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Colleges that Offer Forensic Science Degree Programs

Degrees in this field are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level and combine elements of biology and chemistry with U.S. law. In addition to coursework, hands-on learning is also vital to any forensic science program.

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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 Schools with Forensic Science Programs

The following schools have degree options for the study of forensic science:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Central Florida Orlando, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $6,368 (in-state), $8,872 (graduate)
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Master's $16,122 (graduate)
Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $17,514 (in-state), $19,328 (graduate)
Florida International University Miami, FL 4-year, Public Master's $8,912 (graduate)
Riverside City College Riverside, CA 2-year, Public Certificate $1,426 (in-state)
City College of San Francisco San Francisco, CA 2-year, Public Certificate $1,598 (in-state)
University of Maryland - University College Adelphi, MD 4-year, Public Bachelor's $7,056 (in-state)
Pima Community College Tucson, AZ 2-year, Public Certificate $1,974 (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 $12,772 (in-state), $10,710 (graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Students who are looking at colleges that offer forensic science programs 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.
  • Student 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

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Forensic Science programs begin 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.

Certificate Programs

Forensic chemistry certificate programs vary widely, depending on the school. Some colleges provide undergraduate certificates, which provide a basic introduction 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.

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