Forensic Science Degrees

Updated November 10, 2022

Forensic science degree programs prepare students for careers in medical and health management. Find the best program for you!

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Investigating Evidence to Seek Justice

It seems like crime shows always call on a specialist to scour a crime scene for trace evidence or testify as an expert witness in court. While real forensic science work lacks a sinister soundtrack, professionals in this field do play a vital role in the criminal justice system. Read on to discover the many ways that people interested in a forensic science degree can delve into investigative crime work.

Best Forensic Science Programs

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#1 Forensic Science Degrees

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice provides premier programs suitable for undergraduate students. The public college offers 32 bachelor's programs. Degree-seekers benefit from a supportive learning community, top-ranked faculty, and motivated peers.

Participants in the bachelor of science in forensic science program take foundational and advanced classes, learning the ins and outs of their field. Learners can customize their study by declaring a double major, minor, or degree concentration, and can also choose elective classes. The college connects enrollees with numerous resources, such as academic advising and career services, throughout the duration of their programs.

Prospective applicants can meet with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for scholarships and other financial aid awards. According to the institution, 85% of all enrollees receive financial aid, with the average award amounting to $9,593.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,930
Out-of-state
$14,880
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
41%
Students Enrolled
15,880
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 Forensic Science Degrees

Tiffin University

  • Tiffin, OH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Learners looking to jumpstart their forensics career should consider a bachelor's degree from Tiffin University. The Ohio-based college supports both in-person and remote bachelor's programs. Undergraduate degree-seekers benefit from skilled faculty, rigorous coursework, and a supportive learning environment.

Bachelor of science in forensic science enrollees take foundational and advanced classes, learning the ins and outs of their field. Program participants can customize their studies by choosing electives and declaring minors and degree concentrations. Students benefit from institutional resources throughout their studies, including career services and academic advising.

Prospective applicants can inquire with the financial aid office about funding opportunities, and explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other aid. The school awards generous financial aid packages to students.

Average Tuition
In-state
$25,710
Out-of-state
$25,710
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
2,926
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Forensic Science Degrees

Christian Brothers University

  • Memphis, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Christian Brothers University, a private college in Memphis, Tennessee, provides flexible study options for undergraduates near and far through 61 bachelor's programs. Regardless of modality, enrollees benefit from rigorous coursework, supportive faculty and peers, and a premier education.

While enrolled, degree-seekers complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining skills and knowledge relevant to their subject field. Depending on their career goals, learners can declare a double major, minor, or degree concentration, and select elective courses. Students receive guidance throughout their studies through academic advising, career services, and other resources.

The college connects learners with numerous funding opportunities, from scholarships to federal financial aid. The school offers enrollees generous financial aid packages.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,920
Out-of-state
$32,920
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
1,968
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Forensic Science Degrees

Champlain College

  • Burlington, VT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Champlain College provides flexible study for people seeking a bachelor's-level education. Undergraduates can choose from in-person and remote degree options. Regardless of location, attendees can connect with peers, faculty, and staff through a supportive learning community. After enrollment, students join a supportive learning community, connecting with peers, faculty, and staff in person and online. 

Throughout their studies, participants in the bachelor's in computer forensics and digital investigation program complete coursework as part of the program curriculum. Degree-seekers complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining a well-rounded education. Enrollees can work with their academic advisor to modify their studies, select electives, and pursue additional coursework that suits their career goals. 

While enrolled, learners can connect with institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, to receive further guidance. Depending on eligibility, students can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. To date, 100% of all enrolled degree-seekers receive financial aid awards.

Average Tuition
In-state
$41,728
Out-of-state
$41,728
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
4,385
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#5 Forensic Science Degrees

Chestnut Hill College

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Chestnut Hill College offers numerous bachelor's programs suitable for learners from all walks of life. Students can enroll in one of 43 campus-based bachelor's programs, or opt for remote study. Attendees across modalities connect with peers and faculty through a supportive learning community.

While enrolled, forensic biology bachelor's degree-seekers complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining skills and knowledge relevant to their subject field. In consultation with an academic advisor, enrollees can customize their coursework, select electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations. Throughout their program, participants can access resources such as career services, academic advising, and library services.

