Forensic Photography Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Dec 17, 2019

Programs that focus on forensics, law enforcement, or crime scene investigation can provide training needed for a forensic photography career. Some photography programs offer courses in forensic photography, and technical schools may offer courses as continuing education for law enforcement officers and experienced crime scene investigators.

10 Schools with Opportunities in Forensic Photography

College/University Location Institution Type Degree Type Undergraduate
Barry University Miami, FL 4-year, Private Bachelor's $30,014*
West Virginia University Morgantown, WV 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $8,856 (in-state), $24,950 (out-of-state)*
Missouri Southern State University Joplin, MO 4-year, Public Bachelor's $6,503 (in-state), $13,005 (out-of-state)*
Weber State University Ogden, UT 4-year, Public Bachelor's $5,859 (in-state), $15,646 (out-of-state)*
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn, IL 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $4,080 (in-district), $9,690 (in-state), $11,790 (out-of-state)*
University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR 4-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $9,130 (in-state)*, $25,168 (out-of-state)*
Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee, FL 2-year, Public Associate's $2,026 (in-state)*, $8,062 (out-of-state)*
Central Lakes College Brainerd, MN 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $5,493*
University of California - Riverside Riverside, CA 4-year, Public Certificate $13,827 (in-state)*, $42,819 (out-of-state)*
Durham Technical Community College Durham, NC 2-year, Public Associate's $1,958 (in-state)*, $6,566 (out-of-state)*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator

How to Choose a Forensic Photography School

Consider the following when looking for a school at which to study forensic photography:

  • A student's level of experience in both the photography and forensic science fields will determine what program is best; it may be wise to enroll in programs accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board.
  • Students may wish to look for programs that organize field trips or internships and work opportunities with a coroner's office or crime scene investigation labs, which provide hands-on practical and professional experience in the field.
  • Programs that will prepare students to be certified by the International Association for Identification (IAI) may be a wise choice; this certification is awarded to photographers with at least three years of experience and 40 hours of photography training who complete the IAI examination.
  • Students should consider how much time they want to devote to their studies, as a certificate program will take for less time to complete than a full four-year degree.

Crime Scene Technician or Crime Scene Investigation Certificate

Certificate programs can take up to one year to complete and may be offered by larger criminal investigation programs. Other certificate programs, such as those in criminal justice, may offer forensic photography courses, but these programs require that students have previously completed a degree program.

Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Criminal Justice

These 2-year programs offer a broad range of courses dealing with corrections, state law and court processes. Elective courses in forensic photography are available, in addition to training that can help photographers identify evidence and prepare for court procedures.

Bachelor of Art (B.A.) in Photography with a Specialization in Forensics

Students must meet all general education and basic art course requirements before declaring the forensics specialization. Students take part in an internship with the local county examiner's office where they gain practical, hands-on experience. The B.A. with a concentration in forensics is a rare option, but some students may find it helpful when learning photography basics.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Forensics or Crime Scene Investigation

Schools typically partner with local law enforcement to provide students with practical field training and experience. Some bachelor's programs offer degrees in criminal justice with concentrations or minors in forensic investigation.

Students who are interested in the forensic photography field can pursue certificates and degrees through criminal justice, photography or forensics programs. They should look for programs that provide opportunities for hands-on training and that are accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board.

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