College of Life Sciences
Master of Science
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Frequently Asked Questions
What makes Jefferson's program unique?
We believe specialization is paramount to modern forensic practice. TJU has worked closely with industry experts and partners at The Center for Forensic Science Research & Education (CFSRE) to develop a specialized curriculum in forensic biology, equipping graduates with an advanced skillset that exceeds the qualifications for employment within the field.
The focus of the program is hands-on, experiential learning that enables students to gain valuable experience through core courses, clerkship and research while working with state-of-the-art instrumentation. Additionally, students acquire professional development skills in leadership, business and management through elective courses that create attractive candidates for job placement. Through its partnership with the CFSRE, a non-profit organization, students can complete coursework in a fully functioning laboratory environment, utilizing instrumentation and techniques employed by many forensic DNA laboratories across the country. This allows students to engage first-hand in crime-lab operations, a truly unparalleled educational experience.
Is this program accredited?
Accreditation ensures curricular content meets the minimum requirements for employment in the field. As there are no organizations that currently accredit specialized programs in forensic biology, TJU’s program relies on input from an engaged Advisory Board comprised of senior scientific staff and laboratory directors from forensic laboratory systems across the country to provide insight into what they are looking for in new hires. This ensures that TJU graduates not only meet the minimum requires for employment but far exceed them, helping them stand out in application pools.
Why is a Master’s degree necessary for the field of Forensic Biology?
According to the FBI Quality Assurance Standards, a Master’s degree is a necessary qualification for advancement to a Technical Leader position in Forensic Biology. Furthermore, the specialized education received during graduate study will introduce and refine advanced forensic biology laboratory techniques not obtained during undergraduate study.
How many students are in each class?
Due to the hands-on nature of the program and the complexity of the laboratory coursework, classes are kept small with a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1 allowing for a more personalized learning experience.
Can I work while completing the Forensic Biology program?
This is often up to the student and specific scheduling. The Forensic Biology program is a full-time, two-year program, including one summer semester. While some coursework is offered in the evenings, other courses, research and clerkship hours are often only offered during the daytime. If you are interested in working full-time, please discuss these scenarios with the program directors.
Will I need access to a car while I am a student?
No, courses are taught at The Center for Forensic Science Research & Education, an off-campus forensic laboratory in Willow Grove, PA, as well as at Jefferson’s Center City campus location. Both locations are conveniently accessible via the SEPTA Regional Rail Train Line and buses.
Are there opportunities for inter-professional education?
Yes, through collaborative efforts with The Center for Forensic Science Research & Education (CFSRE), students can attend continuing education courses that supplement their required coursework. Students will also have opportunities to attend national and international conferences to present their research findings. Conferences provide an arena for professional development and network building. In addition, alumni will receive discounted registration for attendance at future professional development courses offered by the CFSRE, helping them prepare for and maintain certification in the field.
Is the research project curricular component thesis-based?
Yes, students will be paired with a senior staff member and conduct a thesis-based project. At the completion of the research, students may have the opportunity to present their findings at a scientific conference and publish in scientific literature.
Is there a guaranteed internship?
Yes, the clerkship (internship) course is guaranteed and is conducted at The Center for Forensic Science Research & Education. Students will undergo training used for new hires in operational forensic laboratories, including competency testing, DNA interpretation, report writing, and courtroom testimony. Students may also participate in external internship opportunities given approval by the program director.