Forensic Science

OVERVIEW

As a forensic science major at Alvernia University, you’ll develop the knowledge and skills necessary to work in a modern crime lab in your hometown, or at the regional, state or federal level.

Forensic science, which is defined as science that is used for purposes of the law, is an exciting and fascinating field for students who have a strong interest in chemistry and biology. Forensic scientists work closely with investigators, attorneys and others to discover, analyze and deliver evidence during criminal investigations.

The best forensic scientists are accurate, methodical and detailed, and have excellent observational skills. Above all, you must be completely unbiased during all investigations, allowing the evidence to speak for itself. Because your work will be used in court, it’s important that you keep detailed notes and are able to write clear and accurate reports. You’ll also need to be poised enough to testify in court when you are called to do so.

Forensic science classes and labs are offered in the O’Pake Science Center, a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility on Alvernia’s main campus. You’ll have access to sophisticated science instrumentation throughout your curriculum, including UV/Vis, Infrared and Fluorescence spectrometers, a high performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC), a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer (GC/MS), a Raman spectrometera flame/graphite-furnace atomic absorption spectrometer, and a system capable of doing laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS).

To learn more about the forensic science major at Alvernia University, contact the Admissions Office at 1-888-ALVERNIA (610-796-8269) or admissions@alvernia.edu. For more information about the field of forensic science and what forensic scientists do, check out the website of the American Academy of Forensic Science at www.aafs.org.

Philosophy Statement

In keeping with the guiding principles upon which Alvernia University was founded while striving to be consistent with the precepts of the order of the Bernardine Sisters, the Alvernia University’s Forensic Science Program endeavors to prepare students for a life of personal and professional integrity grounded in a commitment to serving others. 

Forensic scientists strive to understand and use data to support their findings.  Forensic scientists need to be experts in the evidence-based methods that characterize science, while at the same time engaging other professionals in dialog to report their findings in an understandable, concise manner.  The primary goal of the Forensic Science Program is to provide our graduates with a solid background in the basic sciences while presenting a pragmatic view of the relationship of the Forensic Sciences to the procedures and outcomes of the legal and justice systems. The Forensic Science Program curriculum promotes a broad and in-depth background in Chemistry, Biology, Math and Physics, with advanced electives in Math and Science, as well as, substantial exposure to established legal and investigative theories, rules and procedures. Students in the Forensic Science Program must be able to apply their knowledge of the basic physical and chemical sciences to the investigation and analysis of materials found and employed every day in our human environment. The Forensic Science Program strives to expose students to the most advanced techniques of analysis employed in the field. Our students are expected to not only effectively analyze and evaluate information regarding evidentiary material but to make critical judgments of association and differentiation just as a professional forensic analyst might. Students in the Forensic Science Program are provided the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of field experiences, through internships and/or research via the Forensic Science Program. The Forensic Science Program provides a foundation for students to pursue professional careers or advanced studies in Biology, Chemistry, and Forensic Science.

Graduates will gain skill sets that will help them to positively impact their surroundings through sound reasoning.  The curricular structure is designed to provide the students a diverse background in biological, chemical, and criminal justice practices and will help them to become effective scientists ready to delve into the many different aspects associated with the forensic science. 

 Forensic Science Educational Outcomes

 Grounded in the Catholic, Franciscan tradition, Alvernia University strives to provide values-centered undergraduate and graduate education in both professional programs and the liberal arts.  More specifically, the Alvernia University’s Forensic Science Program strives to:

 Prepare graduates with a competitive degree that includes interdisciplinary training to allow them to widen their job search and appeal to a wide range of employers. As scientifically prepared professionals, graduates will be prepared to address scientific concerns relating to forensic science using sound moral and ethical judgments. Graduates will commit to continually improve themselves to better service the profession.    

 To accomplish the mission and objectives, graduates of the Alvernia University’s Forensic Science program will:

  • Gain an understanding of how physical, chemical, and biological methods can be used in forensic science;
  • Learn how science is used in the law system;
  • Use practical techniques which can be applied in forensic science;
  • Analyze scientific data to develop proper conclusions using ethical practices;
  • Write effective and concise scientific reports;
  • Present and explain scientific data to professional and community groups.
WHY AU

Why should you study forensic science at Alvernia University?
Because at Alvernia you get all the benefits of an outstanding university education in a manageable setting with personal attention and unique opportunities that can benefit you as you move toward your career.

