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Addressing Shortfalls in Forensic Science Education

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2007
4 pages
This paper reviews the history and impact of the Forensic Educational Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), which accredits college academic programs that lead to a baccalaureate or graduate degree in forensic science.
The U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) asked a panel of 47 experts to develop a guide for educating and training forensic scientists. The guide, which was published in 2004, addressed problems such as the qualifications for a career in the forensic sciences, undergraduate and graduate curricula, and training and continuing education for forensic science practitioners. Subsequently, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), a professional association devoted to improving and achieving justice through science, developed an academic accreditation program for forensic science. The AAFS established a committee on forensic science education, which created the FEPAC. With financial assistance from both AAFS and NIJ, the committee also developed standards and requirements for a formal evaluation and accreditation system for college academic programs that lead to a baccalaureate or graduate degree in forensic science. Using this accreditation system, FEPAC accredited its first university program in 2004. By the end of its third accreditation cycle in February 2006, 11 programs had earned accreditation. FEPAC's greatest contribution has been the creation of a standard for measuring the quality of forensic science educational programs. The accreditation program not only helps colleges develop their forensic science curricula, but also assists laboratory directors in assessing the qualifications of job applicants. 3 notes and 7 suggested readings