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Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
from an academic standpoint but also meets the practical requirements of operating laboratories.”31
Over the past few years, major strides have been taken in bringing a measure of standardization to forensic science education programs and boosting their quality. The NIJ report, Forensic Science: Review of Statusand Needs, called in part for an accreditation system for such programs. Following this report, in 2001, NIJ established a Technical Working Group for Education and Training in Forensic Science (TWGED)—consisting of 47 experts, including educators, judges, attorneys, crime laboratory directors, and subject matter scientists—that developed recommended curricular guidelines for undergraduate and graduate forensic science programs. These were provided in a 2004 report.32 In 2002, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences created an ad hoc committee, the Forensic Education Program Accreditation Committee, to look into issues regarding an accreditation system. The committee was made a standing committee in 2004, at which time the name was changed to the Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). FEPAC is made up of five forensic science educators, five crime laboratory directors, and one public member. FEPAC created a process for accrediting undergraduate and graduate forensic science programs using the TWGED standards.33
FEPAC standards are divided into three parts (see Table 8-2). There are general standards that all programs must meet and then additional standards for undergraduate and graduate programs.
An important note regarding the accreditation process is that the program must award at least a bachelor’s degree in either forensic science or a natural science with a concentration in forensic science at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Programs that award certificates or associate degrees are ineligible for accreditation in this system. Additionally, at this time only U.S. programs are eligible for accreditation.
To summarize the general standards, such programs shall:
have an explicit process for evaluating and monitoring its overall efforts to fulfill its mission, goals, and objectives; for assessing its effectiveness in serving its various constituencies; for modifying
Programs accredited by FEPAC are required to complete periodic self-assessments, which include job placement statistics and employer satisfaction surveys.
Technical Working Group for Education and Training in Forensic Science. 2004. Education and Training in Forensic Science: A Guide for Forensic Science Laboratories, EducationalInstitutions and Students, Special Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. NCJ 203099.