Forensic Investigative
Genetic Genealogy (FIGG)Online Graduate Certificate

The Next Generation of Forensic Investigations

The fully online Graduate Certificate in Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy (FIGG) is the first program of its kind in the world. It provides individuals from the public and private sectors with a depth and breadth of knowledge and training in the core competencies necessary to effectively carry out Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy investigations. This comprehensive program provides a unique opportunity to broaden your education and develop key knowledge and skills in this specialized field.

The program begins with the most up-to-date primer on the fundamentals of forensic biological evidence and the current forensic DNA profiling workflow that is practiced in forensic investigations, prior to the use of Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy. Following this, the program explores advanced DNA testing methods for genetic genealogy purposes with the goal of harvesting probative information from biological evidence to infer genetic relatedness between individuals. The curriculum will focus on the use of the many tools available to make connections between genetic matches/relatives that are identified in the public genetic genealogy databases approved for use by law enforcement. Next, you will gain significant knowledge in genealogical research using documentary evidence and the building of family trees, with a strong focus on adhering to the Genealogical Standards. You will learn how to critically evaluate and correlate accurate records to reach credible conclusions about identities and relationships using reliable sources. The program culminates in a practical experience where you will put your newly gained knowledge and skills to the test through investigating a mock forensic investigative genetic genealogy case, with the goal of demonstrating your professional competency in the use of this novel investigative tool. This comprehensive educational program will provide you with the knowledge and skills to efficiently and, importantly, accurately use this novel investigative tool in both forensic/criminal investigations and family history research.

Key Features:

  • Format: 100% online
  • Course delivery: Asynchronous (i.e., no live class times/lectures)
  • Time to complete program: 2 full academic semesters (Fall and Spring), split into two mini-terms per full semester
  • Term Schedule: One course per mini-term, taken in sequence
  • Cohort program: Students begin the program in the Fall semester and complete the program at the end of the Spring semester
  • New program cohort begins every Fall
  • Four 3-credit courses required (12 credits total)
  • Tuition is charged at the graduate per-credit rate. Click here for current tuition information
  • 30% tuition discount for current members of the Law Enforcement/Forensic Science community

Application Information for the 2024/2025 cohort of program:

  • Priority Application Deadline: June 1, 2024
  • Priority Application Review: June 1-7, 2024
  • Priority Admissions Decisions Letters Released: June 8, 2024
  • Enrollment Deposit Deadline: July 15, 2024
  • Waitlisted Application Review: July-August 2024

Course Term Delivery Credits
FORS 6600 Fundamentals of Forensic Biological Evidence* Fall I mini-term; 7 weeks 3
FORS 6601 Genetic Genealogy Principles and Methods Fall II mini-term; 7 weeks 3
FORS 6602 Genealogical Principles and Methods Spring I mini-term; 7 weeks 3
FORS 6603 FIGG Practicum Spring II mini-term; 7 weeks 3
Total Credits 12

*For students who are experienced forensic practitioners and therefore do not need the content delivered in the first course (FORS 6600), this course can be substituted with FORS 6604 Forensic DNA Phenotyping: Appearance and Ancestry (delivered Fall II mini-term), or a crediting exam, or another course of interest pending discussion and approval with the Program Director.

    • A bachelor’s degree (any discipline).
    • Transcripts of all former degrees.
    • A Resume/Curriculum Vitae.
    • Personal Statement (Discussing why you are suited to the program, your prior relevant experience, etc.)
    • Letters of Recommendation are not required.
    • GRE is not required.
  • Unfortunately, no. No exceptions can be made. As this is a Graduate-level program, we must require a bachelor’s degree for entry. The University of New Haven is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), and therefore, we are required to ensure that all graduate students have the requisite qualifications to be enrolled in our graduate programs.

  • Yes! If you were waitlisted in a previous review and you were not offered a place due to the program being full, you can request for your application to be transferred to the next round of reviews for the following cohort. You are welcome to update your application at any time. Please be advised, that waitlisted applicants who have their application transferred to the next cohort review are not automatically given preference or ranked higher than new applicants. All applicants are evaluated equally for each round of reviews for the next cohort.

  • No. Previous/current students have a broad range of experiences and backgrounds. Some students have had no genealogy experience prior to the program, while others have had extensive genealogy experience.

  • No, however, it is recommended to have some previous knowledge/education in science-related topics such as the basics of cell and molecular biology, genetics, etc.

  • No. The program is designed as a cohort, and therefore each course builds on the previous and must be taken in sequence.

  • All courses are fully online and delivered asynchronously (i.e., no live class times). Each course is composed of modules that are published on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. The courses are composed of recorded lectures, required readings and practical assignments. At the end of each module, there are various assignments due, e.g., written assignments, projects, practical tasks, quizzes, etc. Therefore, students have weekly modules to complete.

  • Each of the four courses are 3 graduate credits. Consistent with federal regulations, the University of New Haven defines a “credit hour” as one hour of instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for full-term courses (15 weeks) or the equivalent amount of work/hours for mini-term courses (7 weeks).

    On average, students spend between 15-25 hours per week through the courses in this program. This will vary from student to student, as some students spend longer or shorter time on assignments, reviewing lectures and readings, etc.

  • The program is fully online, however, it is not self-paced. Throughout each course in the program, modules are published weekly. Each module has deadlines for assignments, projects, quizzes, etc. Therefore, while students can review lecture recordings, materials, etc., for each module in their own time to fit their schedule, students must keep up to date on all assignment deadlines.

