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.

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:

  • 32% are employed in the forensic science field
  • 32% are employed in a pure science field
  • 4% are employed in the health science field
  • 8% 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 2017-2018 Academic Course Catalogue.

Student Perspective

"Forensic science goes beyond combining chemistry and biology; it requires critical thinking and a desire to challenge what the eyes see.  At Alvernia, my professors taught me the true value of research and how the results can change how we see the world around us.  In the 17 years I've been in school, I've never learned a more valuable lesson."

- Kelsey Schubert '16, PSU Graduate Student

Contact Information

Rosemarie C. Chinni, Ph.D.

Science & Mathematics Department Chair and Director of the Forensic Science Program

Bernardine Hall 234

610.568.1492

rosemarie.chinni@alvernia.edu

Forensic Science