Program Overview

The Summer College Forensic Science program provides an introduction to understanding the science behind crime scene and evidence analysis. Students enrolled in the Forensic Science program will earn 6 college credits through a class portion (4-credit) and lab (2-credit).

Photo of forensic science students working in lab
Forensic Science students at work in the lab

Scientific methods are radically changing the landscape of the criminal justice system worldwide. Those participating in this intriguing summer program for high school students will explore the science of crime detection and become part of an actual forensic crime scene team that will gather forensic evidence from a simulated crime scene. Emphasis is placed upon understanding scientific techniques used in evaluating forensic evidence.

Topics will include: blood analysis, organic and inorganic evidence analysis, microscopic investigations, hair analysis, DNA, forensic psychology, drug chemistry and toxicology, fiber comparisons, paints, glass compositions and fragmentation, fingerprints, soil comparisons, and arson investigations, among others.

Class lectures and guest speakers provide unique insights into the scientific background in forensic science. A variety of hands-on laboratory exercises enhance the student’s understanding of this science in an up-close and personal way.

I walked into the program not knowing a single thing about forensic science but what I saw on CSI: Miami. Fortunately, after being a part of the Forensic Science program, I was able to realize that forensic science interests me and it prepared me for the workload of college courses. – Summer College Forensic Science student, 2018.

Program Objectives

  • Discover and explore the science behind forensic science through lectures and special presentations
  • Gain an deeper understanding of how science and engineering affects the criminal justice system
  • Learn how CSI lab work is carried out, utilizing modern criminal detection methods in many scientific fields
  • Work individually and as teams to gather and interpret evidence from simulated crime scenes
  • Utilize the laboratory facilities of the SU Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute

Learn more about Forensic Science:

Program Dates & Details  Eligibility Requirements  Program Cost   Program Requirements   Typical Day   Faculty Bios 

Program Dates & Details

Session Dates

Session I: June 29 – August 9, 2019
Duration: 6 weeks


Credit: 6 credit

  • CHE 113 Forensic Science (4 credits)
  • FSC 200 Forensic Science Laboratory (2 credits)

Grading System: A-F

Eligibility Requirements

Students must be a minimum of 15 years of age by the orientation and move-in date. This course is recommended for rising juniors and seniors. For full Summer College admission requirements, view the Admissions Overview and Eligibility page.

Apply Now!

Program Cost

Program Costs:

  • Residential: $9,930*
  • Commuter: $7,548*

*Please visit our Program Costs page for more detailed information. Program rates are subject to change and will be approved by the board of trustees in March.

Program Requirements

Students: Laptop computers and appropriate clothing for the lab portions of the class (ie. no open toed shoes, etc.) are required.

Student Expectations

  • Participation in lecture discussions and laboratory work
  • Satisfactory performance on in-class examinations and completion of lab writeups and projects
  • Participation as part of a team, when appropriate and assigned, for assignments and projects

This is an academically rigorous, college-level program. Students are expected to complete nightly homework assignments and actively participate in group projects. Students are expected to attend all classes every day, arrive on time, and meet all academic obligations. Free time will vary as each program is unique, as is the subsequent workload.

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

Students are typically in class Monday – Thursday. The first half of the day usually consists of class lectures and guest speakers that provide the necessary scientific background and foundation of forensic science.

Afternoons, students are typically engaged in a variety of hands-on laboratory exercises that will enhance the student’s understanding of forensic science in an up-close and personal way.

When class is over, and on weekends, students can look forward to various Summer College trips and activities. Check out our Campus Activities page for more information!

Final Academic Obligation

Students are permitted to depart campus after August 8, 2019 at 5:00pm. If students have any questions regarding their final academic obligation, we encourage them to reach out to their instructor. Please refer to the Move-Out page for important information regarding the checkout process.

Faculty Bios

James T. Spencer — Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor, Chemistry

Dr. James Spencer joined the faculty at Syracuse University in 1986 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia. Prof. Spencer has recently received several honors for his research and teaching work including the “Distinguished Achievements in Boron Science” Award from the BUSA International Conference. He is the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he received the Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence, the highest award recognition for SU faculty and staff in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship and creative work. He also received the Excellence in Teaching Award from University College in 2009. He has been active in organizing a variety of scientific meetings for both the American Chemical Society and the BUSA International Conference, in addition to serving as co-chair for the 10th and 11th Foresight Conferences on Molecular Nanotechnology. Dr. Spencer has presented numerous invited lectures including at the IMEBORON X International Conference, the Gordon Research Conference in Inorganic Chemistry, and the International Symposium on Solid State Imaging and CVD. He has also served as a consultant for the Lockheed Martin Corporation, General Electric Corporation, the Merix Corporation, and International Business Machines, among others. At Syracuse University, Dr. Spencer has chaired the Faculty Council, the Senate Research Committee, and the College’s Promotion and Tenure Committee. He is the author of over 80 papers and has presented over 200 lectures at regional, national and international venues.Spencer’s research involves the study of solid-state, main group and organometallic chemistry and includes projects in solid state chemistry on boron-containing and nanostructural materials.

Dr. Spencer founded the University’s Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI) where he currently serves as its Executive Director. The Institute brings together work from many disciplines and provides a program of excellence, uniquely positioned to make significant contributions to combat crime and promote national security through research, teaching, and professional outreach: the nation’s first program that comprehensively focuses upon the breadth and depth scholarship in forensic and national security sciences and is establishing groundbreaking research based upon rigorous scientific investigation and technical ability. Professor Spencer’s teaching was also recently recognized by the Excellence in Teaching Award from University College in 2009. He has completed work on a new introductory textbook in Forensic Science, to be published by Cengage – the world’s largest publisher of scientific textbooks.

Spencer also directs the national award-winning Syracuse University Brass Ensemble, having begun his studies at SUNY Potsdam in brass music. The Ensemble is composed of over thirty-five professional-level musicians. The Ensemble is a year round organization which presents some twenty performances each year.

Elizabeth Burns – Adjunct Professor, Forensic Science

Elizabeth C. Burns has been teaching chemistry at Fairport High School since September 2001 and has taught the Syracuse University Forensic Science course (CHE 113) at since September 2004. She recently received the distinction of Master Teacher from the New York State Department of Education and holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from LeMoyne College and a Master of Science in Education from Nazareth College. In July 2013, Prof. Burns joined Syracuse University summer college faculty to teach the Summer College Forensic Science course. Prior to her career in teaching, she has also held chemistry-related research roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eastman Kodak Company. Prof. Burns is actively involved at Fairport High School serving on several faculty committees. She is also an active member in the Rochester Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS), where she serves as a member at large on the Executive Committee and chairs the ACS High School Awards night, which recognizes outstanding student achievement in chemistry.