Online Schools for Becoming a Forensic Science Technician

Students interested in studying forensics can participate in online educational programs in pursuit of certificates, bachelor's or master's degrees. Read on to get the details so that you can choose the right school.

Aspiring forensic science technicians should consider the program level, overall objective and delivery and technical requirements as they search for online undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the field. Learn more about these considerations, as well as a few of the different programs and schools available.

How to Select an Online Forensic Science Technician School

Forensic science programs are available online at various colleges. Graduates are qualified to work in a variety of legal and criminal fields and often find work in state and federal court systems, correctional facilities, law enforcement, mental health facilities and juvenile facilities. Students should then weigh the program level with the program delivery.

Program Level

Certificate programs are available at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Undergraduate certificate programs are typically designed for newcomers to the field of forensics, while graduate certificates are designed for professionals in the legal system. Graduate certificate programs often feature concentrations in areas such as digital forensics and forensic criminology.

Bachelor's and master's degrees in forensic science are also available online; some of these programs offer concentrations in a variety of areas, including toxicology, DNA and forensic investigation. Some bachelor's programs offer a master's track that tailors coursework so students are prepared for work at the graduate level.

Overall Objective

Depending upon the specialization and level, most online programs begin by teaching the basics of forensic science and the art of collecting and analyzing evidence at crime scenes. Students learn how to evaluate crime scenes and analyze physical and psychological evidence. Some programs also teach students how to present effective courtroom evidence and testimony.

Program Delivery & Technical Requirements

Students of online programs should make sure they have the correct technology and networking facilities before enrolling, which can include a computer and a reliable Internet connection. Most classes are conducted through a school's distance learning website where students can access coursework, study aids and other materials.

Some courses may require online class or teacher/students meetings, in which case students may need some type of teleconferencing or instant messaging program. Most forensic science programs don't require specific software besides common office programs, such as word processing and presentation applications.

Some schools offer hybrid forensic science programs where students can complete their coursework online and perform their lab work at the school's laboratory facilities. Graduate programs may require students to attend on-campus orientation sessions or serve internships at some type of local law enforcement facility.

List of Online Forensic Science Degree Programs

Online Undergraduate Certificates

Undergraduate certificate programs typically provide a background in the principles of criminal culpability and circumstantial evidence and are designed for those just entering the forensic science field. Sometimes called criminal evidence, crime scene or criminal investigation certificates, coursework can include:

  • Physical evidence, glass and soil
  • Organic and inorganic analyses
  • Drugs and forensic toxicology
  • Fingerprinting document examinations

Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Many schools offer bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice with a concentration in forensic science, crime scene investigation or forensic psychology. Courses include:

  • Measurements and sampling methods
  • Courts and the prosecution process
  • Criminology
  • Ethics in criminal justice

Online Master of Science in Forensics

Students can obtain an online master's degree in a variety of forensic science specializations, including toxicology, forensic DNA and Serology. These programs may require a thesis, project or in-person internship for completion. Coursework can include:

  • Synthetic medicinal chemistry
  • Organic structure elucidation
  • Forensic genetics
  • Toxic substances

Online Graduate Certificates

Graduate certificate programs are typically designed for professionals who hold a bachelor's or master's degree and wish to specialize or continue their education in forensic science. These professionals can include investigators, lab analysts, judges, lawyers and corporate computer security specialists. Popular areas of specialization include:

  • Drug chemistry forensics
  • Death investigation
  • Toxicology
  • DNA and serology

Schools With Online Programs in Forensic Science

The University of Maryland University College has a bachelor's degree program in investigative forensics that can be completed fully online or in a hybrid format. Students participate in virtual labs to learn how to take notes, gather evidence, interview suspects, write reports and more. The program consists of 120 credits and accepts up to 90 transfer credits.

The University of Florida offers online graduate certificates and master's degree programs in various areas of forensic science. Students in the master's program can chose to specialize in forensic science, forensic DNA and serology, forensic drug chemistry or forensic toxicology. The master's programs require 32 credits and can be completed in two years, while the graduate certificates require 15 credits and can be completed in one year.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell provides an online graduate certificate program in forensic criminology. The program's four courses can also be applied to the school's online master's degree program in criminal justice. Students can choose four of the thirteen available 10- to 15-week long courses that include topics in criminal profiling, sex crimes, domestic terrorism and more.

Students wishing to become a forensic science technician need to consider the program level they want to pursue, as well as the program's overall objective before deciding between the various online certificate, bachelor's and master's programs that are available. Students should also consider the program formatting and technical requirements before settling on a fully online or hybrid program.

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