Courses & Programs

Forensic Science Certificate

Elizabeth Butin

Faculty, Forensic Science

Science, Engineering & Math

Frost 174

413.552.2305 (Tel)

what will you learn?

A Forensic Science Certificate will prepare existing law enforcement personnel for advancement in the field and hopeful law enforcement personnel for entry into a highly competitive field.


Upon completion of this degree students will be able to:

  • Practice good laboratory techniques ensuring safety, quality control, and quality assurance.
  • Create well-organized, informed, and effective written reports and scientific articles.
  • Supply informed, concise, and unbiased expert witness testimony.
  • Properly collect, preserve, and process evidence using various scientific techniques.

The Forensic Science Certificate will be an in-house certificate that is specialized and not intended for transfer. Students selecting this major should be advised that employers in Forensic Science related occupational fields conduct both CORI (Criminal Offense Record Act) and SORI (Sex Offender Registry Informational) checks pursuant to Chapter 6, Sections 172-178 of the Massachusetts General Laws related regulations.

what will you do?

Continue your education or enter the workforce!  Explore your options at HCC's Advising, Career & Transfer Center and at What Can I Do With This Major?

24-26 total credits

15 credits program requirements + 9-11 credits electives (select 3)

Depending on course selection, approximately 80% of this program can be completed online.

program requirements

This course is the first half of the college composition sequence and focuses on close reading, critical thinking, beginning research skills, and the writing process. Students will read, analyze, and cite a range of nonfiction texts. Students will produce several formal essays totaling approximately 3000 words. Prerequisite: Appropriate scores on English placement tests or C- or higher in ENG 095.
An introduction to life's basic processes including the chemistry of life, the structure and function of the cell, how cells use energy and matter, how cells reproduce, and how genetic inheritance occurs. Examples of how these processes affect each and everyone of us on a daily basis will be explored. This course will also explore the methods of science through in class assignments and laboratory work so that students will better understand the processes of collecting, analyzing and interpreting data in various formats. Laboratories supplement lecture by allowing students to explore topics in a hands-on fashion. Prerequisite: Eligibility for ENG 101
This course provides a rigorous introduction to the living processes within cells by exploring the chemical and molecular basis of life. Emphasis is placed on basic chemistry, cell structure, and the important types of biochemical reactions, which occur during growth, development, maintenance, and reproduction in cells. Particular detail is given to biochemical processes in human cells. Laboratory exercises supplement the lecture emphasizing the scientific method and inquiry based learning. 3 class hours and 3 laboratory hoursPrerequisite: ENG 101 Eligible and MTH 095 Eligible or Permission of Instructor.Note: This course is designed to prepare students for further study in biological science and health-allied programs. Credit cannot be received for more than one of these, except by permission of department chair: BIO 103, BIO 107.
A study of the fundamental chemical laws and theories, including gaseous state, mole concept, stoichiometry, periodic law, and atomic and molecular structure. Descriptive materials supporting the discussion are from the field of inorganic chemistry.
A study of the fundamental chemical laws and theories, including stoichiometry, the gaseous and liquid states, periodic law, atomic and molecular structures, and energy. Descriptive material supporting the discussion is from the field of inorganic and organic chemistry. Qualitative and quantitative laboratory work supports the lecture discussion. Prerequisite: MTH 08 with a grade of C- or higher, or an equivalent self-paced level (SM12), or algebra placement test score of 50 or higher.
A course designed for students who are interested in exploring the field of forensic science. A study of fundamental forensic science techniques and procedures. Lecture topics include techniques used to evaluate types of physical, chemical, and biological evidence, as well as the legal system and forensic science, crime scenes and various forensic specialties. Laboratories afford students the opportunity to identify, examine, and assess forensic evidence using modern chemical and biological techniques. NOTE: Students cannot receive credit for both FRS 100 and FRS 101.

electives (select 3)

Historical and philosophical background and critical evaluation of the criminal justice system. A study of the United States Constitution and its impact on modern criminal justice. The relationship of crime to the police, prosecution, the courts, probation, parole, corrections, and the general functions of each. Exploration of the field of criminal justice and professional career opportunities in it. Prerequisite: English 095 eligibility
This course studies the history and development of criminal law as a form of social control, the evolution of criminal law from civil law, and the relationship between common and statutory criminal law. The criminal process from investigation through indictment, arrest, arraignment, trial, and sentencing will be reviewed. Through analytic case studies, emphasis will be given to substantive aspects of criminal law and current constitutional constraints established by the United States Supreme Court on law enforcement procedures occurring during arrests, searches and seizures, interrogations, electronic surveillances, and other investigative practices. Prerequisite: CRJ 100
Examination of the rules of evidence, with emphasis on the best evidence rule, the hearsay rule, the exception to the rule, corpus delicti, opinion, evidence, circumstantial evidence, privileged communications, admissions and confessions, witnesses, courtroom procedure, and testifying in court. Prerequisites: CRJ 100 and CRJ 112
The Criminal Investigation and Crime Analysis course studies the fundamentals of investigative principles including theories of case investigation, proper crime scene management, collection and preservation of evidence, and the capabilities and limitations of forensic laboratories in analyzing evidentiary items such as serology, trace evidence and drug chemistry. Interview and interrogation strategies, use of informants, and surveillance techniques will also be studied. The emphasis of the course content is to familiarize students with proper investigative methods in relation to specific criminal offenses. Prerequisites: CRJ 100 and CRJ 112
This course is a basic introduction to insect biology with emphasis on applications of forensic entomology. Other topics include insect evolution, biodiversity and conservation of insects, behavior, physiology, life histories, and systematics. The emphasis of this course describes the use of insects as evidence in court and explains how they can assist in solving crimes.
An introduction to chemical and biological techniques and analyses with emphasis on forensic applications. Lecture topics in half of the course include gas chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, spectrophotometry, masspectrometry, organic extraction. Lecture topics in the other half of the course include population genetics principles and statistics, DNA genotyping, procedures for DNA analysis, and quality control and regulations. Laboratories provide the opportunity to analyze chemical and biological materials using the appropriate techniques. Prerequisite: FRS 101

Principles of Chemistry I, Inorganic Chemistry I: Degree seeking students only.

Introduction to Forensic Science, FRS 101: Students planning to major in the Forensic Science degree program should not consider taking FRS 100. This course does not count towards the Forensic Science major.

Program Electives: Students strongly encouraged to select at least one CRJ designated course.

Contact Coordinator for information about next offering.