Small Class Size
Alvernia has an average 17:1 student-faculty ratio, with fewer than 20 students in most classes. This type of setting facilitates valuable, professional relationships among faculty members and students and assures that you get individual attention to help you excel.

Faculty Who Care
Alvernia’s faculty members aren’t just teachers. They’re experts in their fields who are committed to passing along their knowledge and expertise to their students. In small class settings faculty members become mentors and advisors, intent on helping you learn, grow and succeed.

Research Opportunities
Alvernia offers opportunities for forensic science students to work with faculty mentors on research projects relating to their areas of concentration. These collaborations prepare students for professions and/or graduate school. Majors also can choose to complete a three-course research sequence as part of their course requirements.

Honors Program
Alvernia’s Honors Program for students who are academically gifted and highly motivated is designed to allow students to work at their own pace and to recognize and encourage academic excellence. Honors students interact with one another to exchange ideas and information across a wide range of disciplines and interests.

The Honors Program offers co-curricular activities, service opportunities and intellectual and social support to encourage students to exceed their own expectations.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Honors Programs at www.alvernia.edu/academics/honors.

Get Real
Classroom learning is valuable and necessary, but out-of-the-classroom, experiential learning provides biology students with hands-on, real world learning opportunities that enrich your educational experience and are highly valued by employers.

Forensic Science majors have the opportunity to participate in an internship in a setting that relates to their area of interest. An internship sponsor will supervise your work

Learn more about Alvernia’s Get Real program at www.alvernia.edu/getreal.

Study Abroad
Living and studying outside of the United States can change you in ways you can’t begin to envision. Students who study abroad typically gain immeasurable confidence and experiences they could not have imagined.

Many forensic science majors have benefitted from participation in a Study Abroad program. Programs are available in countries including New Zealand, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Morocco, Palestine, China and Mexico.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Study Abroad program at www.alvernia.edu/studyabroad.

YOUR CAREER

As our criminal justice system becomes more sophisticated and complex, the need for well trained, highly qualified scientists who can follow established protocols is increasingly recognized. Forensic science is an integral part of the criminal and justice systems in many parts of the world, and demand for professionals with strong knowledge and skills is expected to increase.

You might be drawn to working in a crime lab. Or, as some Alvernia graduates have successfully done, you may want to pursue a career within a federal agency such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Our graduates also have gone on to work in private industry, employed in analytical, environmental or toxicology labs. Others have pursued graduate degrees at prestigious schools including:

  • Villanova University
  • Penn State University
  • Stevenson University
  • Towson University
  • Arcadia University

For the last five years of known forensic science student data, 74% of the forensic science student graduates have jobs in forensic science, pure science, and health science fields or are attending graduate school. Of these seventy-four percent:

  • 30% are employed in the forensic science field
  • 26% are employed in a pure science field
  • 9% are employed in the health science field
  • 9% are attending graduate school
YOUR CURRICULUM

All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. The forensic science major requires a total of 86 to 92 credits in the major. Students who minor in forensic science must earn 19 to 20 credits in the major.

Forensic Science Major Requirements
CHE 104 General Chemistry I
CHE 105 General Chemistry II
CHE 107 Laboratory Safety
CHE 110 General Chemistry I Lab
CHE 111 General Chemistry II Lab
CHE 201 Organic Chemistry I
CHE 202 Organic Chemistry II
CHE 210 Organic Chemistry I Lab
CHE 211 Organic Chemistry II Lab
CHE 212 Analytical Chemistry w/Lab
CHE 221 Instrumental Analysis
CHE 230 The Forensics Profession
CHE 301 Physical Chemistry I
CHE 310 Physical Chemistry I Lab
CHE 315 Forensic Toxicology
CHE 405 Forensic Chemistry w/Lab
BIO 103 Principles of Biology
BIO 115 Human Form and Function
BIO 116 Human Form and Function Lab
BIO 303 Genetics
BIO 304 Cell Biology
BIO 309 Molecular Genetics Lab
BIO 311 Cell Biology Lab
BIO 315 Forensic Medicine
BIO 430 Forensic Biology
SCI 402 Seminar
Choose One:
SCI 480 Internship – OR –
SCI 406 Research and SCI 407 Research II

Related Math/Science Requirements (16-19 credits)
MAT 131 Precalculus (recommended)
MAT 209 Probability and Statistics
MAT 230 Calculus I
PHY 200 Physics I
PHY 201 Physics II
PSY 101 Introductory Psychology
PHI 200 Introductino to Ethics
PHI 210 Professional Ethics OR PHI 220 Ethics and Law

