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Best Forensic Science Colleges in 2020

March 5, 2021 | Staff Writers

Forensic Science Degrees
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Earning a degree in forensic science prepares graduates for a promising career that encompasses a variety of professional disciplines. Prospective students that want to consider forensic science degrees/ best forensic science colleges likely understand that enrolling in this program means committing to a rigorous curriculum, yet a curriculum with a path to a lifelong career working in forensic science.

What Can I Do with a Forensic Science Degree?

Everyone has likely seen the television shows where the forensic scientist working at the local crime lab is the key to providing the answer to that ‘who done it’ question. Forensic science is actually a comprehensive field that requires the expertise of highly-qualified forensic science specialists.  

Top 5 Forensic Science Degree Programs

RankSchoolLocation
1Mesa Community CollegeMesa, Arizona
2Queensboro Community CollegeNew York City, New York
3Towson UniversityTowson, Maryland
4Oklahoma State UniversityStillwater, Oklahoma
5CUNY John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew York City, New York

O*NET explains that some job duties of a forensic science technician include collecting, identifying, classifying and analyzing crime scene evidence, performing tests on weapons and a variety of substances, and using video, photographic or other equipment to document evidence. Forensic science technicians may provide court testimony as an expert witness related to crime laboratory techniques or evidence.

Forensic scientists work in many locations, not just the local crime lab. Some examples of where forensic science experts work include state law enforcement agencies, fire departments, medical and diagnostic laboratories, mental health or other types of agencies and the federal government.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that earning a bachelor’s degree is the typical entry-level education required for working in the profession. Students often choose to excel in their field by completing a masters degree in forensic science. The coursework, research, and other program requirements prepares future professionals in the field, while graduate students have the opportunity to advance their career. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences also confirms that an individual needs to have a bachelor’s degree, along with intellectual curiosity, good note-taking skills and good observation skills.

The BLS indicates that there will be a much faster than average job growth in the field of forensic science through at least the year 2029. The 2019 median pay for forensic science technicians was $28.44 per hour, or median annual salary of $59,150 per year.

Consider these forensic science degrees/best forensic science colleges options to begin or expand your career opportunities. It is important to note that the tuition listed for each school is the resident tuition rate. Some online colleges charge a different tuition rate for online students or non-residents.

1

Mesa Community College

  • Mesa, Arizona

The Mesa Community College Associate of Applied Science in Forensic Science program features specialized curriculum that helps to prepare graduates for further education or to perhaps obtain an entry-level position in the field. Students learn about investigative strategies, how to collect and preserve evidence, and photography related to forensic science. The program helps students learn to apply the principles and theories of criminal justice, and to gain necessary technology skills. Graduates have knowledge and skills in communicating effectively and appropriately to a variety of audiences, and to practice the professional standards that are appropriate to forensic science.

School Overview

Tuition: $85 per credit hour
Program length: 24 months
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2

Queensboro Community College

  • New York City, New York

Queensboro Community College offers an Associate of Science in Forensic Science degree for students that want to gain the fundamental knowledge and skills to work in forensic science. The program focuses on providing a science-based foundation for students that often transfer their credits to a bachelor’s degree program.

Graduates of the program often transfer to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to continue their education as graduates of this dual degree program opportunity. Students that complete this program with a minimum 2.5 GPA have the opportunity to enter John Jay College as junior year forensic science students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science at the CUNY Justice Academy for Forensic Science.

School Overview

Tuition: $210 per credit hour
Program length: 24 months
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3

Towson University

  • Towson, Maryland
  • Graduation Rate: 76%

The Master of Science in Forensic Science program at Towson University combines in-depth classroom study with real-world experiences to provide students with the latest skills and knowledge to excel in their profession.

The program features topics and courses in the sciences, law, instrumental methods, quality assurance and ethics, research and a practicum. Some courses include Crime Scene and Impression Evidence, Forensic Chemistry and Death Analysis in Forensic Science.

