Forensic Hair Analysis

Course Details

Hooke College of Applied Sciences offers this special forensics course as an initial introduction to forensic hair comparison. This course introduces the student to the techniques for the analysis of animal and human hairs, and introduces the student to the principles and practice of forensic hair comparison using microscopy and identifying what hair samples are suitable for DNA analysis. The course concentrates on practical use of the stereomicroscope, polarizing microscope and comparison light microscope for the forensic comparison of human and non-human hairs for the purpose of determining whether a known sample can be included or excluded as a possible source of an evidential hair. Microscopical hair analysis does not provide a basis for positive identification/personal identification and the limitations to an examination will be discussed. This course does not provide hands-on instruction in DNA analysis, although the subject is discussed because it is essential to a forensic hair comparison. There is instruction in the characterization of hair roots for purposes of selecting hairs for nuclear vs mitochondrial DNA analysis.

This course includes emphasis on scientific principles, objectivity, critical thinking, careful observation, and communication that lay the foundation for professional hair comparisons, as well as the history of the discipline, relevant literature, methodologies, validation studies, instrumentation, statistics, knowledge of related fields, and testimony.

At the conclusion of this course, the student should be capable of conducting hair examinations under direct supervision, and continuing the necessary study and practice required for proficiency. Competency and continued proficiency need to be proven in the home laboratory to the satisfaction of the home laboratory.

  • Microscopy: Köhler illumination, balanced illumination, contrast, and mountants
  • Hair Evidence: history and value, hair variation, and sampling
  • Transfer: persistence; contamination control
  • Growth and development: follicles; roots
  • Hair microscopy: gross appearance, surface features, internal structure, and hair micrometry
  • Laboratory exercises: mountants, infiltration, castings, cross-sections, and diameter measurements
  • Biological profile: species origin, racial origin, somatic origin, tips, deposition, and microtraces
  • Hair comparison: attributes; significance and limitations
  • Features: color, structure, and treatment
  • Lab practical: hair comparison
  • Protocal: guidelines; DNA
  • Conclusions: report and testimony

Upon completion of this course the student will be able to:

  • Describe the history and value of forensic hair comparisons
  • Collect and preserve questioned and known hairs for comparison
  • Explain the transfer and persistence of hair evidence
  • Use proper microscope illumination and mounting media for microscopical hair comparisons
  • Describe the growth and development of hairs and how hairs vary
  • Perform detailed microscopical study of hairs, including the study of surface features and internal structures
  • Recognize the features of hair that make up its biological profile, including species origin, ethnic origin, somatic origin, roots, tips and alteration
  • Explain the attributes of a forensic hair comparison, including possible sources of error
  • Recognize the features of human and non-human hairs used for comparison, including those involving color, structure and treatment
  • Conduct a forensic hair comparison and report the results
  • Select human hairs for nuclear DNA analysis based on root morphology
  • Inexperienced forensic scientists and criminalists with new responsibilities for hair analysis
  • Experienced forensic hair examiners who desire additional training
  • DNA analysts who require training for hair analysis

All instrumentation, materials, and supplies necessary for successful completion of this course will be provided onsite by Hooke College of Applied Sciences.

No prerequisites.

Students are expected to successfully complete a variety of tasks in the form of hands-on exercises, laboratory exercises, identifications of unknowns, and quizzes. Students are notified at the end of the course whether or not they have successfully completed the requirements of the course based on:

  • 100% Attendance
  • Class participation
  • Completion of all course material
  • Completed and signed student evaluation form

Upon successfully meeting these requirements, a student is awarded a certificate of completion and CEU credits, if available. Those who have not successfully passed the course requirements do not receive a certificate or CEU credits.

Please see our General Policies page for information related to course registration and cancellation.


Accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), an internationally recognized organization for standards and authorization for continuing education and training, Hooke College of Applied Sciences provides a research-based learning experience taught by some of the best experts in the industry.

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