1. American University
American University offers an introductory 100-level course on Forensic Chemistry, giving you a general introduction into the field. Unlike a lot of courses that use exams to gauge your learning, this one is focused squarely on homework assignments, an 800-word “reflective essay” that is due at the end of the term, and a five-page minimum case study that’s half your grade. So if you’re considering looking at forensic science or forensic classes, but have a bit of exam worries, then this might be the forensic class to consider.
This class starts with the basics, looking at general crime scene investigation, followed by how physical evidence collected is processed in the lab. The course then looks at the equipment used: microscopy and forensic hair and fiber analysis; questioned documents; firearms; explosives and bombing investigations; and weapons of mass destruction.
2. George Washington University
Master of Forensic Science in Crime Scene Investigation
George Washington University offers a masters degree focusing on Crime Scene Investigation (CSI), designed for federal agents, investigators, detectives and crime scene technicians. This program is designed for those interested in working in the field, collecting evidence on-site, rather than back in the lab. This program has been successful with attorneys wishing to specialize in forensic evidence, as well as with forensic pathologists.
The program requires a bachelors degree with at least one year or chemistry and one of biology to qualify.
Master of Forensic Science in Forensic Chemistry
George Washington University offers a concentration in the field of forensic drug chemistry or forensic trace evidence analysis for those wishing to work in a crime lab. The trace-evidence courses cover general trace evidence (hair and fiber analysis), forensic chemistry (glass and soil), and advanced forensic chemistry (paper, paint, flammable liquids and explosive residues).
This program requires completion of a research project, and the presentation of the results at a forensic science meeting (such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences or the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists).
Pre-requisites for the program include a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or permission of the department. Unlike some of the other programs, preference for this program is given to those who have laboratory experience with lab instrumentation, either through work, internship or undergraduate research.
Master of Forensic Science in Forensic Molecular Biology
The Molecular Biology concentration in GWU’s masters program in forensic science is designed for those interested in DNA profiling and DNA indexing. In particular, the program will take you through analysis of biological specimens at crime scenes; the theory and practice behind DNA extraction, quantitation, amplification, and interpretation of the data.
Laboratory classes use the latest equipment, which will be used during mock cases throughout the program. You’ll also learn about the proper ways to maintain a chain of custody for the forensic evidence, determine the nature of body fluids, as well as calculate the statistical basis of your findings.
To qualify for this program, you’ll need a bachelor’s in some kind of biology, whether it’s genetics, biochem, or molecular biology. Likewise, GWU also requires that you meet the FBI standards for a forensic DNA technical leader, with 12 credits of coursework either as an undergraduate or graduate student in genetics, biochem, molecular biology, and statistics.
Master of Forensic Science in Forensic Toxicology
George Washington University’s M.S in Forensic Toxicology is something to consider if you want to work in a medical examiner’s office or a private testing lab, where work is done to determine the presence of drugs and other chemical in the bloodstream. To qualify for the program, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with courses in instrumental analysis (or permission of GWU). Similarly, as with all of GWU’s forensics masters programs, you’ll want to complete an internship while you’re there.
The courses that are required include the physical aspects of forensic science, criminal law, moot court, toxicology (introductory, analytical and forensic), as well as medicinal chemistry.
Master of Forensic Science in High Technology Crime Investigation
George Washington University offers a program in computer forensics and digital evidence examination for those with an interest in high-technology crime. So if you have an interest in working in a computer forensics lab, then consider this program. Among all of George Washington’s masters programs in forensics, this one is perhaps the most diverse in terms of the types of students admitted, and their interests for when they finish. Some come from the private sector, involved in high technology crimes for private corporations; others come from or have an interest in working for federal agencies that conduct these investigations.
George Washington’s program has one great thing going for it, and that’s its partnership with the National Security Agency. Dubbed a Center for Academic Excellence, GWU offers full scholarships for U.S. students to learn computer security and forensic information technology. This federal funding is really something to consider, as it can dramatically cut your costs associated with enrolling in the program.
In order to go through the program, there are a series of prerequisites that you’ll need. If you don’t have them before coming in, you’ll need to take them during your first two semesters. They are Introduction to Criminal Investigations; Criminal Law; Organizational Systems for Security Professionals; Computer Systems for Security Professionals; and Network Systems for Security Professionals. Once you get these under your belt, you’ll move onto the required courses, which cover everything from computer-related law, security management, risk analysis, protection of information systems and intrusion detection. There are 27 credits of required courses, in addition to 9 credits of electives. The elective courses can be selected from a vast array, including industrial and corporate espionage, forensic psychology, video forensic analysis, steganography and electronic watermarking and forensic accounting.
Master of Forensic Science in Security Management
George Washington University offers a Masters in Security Management, probably the least-scientific and broadest of programs, encompassing all manner of security considerations in the private and public sectors. Depending on how much security experience you bring to the table, GWU will require completion of some or all of these prerequisites: criminal investigations, criminal law, network systems, computer systems and organizations systems for security professionals. Once you knock these down (or pass on them because of your background), you can expect 27 credits on security case law, risk analysis, protection of information systems, ethics, security management and issues in organizational behavior. The elective courses can be drawn from a variety of courses throughout George Washington University’s extensive forensics program.