  • There are no internships offered through the practicum course anymore. It is necessary that students complete the Practicum course by undergoing a full mock case in order to display their competency. However, organizations/agencies regularly contact us seeking suitable candidates for either internships or employment. Therefore, we regularly connect suitable candidates who have completed the program with these organizations/agencies.

  • Currently there are not any scholarships available from the university for this program. Some prior students have sourced scholarships from their local communities and/or professional bodies for continuing education.

  • Currently enrolled UNH graduate students may add this certificate to their studies only after consultation with the academic advisor of your primary degree program. If your advisor approves, please fill out the Graduate Certificate Election Form, located in mycharger, in the Registrars Forms section.

    Credits from this certificate can be applied to your Masters degree, if you have sufficient electives credits available.

  • This question cannot be answered because this program is a micro-credential. Therefore, many people who enroll in the program are doing so to “up-skill” and they are already working full-time in their chosen career (e.g., law enforcement/forensic/legal professionals, etc.). They are using their newly gained knowledge and applying it within their current employment. In addition, other students enroll in the program with the goal of volunteering for various non-profit organizations, while others seek a career change, and are actively working or are seeking employment in the FIGG industry.

  • As this is a growing field, employment prospects are frequently evolving. There are many private sector companies that offer FIGG services to law enforcement agencies. In addition, many public sector agencies/forensic laboratories have developed/developing FIGG units in-house. We are seeing an increase in positions advertised with several of the private sector companies and also public sector agencies.

  • No. There is a difference between being “Certified” in anything and having a Certificate in anything. Obtaining a certificate in a discipline is evidence of education in that field of study. Being certified in a discipline is only obtained by displaying competence in that field and is usually only awarded by a governing body within that industry. There currently does not exist any forensic industry recognized “certification” for the field of forensic investigative genetic genealogy.

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Our faculty are leaders and innovators in their fields, bringing both deep professional experience and academic rigor to the classroom.

Required Courses
  • Fall I mini-term: August to October (7 weeks)

    This course introduces the student to forensic biological evidence and how it relates to forensic investigations from the crime scene to the crime lab. The recognition, preservation, identification, individualization, evaluation, and reconstruction of biological evidence will be covered. Students will be introduced to the forensically relevant biological evidence types typically encountered in forensic investigations, such as hair, skin cells, teeth, bone, blood, semen, saliva, etc. The biological origins, processing, identification, and interpretation of these evidence types will be examined. The fundamentals of traditional Forensic DNA profiling (STR profiling) and an overview of criminal DNA databases will also be covered.

    *For experienced forensic practitioners, this course may be substituted with another course pending discussion and approval with the program director.

  • Fall II mini-term: October to December (7 weeks)

    This course introduces the student to the field of Genetic Genealogy and how it is currently applied in a forensic setting. Students will learn the structure and inheritance patterns of autosomal, Y-chromosomal, X-chromosomal, and mitochondrial DNA, and how they are used to identify, verify, and connect genetically related individuals. Students will become familiar with the different technologies currently available for generating the necessary genetic profiles for upload to databases to identify genetic matches/relatives. Students will learn how to use various third-party tools to interpret the results and extrapolate information from them to deduce genetic connections between individuals. Current laws, policies, and ethical considerations will also be covered.

  • Spring I mini-term: January to March (7 weeks)

    This course introduces the student to genealogical research, analysis, and writing techniques using documentary evidence. The Genealogy Standards of the Board for Certification of Genealogists will be emphasized. Methods for planning research, collecting, organizing, and documenting data, reasoning from evidence, and writing genealogical proof will be applied. The student will learn effective search and analysis techniques for common genealogical sources, e.g. censuses, vital records, immigration and naturalization records, land records, probate records, newspapers, etc. The Genealogical Proof Standard will be applied to measure the credibility of conclusions from genealogical investigations.

  • Spring II mini-term: March to May (7 weeks)

    This practicum course is not a typical course with lecture content and        assignments. Instead, it is a practical experience where the student will put their newly gained knowledge and skills into practice while being mentored and guided throughout. The student will undertake a mock FIGG case/investigation. A comprehensive report detailing the documented methods used, the results/outcomes, and final conclusions will be submitted, along with a full set of records collected and trees built. This practicum experience provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate they have gained the fundamental core competencies and achieved the overall objectives of the entire program.

  • Fall I mini-term: August to October (7 weeks)

    Forensic DNA phenotyping is an intelligence-driven selection of DNA analyses and inference methods that can generate information on the externally visible characteristics and biogeographic ancestry of an individual from DNA. Its application allows investigators to narrow down a list of potential crime scene trace donors, or provide leads to cold, and missing persons identification cases when all other avenues of investigation are stalled. In this course you will cover the laboratory, computational and statistical processes that allow the prediction of eye, hair and skin color using multiple tools (i.e. HIrisPlex-S, Snipper-suite), as well as the approaches used to infer continental/sub-population ancestry of an unknown individual, from DNA

Admissions Requirements

As this is a Graduate level certificate, applicants must hold a minimum of a Bachelors degree to apply. While it is encouraged that applicants have a Bachelors degree in a scientific discipline, all disciplines will be considered.

For application – a resume, transcripts of former degree(s), and a brief statement of purpose are required. The GRE and letters of recommendation are not required.

Tuition and Fees

Click here to view our most-updated graduate tuition and fees for each academic year.

For current members of the law enforcement community and operational casework laboratory personnel (private/state/federal), there is a 30% tuition discount available pending confirmation of current employment. Click here to learn more about our discount programs.

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