As part of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’s natural, mathematical, and biomedical sciences programs, the forensic sciences program provides an understanding of the integration of forensic disciplines with the investigation of criminal activity, while providing an overview of the analytical methods, procedures, equipment, and data used by forensic specialists. Course work emphasizes the identification and analysis of evidence as well as the interpretation and reporting of the results. The program’s location in Washington, D.C. provides students with opportunities to interact with federal, state, and local agencies.
The Master of Forensic Sciences (M.F.S.) degree offers the following concentrations: forensic chemistry, forensic molecular biology, friction ridge analysis, and forensic toxicology. Students may also complete the Master of Forensic Sciences degree without selecting a concentration.
The Master of Science (M.S.) degree is offered in the following fields of study: crime scene investigation, friction ridge analysis, and high-technology crime investigation. The M.S. in the field of high-technology crime investigation program is offered at the Graduate Education Center in Arlington, VA.
In addition, graduate certificates are offered in bloodstain pattern analysis, digital investigations, forensic investigation, and latent print examination.
- Master of Forensic Sciences
- Master of Forensic Sciences with a concentration in forensic molecular biology
- Master of Forensic Sciences with a concentration in forensic chemistry
- Master of Forensic Sciences with a concentration in forensic toxicology
- Master of Forensic Sciences with a concentration in friction ridge analysis (NEW)
- Master of Science in the field of crime scene investigation
- Master of Science in the field of friction ridge analysis (NEW)
- Master of Science in the field of high-technology crime investigation
Professors W.F. Rowe, M.S. Schanfield, E.A. Vincze, V. Weedn (Chair)
Associate Professors N.T. Lappas, M. Moini, E.M. Robinson,
Assistant Professors I. Marginean, D. Podini
Professorial Lecturers D. Barghaan, E. Bernard, S. Brazelle, O. Carroll, K. Clarke, H. Cox, C. Davis, H. Deadman, J. Doyle, H. Elliott, N. Galbreth, K. Gerber, J.G. Jackson, M. Keller, M. Mack, C. McGovern, M.R. Parker, E. Toomer, L. Zarwell
Explanation of Course Numbers
- Courses in the 1000s are primarily introductory undergraduate courses
- Those in the 2000–4000s are upper-division undergraduate courses that can also be taken for graduate credit with permission and additional work
- Those in the 6000s and 8000s are for master’s, doctoral, and professional-level students
- The 6000s are open to advanced undergraduate students with approval of the instructor and the dean or advising office
Note: FORS 2118 Introduction to Computer Systems for Security Professionals and FORS 2119 Introduction to Network Systems for Security Professionals are available only to students conditionally admitted to programs offered by the Department of Forensic Sciences; credit does not apply to any degree programs at GW. FORS 2118 Introduction to Computer Systems for Security Professionals, FORS 2119 Introduction to Network Systems for Security Professionals, and FORS 6259 Computer Related Law–FORS 6291 Computer Forensics III: Advanced Techniques are offered off campus only.
FORP 6101. Psychology and the Legal System I. 3 Credits.
Focuses on the paradigm differences in the mental health and legal systems and the challenges associated with integrating the two. Provides the students with an overview of the American legal system and the American mental health system. Discusses various areas of the intersection of the two systems in criminal, civil, juvenile, and family law settings. The role and ethics of the mental health professional in legal settings is addressed.
FORP 6102. Psychology and the Legal System II. 3 Credits.
Students will be introduced to basic legal research with an emphasis on developing an ability to read and understand primary legal materials. Legal concepts of criminal competence and legal insanity are discussed. Constitutional notions of due process and fair treatment as they pertain to the mentally ill, developmentally disabled and children are reviewed with an emphasis on their evolution and current trends. The concept of dangerousness as it applies in both criminal civil commitment and sex offender commitment proceedings is reviewed. Prerequisites: FORP 6101.
FORP 6103. Theories of Criminal Behavior. 3 Credits.
Theories of criminal behavior are discussed from the standpoint of psychodynamic theories, theories of cognition, biological and genetic theories, social learning and behavioral theories. Developmental and cultural issues in criminal behavior are reviewed. The interrelationship between these and other more sociological theories is discussed. Specific attention is given to particular areas of concern surrounding violence and aggression, sex offenses and the role of substance abuse in criminal behavior.
FORP 6104. Psychopathology. 3 Credits.
This course explores the etiology and classification of mental disorders. Manifestations, symptoms, and basic treatment issues are discussed within the framework of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual. Emphasis is given to those disorders and categories that are a primary focus in forensic settings.
FORP 6105. Basics of Psychological Assessment. 3 Credits.
This course is designed to provide an introduction to the field of psychological assessment, including familiarizing the student with test design, methodology, psychometrics, and report design. Includes a survey of frequently used objective and projective measures in the areas of cognitive, personality, and emotional functioning and their forensic application.
