When selecting a forensic science school, students have numerous degree options. A B.S. degree can open doors for entry-level employment, while pre-forensic science degrees help to transition students to graduate programs.
10 Colleges That Offer Forensic Science Programs
The following schools have degree options for the study of forensic science:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition (2018-2019)*|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$6,368 (in-state), $6,916 (graduate)|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI||4-year, Public||Master's||$18,132 (graduate)|
|Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus||University Park, PA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$18,454 (in-state), $21,540 (graduate)|
|Florida International University||Miami, FL||4-year, Public||Master's||$8,912 (graduate)|
|Riverside City College||Riverside, CA||2-year, Public||Certificate||$1,420 (in-state)|
|City College of San Francisco||San Francisco, CA||2-year, Public||Certificate||$1,696 (in-state)|
|University of Maryland - University College||Adelphi, MD||4-year, Public||Bachelor's||$7,416 (in-state)|
|Pima Community College||Tucson, AZ||2-year, Public||Certificate||$2,142 (in-state)|
|East Lost Angeles College||Monterey Park, CA||2-year, Public||Certificate||$1,220 (in-state)|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||Richmond, VA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$14,493 (in-state), $12,217 (graduate)|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
Students looking for the best forensic science colleges should keep the following considerations in mind:
- It is important to find a school that is accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).
- Students should research whether the school has a relationship with local forensic science laboratories, where they may have the chance to gain professional experience through internships or practicums.
- Prospective undergraduates who know they want to go on to graduate school may try to consider a school that offers an accelerated, five-year bachelor's-to-master's degree program.
- Students who are interested in particular subfields of forensic science, such as forensic chemistry or forensic toxicology, may prefer schools that allow them to concentrate their studies on that subject.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
A forensic science degree at the bachelor's level begins with foundational courses in biology, chemistry, and law. From there, students can take more specialized electives in crime scene investigation and forensic analysis techniques, and they may be required to complete a research- or industry-based internship. Some schools allow students to choose a specialization such as criminalistics, toxicology, or molecular biology. Graduates are prepared to start working in forensic science labs or advance to graduate-level programs.
Master's Degree Programs
At the master's degree level, it is possible to earn a Master of Science (MS) in Forensic Science, or to pursue an MS in a more specialized area like Forensic DNA or Forensic Drug Chemistry. These programs go beyond bachelor's degree programs with more advanced scientific and legal coursework. They may also include internship and/or research opportunities. Some schools offer coursework online. These programs usually take two to three years to complete.
Forensic chemistry certificate programs vary widely, depending on the school. Some colleges provide undergraduate certificates, which provide a basic introduction to the field, similar to bachelor's degree programs but without any general education requirements. There are also graduate certificates offered for experienced professionals with bachelor's degrees who want to take more advanced courses in forensic science without committing to a full master's degree program. Students may also find specialized graduate certificates that focus on particular subfields. Certificate programs can generally be completed in one year or less.
Students interested in forensic science should properly vet all of the schools they are considering, paying particular attention to the degree programs available at each institution and the kind of connections and courses that are available.