Forensic Certificates and Certification Programs

Forensic scientists and science technicians collect, analyze and classify physical evidence related to criminal investigations. Those interested can gain the required skills for this work in certificate programs.

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Essential Information

Forensic science certificate programs highlight criminal law and justice, as well as forensic science fundamentals. They are available through 4-year colleges, to those who hold a high school diploma or GED, as post-baccalaureate certificate of completion programs, as well as undergraduate or graduate certificate programs, either alone or in conjunction with major degree studies. Internships or field experiences may be necessary to graduate. Students who successfully pass a proctored examination may qualify for a professional certification.


Certificate of Completion - Forensic Science

A professional certificate in forensic science is meant for those who are interested in working in criminal investigation or who are currently employed in law enforcement and wish to expand their base knowledge in forensic evidence collection. It provides students with a basic knowledge of criminal systems, investigation techniques and collecting and preserving evidence for criminal court.

A certificate of completion in forensic science requires 18 credits and can be completed in one year. Classes include:

  • Introductory forensic science
  • Criminal law
  • Traffic accident reconstruction
  • Criminal justice
  • Principals of investigation

Undergraduate Certificate - Forensic Science

Undergraduate students can earn forensic science certificates at several schools while pursuing a bachelor's degree in a related field, similar to a minor. These certificates consist of 12-29 hours of coursework to complete.

Criteria for admission to an undergraduate certificate program include GPA, transcripts and a personal statement of career plans. The statement must explain how the student plans on using the undergraduate forensic science certificate toward their career goals. Letters of recommendation and other prerequisites may be required.

Undergraduate certificate programs offered in conjunction with a bachelor's degree contain criminology, science and law enforcement classes. Students may be required meet hourly requirements for real-world experience through internships, work or field experience. Some coursework includes:

  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Chemical analysis of crime
  • Forensic biology
  • Criminal investigations
  • Criminal justice

Graduate Certificate - Forensics

Forensics certificate programs take place in the classroom or online. Full degree programs include lab and outside work. Students study DNA and the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), crime scene analysis, death investigation, human identification, courts, ethical issues, toxicology, anthropology, microanalysis and chemical analysis. Most forensic certificate programs are meant to complement graduate programs in forensic science or a related degree.

Applicants to graduate-level forensics certificate programs should have their bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field. Certificate program application is independent of degree application. Students who plan on using a certificate as a supplement to their graduate degree program should apply to the director of certificate studies.

Courses in forensic science teach students to identify, document, recover and analyze physical evidence. Courses in genetics, engineering, statistics, sociology, chemistry and quantitative analysis are also incorporated into the curriculum, along with classes covering:

  • Evidence
  • Law and Forensics
  • Spectrometry
  • Genetics
  • Pathology
  • Population Health

Professional Certification

The Global Assurance Certification offers a professional certification as a forensics analyst. Certification requires one timed, proctored exam of 115 questions. The test and certification is meant for individuals responsible for forensic investigation and analysis, formal incident investigation and advanced incident handling.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Forensic science technicians earned an average annual salary of $60,090 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). During that time, forensic science technicians who worked for the federal government and medical and diagnostic laboratories averaged the highest salaries in the field.

Earning a certificate in forensic science is one way to get involved with criminal investigation. It can be used to bolster a criminal justice education plan, or increase modern, relevant expertise for a current working professional in the criminal justice system.

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