Certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs are available for aspiring crime scene investigators (CSIs). While some programs are in crime scene investigation specifically, others are in the areas of forensic science, criminal justice or crime scene technology. A bachelor's degree is most commonly needed for CSI jobs, especially for candidates who don't have significant work experience in law enforcement. On-campus, online and hybrid programs are available. Programs related to forensic science and crime scene investigation include several science labs in addition to any hands-on training.
CSI courses often go over the following topics:
- Applications of forensic chemistry
- Connections between biology studies and CSI work
- Ethics and criminal law overview
- Digital evidence analysis
- Anthropologic studies and forensic science
List of Courses
Forensic Science Basics Course
In this introductory course to crime scene investigations, students study the origin and history of forensic science and how it is used in the courtroom. Examination of crime scene safety and evidence handling procedures are covered. Students discover how to connect people, locations and objects with a crime scene using the fundamentals of evidence collection.
Crime Scene Investigation Basics Course
As a good follow-up to the basics of forensic science, a course in crime scene investigation basics provides students with the six rules of working a crime scene, which are to observe, assess, search, collect, document and analyze.
Using a hands-on approach, students have the opportunity to recreate a crime scene and learn how to sketch out crime scenes and collect evidence. Students may have the opportunity to begin an introduction to the various aspects of forensic science, such as blood pattern analysis, toxicology, report preparation, firearm trajectories or characteristics of wounds.
Forensic Photography Course
With a brief look at the history of photography and the role it plays in the judicial system, students explore their possible roles in forensic photography. By photographing crime scenes and evidence, students learn what is important to an investigation. Students will not only look at crime scenes but learn how to accurately photograph autopsies and injuries of both criminals and victims.
In the fingerprinting course, students discover opportunities to improve and learn the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). As one of the basic courses students will take in a CSI program, this course includes the history of fingerprinting as well as pattern recognition of fingerprints, palm prints and footprints.
Blood Stain Analysis Course
Typically, bloodstain analysis courses are often considered electives, but some information about this subject may be addressed in other forensic classes. Through examination of blood stains, students will learn how to reconstruct a crime and determine the events leading up to the blood splatter. Students will use the fundamentals of geometry to understand the origin of blood stains and how to properly present the evidence in a courtroom setting. In some instances, students will learn how to sketch blood patterns for later usage in determining the angle of impact.