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Graduate Study Need to Know  
Graduate Independent Study

Professor assisting studentIndependent studies are available to graduate students as elective credits.  This is designed to be a semester course and has variable hours.  Interested students may choose 1-3 credits, with an expectation of approximately 3 hours of laboratory work per credit enrolled.  No more than six FRSC 692 Independent Study credits will be counted towards the MS degree in Forensic Science.

Interested students will work with their academic advisors and/or Instructors to identify either an accredited crime laboratory or university research laboratory and mentor. After a mentor and laboratory has been identified, students must apply to the Graduate Director for an Independent Study; this application must be submitted by the first day of the semester of enrollment.

FRSC 692 Independent Study is an experience designed to provide an opportunity for independent research in an area that relates to forensic science. This experience culminates in research presentations at a campus seminar and/or professional conferences, and a written technical report.  Students and mentors are encouraged to submit their research work for publication where feasible. 

For FRSC 692 Forensic Science Independent Study Policies & Procedures, please click here.

What is the difference between the Internship and the Independent study?
Both experiences involve forensic science-related laboratory research, a written paper, and an oral presentation.

However, the Internship incorporates both research and “shadowing” components to prepare students for careers as examiners in modern crime laboratories.  While Internships may be completed on-campus in a university research setting, students are encouraged to look for opportunities off-campus in accredited forensic laboratories.  However, because of the nature of the work in crime laboratories, students are not able to work on active casework during FRSC 793 Internships. Instead, all Internship students are required to incorporate shadowing of a forensic examiner in their field.  During shadowing, students learn about crime laboratory standard operating procedures, ethical issues, and expert testimony by observing and questioning examiners working on casework.  Additionally, the Graduate Director encourages students to select a mentor and project for FRSC 793 Internship based on their primary career choice or forensic science discipline (e.g. Biology, Drugs, Toxicology, Questioned Documents, Trace Analysis).  Student Interns are required to select a committee, composed of faculty and practitioners, to guide them through the research and shadowing experiences. 

On the other hand, FRSC 692 is available as elective credit, emphasizes basic research, and serves as an opportunity for students to gain additional research and/or hands-on laboratory experience.  The FRSC 692 Independent Study also includes an oral presentation and written report, but does not have a “shadowing” component.  FRSC 692 may be completed in an area of forensic science outside of the primary area of interest and is commonly completed within a university research laboratory.


 

Virginia Commonwealth University
Department of Forensic Science
College of Humanities and Sciences

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Last Updated June 30, 2014

     

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