Forensic Science Minor (19-20 credits)
CHE 104 General Chemistry I
CHE 110 General Chemistry I Lab
CHE 230 The Forensics Profession
CHE 405 Forensic Chemistry w/Lab
BIO 103 Principles of Biology

Choose one from the following:
CHE 212 Analytical Chemistry
CHE 221 Instrumental Analysis
CHE 315 Forensic Toxicology
BIO 303/309 Genetics with Lab
BIO 304/311 Cell Biology with Lab
BIO 315 Forensic Medicine

You can learn more about all courses offered by Alvernia University by viewing the 2016-2017 Academic Course Catalogue at http://www.alvernia.edu/academics/catalogs/Catalog_2016-17/index.html.

Internships
Alvernia believes that real world experience is extremely important, as it can improve your confidence and introduce you to professionals in your intended field of employment. You can find out more about real world learning at www.alvernia.edu/academics/experiential_learning.

As a forensic science major, you’re required to either participate in an internship or complete a three-course student research sequence. The internship requires at least 252 hours of chemistry-related activities at an off-campus location under the supervision of an internship sponsor.

Internships, which normally are completed during the junior year, may be completed at any business, academic, government or non-profit agency that can provide a meaningful work or research opportunity. You need to have a 2.5 GPA to qualify for an internship.

Here’s a sampling of places at which forensic science majors at Alvernia have completed internships:

  • Berks County Coroner’s Office\
  • Drug Scan
  • Lower Allen Township Police Department
  • Western Correctional Facility
  • Queen Anne’s County, Office of the Sheriff
  • Philadelphia City, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
  • Lancaster Laboratories
  • Northampton County Prison
  • City of Bethlehem Department of Police
  • Boston Police Department Crime Laboratory
  • Schuylkill County Coroner’s Office


Research Opportunities
In addition to real-world leaning, forensic science majors also can benefit from research opportunities. Majors who do not participate in an internship must complete a two-course research sequence. The courses introduce you to the fundamentals of research, prepare you to participate in an ongoing research project under the direction of a research mentor, and teach you how to formulate conclusions and output their data in a presentable research format.
Research I (SCI 406) is the first of two courses in the student research sequence. Students will develop a research project with a faculty member of their choice. This course will focus on a literature review, developing a research plan, conducting experiments and interpreting results.

Research II (SCI 407) is the second of two courses in the student research sequence. Students will continue to work the research project with the faculty member of their choice from the previous semester; this will include completing any final experiments and wrapping-up their research project. Students will work to formulate conclusions and output their data in a presentable research format.

Faculty members who teach in Alvernia’s science department participate in a wide range of research, and enjoy assisting students with ongoing research projects. You can visit the science faculty pages to learn more about research that might match your interests.

The Honors Program
If you’re academically gifted and highly motivated, you may want to learn more about Alvernia’s Undergraduate Honors Program. Honors students have opportunities to take courses dealing with unusual topics and participate in a variety of activities. You can learn more about the Honors Program and how to apply at www.alvernia.edu/academics/honors/index.html.

The Eight-Semester Plan
You can do it! It’s not difficult to stay on track to graduate in four years if you pay close attention to what classes you need and make sure to take them in a timely manner. Advisors are available to assist in planning academic programs, course selection and registration, but it’s your job to make sure that you meet all academic requirements and comply with University policies.

Keep in mind that it’s very important to take the right classes during your first three semesters, as you’ll need certain courses as pre-requisites to other, required science and criminal justice courses.

Academic programs vary among students, so work with your academic advisor to assure that you complete applicable courses and meet the requirements necessary to assure that you graduate on time.

Study Opportunities beyond Campus
Your college years are the perfect time to broaden your horizons and participate in experiences that will change your life. Alvernia offers some great opportunities for students who want to spend some time studying beyond its campus.

The Washington Center
The University’s O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service manages a relationship with The Washington Center, an organization that offers residential academic programs and internships in the nation’s capital. Normally, juniors and seniors participate in the Washington Center experience. A grade point average of at least 2.5 is required.

If you participate in The Washington Center program, you might be placed in an internship in a health care setting, government agency or non-profit organization. You also would select a seminar dealing with a topic such as the legal system, public policy or communications. You can learn more about the Washington Center and opportunities there at www.alvernia.edu/about/ethics-and-leadership/washington.html.