School Overview

Tuition: $460 per credit hour
Program length: est. 18 months
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4

Oklahoma State University

  • Stillwater, Oklahoma
  • Graduation Rate: 63%

Oklahoma State University invites prospective students to ‘learn the language of forensic sciences.’ The master’s degree programs in forensic science are offered online and on-campus.

The curriculum focuses on science-based curriculum and hands-on learning. Students that pursue the Forensic Biology/DNA specialization, the Forensic Psychology or the Forensic Chemistry specialization enroll in the thesis option. Students enroll in the non-thesis option if their specialization is Forensic Investigative Sciences or the Arson, Explosives, Firearms and Toolmarks Investigation specialization.

The school reports that more than 90 percent of forensic science degree graduates have a career-related job or are continuing their education within three months of graduation. Students that reside outside the state can apply for an out of state tuition waiver so that they can pay the resident tuition.

School Overview

Tuition: $230.45 per credit hour
Program length: 24 months
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5

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

  • New York City, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 43%

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice offers a Master of Science in Forensic Science degree that uses an eclectic curriculum that focuses on providing training and expertise for professionals in the field to apply the natural sciences to relevant matters of law. The program also focuses on current trends and issues. Students take courses in organic, analytical and physical chemistry, molecular biology, analytical methods, statistics, law and legal issues. Students also participate in hands-on laboratory work that encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

The three concentrations include the Criminalistics specialty, Molecular Biology specialty or the Forensic Toxicology specialty.

School Overview

Tuition: $470 per credit hour
Program length: est. 18 months
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6

Virginia Commonwealth University

  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Graduation Rate: 61%

Virginia Commonwealth University offers a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program that combines the sciences and law to provide a solid foundation for a career in forensic sciences. Examples of topics covered in courses include forensic practices, forensic medicine, forensic anthropology, and forensic evidence, law and criminal procedure.

Students choose one of three concentrations, including forensic chemistry, forensic biology or physical evidence.

School Overview

Tuition: $209 per credit hour
Program length: 48 months
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7

Arizona State University

  • Tempe, Arizona
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

Arizona State University offers a Professional Science Master’s in Forensic Science (PSM) program prepares students for career advancement in forensic science or a closely-related field. The program focuses on preparing current law enforcement professionals, medical, legal, and forensic science professionals to gain greater depth in the knowledge and skills required for a successful career in forensic sciences.

The curriculum includes courses in forensic science, toxicology, entomology, botany, DNA, leadership and ethics. Students complete a project after completion of their courses.

School Overview

Tuition: est. $543 per credit hour
Program length: est. 18-24 months
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8

Wichita State University

  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Graduation Rate: 55%

Wichita State University touts its Bachelor of Science in Forensic Sciences as the ‘only degree of its kind in Kansas.’ The program focuses on building a strong foundation in the physical sciences, the biological and chemical sciences. Courses cover topics such as toxicology, firearms and toolmarks, serology, fingerprint analysis, and arson. The curriculum also includes highly specialized courses in 3D-Laser Scanning/Mapping.

School Overview

Tuition: $228.09 per credit hour
Program length: est. 48 months
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9

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

Students that enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln choose from three concentrations. Choose the Forensic Biology concentration and receive an introduction to forensic serology and DNA analysis. Students take courses in forensic biology, immunology, human remains and other related courses.

Select the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) option and learn to collect, preserve, and interpret evidence. Students take courses in forensic photography, biology, comparative analysis, human remains, chemistry and other classes.

Students that pursue the Forensic Chemistry concentration learn laboratory-based chemistry techniques used in the analysis of forensically important materials. Students study comparative analysis techniques, physiology, biochemistry, toxicology and other courses.

School Overview

Tuition: $259 per credit hour
Program length: 48 months
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10

Stevenson University

  • https://www.stevenson.edu/
  • Graduation Rate: 54%

Stevenson University offers an outstanding selection of online master’s degree programs in forensic science, including the Master of Forensic Science degree. Interested professionals that want to learn the law, technology and instrumentation relevant to forensic science, such as collecting evidence and presenting it in court, are ideal candidates for the program.

Students enrolled in the fully online program benefit from the relationship that the school has with the Baltimore County Crime Lab, the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division, and the U.S. Secret Service Lab. These agencies provide students with the highly-specialized training to become experts in forensic science.