Prospective applicants can inquire with the financial aid office about funding opportunities, and explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other aid. The school awards generous financial aid packages.

Average Tuition
In-state
$36,950
Out-of-state
$36,950
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
65%
Students Enrolled
1,600
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#6 Forensic Science Degrees

Bay Path University

  • Longmeadow, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Looking for a premier education to jumpstart your career? Consider one of the 24 bachelor’s degrees from Bay Path University. Located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, the private institution features in-person and virtual programs, enabling students near and far to benefit from top-ranked classes, prominent faculty, and a supportive learning community. Undergraduates benefit from skilled faculty, rigorous coursework, and a supportive learning environment.

Enrollees in the bachelor of science in forensic science program gain skills and knowledge suitable for their field of choosing through lectures, coursework, and other learning opportunities. Learners can customize their study by declaring a double major, minor, or degree concentration, and can also choose elective classes. Throughout their program, participants can access resources such as career services, academic advising, and library services.

Prospective applicants can meet with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for scholarships and other financial aid awards. The college boasts an generous financial aid award package, with 95% of all degree-seekers receiving some form of aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$35,081
Out-of-state
$35,081
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
3,324
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#7 Forensic Science Degrees

Quincy University

  • Quincy, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Quincy University, a private college in Quincy, Illinois, provides flexible study options for undergraduates near and far. The private college offers 43 bachelor's programs, two of which are fully remote. For students interested in a forensics career, the school offer a bachelor of science in digital forensics.

Degree-seekers gain skills and knowledge through classes, lectures, and experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can work with their academic advisor to modify their coursework, pick electives, and customize their learning to suit their academic and professional goals. Learners receive guidance throughout their studies through academic advising, career services, and other resources.

Based on their eligibility, students can receive scholarships, fellowships, and other financial aid awards. The school offers competitive financial aid packages. Visit the website to learn more.

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,450
Out-of-state
$30,450
Retention Rate
67%
Admission Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
1,148
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Forensic Science Degrees

Roger Williams University

  • Bristol, RI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Undergraduates seeking competitive study should consider one of Roger Williams University's bachelor's programs. To date, the college offers 76 bachelor's options, 10 of which are fully remote. Undergraduate degree-seekers benefit from skilled faculty, rigorous coursework, and a supportive learning environment.

While enrolled in the bachelor of science in forensic science program, students complete foundational and advanced coursework, gaining skills and knowledge relevant to the field. In consultation with an academic advisor, enrollees can customize their coursework, select electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations. Throughout their program, participants can access resources such as career services, academic advising, and library services.

The college connects learners with numerous funding opportunities, from scholarships to federal financial aid. The college notes that 100% of all enrollees receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,789
Out-of-state
$32,789
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
4,838
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#9 Forensic Science Degrees

Alabama State University

  • Montgomery, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Alabama State University provides flexible study for learners seeking a bachelor's-level education. Students can choose from a variety of programs, either in person or online. Degree-seekers can choose from one of 34 bachelor's programs, and potentially opt for remote study. The bachelor of science in forensic chemistry or forensic biology is one of these options.

Once enrolled, students connect with colleagues, faculty, and staff in a supportive learning community. After enrolling, learners complete coursework as part of the program curriculum. Degree-seekers also have the option to pursue experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and research projects. Enrollees can collaborate with an academic advisor to customize their program. 

Program participants can access institutional resources, such as career services and academic advising, throughout their studies. The financial aid office can connect applicants with funding opportunities, to make the costs of college manageable. According to the college, 95% of all enrollees receive financial aid, with the average student being awarded $8,378 in aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,328
Out-of-state
$16,656
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
4,190
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Forensic Science Degrees

St. Andrews University

  • Laurinburg, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

St. Andrews University offers numerous bachelor's programs suitable for learners from all walks of life. Students can choose from 24 in-person bachelor's degree options and seven remote programs. Both modalities support rigorous study, and connect attendees with premier faculty and supportive learning communities.

