Forensic Investigation


About forensic investigation

Physical evidence – from fingerprints and body fluids to firearms marks and computer data – is often the key to solving crime. In this innovative forensic investigation program, you’ll learn to apply your knowledge of forensic science as a crime scene investigator.

Advanced, hands-on training is integral to Cal U’s forensic investigations degree, a concentration within the B.S. in Criminal Justice program. You’ll learn forensic science methodologies and investigative techniques, including how to:

  • Categorize, identify, collect and process physical evidence.
  • Analyze evidence such as fingerprints, blood spatter, DNA and more.
  • Examine and analyze firearms marks and computer/digital evidence.
  • Maintain the proper “chain of custody” in forensic investigations.
  • Use digital technology and other tools to document and investigate crime scenes.

Position yourself for career sucess.

Forensic investigation programs are interdisciplinary by nature. This degree program provides a solid foundation in the field of criminal justice, plus required courses in forensic science, criminal investigation, law and evidence, and forensic law.

Related electives fuel your passion for solving crimes, with courses such as High-Tech Crime Investigation, Crime Scene Imaging, Cyber Security and Computer Forensics.

You’ll graduate career-ready and prepared for certification as a crime scene investigator, analyst, reconstructionist or photographer through the International Association for Identification, “the oldest and largest forensic association in the world.”

Program Highlights: Forensic Investigation

SOLID FOUNDATIONS: The concentration in forensic investigation builds on Cal U’s exceptional B.S. in Criminal Justice program. The core curriculum provides a comprehensive, methodical review of major justice functions and operations based on the six content areas identified by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences: administration of justice, corrections, criminological theory, law adjudication, law enforcement, and research and analytic methods.

SPECIALIZED LEARNING: The forensic investigation program provides specialized education in forensic science and builds hands-on skills in identifying, collecting and analyzing physical evidence. Among other activities, students conduct mock crime scene investigations; use digital SLR cameras and other devices to document and reconstruct crime scenes; learn various ways to collect DNA evidence and process fingerprints; and conduct blood spatter analysis.

EXPERT EDUCATORS: Faculty who teach Cal U’s forensic investigations courses have real-world investigative experience and contribute professional services to support law enforcement. For example, investigators have traveled from overseas to study various aspects of forensic science with Dr. Raymond Hsieh, who also has consulted on the high-profile case of the so-called Smiley Face Killer

Median pay for forensic science technicians, such as crime scene investigators, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Most Affordable 
Ranked the Most Affordable Bachelor’s Program in Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Science for 2020-21 in Pennsylvania by
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Degree Benefits

Guided by experienced faculty, students gain foundational knowledge and master hands-on skills for conducting forensic investigations. For example, they learn to process fingerprints using super-glue fuming, the ninhydrin test and digital enhancement; photograph crime scenes with digital SLR cameras; enhance and analyze latent prints, tire impressions, documents and security camera footage; and collect, preserve, analyze and present digital evidence. Credit is awarded when students complete the requirements for a faculty-led internship at a criminal justice agency.

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Graduate Outcomes

Students who complete the program coursework and related activities will be knowledgeable about the field of criminal justice and understand the important role of forensic science in crime scene investigations. They will be able to identify, collect and process relevant evidence and understand its role in the criminal justice process. A graduate with a forensic investigation degree may find employment as a crime scene investigator, fingerprint technician, crime scene analyst, reconstruction specialist, or crime scene photographer.


Curriculum and Related Courses


Course Credits
Freshman Year  
First Semester 16
ENG 101  English Composition I 3
JUS 101  Introduction to Criminal Justice Studies 3
JUS 103  Correctional Systems 3
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar 1
Related Elective 3
General Education Course 3
Second Semester 15
JUS 102  Introduction to Law Enforcement 3
JUS 105  Introduction to Forensic Science 3
Related Elective 3
Free Elective 3
General Education Course 3
Sophomore Year  
Third Semester 15
JUS 331  Juvenile Justice 3
JUS 361  Court Systems 3
Free Elective
General Education Course
Laboratory Course 3
Fourth Semester 15
JUS 375  Criminal Law 3
JUS 376  Criminal Procedure 3
Free Electives 6
General Education Course 3
Junior Year  
Fifth Semester 15
JUS 466  Leadership and Ethics in Criminal Justice 3
JUS 485  Forensic Law
Free Elective
General Education Courses 6
Sixth Semester 15
JUS 495  Research Methods in Criminal Justice
Related Elective
Free Elective
General Education Courses 
Senior Year  
Seventh Semester 15
JUS 496  Criminological Theory 3
Related Elective 3
Free Elective 3
General Education Courses 6
Eighth Semester 15
JUS 499  Seminar in Criminal Justice Studies 3
Related Elective 3
Free Elective 3
General Education Courses 6
Total 120

Concentration Courses (12 credits)

  • JUS 105  Introduction to Forensic Science
  • JUS 201  Criminal Investigation
  • JUS 397  Law and Evidence
  • JUS 485  Forensic Law

Related Electives (9 credits)

  • JUS 220  High Tech Crime Investigation
  • JUS 380  Crime Scene Imaging
  • JUS 399  Selected Topics
  • JUS 405  Cyber Security
  • JUS 425  Advanced Criminal Investigation and Law
  • JUS 487  Computer Forensics
  • JUS 488  Cyber Crime Investigation
  • JUS 498  Internship (3-9 credits)

Program Notes:

  • 42 credits (or 14 courses) of upper-division (300- to 400-level) courses are required.
  • Any related electives not listed must be approved by a Criminal Justice Adviser located in AZO 117 or 118.

Related Courses

What's the difference?

Students often ask, “What is the difference between forensic investigation and criminal investigation?” The two fields may overlap, but forensic investigators generally focus on physical evidence and use forensic science to assist in solving crime. While criminal investigators talk with witnesses or look into a suspect’s background, forensic investigators may be photographing the crime scene, collecting physical evidence and analyzing it at the lab.

Dr. John Cencich

Who teaches forensic investigation courses?

All courses in this hybrid (mixed on-campus and online) program are taught by highly qualified, full-time faculty members who bring top academic credentials and years of professional experience to the classroom. In addition to field experience, professors have a thorough knowledge of laws and the legal system, as well as emerging fields such as cybercrime investigation.




Dr. John R. Cencich
Professor and Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Investigative and Forensic Sciences

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Dr. Raymond J. Hsieh
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Michael Machen
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Dr. Christopher Wydra
Assistant Professor

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