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Schools for Aspiring Evidence Technicians: How to Choose

Forensic science programs teach prospective evidence technicians the proper way to gather and analyze evidence collected during crime scene investigations. Degree and certificate programs in forensic science and related areas are offered at colleges and universities throughout the U.S.

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A bachelor's degree in forensic science or another natural science is the recommended path for becoming a forensic science technician, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, (www.bls.gov). Some bachelor's degree programs offer specialized academic tracks, such as evidence technician or evidence analysis, which focus on collection and laboratory examination; certificate and associate degree programs in forensic science and crime scene technology may prepare students for entry-level positions in the field or for continuing on to a graduate program.

10 Schools with Forensic Science Programs

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer forensic science programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2015-2016)
Alabama State University Montgomery, AL 4-year, Public Master's In-state Graduate $8,232; Out-of-state Graduate $16,464
Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AS 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's In-state Undergraduate $8,050; Out-of-state Undergraduate $14,050
California State University-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Master's In-state Graduate $6,738; Out-of-state Graduate $15,666
Buffalo State University-SUNY Buffalo, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $7,669; Out-of-state Undergraduate $17,519; In-state Graduate $10,870; Out-of-state Graduate $22,210
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificate In-state Undergraduate $6,810; Out-of-state Undergraduate $13,920; In-state Graduate $10,130; Out-of-state Graduate $18,720
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Master's In-state Graduate $16,122; Out-of-state Graduate $31,674
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $17,514; Out-of-state Undergraduate $31,346; In-state Graduate $19,328; Out-of-state Graduate $33,142
West Virginia University Morgantown, WV 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $7,632; Out-of-state Undergraduate $21,432; In-state Graduate $8,568; Out-of-state Graduate $22,140
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, Private Master's Graduate $47,422
George Washington University Washington, DC 4-year, Private Master's, Graduate Certificate Graduate $27,810

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

There are many points to consider when selecting a forensic science school.

  • Depending on their preference for on-scene investigation or laboratory work, students can decide between two certificate programs, one in crime scene technology and the other in forensic science technology.
  • Students may want to choose programs with up-to-date laboratories where they can practice testing hair, bodily fluids and tissue, examining weapons, collecting information and storing data.
  • Programs that incorporate criminal justice and legal procedure may help students learn how to collect and examine evidence.
  • Master's degrees are more likely to offer students an opportunity to study specializations such as DNA, biology or criminalistics

Certificate for Evidence Technicians

Certificate programs are available in forensic science and crime scene technology. Depending on the program, students can gain practical experience through an internship.

Associate Degree in Forensic Science

Some associate degree programs in forensic science are available as a terminal degree for those who wish to become employed immediately after completion. Others are designed as a preparatory program for students transferring into bachelor's degree programs. In addition to foundation courses in algebra, chemistry, physics and biology, students take forensic courses, such as criminal investigation, DNA analysis and fingerprint processing.

Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Science

This 4-year program incorporates general education requirements, forensic and natural sciences and, generally, an internship.

Master's Degree in Forensic Science

Master's degree programs in forensic science commonly offer specialization options and take two years to complete. A thesis or capstone project is included as part of graduate study.

Studying forensic science can prepare individuals to pursue a career as an evidence technician. These programs are available at many institutions throughout the country, and it's possible to earn an undergraduate certificate, an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree or a graduate certificate in this discipline.

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