NJIT’s undergrad forensics program awarded national accreditation

The undergraduate forensic science program at New Jersey Institute of Technology has been awarded full accreditation from the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences — a distinction held by less than 35 undergraduate forensics programs nationwide.

FEPAC is regarded as the main accrediting body for college-level forensic science education in the U.S., recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

The news marks an important milestone for NJIT’s forensic science program, which became one of the first in the state when it launched in 2018 under the university’s College of Science and Liberal Arts.

Since then, the program has more than tripled its enrollment — boasting one of the highest percentages of female students of any STEM degree program at NJIT, while also increasing the number of Newark-area residents pursuing STEM degrees on campus through its Forensic Science Initiative.

“I am immensely proud of this significant milestone. NJIT now stands as the first university in New Jersey to secure accreditation for its undergraduate forensic science degree from FEPAC,” CSLA Dean Kevin Belfield, who spearheaded the formation of the 120-credit B.S. degree, said. “This esteemed recognition is reserved for only the most exceptional forensic science programs, emphasizing our unwavering commitment to providing an outstanding education that adheres to the highest standards in forensic science. Our goal is to equip our students with the knowledge and skills essential for thriving careers in this ever-evolving and crucial field.”

The achievement is a true reflection of the dedication and expertise of the school’s faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science, with special acknowledgment to the program’s director, David Fisher, and the forensic science professor of practice, Kevin Parmelee.

“What makes this accreditation such a coveted achievement is that it recognizes and distinguishes high-quality forensic science programs,” Fisher said. Fisher became the program’s director after serving as a criminalist with New York City’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner for 17 years. “Deciding on where to attend college is a big decision for students, and having this distinction allows students to feel confident that they are making a good choice in selecting NJIT to study forensic science.”

Over the past five years, the growth of the program has established NJIT as a focal point for forensic science education in the New York metropolitan region, housing state-of-the-art forensic laboratories and other specialized instructional spaces such as a crime scene facility and vehicles on campus designated for mock crime scene investigations.

The program’s emphasis on applied research, including fieldwork with faculty on high-profile cases as well as cutting-edge laboratory procedures used by forensic scientists at state and federal levels, has opened doors to a range of professional opportunities for graduating students. Such opportunities have included roles with Northern Regional State Medical Examiner’s Office in Newark as medicolegal death investigators, to positions in violent crime units with the Department of Justice.

Fisher said career prospects for students of the program will only strengthen with FEPAC accreditation.

The commission’s grant of full accreditation extends to the program’s degree concentrations in forensic biology and forensic chemistry. NJIT’s forensic program’s newest concentration in the rapidly growing field of digital forensics is expected to be awarded FEPAC accreditation next year when it becomes eligible.