Online degree programs in forensic science vary greatly in the program levels offered and their time requirements, both of which should be factors for consideration when choosing a school. Learn more about these considerations, the undergraduate and graduate degrees available and a few of the schools that offer the programs.
How to Select an Online Forensic Science Program
Forensic science programs are available online, but degree selection and level are limited. However, programs are available at some universities and colleges. Students should choose programs that fit their proposed careers and available time as closely as possible.
Program Level and Career Goals
Students who are interested in a forensic science degree should first know what career path they will choose and find a degree program that will complement that career choice. Master's degrees are the most common forensic science degrees available online. At the bachelor's degree level, students may need to look for degrees in other areas, such as criminal justice or computer science, that have a focus in forensic science or computer forensics, depending on their career goals.
Student Time Requirements
Students must choose institutions and courses that fit their schedules. Some classes, usually designed for working professionals, operate on flexible schedules and have very few specific test or assignment due date requirements. Other classes are accelerated classes designed for students who want a traditional schedule. These courses often have video lectures and class voice or video conferences that students are required to attend at particular times of the week. Students should choose a degree option that gives them the flexibility and pace they prefer.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
Online Program Options for Forensic Science
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Forensic Science
A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can have any number of different focuses, although forensic science is one of the more common available focuses. Though they are comparatively rare, bachelor's degrees in forensic science usually cover much of the same ground as master's degrees, though they generally have less depth and more general education requirements. Online bachelor's degrees in criminal justice tend to have more accelerated degree options than other online forensic science degree programs. Course topics include:
- Fingerprint analysis
- Criminal legal process
- Juvenile law and justice
- Vice, narcotics and crime intelligence
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science - Computer Forensics
For those interested in specialty areas of forensic science, one option is computer forensics. This subset of forensic science often includes many of the same types of classes as a forensic science degree, but with a focus on the computer as the primary medium rather than on the physical and laboratory aspects of forensic science. Students in a computer forensics program take many of the same psychology and criminal thought process classes as those studying forensic science. They also take coursework in:
- Malware forensics
- Information systems security
- Computer ethics
- Digital crime, evidence and procedure
Master of Science in Forensic Science
A master's degree in forensic science is the most common online forensic science program available. A variety of different careers are open to graduates with this degree, most of which involve criminal investigation. Most programs have a substantial amount of flexibility to allow students to continue working full-time. Occasionally, accelerated options are available. Coursework includes:
- Forensic analysis of ignitable liquids
- Applied molecular spectroscopy
- Statistical analysis
- Advanced biochemistry
- Quality assurance for forensic scientists
Schools With Online Programs in Forensic Science
The University of Maryland University College offers an online investigative forensics bachelor's degree program that is also available in a hybrid format. Hands-on experience is gained through virtual crime scene labs. Students also take courses to develop skills in interviewing suspects, writing technical reports and more.
Champlain College has a bachelor's degree program in computer forensics that is fully online and is composed of 7-week courses. Students receive virtual hands-on training to handle cyber security breaches, network hacks and more. Students also have the option to earn a certificate before they graduate in forensic accounting, cybersecurity or computer forensics and digital investigations.
National University offers an online Master of Forensic Science program that is designed as a specialized professional degree for current law enforcement, investigators, lab personnel or other professionals already working in the field. Students can specialize in criminalistics or investigation. Students must earn at least 54 quarter units to graduate.
Students should closely consider how a forensic science online program's award level matches their career goals, as well as what, if any, additional time requirements the program has. These online programs are typically available at the bachelor's and master's degree levels.