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Forensic Colleges and Schools in the U.S.

The forensic science program teaches individuals how to retrieve and analyze crime scene evidence in a laboratory setting. Aspiring forensic scientists might consider a major in biology or chemistry with an eye toward a master's degree in forensic science. Read on to learn more about how to choose forensics schools. View article »

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Video Transcript

How to Select a Forensic Science College or School

The first step for a prospective student choosing a forensic science college or school is determining what level of education the individual wants to pursue. Forensic science involves analyzing crime scene evidence, usually in a laboratory setting, so a student with no postsecondary education should choose either an associate's or bachelor's degree program in forensic science.

A prospective student who already has a bachelor's degree in a natural science area, and who has completed courses such as physics, calculus, biology, chemistry and organic chemistry, might pursue a master's degree program. Here is some important information to consider when choosing a forensic science school:

  • The accreditation bodies for schools of forensic science are the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) and the American Academy of Forensic Science.
  • Aspiring forensic scientists can also look for schools with faculty members who have American Board of Forensic Toxicology or American Board of Criminalistics certification.
  • Check to be sure that the programs offer internships for students to learn on the job.
  • Schools may not have the latest state-of-the-art laboratory equipment either, and so prospective students should investigate the facilities and compare them.

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Program Overviews

Associate's Programs

An associate's degree-level program in forensic science may be suitable for some entry-level positions, such as a crime scene technician, laboratory technician or evidence custodian, among others. This 2-year program is also valuable as a stepping-stone to a bachelor's degree program. Students take courses in:

  • Evidence collection
  • Critical thinking
  • Information technology
  • Criminal investigation

Bachelor's Programs

The focus is on chemistry and biology along with a range of crime scene investigation courses, as well as criminal law. From toxicology to materials science to psychology, forensic studies touch upon the areas related to crime. Graduates with bachelor's degrees in forensic science are suited to most entry-level forensic science occupations. Students take courses in:

  • Organic chemistry
  • Algebra
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Ethics
  • Criminalistics

Master's Programs

Advanced studies in forensics teach students about DNA and its role in identification, bomb residues and the effects of poisons. Master's students research cutting-edge technologies and seek to advance the scholarship related to forensic science. Curriculum includes:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Research
  • Forensic science

10 Schools with Forensic Science Programs

The following are examples of universities and colleges that contain different types of programs in forensic science. Let's go over them together.

College/University Institution Type
Alabama State University 4-year, Public
Arkansas State University 4-year, Public
California State University-Los Angeles 4-year, Public
Buffalo State University-SUNY 4-year, Public
CUNY-John Jay College of Criminal Justice 4-year, Public
Michigan State University 4-year, Public
Pennsylvania State University 4-year, Public
West Virginia University 4-year, Public
Boston University 4-year, Private
George Washington University 4-year, Private

Forensic science involves analyzing crime scene evidence, usually in a laboratory setting, so a student with no postsecondary education should choose either an associate's or bachelor's degree program in forensic science. But a student with a postsecondary education can also consider a master's degree. All three levels include courses on things such as criminal investigation and biology or chemistry, but more advanced levels often focuses on material science and toxicology and even bomb residue identification.

The top ten schools for forensic science contain a variety of degrees and courses and eight out of the ten are public universities.

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