Enrollees in the bachelor of arts in forensic science program gain skills and knowledge suitable for the field through lectures, coursework, and other learning opportunities. Degree-seekers can work with their academic advisor to modify their coursework, pick electives, and customize their learning to suit their academic and professional goals. While enrolled, participants benefit from career and academic counselors, receiving personal and academic guidance throughout their studies.

Applicants can explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid in consultation with the financial aid office. The school offers good financial aid packages. Interested students can learn more on the college's website.

Average Tuition
In-state
$27,846
Out-of-state
$27,846
Retention Rate
49%
Admission Rate
45%
Students Enrolled
758
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#11 Forensic Science Degrees

George Mason University

  • Fairfax, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

George Mason University is a public college offering premier bachelor's-level education to students worldwide. Located in Fairfax, Virginia, the public institution offers competitive, flexible programs that can be completed in person or online. Undergraduates connect with peers, faculty, and staff through a supportive learning community. For learners interested in forensics, the school's bachelor of science in forensic science is a great choice.

After enrollment, students join a supportive learning community, connecting with peers, faculty, and staff in person and online. Degree-seekers benefit from a robust education, completing coursework that familiarizes them with their field of interest. Enrollees can also pursue internships, research projects, and experiential learning opportunities to supplement their learning.

Participants can collaborate with an academic advisor to customize their program. Throughout their studies, learners can work with career services and academic advising to receive further guidance. The college connects applicants with scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities to be applied to educational expenses. Typically, enrollees receive an average financial aid package of $6,524.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,060
Out-of-state
$32,520
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
37,863
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#12 Forensic Science Degrees

Saint Leo University

  • Saint Leo, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Saint Leo University is a private college offering premier bachelor's-level education to students worldwide. Learners can choose from a variety of programs, either in person or online. For those interested in a forensics career, the bachelor's degree in criminal justice - criminalistics program is a great choice. The college campus and online learning environment enable attendees to connect with peers, faculty, and staff during their studies.

After enrollment, degree-seekers join a supportive learning community, connecting with peers, faculty, and staff in person and online. Participants in the criminalistics program build competency through rigorous coursework and industry-relevant lectures. Enrollees can also pursue internships, research projects, and experiential learning opportunities to supplement their learning.

Learners can work with their academic advisor to modify their studies, select electives, and pursue additional coursework that suits their career goals. A leader in student success, the college connects enrollees with career services, academic advising, and other supportive resources. To defray the costs of education, applicants can apply for scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities. The institution reports that 100% of all degree-seekers receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$23,100
Out-of-state
$23,100
Retention Rate
69%
Admission Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
10,912
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
72% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#13 Forensic Science Degrees

The College of Saint Rose

  • Albany, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The College of Saint Rose offers numerous bachelor's degrees suitable for learners from all walks of life. Of its 46 bachelor's programs, some feature online components. Both modalities support rigorous study, and connect participants with premier faculty and supportive learning communities. One of the college's many options is the bachelor of science in forensic science.

Enrollees gain skills and knowledge suitable for the field through lectures, coursework, and other learning opportunities. Degree-seekers can modify their classes, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations. Students benefit from institutional resources throughout their studies, including career services and academic advising.

The college connects applicants with numerous funding opportunities, from scholarships to federal financial aid. The institution reports that 100% of all attendees receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$32,218
Out-of-state
$32,218
Retention Rate
70%
Admission Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
4,004
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#14 Forensic Science Degrees

The University of Baltimore

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students seeking a flexible bachelor's program should consider The University of Baltimore. Of its 27 bachelor's degree programs, one is offered online. For people interested in a forensics career, the bachelor of science in forensic studies is a great option. Attendees benefit from a supportive learning community, top-ranked faculty, and motivated peers.

Degree-seekers gain skills and knowledge through classes, lectures, and experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can work with their academic advisor to modify their coursework, pick electives, and customize their learning to suit their academic and professional goals. The college connects learners with numerous resources, such as academic advising and career services, throughout the duration of their programs.

