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 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. 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. 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.

Faculty contributing teaching and research to the program include:

Program Goals and Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Have the necessary theoretical background in all the primary areas of Criminalistics. These topics include crime scene reconstruction, pattern analysis, microscopy, forensic molecular biology, and forensic chemistry and toxicology.
  2. Demonstrate proficiency in laboratory skills necessary for a career in Criminalistics.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to analyze and interpret scientific data.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to provide proper scientific expert witness courtroom testimony.
  5. Demonstrate professional conduct and the personal characteristics expected of professionals in the Forensic Science community.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to be research scientists.
  7. Demonstrate proficiency in oral and written communication skills.
  8. Demonstrate knowledge of current policy, legal, and ethical guidelines for professional forensic science practice.

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 of 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 of Adult and Graduate Education is located in Blaney Hall, Room 105 and is open Monday – Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.; Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 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:

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.

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

Students must complete the program in seven academic years beginning from the semester of matriculation.

Completion of the Graduate Program and Graduation

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

Graduate 2017-2018 Tuition and Fees

M.S.F.S. Application fee (non-refundable) $50.00

Forensic Science Graduate Tuition, per credit $800.00

Undergraduate Tuition rate per credit, daytime students $1,250.00
Deposit (non-refundable) due upon acceptance to the program $500.00

Master’s Thesis Fee (non-refundable)(FSC 504) $250.00

Full-Time/Part-Time Student Activity Fee, per semester $20.00

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 master’s 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:

  1. The development of new laboratory exercises for undergraduate forensic science students.
  2. Assisting faculty in the instruction of undergraduate coursework laboratories as well as the assessment of student performance in the laboratories.
  3. Serve as a lecturer or primary lab instructor in the event that assigned faculty is absent.
  4. Perform quality assurance testing.
  5. Provide background information in the form of literature searches for faculty projects.
  6. 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.
  7. Serve as tutors for both undergraduate and graduate students.

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.

Assistantships are awarded on a semester basis and recipients are selected on a competitive basis based on GPA 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 Adult and Graduate Education 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

During the first year of academic study, students are required to write a 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 second 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 normally 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).

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 Chemical Separations – 2 credits
FSC 506 Analytical Spectroscopy - 2 credits

FSC 513 Advanced Microscopy - 3 credits

FSC 515 Advanced Pattern Analysis – 3 credits
FSC 508 Forensic Toxicology and Pharmacology – 3 credits
CHE 307 Biochemistry I* - 3 credits
*only required if not taken at the undergraduate level. If students need to take CHE 307, they should not register for FSC 508. Is students have successfully completed biochemistry at the undergraduate level, they should register for FSC 508.

Spring I:
FSC 500 Thesis Prospectus - 2 credits
FSC 510 Recent Advances in Forensic Biology - 4 credits
FSC 511 Molecular Biology - 3 credits
BIO 548 Research Design and Statistics – 3 credits

BIO 313 Genetics* - 3 credits
*only required if not taken at the undergraduate level

Summer :
FSC 501 Research 6 credits
Fall II:
FSC 507 Forensic Chemistry - 3 credits
FSC 516 Forensic Chemistry/Toxicology Laboratory - 2 credits
FSC 599 Continuing Research - 1 credit
FSC 515 Advanced Pattern Analysis – 3 credits
FSC 508 Forensic Toxicology and Pharmacology – 3 credits

Spring II:
FSC 504 Seminar - 2 credits
FSC 509 Crime Scene Reconstruction
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. Students are also encouraged to attend the annual Pennsylvania Forensic Science Student Research Exchange 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. 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”. 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 or in violation of the Cedar Crest College Honor Code), the Director of the Forensic Science Program at his discretion may recommend to the Provost and the Dean of Adult and Graduate Education that the student not be allowed to continue in the program.


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