The University of Central Oklahoma W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute (FSI), home to the largest forensic science education program in the country, is now the only university in North America with three accredited undergraduate forensic science programs.
The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), the forensic science accrediting body for the U.S. and Canada, announced the milestone this week. UCO is the only institution in Oklahoma with undergraduate level FEPAC accreditation of any kind.
UCO’s Forensic Science Institute has overseen the undergraduate and graduate forensic science programs at Central since 2009. Under the direction of Dwight Adams, Ph.D., former director of the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, the UCO FSI is dedicated to the highest quality in forensic science education, training and research for students and professionals.
The three newly accredited programs are Bachelor of Science degrees in forensic molecular biology, forensic chemistry and digital forensics. UCO joins Eastern Kentucky University as the first two universities in the nation to receive accreditation for an undergraduate digital forensics program.
Adams, noting that the importance of the FEPAC accreditation could not be overstated, said that the longtime support of UCO President Don Betz and former UCO President Roger Webb, along with Central’s experienced faculty, comprehensive curriculum, world-class facilities, and strong relationships with metro forensic laboratories and organizations were all important factors in the success of the rigorous accreditation process.
“We have grown each year since 2009 and now have over 800 undergraduate students in forensic science. However, our goal is not to be the biggest, but to be the best,” Adams said.
“This milestone of being the only program in North America to be accredited at the undergraduate level in forensic molecular biology, forensic chemistry and digital forensics demonstrates a commitment to excellence. Many of our students are finding employment in their chosen field and many employers are recruiting our students to fill vital positions in law enforcement agencies and private industry.”
All UCO forensic science students complete not one, but two degrees, pairing forensics studies with another major like biology, computer science, accounting or chemistry. These degree combinations connect UCO graduates to unique career paths in fields like DNA examination, digital forensic examination, crime scene reconstruction, forensic accounting and forensic toxicology.
Adams added that a key component to a program’s FEPAC accreditation is regular interactions with at least one operational forensic science laboratory.
“As a metropolitan university, UCO is fortunate to have a number of agencies that have helped our program succeed. The FSI enjoys tremendous professional interactions with multiple agencies in the metropolitan area that have certainly contributed to our student’s success, including the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Center, the Oklahoma City Police Department Crime Laboratory and Crime Scene Unit, the Edmond Police Department Technical Investigations Unit, the Midwest City Crime Scene Unit, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for Oklahoma, Analytical Research Laboratory and DNA Solutions in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal’s office, and others,” Adams said.
Thanks to strong academic preparation and a faculty that instills the importance of public service in its students, Central alumni can be found in numerous local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration Forensic Laboratory, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Center, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Laboratory, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory, and the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, among others.
Founded in 2004, FEPAC maintains and enhances the quality of forensic science education through formal evaluation and recognition of college-level academic programs. Programs accredited by the commission meet the highest standards for forensic science education.
For more information about FEPAC, visit www.fepac-edu.org.
For more information about the University of Central Oklahoma’s W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute, visit www.uco.edu/forensics.