Applicants can meet with a financial aid counselor to determine their eligibility for funding and explore scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of aid. On average, students receive $6,421 in financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,014
Out-of-state
$19,374
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
4,476
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#15 Forensic Science Degrees

Saint Edward's University

  • Austin, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Saint Edward's University is a private college offering hybrid education in Austin, Texas. Learners can choose from in-person or online bachelor's degree options. While enrolled, students connect with premier faculty and benefit from a supportive learning community. One of the school's top programs is the bachelor of science in forensic science.

Enrollees gain skills and knowledge suitable for the field through lectures, coursework, and other learning opportunities. Degree-seekers can modify their classes, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations. Throughout their program, participants can access resources such as career services, academic advising, and library services.

Prospective applicants can inquire with the financial aid office about funding opportunities, and explore their eligibility for scholarships, fellowships, and other aid. On average, the school provides generous award packages. Visit the website for more information.

Average Tuition
In-state
$46,690
Out-of-state
$46,690
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
3,976
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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A Quick Look at Forensic Science Degrees

There are many different career paths within the forensic science field. For example, individuals who participate in criminal investigations may engage with crime scenes, toxicology lab work, criminal pathology, or post-mortem medical examinations, depending on their specialty. They provide scientifically verifiable facts and well-supported, unbiased opinions that help deliver impartial justice. Their job requires precision and detail, crossing between the lab, interview rooms, and the court.

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences lists 11 different disciplines of
forensic science, including anthropology, digital and multimedia sciences, criminalistics, psychiatry and behavioral science, and toxicology.

The first known forensic science book was written in the 13th century by Song Chi, a Chinese judge, in which he detailed proper autopsy procedures and the first record of forensic entomology.

Most forensic science technicians are employed in medical and diagnostic
laboratories, followed by state and local governments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Hours and salary for those in the forensic science field depend on local crime levels. The states that have the highest annual salaries for forensic
science technicians are Illinois, the District of Columbia, California, Nevada, and Massachusetts, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Similar Degree Programs

For those who want to participate in the criminal justice system but are not interested in hands-on crime scene work and extensive laboratory testing, there are other education paths that prepare students for investigative or legal work.

  • Criminal Justice

    Degrees in criminal justice explore various aspects of crime, the law, and the justice system. A degree in this field opens up opportunities to work as a private investigator or law enforcement officer; a government agent; court and legal personnel; or in areas of crime-related prevention and support, such as victim help centers or substance abuse programs.
  • Computer Science

    A computer science degree program explores hardware, software, and networks. Computer forensics is a sub-discipline that helps expose criminal activity carried out using technology and establish a solid case based on computer and online evidence.
  • Law

    A computer science degree program explores hardware, software, and networks. Computer forensics is a sub-discipline that helps expose criminal activity carried out using technology and establish a solid case based on computer and online evidence.

Degree Options in Forensic Science

The first thing students may notice when researching degree programs is that forensic science fits into different departments depending on the school: chemistry, biology, psychology, or criminal justice. The varied departments reflect the varied job paths possible with a forensic science degree. Generally, students spend undergraduate years finding the area of forensic science that suits them best, while graduate programs are dedicated to narrowing a student's focus to become an expert capable of testifying in court.

Forensic Science Associate Degrees

An associate degree in forensic science exposes students to the range of topics they can pursue. Classes provide general education, transferable credits, and career preparation. An associate degree is a way to gauge what a student is interested in pursuing, and explore a range of options. There may be different departments supporting a forensic science associate degree: one as an associate in arts and one as an associate in science. Forensic science degrees in the arts explore social, behavior, and psychological classes, while forensic science degrees in science focus on chemistry, biology, and physics.

  • Type of Schools:

    Community colleges, technical schools
  • Time to Complete:

    18 months to 2 years
  • Career Opportunities:

    Parole/Probation Officer, Private Security, Entry-Level Forensics Laboratory Technician

Since an associate degree in forensic science is designed to prepare students for further education, students are required to take general education classes. The following classes typically form the basic knowledge base for a forensic science associate degree.

