 3 credits

Fall II:
FSC 507 Forensic Chemistry - 3 credits
FSC 508 Forensic Pharmacology and Toxicology - 3 credits
FSC 516 Forensic Chemistry/Toxicology Laboratory - 2 credits
FSC 599 Continuing Research - 1 credit

Spring II:
FSC 504 Seminar - 1 credit
FSC 512 Forensic Science Administration - 2 credits
FSC 514 Legal and Ethical Issues in Forensic Science - 2 credits
FSC 599 Continuing Research - 1 credit


Students coming into the program will be asked to attend an orientation prior to their first semester of academic study. During this time, each student will be assigned an academic advisor who will be a member of the Forensic Science program faculty. It is the responsibility of students to meet with their advisor in regard to academic issues.

Graduate Student Handbook

Each student will be given a copy of the Graduate Student Handbook prepared specifically for the M.S. in Forensic Science. The purpose of the handbook is to provide students with information pertaining to the curricular requirements and policies and procedures associated with the program. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves and understanding the information presented in the Graduate Student Handbook. Questions regarding the content of the handbook should be directed to either the student’s faculty advisor or the Director of the program.

Professional Organizations for Students

Student memberships are available with the national forensic science organization, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Applications for membership are available through the Director of the program or on-line at and all students are encouraged to apply.

Students are also encouraged to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences held every February as well as the annual meeting of the applicable regional professional organizations, the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS) and the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists (MAAFS). NEAFS has their annual meeting in the fall and MAAFS holds their annual meeting in the spring.

Student Code of Conduct

Students in the program are required to read Section I of the Technical Working Group on Education and Training in Forensic Science (TWGED) document titled, “Qualifications for a Career in Forensic Science.” This document may be found in the Graduate Student Handbook for the Forensic Science Program. Section I of the document details the personal, academic, and professional characteristics needed for the model candidate for a career in forensic science. Students wishing to enter a career in forensic science should strive to achieve and maintain these standards. If it is proven that a student in the forensic science program has engaged in behavior contrary to these standards (for instance, illegal drug use), the Director of the Forensic Science Program at his discretion may recommend to the Dean of Adult and Graduate Education that the student not be allowed to continue in the program.

In 2001, the TWGED was created by the Department of Justice and West Virginia University to develop models for training and education in forensic science. The planning panel for this organization brought together a diverse group of individuals from various disciplines in the forensic sciences with the common thread that each member has a stake in the future of education and training in the forensic sciences. The group consisted of laboratory directors, educators, and trainers and produced a document addressing qualifications for a career in forensic science, undergraduate curriculum in forensic science, graduate education in forensic science, and training and continuing education. Guidelines were recommended for each category and have become the basis for accreditation of educational programs in the forensic sciences through the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). Both the undergraduate and graduate Forensic Science programs at Cedar Crest College are FEPAC accredited.

The TWGED document states, “A model candidate for all forensic science practices should have personal integrity. Because forensic science is part of the criminal justice system, personal honesty, integrity, and scientific objectivity are paramount” ( In this spirit, deliberate violations of the Cedar Crest College Honor Code by students in the program cannot be tolerated. If a student is found guilty of an Honor Code Violation by any professor, the Director of the Forensic Science Program at his discretion may recommend to the Dean of Adult and Graduate Education that the student not be allowed to continue in the program.