Study Abroad Programs
Alvernia’s Study Abroad Office works closely with students who want to spend one or more semesters in a different country. Alvernia students have studied and traveled in Italy, Spain, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, England, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Morocco, Palestine and China.

You pay the regular Alvernia tuition while studying abroad, and continue to receive financial aid, if applicable. Credits earned count toward your Alvernia undergraduate degree.

If you’re interested in studying in another country you should start planning early, as you’ll need to start the application process about a year in advance. Members of the Study Abroad Office and the Office of Financial Planning, as well as your faculty advisor, will help you determine if studying abroad makes sense for you and how to plan for the experience.

You can get more information about these programs from the Study Abroad Office at www.alvernia.edu/studyabroad or by contacting studyabroad@alvernia.edu.


Year-by-Year Major Map

FRESHMAN YEAR

Think Globally

  • Explore opportunities for study abroad, alternative break trips, pilgrimage to Assisi, the Washington Center and service trips
  • Start at the Study Abroad Office or studyabroad@alvernia.edu

Take the Right Classes

  • Review general education, University and major requirements
  • Work on educational planning in First Year Seminar
  • Be aware of which semester required courses are offered, and which courses are pre-requisites for classes you’ll need to take later
  • Focus on getting good grades

Get Good Advice

  • Get to know Science Department faculty and your advisor
  • Visit the Educational Planning Center on the first floor of Bernardine Hall

Real Life Learning

  • Explore opportunities for upcoming internships
  • Utilize skills acquired in First Year Experience

Make the Right Connections

  • Identify peers that support your academic goals
  • Get involved with the Science Association, the Criminal Justice Association and/or other student clubs, along with community organizations

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Develop a working resume
  • Assess your strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • Begin the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances


SOPHOMORE YEAR

Think Globally

  • Review opportunities for extended learning and, if interested, start planning with the Study Abroad Office

Take the Right Classes

  • Focus on getting good grades
  • Work with your advisor to make sure you’re taking the classes you need in the semester they’re offered

Get Good Advice

  • Talk to science faculty and your advisor about your area(s) of interest within the field of forensic science
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center
  • Work with your advisor on selecting an internship (if applicable) for your junior year

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program
  • Shadow in jobs that relate to your specific interests
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests
  • Get familiar with the Educational Planning Center’s Internship data base

Make the Right Connections

  • Volunteer for community service
  • Stay involved in clubs and organizations
  • Observe the roles of those in leadership positions
  • Form study groups

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Update your working resume
  • Assess your strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • Complete the process of obtaining all required background checks and clearances


JUNIOR YEAR

Think Globally

  • Participate in Study Abroad program, if feasible
  • Participate in service trips or “May”mester

Take the Right Classes

  • Finalize your plans for your internship, if applicable
  • Begin your individual research project, if applicable
  • Focus on getting good grades and improving GPA
  • Work with advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time

Get Good Advice

  • Talk to faculty members about career opportunities
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center
  • Get familiar with Vault.com, a career services library available on Educational Planning Center’s website

Real Life Learning

  • Look into the Alternative Break program
  • Shadow in jobs that relate to your specific interests
  • Look for part-time or summer jobs that relate to your interests
  • Get familiar with the Educational Planning Center’s Internship data base

Make the Right Connections

  • Assume leadership roles on campus
  • Connect with alumni in your field
  • Attend Science Department events

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Get feedback on your working resume from the Educational Planning Center
  • Get resume ready for practicum applications and job fair
  • Work on getting recommendations
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews
  • Look for coaching opportunities


SENIOR YEAR

Think Globally

  • Look for service opportunities

Take the Right Classes

  • Complete individual research project, if applicable
  • Complete internship, if applicable

Get Good Advice

  • Work closely with advisor to make sure you’re on track to graduate on time
  • Stay in touch with the Educational Planning Center.
  • Talk to faculty members about career opportunities
  • Ask for advice from professionals in your area of interest

Real Life Learning

  • Look for opportunities to gain additional experience in your areas of interest within the field of Microbiology

Make the Right Connections

  • Continue in leadership roles on campus
  • Connect with alumni in my field – attend Alumni Mixer
  • Meet professionals in the community who work in your area of interest

Get Ready to Graduate

  • Fine tune your resume
  • Search for jobs through Vault.com
  • Finalize recommendations
  • Attend Career Planning opportunities such as job fairs and practice interviews
  • Attend the Alvernia Job Fair
YOUR SERVICES

Alvernia is committed to serving the needs of its students. Whether you have questions or problems related to academics, life on campus, student activities, social activities or any other issue, there is someone available to help you. You can learn more about all student services at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/student-services.

