Crime Scene Investigation Certificate Program and Course Information

Crime scene investigation certificates are available from both undergraduate- and graduate-level programs. Learn about each type of program, including common coursework, as well as career and salary info and additional educational avenues.

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Essential Information

Undergraduate crime scene investigation certificate programs introduce students to the forensic science field and usually take about two semesters to complete. A bachelor's degree is often required for forensic technician positions; however, graduates of this program may secure entry-level lab positions or specialize in a specific type of forensic analysis, such as firearms or DNA.

Students who already have a bachelor's degree could consider a graduate-level certificate program in crime scene investigation - which can also found as a forensic investigation program. Some programs may require applicants to have law enforcement or forensic experience. These graduate programs typically require 5-7 courses and can be completed in one year. Students take advanced forensic science courses and learn more about specific crime scene investigation techniques and procedures, including evidence collection and criminal procedures. Graduates are prepared for forensic technician positions; those wishing to work for a police department may need additional law enforcement training, such as from a police academy.

Undergraduate Certificate in Crime Scene Investigation

Students in this certificate program acquire technical skills related to examining crime scenes, including the collection and preservation of evidence. They learn skills in fingerprint analysis and substance testing. Students might also develop learn about case preparation, interrogations and providing testimonies. Those interested in this field must be able to handle gruesome scenes; analyzing bloodstains and viewing decaying corpses can be part of the job.

An undergraduate certificate program in crime scene investigation can be completed in about one year. To be considered for admission, students are generally required to have successfully completed high school or a GED program.

Generally, the curriculum for such a program is focused on developing career-oriented investigation skills. The content of the coursework allows a student to explore subjects such as forensic science, medical biology or legal studies. Course topics might include crime scene management, criminalistics, and autopsy investigation in addition to the following:

  • Crime scene photography
  • Fingerprints
  • Medical vocabulary
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Forensic entomology (study of insect behavior on dead bodies)

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Graduate Certificate in Crime Science Investigation

Graduate certificate programs in crime scene investigation may also be known as forensic investigation programs. Students in these programs learn to collect, analyze and preserve physical evidence taken from a crime scene. More specific topics, like death via child abuse or the types of tools used in a murder, may also be covered. Students may also learn to apply scientific theory and methods to the law enforcement field so that they may assist in serving justice.

The minimum education requirement for such a program is a bachelor's degree. Some programs may be designed for those already working in the law enforcement and criminal justice fields. Upon program completion, students might pursue careers as criminalists, forensic science technician or crime lab technicians.

Students might complete coursework throughout the natural sciences. However, the focus of the curriculum generally focuses on the forensic sciences and might include topics such as trace evidence analysis, forensic pathology, and fingerprints in addition to the following:

  • Homicide investigations
  • Criminal procedures
  • Digital evidence
  • Firearm identification

Popular Career Options

Careers within the field of crime scene investigation typically require a bachelor's degree. However, student's completing an undergraduate certificate program could be prepared for entry-level work. Graduates might work as assistants under the supervision of more experienced professionals in a number of fields that include crime scene investigation, including:

  • Laboratory technologies
  • Evidence technologies
  • Forensic computer science

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates of a graduate-level certificate program may qualify for positions as forensic science technicians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for forensic science technicians was $60,090 as reported in 2015 ( The BLS also stated that employment opportunities for forensic science technicians are expected to increase by 27% from 2014-2024.

Continuing Education Information

Graduate degree programs in the field of crime scene investigation or the forensic sciences may appeal to students wishing to further their education. Students might earn a Master of Science in Crime Scene Investigation. Students pursuing a master's degree program in the forensic sciences may also concentrate their studies on investigation.

There are two types of crime scene investigation certificate programs, graduate and undergraduate. Undergraduate certificates focus on career-oriented investigation skills while graduate certificates focus on forensic science.

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