Colleges with Forensic Analysis Programs: How to Choose

Dec 06, 2019

Forensic analysis programs prepare students to collect and examine evidence gathered at a crime scene for civil and criminal court cases. Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs are available through some 2- and 4-year colleges to prepare individuals for this field.

Forensic analysts perform biological, chemical and physical tests to identify individuals and other information pertinent to an investigation. Students can find both undergraduate and graduate-level training in this field.

Schools with Forensic Science Programs

These schools offer programs related to forensic science and crime scene investigation:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (In-state, 2018-2019)*
Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR 4-year, Public Associate $8,607
California State University-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Minor option, Master's $6,749 undergrad, $7,176 grad
Buffalo State University-SUNY Buffalo, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $8,210 undergrad, $11,090 graduate
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $7,270 undergrad, $10,770 graduate
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Master's $18,132
Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $18,454 undergrad, $21,540 graduate
West Virginia University Institute of Technology Morgantown, WV 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $8,856 undergrad, $9,990 graduate
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, Public Master's $52,816
George Washington University Washington, DC 4-year, Private Master's $30,780

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

The following items should be considered when selecting a forensic science school:

  • Students should make sure they meet the minimum admissions requirements of the program they are considering. For instance, associate and bachelor's degree programs in forensic science usually require applicants to have completed two years of math and one year each of high school physics, chemistry and biology. Master's degree program prerequisites usually include possession of a bachelor's degree in a scientific field, but they can also include experience working as a forensic analyst.
  • Prospective students should examine the curricula of the programs they are considering to ensure that they provide adequate preparation for their intended career. For instance, some forensic science programs may offer career-specific courses or specializations for aspiring analysts.
  • When selecting a forensic analysis bachelor's or master's degree program, individuals should ensure that the Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) has accredited the program.
  • Students with scheduling constraints should consider the number and extent of required internships in a school's program: most bachelor's and master's programs require at least one internship. In master's degree programs, this internship requirement may be in addition to any thesis requirement.

Forensic Analysis Associate's Degree

These programs consist of approximately 60 credit hours, or two years of study. In addition to field-specific classes, students must also complete general education coursework. Credits earned in these programs are often transferable to a 4-year college or university program.

Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science

These programs consist of an average of 120 credit hours or four years of study. Students take basic forensic courses, and are sometimes permitted to focus their studies on chemistry or biology. Most programs include lab work, field trips to local labs and internships or research projects.

Master of Science in Forensic Science

These programs consist of 38-60 credit hours. The majority of master's degree programs require students to complete a thesis on a topic of their choice, but some schools permit degree candidates to instead complete a capstone project and final exam.

By enrolling in an undergraduate or graduate program that includes hands-on training and scientific coursework, aspiring forensic analysts can get the training they need to start working in the field.

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