Schooling Options at Top Forensic Lab Universities

Learn about the top options for studying forensics at schools with forensic labs. Find out about the schools, locations, rankings and forensic programs to make an informed decision on your education.

Scientists, investigators and detectives interested in forensic research will want to find a school that has a good forensic lab. Here we discuss colleges and universities that offer research-heavy degree programs in forensics, such as a master's in forensic science, and a laboratory to support its students education.

School Overviews

The schools listed in this section have either ranked highly in national lists provided by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, offer unique programs in forensics and/or are members of prestigious organizations. Students at these schools should receive quality education that may not only prepare them their future careers but also can make them more competitive in the field.

Schools with forensic lab programs teach students to apply scientific principles to the collection of evidence used in criminal investigations. Many colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in forensic science and related fields, such as forensic chemistry, forensic biology and forensic anthropology. Three top schools with forensic programs -- Pennsylvania State, the University of Nebraska and George Washington University -- are described below, and a list of other college options for this field of study is also provided.

Pennsylvania State University - University Park

School Highlight: Both the Bachelor of Science and Master of Professional Studies in Forensic Science degree programs are accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Science.

For 2017, Pennsylvania State University was tied for 14th place in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of top public universities in the nation and took 50th place among all national universities. Penn State has had a long history of scientific research and development, and students enrolled in the forensic science program offered through Penn State's Eberly College of Science can take advantage of an interdisciplinary approach to science, technology and social science.

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

School Highlight: The capstone course for the forensic science degree program involves collecting evidence at a faculty-created crime scene, conducting an investigation and testifying at a mock court trial.

The University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL) is a research university and a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities. At UNL, there are two paths available for the Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree offered by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The concentration in forensic biochemistry prepares students to work in a crime lab, while the CSI concentration trains students in crime scene evidence field collection and analysis.

George Washington University in Washington, DC

School Highlight: The forensics department at Washington University is set up to offer a Master of Science in Digital Forensics, that prepares students to keep up with changing technology.

Tied at #56 for the best college in the nation for 2017 by U.S. News & World Report George Washington University offers a few programs in the forensic sciences. The Master of Forensic Science (MFS) degree programs at GWU can focus on chemistry, molecular biology or toxicology, and Master of Science degrees in high technology crime investigation and crime scene investigation are also available. The MFS programs are accredited by the Forensic Science Educational Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).

Top Forensic Lab Schools

Here are a few more schools that offer both degrees in the forensic sciences and access to a good forensics laboratory.

  • Loyola University - Chicago, IL, offers a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, and students can participate in the school's Forensic Science Student Organization (FSSO) and the Criminal Justice Organization.
  • Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR, has a forensic science option available to chemistry majors at this school, and elective courses include bioanalytic chemistry, environmental forensic chemistry and an internship.
  • University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL, offers a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree program that can follow an analysis or a biochemistry track, and a forensic science graduate degree is also available.
  • The forensics program at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, is accredited by FEPAC, and graduate courses make use of on-campus labs as well as the Virginia Department of Forensic Science Central Laboratory.
  • The accredited program at West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, offers bachelor's and master's degree programs in forensics, a crime scene training complex with three crime scene houses, and an 18,000 sq. ft. lab; undergraduates must complete a 420-hour summer internship at facilities such as the U.S. Secret Service or other agencies.

Forensics students want to make sure that the school they attend will provide them with quality laboratory training and experience, for this is likely what they will be doing after graduation. The schools included in this article meet that criteria and offer research-focused degrees in the field.

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