  • Criminal Investigation I

    Introduces criminal investigation procedures, including specific investigation tactics for selected offenses, questioning techniques for witnesses and suspects, and common problems in criminal investigations.
  • Intro. to Forensic Science

    Students learn to recognize, identify, and evaluate physical evidence, and study the role forensic science plays in modern criminal investigations.
  • General Chemistry

    Teaches the fundamental principles of chemistry, including the structure of matter, formulas and equations, chemical bonding, and the periodic table.
  • Forensic Science Analytical Techniques

    Introduces the role of the expert witness and proper procedures for handling evidence. It also explores major laboratory techniques in processing evidence.

Forensic Science Bachelor's Degrees

A bachelor's degree in forensic science combines science and law; students explore biology, physics and chemistry as well as criminal justice. Bachelor's students should know what area of forensic science they wish to focus in, and have some background classes or experience in that area. Bachelor's degree programs in forensic science prepare students for entry-level positions and for careers in criminal justice and science. Some programs have separate degree tracks for students wishing to specialize in chemistry or biology, and graduates may go on to medical school or graduate forensic science studies.

  • Type of Schools: Four-year universities and colleges
  • Time to Complete: Four years
  • Career Opportunities: Fire and Arson Investigator, Forensic Science Technician, Crime Scene Investigator, Information Security Analyst

Students may enter a forensic science bachelor's degree program with previous coursework credits that fulfill general education requirements, and so they can dive right into forensic science-specific classes such as:

  • Evidence

    Students learn how alleged matters are established or disproved. Emphasizes foundations of courtroom testimony, witness examination, dying declarations, and confessions.
  • Introduction to Toxicology

    An introductory class on what dangerous substances do to living organisms. Topics include the biochemistry of toxic substances within the body, hazards and methods of handling toxic substances, and treatment of their effects.
  • Arson Investigation

    Covers criminal and scientific investigation tactics associated with suspicious fires, including social, psychological and environmental factors associated with arson.
  • Crime Scene Processing

    Teaches the basic techniques and principals used to document, preserve, and collect physical evidence at crime scenes.

Graduate Degrees in Forensic Science

Applicants for a master's in forensic science program range from current legal professionals and criminal investigators looking to upgrade their existing skills, to students interested in pursuing a specialized career in the medical or legal fields of criminal justice. Students learn communication skills, current forensic science techniques in the field and in the lab, and greater intricacies of the law and the court system. Programs require laboratory experience, and some programs expect students to have an undergraduate degree in a laboratory science. Graduates can confidently handle crime scene procedures, legal proceedings, profiling, computer and multimedia forensics, and scientific research methodology.

  • Type of Schools: Four-year universities and colleges
  • Time to Complete: Four years
  • Career Opportunities: Drug Laboratory Technician, Toxicologist, Medical Examiner/Coroner, Forensic Science Technician

Graduate degrees help students specialize even further and develop specific skills that they can use in the forensic science field. The following are some advanced classes in forensic science that students may take, depending on their interests.

  • Forensically Oriented Human Anatomy and Physiology

    Teaches the fundamentals of human anatomy and physiology, particularly the form and function of the human body.
  • Trace Evidence

    Explores the principals and methods of physical examinations and analysis of trace evidence (such as hair, soil, and fingerprints). Students also learn about the chain of custody and how to serve as expert witnesses in a trial.
  • Forensic Serology and DNA

    Students learn about forensic identification and analysis. They compare biological evidence samples using various tactics, from electrophoresis to DNA extraction and purification procedures.
  • Forensic Anthropology

    Explores how to apply forensic anthropology in a medicolegal setting. Students learn techniques for recovering and identifying individuals, interpreting skeletal features for a biological profile, and determining cause of death from skeletal trauma.

Choosing a Forensic Science Program: Checklist

  • Blend of physical and social sciences

    While chemistry and biology classes are essential components of forensic science degrees, the field requires students to analyze human interactions and psychological principles as well. Understanding how other people think and how to communicate effectively are essential abilities that good programs cultivate in their students.

  • Internship opportunities

    Because forensic science degrees lead to hands-on careers, it is important for students to spend time in labs and in the field. There are strict legal and scientific procedures to follow, and any chance to practice in a professional setting can help prepare students for real world situations.