FORP 6106. Ethics in Forensic Psychology. 3 Credits.
Professional, ethical, and legal issues are explored within the context of forensic psychology practice. Expectations for professional and ethical behavior as it relates to forensic psychological services are presented, as defined by the applicable ethical codes (APA, ACA and ABA). Ethical dilemmas or conflicts between psychology and the law are presented and discussed from the vantage points of psychology and the law.
FORP 6107. Research and Statistics. 3 Credits.
An overview of research methods, techniques, and implementation. The basic descriptive and inferential statistics in psychology. Emphasis will be given to training the student in the interpretation of published studies and normative data in assessments. Restricted to Forensic Psychology students.
FORP 6108. Consultation and Testimony. 3 Credits.
The role of the forensic practitioner will be explored in the context of providing services within the legal system and other related organizations, including evidentiary issues with regard to expert testimony as well as a discussion of techniques for successfully presenting psychological testimony. A practical approach to effective consultation with other disciplines, including attorneys, mental health providers, and criminal justice personnel will be presented. A review of research in the area of jury selection will be discussed.
FORP 6109. Evaluation and Treatment of Offenders. 3 Credits.
This course will review approaches to classification of offenders, particularly around concepts of dangerousness and psychopathy, and review treatment approaches in different settings within the criminal justice system. The course will discuss the history of offender treatment and the relative merits of different treatment models commonly used in offender rehabilitation. It will also review ongoing research into new and emerging treatment models.
FORP 6110. Forensic Psychological Assessment. 3 Credits.
An examination of forensic evaluations, including competency to stand trial, criminal insanity defenses, pre-sentencing and risk of dangerousness evaluations. Communication of assessment results to the courts or other referral sources will be addressed. Students will also develop a theoretical understanding and practical experience selecting and administering specialized forensic assessment instruments. Issues related to the forensic evaluator’s role and their legal and ethical responsibilities are included. Prerequisites: FORP 6105.
FORP 6111. Evaluation and Treatment of Sex Offenders. 3 Credits.
The focus of this course will be on measures utilized in assessing sex offenders with a focus on predicting dangerousness and recidivism. Theories about the interpersonal and intrapsychic presentations of this type of offender will be examined in such areas as deviant arousal and cognitive distortions. Treatment modalities will be discussed. Legal and ethical difficulties arising from mandatory treatment and long term commitment for dangerous sex offenders will be discussed.
FORP 6112. Substance Abuse Evaluation and Treatment. 3 Credits.
This course will examine some underlying ideas of the pathology of addiction including psychodynamic theories, genetic and biological theories and those involving more environmental focus. Current assessment and intervention techniques will be reviewed along with current trends in treatment including psychopharmacological, psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral approaches.
FORP 6113. Victimology. 3 Credits.
The goal is to familiarize the student with an understanding of the psychology of the victim within social and cultural contexts. Violent, sexual, and psychological victimization will be explored as well as the relationship between prior victimization as a precursor in criminal behavior. Prevention, intervention, and policy issues will also be addressed.
FORP 6114. Issues in Family Law. 3 Credits.
The psycho-legal issues concerning divorce, child custody, guardianship, and intrafamily violence and sex offending. Dispute resolution methods as an alternative to litigation with a particular emphasis on divorce mediation. Child custody evaluation and the evaluation of the elderly. Ethical and legal difficulties in this area will be discussed.
FORP 6115. Children and Adolescents in the Legal System. 3 Credits.
The focus of this course will be on the differences in the treatment of underage offenders from adults in the legal system. The history and role of the juvenile justice system from both legal and mental health perspectives will be reviewed. Developmental aspects of the minor’s offending, including status offenses will be discussed as well as the role of the psychologist in court proceedings involving juvenile offenders. Recent trends dealing with ideas of the increasing criminalization of juvenile conduct and the waivers of juveniles to the adult system will be explored.
FORP 6116. Correctional Psychology. 3 Credits.
Provides an overview of the American correctional system. Introduces students to the role of the mental health professional in corrections. Differences between various types of settings such as jails, prisons, halfway houses and parole and probation supervision are discussed. Issues such as the offender’s desire to refuse treatment, maintaining patient confidentiality and dual allegiances to the client and the facility are discussed from both a legal and ethical standpoint. Specific differences in pretrial, post conviction and post release supervision are addressed.
FORP 6117. Interrogation and Interviewing. 3 Credits.
The focus of this course is on the techniques of interrogation and interviewing in both criminal and terrorism related investigations. In addition to basic techniques, it will explore cultural aspects of interviewing, the problem of false confessions, and the use of the polygraph. Legal and ethical issues surrounding interrogations, including the use of coercive techniques will be examined. Restricted to Forensic Psychology students. Prerequisites: FORP 6101, FORP 6103, FORP 6104, FORP 6105.
