Master of Forensic Science in Forensic Molecular Biology

The Master of Forensic Sciences in Forensic Molecular Biology is accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) and prepares students to work in crime laboratories as DNA analysts and as technical leaders. Students are encouraged to take advantage of internship opportunities in federal, state, and local government and private forensic DNA laboratories in the area. Most Forensic Molecular Biology graduates go on to work as DNA analysts in crime labs across the country and abroad.

The core courses focus on:

  • Training in chemical, physical, immunological, and microscopic methods: Used to examine and identify body fluid stains at a crime scene
  • Theoretical and practical aspects of advanced methods in forensic molecular biology: DNA extraction, quantitation, amplification of STR markers, and mitochondrial DNA, data interpretation, and population genetics
  • Forensic physical sciences: Fingerprints, firearm and tool mark examinations, document examinations, and examinations of trace evidence, such as glass, soil, paint, hairs, and fibers, crime scene investigations, operation and functioning of the forensic science laboratory
  • Principles of criminal law and procedure: Preparation and presentation of evidence, qualifications and preparation of expert witnesses, testifying as an expert witness, and methods of legal research
  • Laboratory classes: Students will participate in mock cases. They will receive evidence; maintain the chain of custody; analyze the evidence to identify and determine the nature of body fluids; extract, quantify, and type the DNA; interpret the data; calculate the statistical significance of a match; issue a report; and return the evidence.

Prerequisites: A bachelor's degree in the biological sciences from an accredited college or university. Students must meet the FBI standards for a forensic DNA technical leader, having had 12 credits of course work either as an undergraduate or graduate student in the following areas before coming to GW: genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology/molecular genetics, statistics and/or population genetics.  These courses must be taken as part of the undergraduate curriculum or before registering for graduate classes.

Required: The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. The program of studies consists of 36 credit hours of approved course work. All candidates are required to pass a written Master's Comprehensive Examination.


Required Courses (24 credits)

FORS 6201  Forensic Biology
FORS 6213  Elements of Forensic Science
FORS 6290  Criminal Law for Forensic Scientists
FORS 6223  Criminal Law III: Moot Court
FORS 6228  Population Genetics; cross-listed with BISC 6228
FORS 6241  Forensic DNA Profiling
FORS 6242  Forensic Molecular Biology
FORS 6292  Graduate Seminar

Recommended Electives

FORS 6202  Instrumental Analysis (for students interested in working in the state of California)
FORS 6206  Trace Evidence Analysis
FORS 6207  Photography in the Forensic Sciences
FORS 6295  Research (1-3 credits)

Remaining credits will be chosen in consultation with the departmental advisor.

Equipping Future Crime Solvers

Equipping Future Crime Solvers

The Forensic Molecular Biology Laboratory is 1100 square feet and includes an autoclave, PCR hood, gel-electrophoresis equipment, digital photography equipment, and water purification system in addition to PC and Macintosh computers.

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