Educational Planning Center
The Educational Planning Center offers advice and support to help you with any problems or issues related to your Alvernia education. It also assists with career exploration and preparation. The office is open every day and can be contacted at 610-796-8263.

Career Services
Staff members at the Career Development office will help you with any questions you have about exploring or planning careers. They also will guide you about how to look for and apply to jobs as you get closer to graduation. The office also has a career resources library. You can learn more about career services at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/career-services, or by emailing career.services@alvernia.edu.

Financial Aid
The Financial Aid office is the place to contact with any questions you have about the cost of an Alvernia education and options for paying for it. Nearly all undergraduates at Alvernia get some type of financial aid, and everyone is encouraged to apply for it. You can learn more at www.alvernia.edu/financialaid/index.html or by emailing financialaid@alvernia.edu.

Admissions Office
If you’re interested in applying to the forensic science program at Alvernia, contact the Admissions Office at 1-800-ALVERNIA or at admissions@alvernia.edu. An admissions counselor who specializes in helping science students and can answer any questions you might have.

Faculty Members
Alvernia’s forensic science program is staffed by dedicated, highly qualified professionals who are committed to sharing their expertise and knowledge with students. Faculty members often work one-on-one with students to enhance the student’s learning experience.

Many faculty members in Alvernia’s science department are actively engaged in research, have written articles that have appeared in prestigious publications and have presented nationally and internationally at conferences.

To learn more about Alvernia’s Science and Mathematics faculty, go to www.alvernia.edu/academics/arts-and-sciences/science-math/faculty/index.html.

GET INVOLVED

Your college experience is so much more than classes. Students who get involved and engaged in extra-curricular activities benefit both academically and socially, and open themselves to integral life lessons from beyond the classroom.

You’ll be encouraged to participate in a range of activities, including some rewarding and inspiring service projects. Some organizations and activities you might enjoy include:

  • Beta Kappa Chi is the Science Honor Society, with more than 66,000 members in 67 chapters at colleges and university across the United States. You’ll meet like-minded people who are interested in advancing scientific education and high scholarship in pure and applied science. Acceptance into an honor society can be very advantageous, so it’s something you might consider. You can learn more about Beta Kappa Chi at www.betakappachi.org. Or, contact Kevin Burns at kevin.burns@alvernia.edu for more information about joining.
  • The Criminal Justice Association of Alvernia University. With its focus on all aspects of the criminal justice system, the club meets regularly, brings in speakers and participates in community activities, service projects and trips. It is open to anyone interested in criminal justice.
  • The Science Association will enable you to experience the advantages of interacting with others who share your scientific interests. It provides opportunities to prepare and present technical materials before science-oriented audiences, and is intended to foster a professional spirit among members. You can learn more about this club www.alvernia.edu/student-life/activities/clubs/science-assoc.html.
  • Alvernia’s Holleran Center for Community Engagement serves as a bridge between the University and the community. It partners with a variety of organizations to provide opportunities for service for students. Activities have included helping in an after-school program for city children, driving cancer patients to and from treatment and counting brown bats at Blue Marsh Lake. Learn more at http://alvernia.edu/about/holleran-center.
  • While these are organizations that may be of particular interest to forensic science majors, there are many other ways to become involved, both on and off campus. You can learn more about Alvernia’s Student Government Association, becoming a Student Ambassador, student trips and other activities at www.alvernia.edu/student-life/activities.
AFTER AU

Why should you study forensic science at Alvernia University?

Because at Alvernia you get all the benefits of an outstanding university education in a setting that includes personal attention and unique opportunities that can benefit you as you move toward your career.

Small Class Size
Our Alvernia graduates have found successful careers in the Forensic Science field. You might be drawn to working in a crime lab. Or, as some Alvernia graduates have successfully done, you may want to pursue a career within a federal agency such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Our graduates also have gone on to work in private industry, employed in analytical, environmental or toxicology labs. Others have pursued graduate degrees at prestigious schools including:

  • Villanova University
  • University of Southern California
  • Penn State University
  • Lehigh University
  • Towson University
  • Arcadia University





forensic science

1.888.alvernia
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