Course Overview

The six-week Forensic Science summer course explores the real science that underlies criminal investigations. Scientific methods are radically changing the landscape of the criminal justice system worldwide. Movies, television shows and mystery books are full of stories that involve many aspects of forensic science – but are these depictions accurate?

Those participating in this intriguing summer STEM course will explore the science of crime detection and uniquely experience forensic evidence collection and analysis. Emphasis is placed upon understanding scientific techniques used in evaluating forensic evidence. The on-campus component of the course will focus on running a variety of forensic laboratories while the online component with delve deeper into many topics of the field.

Topics covered in the course 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.

All students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Completion and have the opportunity to request a Syracuse University credit transcript.

Course Objectives

Students will:

  • Discover and explore the science behind forensic science.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of how science and engineering affects the criminal justice system.
  • Learn how work in a CSI lab is carried out, utilizing modern criminal detection methods in many scientific fields.
  • Explore the interpretation of evidence typically obtained from crime scenes.
  • Hear lectures into many subdisciplines of forensic science that may include both University faculty as well as professionals working in criminal justice and forensic science.
  • Explore lab-based forensic techniques and analysis.

Course Information

Course Prefix and Number: CHE 113

Format: Hybrid (2 weeks at Syracuse University, 4 weeks online)

Eligibility: Students must be of rising high school junior or senior status – or a 2022 high school graduate. 

Credit: 4 credits

Grading: A-F


  • Hybrid Residential-Online: $5,080
  • Hybrid Commuter-Online: $4,225

Program rates are subject to change and will be approved by the board of trustees. Discounts and scholarships are also available.

Program Information

Summer College – Hybrid: Combine on campus and online study. Experience Syracuse University on campus for two-weeks and complete the final four-weeks of your course online from the comfort of your own home – or wherever life takes you!

“I met so many amazing people and created so many great memories at Syracuse University, and I can truthfully say that this experience was a summer of a LIFETIME!”

— Tiana, Summer College Student, 2018

Course Dates and Details

ProgramCourse DatesClass Time (Eastern Time)Credit/NoncreditStatus
Summer College – HybridOn Campus Session: Sunday, July 3 – Friday, July 15, 2022
Online Session: Thursday, July 21 – Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022
On Campus Class Time:
MTWThF 9 a.m. – noon,
3 – 4:30 p.m.
Synchronous Online Class Time: Th; 6:30-7:30 p.m.
4 creditsClosed
Class times subject to change.

Course Requirements

Technology Requirements

  • Laptop or desktop computer with a webcam
  • Reliable internet access
  • A space conducive to taking an online class (without distractions)

Required Supplies

Students should budget for required textbooks and supplies.

Typical Day

Tentative Schedule

During the online portion of the course, students will have weekly synchronous (live) sessions from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. These sessions will be opportunities for students to ask questions and receive feedback from the course instructors. Most of the topical material will be presented in asynchronous lectures. Students will work independently asynchronously in reading the text, exploring additional provided learning materials, watching video lectures and similar prior to taking a quiz for each chapter. During the in-person sessions, students will spend most of their time completing a variety of forensic science laboratory experiments but will also experience daily topical lectures.

Faculty Bio

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 Clifford, ABD, laboratory instructor

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