FEPAC Call for Comments on Proposed Update to Standard 3.5 Faculty

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Source: Nancy J. Jackson, AAFS Accreditation and Outreach Coordinator

Pursuant to the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) Policies & Procedures, Policy 1.4 Scope of Accreditation, FEPAC promotes academic quality through the formal accreditation of forensic science programs in the United States and abroad.

FEPAC accredits forensic science education programs that lead to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in forensic science or in a natural science with a forensic science concentration. FEPAC will also accredit bachelor’s or master’s degree programs with a digital evidence concentration and a bachelor’s degree program with a crime scene investigations concentration.

Based on a recent call for comments on crime scene investigations standards, the FEPAC Standard 3.5 Faculty was addressed. The current standard requires 50% of full-time faculty to have an appropriate doctoral degree. In a crime scene investigations concentration, many qualified faculty members come from a crime scene investigation career that does not require a PhD. This also holds true for a digital evidence career and faculty.

Based on these comments, the following update, in red, is proposed for Standard 3.5 Faculty:

Standard 3.5 Faculty

All faculty members shall be appropriately qualified, by education and experience, to implement the instructional program. Forensic science faculty includes any faculty or instructional staff member who teaches a forensic science course or a support course designed specifically for the program.

  1. The scientific and educational capabilities of the faculty shall be distributed over the major areas of the program. The number of faculty members shall be sufficient to ensure regular offerings of all courses needed for the degree program. Students shall not experience delays in graduating because of lack of course offerings.
  2. Faculty members with working experience in a forensic science laboratory are preferred. However, over reliance on part-time or adjunct faculty members may be deemed inadequate institutional support.
  3. Full-time faculty teaching in graduate programs shall have demonstrated research activity appropriate to their institution’s mission.
  4. Full-time faculty members shall oversee all coursework and ensure its applicability to the program’s mission, goals, and objectives.
  5. The following requirements apply separately to each degree program (e.g., B.S., M.S):
    • at least 50% of the full-time forensic science faculty shall have an appropriate doctoral degree except for Crime Scene Investigations and Digital Evidence programs only, where 100% of the full-time faculty shall have at least an appropriate master’s degree plus 5 years relevant experience; and
    • at least 50% of the forensic science credit hours in a program must be taught by full-time faculty.
  6. The program shall have well-defined policies and procedures to recruit, appoint, and promote qualified faculty, to evaluate the competence and performance of faculty, and to support the professional development and advancement of faculty.

FEPAC is soliciting comments on its draft proposed for this standard and welcomes your comments and suggestions.

Please direct your comments prior to February 15, 2021, to Nancy J. Jackson, Accreditation Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator at njackson@aafs.org.

Thank you.