Criminal Science Colleges and Universities with Program Summaries

Undergraduate and graduate programs in criminal science, more commonly known as forensic science, are available at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum educational requirement for a forensic science technician is a bachelor's degree, but master's degrees in the field may boost job prospects. Students who wish to pursue high-level research may pursue a doctoral degree in the field.

10 Schools with Forensic Science Programs

The following colleges and universities offer forensic science programs, and coursework may be drawn from sociology, anthropology, archaeology, computer science, psychology, biology and chemistry.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees 2015-2016 (In-state)*
Alabama State University Montgomery, AL 4-year, Public Master's $8,232
Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR 4-year, Public Bachelor's $5,810
California State University-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Master's $7,621
Buffalo State University-SUNY Buffalo, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $7,669 (undergraduate) $10,870 (graduate)
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $6,810 (undergraduate) $10,532 (graduate)
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Master's $16,122
Pennsylvania State University Multiple Locations 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $13,954 (undergraduate) $19,328 (graduate)
West Virginia State University Institute, WV 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $6,662 (undergraduate) $7,324 (graduate)
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, Private Master's $48,082
George Washington University Washington, DC 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $50,435 (undergraduate) $27,851 (graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

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College and University Selection Criteria

The following are important considerations to weigh when deciding which school to attend:

  • Prospective students should look for programs that are accredited by The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) and/or the Forensic Science Education Commission (FEPAC).
  • Prospective students may want to find out if students have the chance to declare a formal concentration or emphasis area, such as biology, chemistry or criminalistics.
  • When considering research-based graduate programs, students should make sure that there are faculty members with whom they share research interests, since the field is very broad.
  • Students may want to find out about the school's laboratory facilities in order to ensure that students gain hands-on experience with industry-standard technologies, including microscopes, PCR preparation hoods, automated sequencers and mass spectrometers.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

In bachelor's degree programs in forensic science, students take foundational science courses in biology, chemistry, physiology and physics. They also take lecture- and lab-based classes in topics that prepare them specifically for work as crime scene investigators, such as toxicology, DNA analysis and crime scene processing. In addition, students must also fulfill general education requirements.

Master's Degree Programs

Master of Science (MS) and professional master's degree programs in forensic science prepare students for leadership positions in the field through a combination of lecture and lab-based coursework. In addition to advanced studies in molecular biology, analytical chemistry and forensic toxicology, students also learn about the legal and ethical issues in the field. In total, these programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete.

Doctoral Degree Programs

In PhD in Forensic Science programs, students choose a particular topic within the field on which to conduct advanced research, leading to a final dissertation and oral defense. They must also fulfill significant graduate coursework requirements. Usually, programs take four to five years to complete.

Prospective criminal science students should look for programs with specializations in particular topics of interest. Other considerations include research offerings and school facilities with top-of-the-line forensic equipment.

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