Concerning the undergraduate curriculum, it should, at a minimum, ensure that each student (1) obtain a thorough grounding in the natural sciences; (2) build upon this background by taking a series of more advanced science classes; and (3) develop an appreciation of issues specific to forensic science through course work and laboratory-based instruction.
Forensic science undergraduates in the chemistry track should take, at a minimum, chemistry courses required for chemistry majors—general chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, instrumental analysis, and biochemistry. Forensic science students in the biology track should take those chemistry courses required for biology majors and biology courses for biology majors, including general biology, biochemistry, instrumental analysis, genetics, molecular biology, and population genetics. All forensic science students should, at the earliest point possible, take a hands-on crime scene investigation course that teaches the principles of evidence, including its collection, preservation, and value. Additionally, the forensic science courses in drug analysis, criminalistics, and forensic biology (including DNA analysis) should be at the highest level. All forensic science majors should take a capstone course.
For graduate programs, the curriculum should, at a minimum, ensure that each student (1) understand essential issues in the forensic science disciplines, including the reduction of error rates; (2) develop an understanding of the areas of knowledge that are essential to forensic science; (3) acquire skills and experience in the application of basic forensic science concepts and of specialty knowledge to problem solving; (4) be oriented in professional values, concepts and ethics; and (5) demonstrate integration of knowledge and skills through a capstone experience, such as a formal, objective tool (e.g., the American Board of Criminalistics Forensic Science Aptitude Test) or another comprehensive examination or a thesis and/or research project.
Depending on the specialty track of interest, graduate students should take advanced courses in specialty areas of interest—drug analysis, toxicology, criminalistics, forensic biology, and forensic DNA analysis (including mtDNA sequencing, low copy number techniques, and SNPs). The criminalistics and forensic biology courses should be advanced beyond those seen at the undergraduate level. If the student has not had those lower-level courses, they should be taken first. Graduate students also should take a hands-on crime scene investigation class that covers investigation techniques and evidence association, including its examination, collection, and preservation. In addition, in-service work with a collaborating institution can provide significant practical training.
Finally, the standards lay out a suggested curriculum for forensic science education programs. At the undergraduate level, coursework includes several classes in the natural sciences (with a focus on chemistry); special-