3. Georgetown University
Certificate in Forensic Accounting
Georgetown is renowned for the quality of its classes, and it’s School of Continuing Studies is no exception. For 600 bucks a pop, you can enroll in their Certificate in Forensic Accounting program, and over the course of several Saturdays and evenings, knock down different courses covering all manner of forensic accounting. You’ll get continuing education credits for each class you take, and if you complete them all (63 hours of classroom hours when it’s all said and done), you’ll get a Certificate in the field.
There are seven courses in all you must finish in order to get the Certificate.
The first, Principles of Forensic Accounting Examinations, teaches you how to handle a forensic examination as a consultant; how to testify on the stand as an expert witness in a forensic accounting trial; and understand your role as a forensic examiner in larger cases. This class meets on a single Saturday (all day), and is $600.
Advanced Forensic Techniques is another one of the seven courses you’ll have to complete. It looks at specific computer assisted forensic techniques, including ACL and other software. You’ll also learn about statistical thresholds for the detection of fraud, how to control data quality and conduct a computer recovery. This course is $600, and meets on a single Saturday.
The course on Internal Controls focuses on defenses against fraud, specifically on the internal mechanism in place to prevent employer and employee fraud before it can start. The Sarbanes Oxley Act is discussed. You’ll also learn the COSO framework, and general internal control theory. This class meets in the evenings, on Tuesday and Thursday, and is $600.
Fraud Examination: Detecting Misappropriation covers how to report fraudulent financial activity, corruption, and misappropriation of assets. This class will teach you about all the different scams and schemes that are out there. Various case studies are used. The class is $600, and meets in the evening.
Fraudulent Financial Reporting course is designed to show you how various fraudsters will embellish their financial reports, and the method of detecting the fraud. The class meets in the evening, and is $600.
Government Fraud is a course designed to look at forensic accounting and fraud in the government, whether you’re investigating abuse of power, corruption of public officials, abuse of power and fraudulent financial reporting. This class is $600, and meets in the evenings.
Criminal Investigative Techniques looks at financial fraud and forensic accounting techniques used by federal agents, offices of the inspector general and other law enforcement officers in detecting fraud. In particular, you’ll see how evidence is collected, how suspects are interviewed in forensic accounting investigations, how public records are scrutinized and the data extracted, and the discovery processes in court proceedings. This is a $600 course offered in the evenings.
The courses that Georgetown offers include Principles of Forensic Accounting Examination, Advanced Forensic Techniques, Internal Controls, Fraud Examination, Fraudulent Financial reporting, Fraud in the Government and Criminal Investigation Techniques.
George Washington University offers a 400-level course in Forensic Linguistics, looking particularly at the language of consensual searches, interrogations and confessions. You’ll also study so-called “language crimes,” that is, solicitation, conspiracy, bribery, plagiarism, threats and perjury. The history and status of forensic linguistic testimony is also addressed, and how best to inform judges, juries and attorneys on the language constructs behind various forms of testimony.
This course is designed for upperclass undergraduates and graduate students, with Introduction to Language stressed as a prerequisite.
4. Southeastern University
Introduction to Forensics
Southeastern University in Washington, DC, offers a 200-level undergraduate course in introduction to forensics, giving you a basic understanding of the forensic techniques used in solving crimes. This is a great course to consider if you want to pursue a career as a federal agent, forensic scientist or crime scene investigator, or go on toward masters training in forensic science. This class will teach you the methods used nowadays, including fingerprinting and DNA analysis, document examination. Various famous forensic cases are used from crime labs throughout the U.S., with a particular eye on how they have shaped forensic investigations.
Southeastern in D.C. has a 400-level undergrad course on forensic anthropology, looking at how human identification by police and law enforcement agencies can help solve crime. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, this class will teach you the basics you have to know in human anatomy, animal remains investigation, and DNA evidence. This course builds upon some of the topics discussed in earlier criminal justice courses at Southeastern.
5. Strayer University
Strayer has a Masters Program in Accounting, along with courses related to fraud detection in forensic accounting. A 500-level course in Forensic Accounting, ACC571, will give you the framework you need to approach a fraud case, looking at the various tools that are available, the places (public and private) that you can work once you finish, and the techniques used by forensic accountants. You’ll need to have finished the course in Auditing before enrolling, however.
6. Trinity University in DC
Criminal and Forensic Psychology
Trinity University in Washington, DC, offers a 300-level Psychology course on forensic psychology and criminal psychology. You’ll ned to have taken introductory psychology, as well as 3 additional psychology courses at the 200-level to enroll, so this is probably something you wouldn’t venture into unless you have a major interest in the field. But if you take the course, it ensures a solid understanding of forensic psychology as applied to the legal system today: behavioral profiling, appropriateness of criminal sentencing given the mental state, fitness to stand trial, recidivism among inmates, and the likelihood of a crime being committed by an released convict.
7. University of the District of Columbia
Introduction to Forensic Sciences
The University of the District of Columbia offers a 200-level undergrad course on the basics of crime scene investigation and forensic science. You’ll look at all manner of forensics, helping to dispel the myths about what television teaches and the reality of crime labs today. In particular, you’ll study general crime scene investigation, and the roles of the various people involved: the police investigator who is the first responder, the analysts who collect, label and preserve the evidence for later courtroom testimony, and the forensic lab analysts who conduct forensic investigations in the lab. This is a great survey course to take if you’re considering a career in forensic science, and want a taste of the huge number of options out there. It’s a 3-hour course offered through the Criminal Justice department.