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MFS in the field of Forensic Molecular Biology

Students in lab

The Master of Forensic Sciences in the field of Forensic Molecular Biology is a FEPAC accredited program prepares students to work in crime laboratories as DNA analysts and technical leaders across the country and abroad. Core courses focus on:

  • Training in chemical, physical, immunological, and microscopic methods
    Used to examine and identify body fluid stains at a crime scene and in the laboratory
  • Theoretical and practical aspects of advanced methods in forensic molecular biology
    DNA extraction, quantitation, amplification of STR markers and mitochondrial DNA, fragment analysis, DNA sequencing, data interpretation, mixture deconvolution, 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, forensic drug analysis, principles of forensic pathology, 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.

Students will benefit from unparalleled access to internship opportunities in federal, state and local government, and private forensic DNA laboratories in the D.C. area. Furthermore students are required to conduct an independent research project that will enhance critical thinking, improve their troubleshooting ability while providing them in depth knowledge of methods in forensic molecular biology. Students are encouraged to submit abstracts for oral and poster presentations at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the International Symposium on Human Identification, and the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists annual meetings. This will give them the opportunity to showcase their research and meet potential employers.

Prerequisite:  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 beginning the MFS-FMB program: biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology and/or molecular genetics, and 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 study consists of 37 credit hours of approved course work. All candidates are required to pass a written Master's Comprehensive Examination. All candidates are required to complete, successfully, an independent research project.

Academic Advisors

Dr. Daniele Podini

Dr. Moses Schanfield

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Bode Fellowship Program

The Bode Fellowship Program includes a stipend and allows the selected student to study at GW while gaining valuable experience working at Bode, one of the world's largest and most well-known private forensic DNA laboratories. Learn more.