  • High-quality laboratory work

    Forensic science relies heavily on biology and chemistry. Testing substances and analyzing trace evidence is a key part of the job, and learning to use state-of-the-art laboratory technology develops these skills.

  • Accreditation

    Students should look for forensic science associate degree programs with accreditation from The Higher Learning Commission. Bachelor's and graduate degree programs should be accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission. This society evaluates forensic science programs for their quality and research value to the field.

  • Courtroom preparation

    The criminal justice system requires employees involved in investigations to testify in court. As a forensic expert, you may be called upon to speak knowledgeably on findings or evidence. Degree programs should prepare students with public speaking tactics and standard courtroom procedures.

Careers and Specializations for Forensic Science Graduates

Earning a degree in forensic science opens students up to careers across the criminal justice and forensic science spectrum. Explore possible career paths below with information on salary, projected job growth, and the typical education to enter the field.

Forensic Science Technician/Crime Scene Investigator

Most forensic science technicians and crime scene investigators are employed in local or state governments. They are in charge of collecting, identifying, classifying, and analyzing physical evidence to determine its relevance to a criminal investigation. They may specialize in areas such as ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, or biochemistry, and serve as expert witnesses in these areas for court cases. While laboratory forensic science technicians typically work standard hours, crime scene investigators may work extended or unusual hours and travel to crime scenes within their jurisdiction.

Projected Job Growth (2014-2024): 27%
Annual Salary (2014): $55,360
Typical Education: Bachelor's or graduate degree


Forensic Pathologist/Medical Examiner

Description: Forensic pathologists and medical examiners are required to perform autopsies, assist in investigations of suspicious deaths, and offer an objective, expert opinion in court. Most medical examiners undergo 14 years of education, including four years of medical school and five years of residency training in anatomical and clinical pathology. Employers require a doctorate degree as well as clinical or forensic pathology certification. Overall, their salaries and hours may depend on local crime levels.

Projected Job Growth (2014-2024): N/A
Annual Salary (2014): $100,200
Typical Education: Doctoral degree


Information Security Analyst

Description: Information security analysts protect an organization's computer networks and systems. They plan, upgrade, and monitor technological security measures, and prevent cyberattacks. Information security analysts work for computer companies, consulting firms, and business and financial companies. In the role of computer forensics analysts, they investigate security breaches and recover data. They may also give expert counsel about electronic evidence or train law enforcement officers in computer evidence procedures.

Projected Job Growth (2014-2024): 18%Annual Salary (2014): $88,890
Typical Education: Bachelor's degree

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Fundamental Skills and Experience

  1. 1

    Objectivity

    Forensic science professionals must evaluate evidence without bias. They back their conclusions up with facts based on extensive testing, knowledge, and experience. They must also demonstrate integrity as they carry out their duties.

  2. 2

    Knowledge of laws and legal procedures

    Dealing with evidence, crime scenes, suspects, and law enforcement is an essential part of forensic science careers. You should be familiar with laws, legal codes, government regulations, court procedures, agency rules, and the justice system's processes.

  3. 3

    Public speaking

    As expert witnesses and specialists, those in the forensic science field will have to testify in court. They must be professional, speak clearly and confidently, and support all of their conclusions with evidence.

  4. 4

    Attention to detail

    A job within forensic science requires being able to find the little details that can support larger theories. From a handwriting loop to a fleck of blood, any shred of evidence could be crucial to solving a case.

  5. 5

    Chemistry experience

    Many forensic science jobs require lab work and chemical testing. This could be to trace evidence, analyze DNA, or investigate unknown or toxic substances. Forensic science professionals should know chemical compositions and interactions, production techniques, signs that a substance is dangerous, and proper disposal methods.

  6. 6

    Pass a background check

    Forensic science workers deal with lots of sensitive information. As a result, careers in forensic science demand a high level of trust, professionalism, and ethics. Employers perform extensive background checks that review arrest and conviction records, alcohol and drug screenings, credit reports, interviews with acquaintances or friends, and/or polygraph testing.

Ongoing Support for Forensic Science Professionals

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