The school also offers an online Master of Forensic Studies degree, and a Master of Forensic Investigation degree. Prospective students likely appreciate that the school simplifies the program by eliminating all fees. Students only pay the cost of tuition. 

School Overview

Tuition: $556 per credit hour
Program length: est. 24 months
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11

Columbia College

  • Columbia, Missouri
  • Graduation Rate: 42%

Students in the Columbia College Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program have learned through real-life, hands-on field work more than one time in recent years. It was 2006 when students discovered the remains of a woman more than 20 years after her disappearance. The discovery helped to bring her killer to justice. In yet another case, Columbia College forensic science students in the 2009 Cold Case Homicide Class worked with local police on an unsolved murder case. The police chief revealed that the students did more in that semester than the police could do in two years.

Start your future in forensic science through courses that focus on biology, chemistry, trace evidence, DNA, documents and many other topics.

Military students receive a tuition discount.

School Overview

Tuition: $350 per credit hour
Program length: est. 48 months
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12

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, Florida
  • Graduation Rate: 87%

The University of Florida offers several options for students to focus on the area of forensic science that most aligns with their interests. The school offers an online Master of Science in Forensic Science degree. There are four concentrations, which includes Forensic Science, Forensic DNA & Serology, Forensic Drug Chemistry, or Forensic Toxicology.

The school allows up to six hours of transfer credits in this program that has no GRE requirement. Students that complete the forensic science certificate program at the University of Florida can transfer up to 15 credits to the master’s degree program. 

School Overview

Tuition: $575 per credit hour
Program length: 24-36 months
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13

Bowling Green State University

  • Bowling Green, Ohio
  • Graduation Rate: 54%

Bowling Green State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program that features an interactive forensic science and criminal investigations learning environment. The school has its own Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Crime Lab on campus. There are three concentrations, including Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Biology or the Forensic Examination concentration. The curriculum includes topics in DNA analysis, serology, latent prints, toxicology, firearms and toolmarks along with trace evidence analysis.

The school also offers a master’s degree in forensic science for students that wish to continue their education after graduating from the undergraduate program. Students that remain in their program through graduation benefit from the tuition guarantee, which promises no tuition increase while the student pursues their degree.

School Overview

Tuition: est. $445.40 per credit hour
Program length: 48 months
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14

Sam Houston State University

  • Huntsville, Texas
  • Graduation Rate: 67%

The Master of Science in Forensic Science program at Sam Houston State University features a rigorous core curriculum and a multi-discipline approach. Topics included in the curriculum include forensic toxicology, forensic biology, pattern evidence, trace evidence, law and forensic science, quality assurance and ethics in forensic science.

The school also offers an on-campus Doctor of Philosophy in Forensic Science degree for students that want to advance into leadership positions. The PhD program focuses on areas such as independent, original research, rigorous coursework and collaboration with accredited forensic laboratories and institutes.

School Overview

Tuition: $777.75 per credit hour
Program length: est. 24 months
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15

Michigan State University

  • East Lansing, Michigan
  • Graduation Rate: 78%

Michigan State University offers several undergraduate and graduate programs in criminal justice, including the Master of Science in Forensic Science degree. The program focuses heavily on courses in forensic science and chemistry. Students also conduct hands-on research throughout the program. Students also conduct an independent research project, culminating in a written thesis and oral defense.

The school strongly encourages students to complete an internship but does not make doing so a requirement for graduation.

School Overview

Tuition: $785.75 per credit hour
Program length: est. 24 months
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16

University of Pittsburgh Bradford

  • Bradford, Pennsylvania
  • Graduation Rate: 44%

The Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program at the University of Pittsburgh – Bradford prepares students to graduate with the skills and knowledge to become experts in their profession. Students choose either a chemistry or biology concentration and discover the science behind forensic science through their math, biology and chemistry courses. Students learn about the instruments used in forensic science, the different types of evidence, and how to collect and analyze evidence.

