This is a ranking of the 10 Best Forensic Science Colleges in the United States. A degree in Forensic Science opens many doors to a multitude of well-paying and exciting career paths. While this degree can lead to some of the jobs featured on popular forensic science TV shows, graduates leave with sharp analytical and investigative skills that can be applied across many fields.
At its core, Forensic Science degrees give students the scientific tools necessary to approach solving crimes in various roles. It’s a highly multi-disciplinary field that involves studying biology, chemistry, mathematics, criminal law, and a student’s chosen specific field (like toxicology, ballistics, or handwriting).
Students will push their observational powers and analytical reasoning while they prepare to contribute to solving cases that have impacted real people.
Some graduates might find themselves drawn to forensic anthropology, toxicology, crime scene photography, or occupations outside of a violent crime investigation. Career paths like being an arson investigator or a forensic accountant (someone who investigates financial documents) also start with a forensic science degree. You can even use the degree less traditionally as a high school teacher, police officer, or paralegal.
Included after the ranking are four notable universities that have don’t have Forensic Science degrees, but do offer instruction in Forensic Science through centers or through related degrees. These schools have influenced Forensic Science as a discipline through their faculty and alumni publishing academic papers and getting citations.
Best Forensic Science Colleges: School Ranking
Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science • Master of Science in Forensic Science • Master of Science in Forensic Technology
One of the most comprehensive forensic sciences colleges in the nation, the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science offers a wide range of intensive programs for those with a passion for upholding justice and helping others.
Students learn from faculty who have worked for the CIA, FBI, local and state police departments, and the United Nations.
Students also can study in the world-renowned, state-of-the-art Henry C. Lee Institute for Forensic Science, which features working crime scene labs and high-tech visual displays.
The University offers three degrees related to the forensic science field.
The Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science helps students sharpen their powers of observation and learn to interpret evidence.
One of the first forensic science programs in the nation, the Master of Science in Forensic Science provides students with practical and theoretical knowledge needed to apply scientific and analytical methods to criminal investigation.
The first-of-its-kind Master of Science in Forensic Technology combines cutting-edge technology with the Forensic Science discipline. Students will learn a variety of forensic field technology, including laser scanners, ground-penetrating radar, biometric devices, and more.
Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorates
Forensic Medicine Elective
Founded in 1841, the New York University School of Medicine is one of the foremost medical schools in the nation.
Through the Department of Forensic Medicine, the NYU School of Medicine partners with the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner to offer two elective courses for medical students.
The Forensic Medicine Elective provides medical students with an orientation to basic forensic medicine. Students observe medicolegal autopsies, participate in departmental conferences, review in-hospital deaths and out-of-hospital death scenes, and accompanying forensic pathologists to court when they testify as expert witnesses at criminal trials.
The Forensic Neuropathology Elective provides students with knowledge of neurological conditions seen in forensic cases and an introduction to Medical Examiner’s Office. Students examine neuropathological specimens, visit death scenes and accompany forensic pathologists to court.
New York University receives accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Certificate, Associate, Bachelor, Master, Doctorate
Forensic Science Minor • Biology Major with a Forensic Biology Specialization
While Ohio State University does not offer a degree in Forensic Science, the university offers programs as well as a field school that may be of interest to those seeking forensic science related careers.
The Department of Anthropology’s Forensic Science Minor provides students with a broad-based understanding of the field of forensic science. Students receive knowledge of basic issues and the applications of those methods within the context of forensic science.
- Introduction to Forensic Sciences
- Introduction to Forensic Anthropology
- Introduction to Anatomy
- Human Osteology
Through the Center for Life Sciences Education, students also can complete a Biology Major with a Forensic Biology Specialization.
The Department of Anthropology also offers an intensive Forensic Science and Anthropology Field School where students process both indoor and outdoor crime scenes and examine skeletal evidence.
Minimum GPA of transfer credit: 2.0
Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
The University of Pittsburgh, Bradford’s Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science program introduces students to the operation of police agencies and the courts as well as a background in the science of forensic investigation.
The major includes coursework in chemistry, biology, criminal justice, and mathematics.
Students must complete a concentration in either chemistry or biology.
Through required labs and work in the Crime Scene Investigation House, students gain hands-on experience in analyzing hair, drugs, fiber and DNA for their senior capstone project.
The program prepares graduates for careers in industry and government labs as well as forensic science labs.
- Introduction to Forensic Science
- Criminal Evidence/Investigation
- Criminal Forensics I and II
Public Research University
Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies with a Justice Systems Concentration
Students interested in a forensic science career can begin their studies with a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies with a Justice Systems Concentration from Montclair State University.
The interdisciplinary program focuses on the relationship between the justice system, society and the law while emphasizing theories of law enforcement, crime, punishment and the administration of justice.
The specialization includes courses in
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Forensic Psychology
Students gain real-world experience through an internship.
The university also recommends that students submit ACT/SAT scores.
Depending on the program, essays and standardized test scores also may be required.
Private Liberal Arts College
Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Forensic Concentration • Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
Columbia College offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Forensic Concentration.
Offered both in a traditional on-campus format as well as online, the program provides students with a broad foundation in criminal justice as well as an in-depth understanding of forensics.
Students gain knowledge of criminological theory, leadership, ethics, and courts.
Courses in the Forensics concentration include:
- Forensic Toxicology with Lab
- Forensic DNA with Lab
- FBI Fingerprint Recognition and Comparison
Columbia also offers an online Master of Arts in Criminal Justice.
