Forensic Science Schools
Some of the best forensic science schools offer forensic science degree programs at the undergraduate and/or graduate degree level. Students may commonly pursue associate's, bachelor's, master's or forensic science certificate programs that provide students with hands-on learning in the field.
Several of the top forensic science schools have national accreditation from the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). Top schools may also offer state-of-the-art forensic facilities and resources, additional specializations, and/or other unique features. Here we explore a few of these schools in more detail.
The Pennsylvania State University
The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA, offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) and Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Forensic Science. Both programs are accredited by FEPAC and have produced graduates who go on to work in a variety of forensic science careers.
Students in the forensic science program receive hands-on training in crime laboratories and crime scene training facilities. The bachelor's degree program offers a unique biology or chemistry option to allow students to further focus their studies. Students in the biology option may prefer working with DNA analysis and other biological forensics, while those in chemistry can study trace evidence, gun shot residue, fire debris, and other organic and inorganic evidence.
Arcadia University in Glenside, PA, offers a 2-year Master of Science (MS) in Forensic Science degree program that is accredited by FEPAC. According to the school's website, students in the program continually score at the top of the national Forensic Science Assessment test (FSAT).
Students in the program have access to several forensic laboratories, including the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education. Students also receive hands-on training through a guaranteed internship experience.
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
CUNY (City University of New York) John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, NY, offers a BS and MS in Forensic Science that is accredited by FEPAC. Both programs include hands-on training through laboratory coursework.
The BS degree program is unique in that students can choose from a specialization in toxicology, criminalistics, or molecular biology. Students in the bachelor's program must also complete an undergraduate research internship or forensic science laboratory internship.
What Can You Do with Forensics?
Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in forensic science can help prepare students for a variety of careers, including a forensic scientist, teacher, researcher, medical professional, or crime scene investigator. Other specific job titles may include:
- Trace evidence analyst
- Forensic science technician
- DNA analyst
Although the specific job duties vary by job title, many forensic professionals spend at least some of their time working in a laboratory. Laboratory work and other job duties may require them to:
- Run laboratory tests
- Analyze test results
- Compile reports with research findings
- Serve as expert witnesses
- Communicate with law enforcement and others
- Coordinate forensic teams
Forensic Scientist Salary
Salary also varies by specific job titles, but in July 2019, PayScale.com reported that the median salary for forensic scientists was $54,513. With work experience the average salary was expected to increase, as the website reported forensic scientists with 5 to 9 years made $61,125, 10 to 19 years made $72,932, and 20 years or more experience made $80,058.