Course Outline

The Certificate in Professional Investigation online program covers the following topics:

  • Foundations of Professional Investigation

    This module gives an overview of the investigative profession, and discusses how professional investigators assist attorneys, businesses, and the public in a variety of cases. It covers the investigative process and the conduct, skills, and traits required of professional investigators. As the foundation for the certificate program, it focuses on the three primary areas of investigation (research, interviews, and surveillance) and previews the higher-level modules.

  • Internet Research

    Internet intelligence is one of the newest and most vital skills areas for the professional investigator. This cutting-edge curriculum will expose students to both the tools and the methods for conducting investigative research online. Students will learn best practices for obtaining reliable information.

  • Investigative Research

    Traditional library and public record searches are effective and vital aspects of any investigation. Through visits to courthouses and other public offices, students learn techniques and best practices of investigative research, and discover the many types of information available through this research. Students also learn how best to apply and present the information obtained through this type of investigation.

  • Investigative Interviewing

    This module focuses on conducting investigative interviews of various subjects and on planning, conducting, recording, interpreting, and presenting the results of interviews. The training makes use of video clips and role playing to demonstrate and reinforce interviewing behaviors and techniques.

  • Investigative Surveillance

    In this module, students learn about a variety of surveillance techniques and practice how to conduct typical surveillance assignments. The module covers when to use a particular technique and how to use and select the appropriate technology. Students also learn how to prepare and present the results of surveillance activities to clients.

  • The Law and the Private Investigator

    This module focuses on the role of the investigator within the legal system. Students learn how to apply investigative skills to a range of legal matters, including civil, domestic, and criminal actions. The module examines how civil and criminal cases proceed, as well as legal strategies, legal terminology, and laws pertaining to investigative practices. Providing expert testimony is also covered and practiced in this module.


Students seeking to enroll in Professional Investigation program must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a High School Diploma or GED
  • Have a solid command of the English language
  • Possess basic computer skills, including a basic working knowledge of word processing programs and a web browser
  • A completed application and letter of reference from a non-family member, submitted to Boston University

Course Materials and System Requirements

  • Required Text Uncovering Reasonable Doubt: The Component Method, by Brandon A. Perron (Morris Publishing, Kearney, NE, 1998). ISBN: 0-9670615-0-4Students in the classroom program are encouraged to purchase this text before the class starts. It is available through Barnes & Noble @ Boston University. Students in the online course will have the book shipped to them directly from Boston University.
  • Camera For the surveillance module, you will need a 35mm SLR camera for assignments. It may be an analog (film) or digital camera. Please check with family and friends about borrowing one if you do not have your own. The typical aim-and-shoot kind of camera will not produce the types of photos required for this module.
  • Video Camera For the interview module, you will need a video camera that can record an interview of approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The video camera can be a cell phone or an actual video recorder, as long as it can be downloaded to a CD for review.
  • System Requirements You will need access to a computer and the Internet. The following System Requirements are needed to successfully complete the program. Click for system requirements.