FRSC 492: Independent Study

While there is no independent study, internship, or research experience required as part of the undergraduate experience in Forensic Science, many students find opportunity during their time here at VCU to perform research.

Interest Meetings were held 

Friday, January 27 10:30-11am in Harris Hall South 2019

Friday, April 7 10-10:30am in Harris Hall South 2019

For more information, contact Dr. Connon at

For Fall 2017, the following Faculty request assistance with their research:

  • Dr. Connon
    • Courses completed: FRSC 300 and FRSC 385 or FRSC/Z 438 (minimum grade of B)
    • Projects: I am currently in need of a student with significant computer science and/or bioinformatics experience that can assist with generating a searchable DNA profile database for a sibling study. This student does not have to be a forensic science major or have completed FRSC 300, 385 or 438, but successful completion (minimum grade of B) of BIOL 151, 201, or 310 is preferred.
    • Contact:
  • Dr. Ehrhardt
    • Courses completed: negotiable, interest in Biology preferred
    • Projects: characterization of organic materials
    • Contact: email
To study independently, students must be approved by the Undergraduate Director.  This application process includes a written two- to three-page proposal detailing the work in which you will be engaged and the contract signed by both the student and mentor.

Click here to view/download the FRSC 492 Contract

The proposal should include:

  1. An introduction providing background information and the goals and/or objectives of the work
  2. A description of the work to be performed, including any experimental design and a budget (if no costs are anticipated, please include this information)
  3. A timetable for the conduct and completion of the work which includes the completion of a mandatory final report, to be submitted to a faculty member, detailing the results of the work.

The Deadline for Proposals is 5pm on the 7th business day following the start of classes. (Spring 2017: January 25)

Proposals should be turned in electronically to Dr. Connon.

Independent Study Qualifications

To qualify for an independent study, an undergraduate student must be a junior or a senior Forensic Science major with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5.

Academic Credit Requirements

Students earn academic credit by completing the following requirements:

  1. Identify a supervising faculty member with whom he/she will conduct the independent study and agree on the general project and number of credits during the semester prior to performing the work. Minimum hours of supervised activity are three hours per week per credit hour. The grading is letter-grade based.
  2. Students and their supervising faculty mentor must complete the Contract . Once this is turned in to and approved by the Undergraduate Director, she will request an override.
  3. Once an override is granted, students will be notified by email to complete the registration process.  Students may enroll during pre-registration, registration or add/drop.
  4. Students must prepare a 2- to 3-page Proposal with advisement from the supervising faculty member. The proposal should detail the work in which the student will be engaged, including:
    • An introduction providing brief background information and the goals and/or objectives of the work
    • A description of the work to be performed, including any experimental design and a budget (if no costs are anticipated, please include this information)
    • A detailed weekly-timetable for the conduct and completion of the work, including the submission of a final report

If two students will be working on a project, a joint proposal may be submitted, but must contain detailed descriptions of each student’s responsibilities for the overall project.

  1. The supervising faculty member will review the proposal and, upon accepting it, the student will email the proposal to the Undergraduate Director for final authorization. The program director will inform the student and faculty member of the acceptance or rejection of the proposal.
  2. All proposal requests must be submitted to the Undergraduate Director by 5pm on the tenth day of class for the semester (or fifth day for the summer session). All students registered for independent study who fail to meet this deadline will be dropped from the class the following Monday.
  3. A final scholarly report must be submitted to receive a passing grade. The format and contents of the report are left primarily to the discretion of the supervising faculty member. The report should include, in some form, the following:
    • an introduction providing background information and the goals and/or objectives of the work
    • a methods section
    • data with numbered tables, photos or figures
  4. Submit a draft of the final report to the supervising faculty member no later than the Wednesday prior to the beginning of final exams. The supervising faculty member will provide feedback on the draft.
  5. Submit the final version of the final report to the supervising faculty member by the agreed upon date.
  6. In addition to the final report, recommended areas for assessment or evaluation of the student might include:
    • Time Management
      • including an approximately weekly demonstration of how hours will be accumulated & spent
      • 1 credit hour is equal to 3 hours of work per week in the laboratory (so a 3 credit hour FRSC 492 will be a minimum of 9 hours/week in the lab)
    • Punctuality
    • Attitude
    • Self-Reliance
    • Productivity

Final Reports and any additional accompanying paperwork should be electronically turned in to Dr. Connon by the first day of final exams (Spring 2017: May 4)


Effective Summer 2015 moving forward

All students all required to take the online CITI course on RCR as soon as they sign up for FRSC 492. This online course is hosted by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) and can be found at: At this site, “Create an Account” will take trainees to a page where they enter their organization (VCU), their account information, and their choice of general RCR training. Training is free but requires a account.

For more information on this new policy, please visit VCU’s Policy on Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) and Scholarship