The Crime Scene Investigation House helps students gain skills from simulated crime scenes. Students focus on different types of crime scenes, including violent crime scenes. Coursework prepares students to write required reports, to use developed interview skills, and to provide court testimony.

School Overview

Tuition: $549 per credit hour
Program length: 48 months
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17

University of New Haven

  • West Haven, Connecticut
  • Graduation Rate: 57%

The Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program at the University of New Haven prepares students to sharpen their observation skills as part of the expertise required to work in forensic science. Students learn to identify and interpret evidence through science and technology using the latest crime-solving equipment and resources.

The school also offers a Master of Science in Forensic Science program that want to earn a graduate degree and increase their career and earnings opportunities.

School Overview

Tuition: $670 per credit hour
Program length: est. 48 months
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18

Tiffin University

  • Tiffin, Ohio
  • Graduation Rate: 4%

The Tiffin University Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree is structured for students to learn scientific principles and methods that apply to criminal and civil investigations and litigations. This interdisciplinary program educates students by linking knowledge in forensic science, chemistry, biology, math, and physics to professional practice. The Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program consists of core courses and electives, with students taking courses such as introduction to forensic science, analytical and organic chemistry, instrumental analysis, cellular and molecular biology, human anatomy and physiology, and evidence law and ethics. Students completing this degree can seek professional employment positions in forensic science, commercial and industrial laboratories. Moreover, students graduating from this program have the pre-requisites to apply to graduate school in the sciences and health professions.

School Overview

Tuition: $926 per credit hour
Program length: 48 months
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19

Seton Hill University

  • Greensburg, Pennsylvania
  • Graduation Rate: 56%

Seton Hill University reports that 98 percent of its graduates either work in their chosen field or continue their education to earn a graduate degree. The Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program prepares students for their future in forensic science through rigorous studies in biology, physics, criminal justice, and math.

Students participate in research and learn through hands-on crime scene field experience and crime lab analysis. There is actually an on-campus crime scene house fully devoted to examining and to analyzing mock crimes. Students also attend actual court trials where forensic evidence is presented at trial. 

School Overview

Tuition: est. $1,099.88 per credit hour
Program length: 36-48 months
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20

Long Island University

  • Brookville, New York

Long Island University offers a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree for students that want to start a career as a forensic science technician or to work in a related position. Prepare for your future as a professional that works in a law enforcement department laboratory, medical examiner’s office or another workplace that focuses on toxicology and pathology.

Students take courses that focus on applications in forensic anthropology, molecular pathology, criminalistics, and other critical focus areas. Students complete their internship at Long Island and Manhattan crime labs, medical examiner offices, and laboratory locations.

School Overview

Tuition: $1,160 per credit hour
Program length: 48 months
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21

Hofstra University

  • Nassau County, New York
  • Graduation Rate: 63%

Hofstra University offers an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree that focuses on providing students with a solid foundation in the legal system, the physical sciences and the natural sciences.

Students learn to conduct crime scene processing, DNA analysis, drug analysis, and crime scene reconstruction in the on-campus program. The Forensic Expert Witness Testimony course is a unique collaboration with Hofstra law students to teach forensic science students the specialized skills necessary to participate in trials that use expert testimony.

An impressive 100 percent of recent graduates accepted a job within six months of their graduation. 

School Overview

Tuition: $1,622 per credit hour
Program length: 48 months
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Methodology

We ranked each of these schools that offer a forensic science degree by assigning a unique score based on the tuition and the program length to help you in your search for a forensic science program. We manually ranked the programs, which includes both on-campus and online programs, and considered only properly accredited schools. Whenever there was a tie, the school with the lower tuition received the higher ranking. All information came directly from the school itself or from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator database.

We always strive to be fair and honest in all of our rankings. No school can pay us for a higher ranking on our lists. Any school wishing to be sponsored is listed separately and labeled as a sponsored or featured school. Please contact us, if you have any questions about the information above or if you would like to have your schools featured.

It is important that prospective students note that the listed tuition rates are for the cost of instruction and does not cover additional costs such as fees, materials, housing, or transportation. Tuition rates sometimes change. All stated tuition costs are accurate as of this publication.

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