FORP 6118. Psychological Profiling. 3 Credits.
The strengths and limitations of psychological profiling in criminal investigations. The main psychological principles upon which criminal profiling is based and crime scene analysis and its relationships to both the demographic and psychological characteristics of a pool of unknown offender suspects. Methods to identify potential serial offenses will be examined. Legal and ethical issues with regard to the use of profiling will be explored. Restricted to Forensic Psychology students. Prerequisites: FORP 6101, FORP 6103, FORP 6104, FORP 6105.
FORP 6119. Police Psychology. 3 Credits.
The focus of this course is on the psychological aspects of working within or for police agencies. Areas to be covered include personality assessment as to suitable candidates for police work, the stress involved in the work with attendant adverse psychological consequences (including aspects of legal liability) and continuing assessment of police officers after critical incidents. Ethical and practical problems for the mental health professional when working within or for a police organization will be discussed as will services available for troubled officers.
FORP 6120. Counterintelligence. 3 Credits.
Counterintelligence considered from the perspectives of intelligence agencies, terrorist groups, and industry. The interconnection of psychological factors, motivations, strategic intent, and defense measures. Current and potential threats are assessed, including cybersecurity and cognition security. Restricted to students enrolled in the forensic psychology program.
FORP 6121. Theories of Counseling. 3 Credits.
An introduction to basic counseling and psychotherapeutic theories, from individual, group, and systems perspectives (e.g., Psychodynamic, Existential, Gestalt, Person-Centered, Behavioral, Cognitive, Multicultural Theories). Relevant research is discussed and the application of these theories in a variety of therapeutic settings with an emphasis on forensic populations is explored.
FORP 6122. Counseling Techniques. 3 Credits.
This course provides an integration of counseling methods and strategies, as well as developing the student’s practical skills in basic interviewing and counseling. Central topics include the goals of each phase of treatment, development of a therapeutic alliance, and techniques and interventions in short- and long-term treatment with a variety of forensic populations. Prerequisite: FORP 6121.
FORP 6123. Human Development. 3 Credits.
Provides an understanding of the theories of individual and family development and transitions across the life span, as well as theories of personality development and the role of cultural, environmental, and social factors. Course also provides an integration of the interplay between development and other factors to help explain criminal behavior. A survey of counseling strategies for facilitating development over the life span is included.
FORP 6124. Group Therapy. 3 Credits.
Theoretical and experiential understanding of group therapy and group counseling methods and skills with an emphasis on correctional and other forensic populations. Examines the principles of group dynamics, therapeutic factors, member roles and behaviors, leadership styles and approaches, selection criteria, and short- and long-term group process.
FORP 6125. Career Counseling. 3 Credits.
A consideration of theory, practice, and the body of information related to career counseling, choice, and development over the life span. Covers assessment instruments and techniques relevant to career counseling. This course will offer the theoretical foundation and practical experience necessary to understand and support career development needs for diverse individual clients and groups, with an emphasis on the special issues and challenges facing pre-release and recently released offenders.
FORP 6126. Multicultural Counseling. 3 Credits.
Course focuses on developing an understanding of the role of cultural, ethnic, and racial differences in mental health treatment in order to work effectively with diverse individuals and groups. The impact of the therapist’s own identity and values is also explored. Emphasis is given to individual, family and group counseling strategies tailored toward diverse populations in a variety of forensic settings.
FORP 6127. Marriage & Family Counseling. 3 Credits.
Principles of work with couples and families, including an overview of systems theories and strategies of family life cycle development. Explores the use of family dynamics and counseling techniques for evaluation and treatment. The usefulness and application of marital and family therapy with forensic populations is also covered. Intervention strategies will address cultural issues and ethical considerations.
FORP 6128. Terrorism and Counterterrorism. 3 Credits.
This course will examine the history and current status of terrorism and counter terrorism with a special focus on the psychological constructs motivating terrorist activity, and countering the terror of terrorism. Current scientific studies of the interplay between psychological factors, cultural norms and religious ideations will also be explored. Potential and future threats related to internet crime will be discussed.
FORP 6130. Practicum/Externship. 0-1 Credits.
This one-credit course is comprised of 250 hours of externship training tailored to a student's professional interest and can be completed over multiple semesters. Students should enroll in the one (1) credit option in the semester in which they will complete the required 250 training hours. Students should enroll for zero (0) credits for all other semesters in which they will participate in the externship but not complete all of the required training hours. Prerequisites: FORP 6101, FORP 6103, FORP 6104.
FORP 6140. Practicum - Counseling Internship. 0-3 Credits.