The Penn State Forensic Science Program is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 in the United States by independent websites that review academic programs and provide information to prospective students and their parents. Of the more than 150 undergraduate forensic-science programs throughout the United States, Penn State's is one of only 15 that have been accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, a multi-disciplinary professional organization that includes members and representatives from all 50 states, Canada, and 60 additional countries.
The Penn State Forensic Science Program includes courses that expose students to many areas of forensic science, including crime-scene investigation, skeletal-remains collection, hair and fiber analyses, and DNA testing.
"We're proud of how well the program prepares students to be competitive in the growing field of forensic science, and how many of our students decide to pursue graduate studies after they complete the program," said Mitchell Holland, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and director of the Forensic Science Program. Many graduates of the program pursue careers as scientists in forensic laboratories, working closely with law enforcement personnel, insurance companies, or homeland security agencies. "About 15 percent of our graduates are currently employed by the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia," Holland said. "While it's still early, by all accounts the FBI is pleased with the quality and preparation of our students. We're very proud of their accomplishments, and look forward to seeing them grow into leadership positions in the future."
Supporting the Penn State Forensic Science Program are professors from various Penn State departments, including biology, anthropology, chemistry and mathematics. Through Penn State's Eberly College of Science, students can earn a bachelor of science degree in Forensic Science, with a focus in either biology or chemistry. The college also offers a master of professional studies in forensic science degree. During the current fall semester, the program has 137 undergraduate and graduate students attending 16 academic courses in the Forensic Science Program. Students also can participate in several on-campus forensic-science organizations, including the Forensic Chemistry Research Group and the Penn State Forensic Science Club.
The Penn State Forensic Science Program also is well known for being the focus of "Crime Scene University," a television show created by Bob Shaler, founding director of the Penn State Forensic Science Program. The show, which aired on Investigation Discovery Channel beginning in 2008, featured students from Penn State and other universities investigating simulated crime scenes. The content of the episodes reflects the syllabus of the Penn State course, "Forensic Science 201: Crime Scene Investigation." An online version of this course is available through Penn State's World Campus.