Applied Forensic Science - Forensic Anthropology

Program Codes: BSFRSCFA
Bachelor of Science


Forensic science involves the utilization of the natural, physical, and social sciences in the multidisciplinary investigation of matters related to society and the law. Activities of relevance to forensic science range from the location, documentation, and collection of physical evidence at the crime scene to the analysis and interpretation of that evidence in the laboratory.

Many diverse fields are included in the forensic sciences. The Applied Forensic Sciences program offers courses leading to the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Applied Forensic Sciences with concentrations in Criminalistics/Forensic Biology, Forensic Anthropology, and Forensic Chemistry. Students seeking the Applied Forensic Sciences Bachelor of Science degree are required to take the courses and credits in the curriculum, as outlined below. Credits from short courses and seminars (1-2 credits) at other universities and research institutions may be used to complete credit requirements following approval by the program chairperson and dean of the college.

Mission Statement

The Mercyhurst University Department of Applied Forensic Sciences offers a multi-disciplinary major dedicated to educating students in matters related to science, forensic science, society and the law. Students receive a solid natural science education, bolstered by the thematic forensic science courses.

The program advances the student’s knowledge of science-based forensic fields of study by advocating critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Classroom learning is strengthened by strong, hands-on components of many courses. The Applied Forensic Sciences Department stresses the importance of reasonable and ethical behavior within the field of forensic science to all members of the department.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to recognize, employ and perform the basic and advanced principles, methods and practices of the various forensic science
  • Students will have the ability to identify, collect, analyze and interpret forensic
  • Students will be able to critically analyze and interpret past and current research in the forensic
  • Students will display comprehensive scientific writing


Criminalistics and Forensic Biology

Criminalists and forensic biologists are typically called upon to locate, document, preserve, analyze, and interpret evidence, and to testify in court. Some evidence encountered includes identification of fingerprints and ballistics, interpretation of biological materials such as hairs, fibers, paints, polymers, soil, glass and other trace materials. Methods for collection and preservation of human biological evidence and processing indoor crime scenes are discussed.

Forensic Anthropology

Forensic Anthropologists are often called upon to comprehensively analyze human skeletal remains from a variety of crime scenes, ranging from surface scatters to mass fatalities. The skills of physical anthropology and archaeology are paramount to the training of competent forensic anthropologists and the program uniquely prepares students for graduate studies in biological, physical and forensic anthropology.

The Mercyhurst undergraduate program is the only top program in the United States with a Forensic Anthropology concentration. The department includes a board-certified Forensic Anthropologist and a board-certified Forensic Odontologist and conducts approximately one hundred forensic cases a year. Upperclassmen are provided opportunities to work with both faculty and forensic anthropology master’s students on a number of these cases both in the field and in the laboratory. This concentration prepares students for advanced studies in anthropology, death investigation positions and positions in medical examiner’s offices.

Forensic Chemistry

Forensic chemists analyze the chemical aspects of evidence that is collected from crime scenes, but rarely conduct investigative work themselves. Their typical job responsibilities include identifying and characterizing physical and biological evidence as part of the larger process of solving a crime. Evidence analyzed may include hair, paint, gunshot residue, inks, fibers, fire debris, explosives, drug residue, and blood.

Applied Forensic Sciences Bachelor of Science Requirements
The Applied Forensic Sciences program offers courses leading to the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Applied Forensic Sciences with concentrations in Criminalistics/Forensic Biology, Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Chemistry. Students seeking the Applied Forensic Sciences, Bachelor of Science degree are required to take the courses and credits in the curriculum as outlined below. Credits from short courses and seminars (1-2 credits) at other universities and research institutions may be used to complete credit requirements following approval by the Program Chairperson and Academic Dean of the College.

Students must maintain a grade point average of 2.75 overall and in the major. No required courses in the major may be taken on a Pass-Fail basis. Students who earn a grade less than a C in a required major course must repeat the course. Only a Pass (PA) will be accepted in the repeated course. Only two courses in the major may be repeated, either the same course or two different courses. No third repeat of any kind will be accepted. The necessity to repeat a third course will result in disenrollment from the program.

All prerequisites must be met before continuing in the course curriculum sequence. Alteration of the course prerequisites will only be made by special permission      of the Department Chairperson. The Department Chairperson shall conduct an annual review of the academic progress of all students enrolled in the program. All students in the program will also undergo a review by the department faculty at the completion of their sophomore level in their area of concentration. Students must successfully complete the Sophomore Review to continue their studies in the Applied Forensic Sciences Department.

Continuance in the Applied Forensic Sciences program is based on the following criteria:

  • Minimum overall GPA of 75 in courses taken in the major concentration
  • Minimum overall University GPA of 75
  • Professional conduct of the students

If a student does not pass the Sophomore Review, the student will not be allowed to enroll in any further courses required for programs administered  by the Applied Forensic Sciences Department. The Sophomore Review is encouraged to ensure that the students initiate personal assessments  of  their academic and career goals through a dialogue with the Applied Forensic Sciences Department faculty.

Students eligible for Sophomore Review in the Forensic Anthropology concentration must have completed or be in the process of completing the following courses: Physical Anthropology/Lab, General Chemistry II/Lab and Calculus I. Students eligible for Sophomore Review in the Criminalistics/Forensic Biology and Forensic Chemistry concentrations must have completed, or be in the process of completing the following courses: Cell Biology/Lab, Organic Chemistry II/ Lab and Calculus I.

Students whose GPA falls below 2.75 will be placed on probation or dis-enrolled from the program, depending on the outcome of the Sophomore Review.

Training and working in the forensic science field requires a high level of security and confidentiality. Professional conduct and confidentiality is expected of all students as to information received in the classroom, as well as information received and any evidentiary materials handled in the laboratory facilities. Communicating confidential information inappropriately, carelessly, or negligently is considered   a breach of confidentiality and may result in disciplinary review and action as set forth by the Applied Forensic Sciences Department.

Students must be aware that future employment often requires intensive background investigations and drug testing. Any conduct deemed significantly unethical, illegal or unprofessional may result in that student failing to achieve employment in the field, regardless of his/her academic record.

Applied Forensic Sciences Concentrations
Students should choose one concentration of study by the middle of their sophomore year.

Forensic Anthropology Concentration Required Courses

Forensic Anthropology Concentration Elective Courses

Two (2) Additional Elective Courses (8 credits)

Additional Electives

The Department Chair may consider other courses for elective approval.

Degrees & Certificates
Course Descriptions