Forensic Science Degree

Forensic Science Degree at Harper College

Earn your degree in forensic science

Career options  Liberal Arts icon


  • Arson investigation
  • Crime scene investigation
  • Forensics
  • Insurance

Prepare for a career in forensic science with this 60-credit-hour degree program. Forensic technicians are trained in identifying, gathering and preserving evidence, playing a critical role in the criminal justice system. As a student in this program, you’ll learn learn the legal and scientific aspects of evidence, methods of crime scene searches and procedures for locating and preserving evidence.

Take classes in fire behavior and combustion, criminal justice, chemistry, criminal procedures, hazardous materials, investigative process, leadership and ethics for law enforcement, forensics and more. 

AAS degree program requirements

This 60 credit hour program will provide instruction to students in the proper techniques of identifying, collecting and packaging physical evidence associated with crime scenes and understanding the importance of proper evidence handling. The forensic science technician is responsible for processing evidence at crime scenes, identifying, collecting, and preserving physical evidence to support law enforcement activities. Graduates may be employed as forensic technicians, property and identification custodians, arson investigators and investigators for local law enforcement and fire services, federal agencies, local, regional and national crime labs, as well as in private industry such as insurance companies, etc.

FIRST SEMESTER:

A grade of C or better in all FIS, LEJ, and MTH courses is required for all students.

Number Course Title Credits Category
ENG 101 3 Communications

Description: Emphasizes the writing of expository prose. Introduction to the critical reading of nonfiction prose. IAI C1 900

Prerequisite: ENG 100 with a grade of C or better. Other placement options. ENG_Placement_Grid.pdf ESL students need one of the following options: ESL 073 and ESL 074 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 and ESL 086 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 and ESL 099 with grades of B or better; ESL 073 with required writing placement test score; or ESL 074 with required reading placement test score.

FIS 121 3 Program Requirement

Description: Explores the theories and principles of how and why fires start, spread, and are brought under control. Students will be able to relate the principles by which fires spread with the appropriate methods of control.

LEJ 101 3 Program Requirement

Description: Studies the history, role, development, and constitutional aspects of law enforcement and public safety. Review of agencies and functions involved in processes of administration of criminal justice. IAI CRJ 901

LEJ 116 3 Program Requirement

Description: Introduces student to the use of scientific disciplines in crime investigation. Identifies the variety of sources of evidence and the means by which comparative analysis can be made. Introduces student to probability theory. Develops skills in crime scene technology, fingerprinting, photography and recording.

Mathematics1 3 Mathematics

SECOND SEMESTER:

A grade of C or better in all CHM and LEJ courses is required for all students.

Number Course Title Credits Category
CHM 100 or

Description: Introduces basic concepts of inorganic and organic chemistry and biochemistry. Emphasizes chemical principles applied to biological systems. Laboratory exercises apply theory to biological and consumer products. Especially designed for students in allied health sciences. Meets the prerequisite of the Nursing program. IAI P1 902L

CHM 110 4 Natural Science

Description: Introduces concepts of chemistry. Emphasizes the composition of matter, the periodic table, the chemistry of solutions and chemical calculations. The laboratory experiments utilize many common household materials to demonstrate applications of chemical concepts. For students whose preparation does not permit enrollment in CHM 121. IAI P1 902L

Prerequisite: MTH 080 or higher with a grade of C or better or other placement options, or concurrent enrollment. Math_Placement_Grid.pdf

ENG 103 3 Communications

Description: Introduces the various types of writing and communication used in business and technology. Includes instructions, procedures, abstracts, proposals, visuals and reports.

Prerequisite: ENG 101 with a grade of C or better, or consent of instructor or department chair.

LEJ 202 3 Program Requirement

Description: Examines and analyzes federal and state law relating to arrest, search and seizure, First Amendment activities, interrogation, civil liability of police, and trial procedures.

Prerequisite: LEJ 101 with a grade of C or better.

LEJ 217 4 Program Requirement

Description: Provides an expanded understanding of the procedures for collection and analysis of physical evidence, concentrating on the evidentiary significance of items commonly found at crime scenes. Includes detailed methods of processing a crime scene; documentation, location and proper collection of evidence; proper handling of evidence; and analytical techniques of interpreting evidence.

Prerequisite: LEJ 116 with a grade of C or better.

THIRD SEMESTER:

A grade of C or better in all FIS and LEJ courses is required for all students.

