Accreditation standards for undergraduate forensic science programs

Marilyn Tebbs Miller, Johnson & Wales University


Undergraduate forensic science programs are experiencing unprecedented growth in numbers of programs offered and, as a result, student enrollments are increasing. Currently, however, these programs are not subject to professional specialized accreditation. This study sought to identify desirable student outcome measures for undergraduate forensic science programs that should be incorporated into such an accreditation process. ^ To determine desirable student outcomes, three types of data were collected and analyzed. All the existing undergraduate forensic science programs in the United States were examined with regard to the input measures of degree requirements and curriculum content, and for the output measures of mission statements and student competencies. Accreditation procedures and guidelines for three other science-based disciplines, computer science, dietetics, and nursing, were examined to provide guidance on accreditation processes for forensic science education programs. Expert opinion on outcomes for program graduates was solicited from the major stakeholders of undergraduate forensic science programs-forensic science educators, crime laboratory directors, and recent graduates. Opinions were gathered by using a structured Internet-based survey; the total response rate was 48%. ^ Examination of the existing undergraduate forensic science programs revealed that these programs do not use outcome measures. Of the accreditation processes for other science-based programs, nursing education provided the best model for forensic science education, due primarily to the balance between the generality and the specificity of the outcome measures. From the analysis of the questionnaire data, preliminary student outcomes, both general and discipline-specific, suitable for use in the accreditation of undergraduate forensic science programs were determined. The preliminary results were reviewed by a panel of experts and, based on their recommendations, the outcomes identified were revised and refined. ^ The results of this study were used to identify student outcomes and to suggest accreditation standards and an accreditation process for undergraduate forensic science programs based on those outcomes. ^

Subject Area

Education, Sciences|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Marilyn Tebbs Miller, "Accreditation standards for undergraduate forensic science programs" (January 1, 2003). Dissertation & Theses Collection. Paper AAI3106412.