Forensic accreditation offered at undergraduate and graduate levels
When forensic science comes to mind, some people envision television shows like “CSI” and “Dexter,” but for Towson students, there’s an opportunity to experience it firsthand.
The Jess and Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics, home to both the undergraduate and graduate programs accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission, provides several training opportunities for hands-on experience.
“Both Towson’s undergrad and graduate programs have FEPAC accreditation,” Mark Profili, director of the forensic science program, said. “We are one of only four schools that have both their undergrad and graduate programs accredited.”
Protocol for accreditation involves meeting several standards and requirements for faculty, assessments, University support, program director, and application acceptance process. A working relationship with a laboratory is also necessary.
Towson’s undergraduate curriculum provides training in one of three specific tracks- general forensics, forensic DNA and forensic trace evidence/toxicology track. Within these programs, training includes experience with pipe bombs, chemical make-up of ammonium bombs, and the use of McCormick spices for finger printing, a method developed by students in the program. Distinctive topics such as death analysis and advanced DNA technologies are also incorporated.
“Students are taught the background science necessary to understand the field wherever the technology takes it and students get hands on experience with state of the art equipment and protocols that are used in the field today,” Forensic Science Professor Cynthia Zeller said. “It is the perfect combination of basic and applied science.”
Students can pursue a master’s degree in forensic science, where the focus is primarily in the study of DNA.
“The master’s program is a Professional Science Master’s program, which means that we have to have partners in the professional workforce,” Profili said. “We have developed partnerships with the Baltimore City and Maryland State police departments, National Institute of Standards and Testing, the department of defense and several others.”
Professor Cynthia Zeller said each faculty member, whether full-time or an adjunct has real-life forensic experience that they are able to add to the instruction. Student research is an essential portion of the program.
“Students have presented their research findings at both regional and national meetings. These experiences outside the classroom allow students to interact with professionals and to form contacts that can be useful networking tools in the job search process,” Zeller said.
Profili said that graduates of the master’s program have an approximate 90 percent job placement rate. Students graduating from the program are well versed in the application of their knowledge to areas of business, industry and government.