Number Course Title Credits Category
ANT 215 3 Social and Behavioral Science

Description: Studies the field dealing with human skeletal remains resulting from unexplained deaths. Both osteology (bones) and odontology (teeth) will be investigated. Students will learn the techniques involved including: basic human skeletal analysis, preliminary examination methods, burial aspects, distinguishing human from animal remains, identifying the sex of an individual, estimating the age of death, calculating stature, trauma analysis of different types (e.g., blunt, sharp, projectile), as well as various related topics. (NOTE: Although skeletal lab materials will be provided, no soft tissues will be examined.)

CIS 101 3 Program Requirement

Description: Provides students with an introduction to computer and information systems used in business environments. Includes computer hardware and operating systems, word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, database management software, networking and Internet, information systems, programming concepts, and computer security and ethics. IAI BUS 902

FIS 132 3 Program Requirement

Description: Reviews basic chemistry, storage, handling, laws, standards and fire fighting practices pertaining to hazardous materials. Emphasis on identification, labeling, handling, firefighting, and mitigation of hazardous materials emergencies. Students who wish to satisfy the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshall Certificate Requirements must successfully complete this course as well as the required practical skills evaluation prior to taking the state examination by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (A.H.J.).

FIS 210 2 3 Program Requirement

Description: Provides the identification of the nature and behavior of fire, combustion properties, sources of ignition, the techniques and procedures for the identification of the cause and origin of fires, the detection of arson, the role of the fire investigator, the role of the crime laboratory, arson law, and fire report writing.

Prerequisite: FIS 100 and FIS 121 with grades of C or better.

LEJ 218 4 Program Requirement

Description: Focuses on specialized evidence and reconstruction of crime scenes with the use of hands-on training in advanced techniques of identifying, collecting and preserving physical evidence with the use of luminal, biological presumptive tests, trace evidence, arson and explosive evidence.

Prerequisite: LEJ 217 with a grade of C or better.

FOURTH SEMESTER:

A grade of C or better in all LEJ courses is required for all students.

Number Course Title Credits Category
LEJ 200 3 Program Requirement

Description: Prepares students to successfully resolve critical ethical and leadership issues they will encounter in their law enforcement careers. Includes developing and maintaining professional integrity, the proper exercise of discretion and authority, morale and motivation, and responsibility for ethical conduct.

Prerequisite: LEJ 101 and LEJ 210 with grades of C or better.

LEJ 216 3 Program Requirement

Description: Studies the art of investigation to reconstruct facts and circumstances of any event. Prepares students to plan and execute investigations commonly performed in civil and criminal work with concentration on obtaining direct evidence through interviewing, interrogation, observation and the use of documents and records.

Prerequisite: LEJ 101 with a grade of C or better.

LEJ 295 3 Program Requirement

Description: Provides a unique course in crime scene investigation incorporating a combination of lecture and hands-on training utilizing advanced techniques of crime scene analysis and reconstruction. Students will process a crime scene from its initial discovery to the testimony in court.

Prerequisite: LEJ 218 with a grade of C or better.

PHI 101 3 Humanities

Description: Introduces the student to reasoning in a language-centered context. Students will learn how to identify arguments and distinguish them from other types of discourse. Some topics covered include evaluating claims, recognizing informal fallacies, problem solving and evaluating media. Students will also learn how to cast issues in a neutral manner, to recognize and appreciate a variety of perspectives, and to argue for and against more than one perspective on an issue. The focus of this course is on everyday practical reasoning. IAI H4 906

SOC 101 + 3 Social and Behavioral Science

Description: Analysis and description of the structure and dynamics of human society. Application of scientific methods to the observation and analysis of social norms, groups, inter-group relations, social change, social stratification and institutions. IAI S7 900

1 - Students must take at least three credit hours in a mathematics course at the level of MTH 080 or above.

2 - Prerequisite of FIS 100 will be waived for Forensic Science students.

+ - This course meets the World Cultures and Diversity graduation requirement.

Program learning outcomes

  • Identify the different types of evidence.
  • Demonstrate the duties and responsibilities of the first officer on the scene.
  • Demonstrate the basic methods of crime scene searches.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic methods of visually documenting crime scenes.
  • Apply scientific principles to the function of collection and preservation of physical evidence i.e. latent fingerprints, trace and impression evidence, blood and other biological evidence.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the legal aspects of evidence.
  • Differentiate the types of physical evidence associated with various types of crimes.
  • Demonstrate the basic methods of locating and preserving evidence associated with various types of crimes i.e. death investigations, sexual assaults, arson and explosive evidence, burglaries.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic methods of firearms identification, examination, and comparison.
  • Demonstrate the basic methods of computer forensics.

Related programs

Resources

Next steps

For more information about forensic science training at Harper College, contact Admission Outreach at 847.925.6700, or submit a request information form. You can also apply online.