Marshall forensic program ranks No. 1 on test scores

Staff Report

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Marshall University Forensic Science Graduate Program once again ranked number one in the country for its students receiving the highest overall test scores, compared to other graduate programs participating in the Forensic Science Assessment Test, a national assessment test offered each year by the American Board of Criminalistics.

Marshall University was one of 10 graduate programs that participated this year. In total, 101 graduate students were tested.

Marshall’s Forensic Science Graduate Program ranked first or second in 14 of 18 subject matter areas that included drugs, crime scene, evidence handling, fire debris, forensic biology, latent prints, legal, pattern evidence, questioned documents, toxicology, lab operations, firearms/tool mark, quality assurance/quality control and trace evidence.

It is the sixth time in nine years that Marshall’s nationally recognized program ranked number one in the country on the assessment test.

This year the American Board of Criminalistics changed the format of FSAT evaluations. According to the board, graduate and undergraduate programs were ranked separately this year, whereas the rankings were previously combined.

Dr. Terry W. Fenger, director of the program, said the test is useful for assessing the program’s strengths and demonstrating to prospective students and the general public its ability to meet national standards. “The fact that our students continue to excel on this exam each year demonstrates not only the quality of the program and its students, but the dedication of its full-time faculty and the many adjunct faculty members,” he said. “The program greatly benefits from the input of law enforcement and criminal justice system professionals here locally and across the state.”

Dr. Pamela Staton, program coordinator, said the test scores are evidence of the high quality education the program provides. “The quality of an academic program can be measured by a program’s achievement of national accreditation as well as how well its students perform on national board examinations,” she said.

“The Forensic Science Program at Marshall University has achieved both of these honorable distinctions. This translates into high quality forensic science services for law enforcement, the legal profession, and the public as graduates of this program become certified forensic scientists in the field.”

Staton said the FSAT provides students with a pre-certification exposure while preparing graduates for the national certification process. “This may be quite important as other areas of science and technology require professionals to become certified before they can practice,” she said. “This may be true for forensic scientists sometime in the future as suggested in the most recent report issued by the National Academy of Sciences in 2009.”

Marshall’s Forensic Science Graduate Program is FEPAC-accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. The program also has a separate accreditation for digital forensics through FEPAC.

Marshall’s forensic science graduate students who participated in the examination that was administered in spring 2015 are now graduates of the program.

The test is offered to students in their last semester of an academic forensic science program. While seeking their first job, recent college graduates may use their test results to demonstrate their knowledge across a broad range of forensic science disciplines.

Staff Report