Free Online Classes and Courses for Aspiring Forensic Scientists

Online Forensic Science Courses for Credit

The Internet has many free online courses and classes that may be of interest to aspiring forensic scientists, but most of these courses do not lead to college credit. offers an affordable alternative to students who'd like to work their way toward real academic credit via online courses commonly found in a forensic science degree program, such as criminal justice and chemistry.

The course titled Criminal Justice 101: Intro to Criminal Justice gives students the chance to master criminal justice topics. The chapters in this course include:

  • Types of Crime - Explore different crimes that can be committed against property and people as well as white collar crime, terrorism and cyber crimes.
  • The Role of the Police Department - Study information about the arrest process, police corruption and ethics, police intelligence and the organization of a police department.
  • Criminal Justice Agencies in the U.S. - Learn about the role of the the U.S. Attorney General and different agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lnterpol, the U.S. Marshall Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Another course called Chemistry 101: General Chemistry teaches students various chemistry topics that are needed for the forensic science profession. Some of the chapters in this course include:

  • Atom - Study information about atomic numbers, isotopes, Avogadro's number and the four quantum numbers.
  • Nuclear Chemistry - Review information about half-life, radioactive decay. mass defect and common applications of nuclear chemistry.
  • Chemical Reactions - Identify causes of chemical reactions and learn about neutralization, the pH scale, precipitation reactions and the activity series.

Info on Free Online Forensic Science Courses and Classes

Free online forensic science courses and classes vary in difficulty. This article looks at a few courses from the many available. None of the resources discussed in this article confer academic credit.

Free Forensic Science Courses

National Institute of Justice

  • Advances in Forensic Anthropology has materials that were taken from a 3-day seminar. Each session is presented in video format. Sessions typically include additional downloadable resources, like PowerPoint slides, images and related software. Topics discussed include application and history of computed tomography images, determination of biological sex and genetics.

University of Cape Town

  • Adventures in Forensic Anthropology is an audio file of a talk by Professor Morris (Department of Human Biology at the University of Cape Town) about anatomy, anthropology and forensic science. In particular, the lecture explores clues that can be derived from human bones. The audio file is large and may take time to download.

National Institute of Justice

  • Collecting DNA Evidence at Property Crime Scenes contains four modules such as types of evidence, crime scenes, evidence collection and combined DNA Index System (CODIS). The resource also includes two documents outlining crime scene procedures. The tutorial is interactive, requiring Flash 8, Adobe Acrobat and speakers.

BBC News

  • Crime Scene Forensics: How Does It Work? is a special multimedia BBC report that gives viewers a glimpse into what happens at the crime scene and in the lab. The tutorial looks at preserving evidence, taking swabs and examining the body. The lab portion covers footwear, fingerprints, DNA and ballistics.

National Forensic Science Technology Center

  • DNA Analyst Training covers topics such as other DNA technologies and markers, population statistics and genetics, DNA and evidence, forensic biology and DNA amplification. The course is presented in a text format.
  • Latent Print Workshop discusses the detection of latent fingerprints by using luminescence. Users can access online several videos and PowerPoint presentations in .pdf format. Topics covered include the history of latent print detection, forensic light sources and landmark cases.
  • Online Technology Transition Workshops has a goal to train users in emerging forensic technologies. Users may access several workshops in the general categories of biology, chemistry, DNA and pattern evidence. Workshops consist of an overview with learning outcomes, presentations and videos.

National Institute of Justice

  • Firearm Examiner Training is an interactive training program about firearms. It includes slide shows and animations. After a discussion of firearms, it looks at evidence handling procedures, firearms examination, gunshot residue and tool mark identification.

Open University

  • Forensic Science and Fingerprints introduces the student to topics surrounding fingerprints, including their use in court, as well as answering the question, 'How scientific and sound is fingerprint identification?' The course includes questions (with answers), activities and readings.

National Institute of Justice and the FBI Laboratory Division

  • Trace Evidence Symposium 2011 topics include homemade explosives, soil analysis, natural fibers identification and instrumental analysis. The material for this resource was presented at a 4-day seminar in Kansas City, MO. The material is divided into sessions, each with a short introduction of the topics covered. Some sessions have a text presentation in .pdf format and/or a video of the actual presentation.
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