Master of Science in Forensic Science
Michigan State University has a long history as a premier institution for research and education in forensic science. Its School of Criminal Justice combines a legacy of leadership in criminal justice with cutting-edge education and research.
The school’s Bachelor’s degree program in Forensic Science has evolved into a Master of Science in Forensic Science with courses in forensic science, law, criminal justice and an emphasis on forensic chemistry.
Throughout the program, students complete research in Forensic Science including an independent project that features a written thesis and oral defense.
Students receive funding to present their research at national and local conferences, and are encouraged to complete internships.
Undergraduate Certificates, Bachelor's, Master's, Graduate Certificates, and Doctorates
Online Professional Science Master’s in Forensic Science • Certificate in Criminal Investigations
Arizona State University’s Online Professional Science Master’s in Forensic Science (PSM) program prepares those who work in the forensic science field for career advancement. The program provides students with a pathway to develop competencies related to laboratory supervision.
Course topics include botany, forensic science and government, toxicology, forensic DNA, and ethics.
Students also complete an applied project at the end of the program.
The University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice also offers a Certificate in Criminal Investigations, which focuses on aspects of criminal investigations and criminalistics. The program provides students with an understanding of the nature of criminal evidence; the language of forensic science; and the scope, probative value and limitations of investigative specializations and techniques.
Required courses include:
- Introduction to Criminal Investigations
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Procedural Criminal Law
- Documenting the Crime Scene
Students also can gain real-world experience by completing an internship.
Minimum GPA requirement: 3.00
GRE or GMAT requirement: Yes
The Higher Learning Commission provides Arizona State University with accreditation.
Public Research University
Bachelor's, Master's, Certificates
Professional Science Master’s in Forensic Chemistry
Temple University’s College of Science and Technology offers a Professional Science Master’s in Forensic Chemistry, which teaches students the scientific methods used to detect, examine and process non-biological trace evidence to identify unknown materials.
Students learn both the legal and the scientific aspects of forensic chemistry and gain conceptual knowledge and practical skills.
Course topics include analytical and forensic chemistry, applied biopharmaceutics, data analysis, ethics, law and toxicology.
Students also gain up-to-date skills at annual seminars facilitated by leaders in forensic chemistry as well as hands-on experience through the onsite modular, forensic chemistry laboratory.
Students can complete an independent study project and an internship.
The university also houses the Temple University Forensics Organization, which introduces students to the field of forensic science. Club members also take trips to the Philadelphia Crime lab, where they can network with professionals in the field.
Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
LIU Post’s Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree program combines lecture courses with laboratory work and hands-on field experiences.
Students learn a broad range of forensic applications such as molecular pathology, criminalistics, human genetics and forensic anthropology.
Students complete internships at Long Island and Manhattan crime laboratories, health departments and medical examiners’ offices.
Taught by practicing forensic scientists, medical professionals and LIU Post professors, courses include:
- Introduction to Criminalistics
- Forensic Anthropology
- Forensic Molecular Techniques
- Criminal Procedure
Notable Colleges with Academic Influence in Forensic Science
Harvard Law School houses the Criminal Justice Policy Program. The program features a leadership and staff as well as Harvard Law School student-fellows – all working toward meaningful reforms on cutting-edge criminal justice issues.
Law students engage in long-term projects designed to impact criminal justice issues at the local, state and national level.
The program conducts rigorous legal and policy analysis, forges partnerships with advocates and policymakers around the nation, and convenes diverse stakeholders. The goal is to develop solutions to difficult problems of criminal justice reform.
One of the Criminal Justice Policy Program’s initiatives is Forensic Science Reform. The goal is to ensure that unsound forensic techniques don’t distort the judicial process.
Harvard University receives accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorates, Certificates
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering has launched the Digital Forensics Education Imitative to help train students in the field.
Educators are developing an undergraduate curriculum that will focus on evidence collection, preservation and presentation as well as forensic preparation.
The goal is to improve the content and quality of educational programs and inspire the creation of programs at other U.S. universities.
The curriculum includes topics such as digital forensics in digital archives, network forensics, digital forensics and the law, and incident response and timeline analysis.
The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign receives accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
UC Berkeley does not offer a degree in forensic science; however, its Human Rights Center helps further the field.
By helping the identification of remains, the forensic analysis of DNA is an important tool for establishing evidence of mass atrocities, establishing an historical record and providing answers to survivors.
A program of Berkeley Law, the Forensic Project aims to improve the use of forensic DNA analysis to help families separated by conflict and to hold perpetrators accountable.
The project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
The University of California at Berkeley receives accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Bachelor of Science in Anthropology
Through an interdisciplinary approach, the University of California – Los Angeles’ Bachelor of Science in Anthropology prepares graduates for a number of career fields, including Forensic Science.
The program combines an understanding of the human experience with a broad education in anthropology and a solid foundation in basic science.
UCLA School of Law also offers a Criminal Justice Program, which addresses a wide variety of issues in criminal law. Topics include digital surveillance, criminal defense, expert witnesses, and more.
The University of California, Los Angeles receives accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
10 Best Forensic Science Colleges Ranking Guidelines:
In making this ranking, Successful Student referenced our partner site AcademicInfluence.com, which ranks universities by the academic influence that the faculty and alumni have had in academic papers and citations in the field of Forensic Science. We then concentrated on colleges that offer Forensic Science degrees. Then we looked at the individual programs and determined which schools would be most beneficial to students who are degree seekers in Forensic Science. From these programs we determined the ranking based on academic reputation, the variety of coursework and the kinds of degrees offered in Forensic Science.
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