Home » 10 Best Forensic Science Colleges

10 Best Forensic Science Colleges

author icon

By
Published: Updated:

The 10 Best Forensic Science Colleges

  1. University of New Haven
  2. New York University
  3. Ohio State University
  4. University of Pittsburgh, Bradford
  5. Montclair State University
  6. Columbia College – South Carolina
  7. Michigan State University
  8. Arizona State University
  9. Temple University
  10. LIU Post – Long Island University

This is a ranking of the 10 Best Forensic Science Colleges in the United States. A Forensic Science degree 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.

Badge for The Ten Best Forensic Science Schools

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD THIS BADGE

At its core, a Forensic Science degree gives 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.

Featured Online College Spotlight:

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.

The 10 Best Forensic Science Colleges

1. University of New Haven

Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences

West Haven, Connecticut

University of New Haven's campus

  • School Type: Private
  • Number of Online Programs: 18
  • Types of Programs: Bachelor’s, Master’s
  • Degree Information: 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.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students: Applicants must submit official high school transcript, a personal essay, at least one letter of recommendation and SAT/ACT scores. Admission Requirements for Graduate Students: Applicants must submit official transcripts and proof of bachelor’s degree completion, two letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. A resume is highly recommended but not required. Depending on the major, official test scores (GRE, GMAT, etc.) may be required. Visit School Page

2. New York University

School of Medicine, Department of Forensic Medicine

New York, NY

New York University's campus

  • School Type: Private
  • Types of Programs: Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorates
  • Degree Information: 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.

Accreditation: New York University receives accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Visit School Page

3. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

Ohio State University's campus

  • School Type: Public University
  • Types of Programs: Certificate, Associate, Bachelor, Master, Doctorate
  • Degree Information: 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.

Courses include:

  • 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.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students: SAT or ACT requirement: Yes. Minimum GPA of transfer credit: 2.0 Admission Requirements for Graduate Students: Graduate applicants must hold a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Visit School Page

4. University of Pittsburgh, Bradford

Bradford, PA

University of Pittsburgh, Bradford's campus

  • School Type: Public
  • Types of Programs: None
  • Degree Information: 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.

Courses include:

  • Introduction to Forensic Science
  • Criminal Evidence/Investigation
  • Criminal Forensics I and II

Visit School Page

5. Montclair State University

Justice Studies Department

Montclair, NJ

Montclair State University's campus

  • School Type: Public Research University
  • Number of Online Programs: 6
  • Types of Programs: Master’s
  • Degree Information: 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
  • Evidence

Students gain real-world experience through an internship.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students: Applicants must submit transcripts.

The university also recommends that students submit ACT/SAT scores.

Admission Requirements for Graduate Students: Applicants must submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation.

Depending on the program, essays and standardized test scores also may be required.

Visit School Page

6. Columbia College — South Carolina

Columbia, SC

Columbia College — South Carolina's campus

  • School Type: Private Liberal Arts College
  • Number of Online Programs: 16
  • Types of Programs: Bachelor’s, Master’s
  • Degree Information: 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.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students: Applicants must submit transcripts; letters of recommendation and SAT/ACT scores are optional. Admission Requirements for Graduate Students: Applicants must submit an essay, transcripts, two letters of recommendation and eligibility documentation such as GPA standard, teacher’s certificate, or MAT or GRE scores. Visit School Page

7. Michigan State University

School of Criminal Justice

East Lansing, MI

Michigan State University's campus

  • School Type: Public
  • Number of Online Programs: 57
  • Types of Programs: Bachelor’s, Master’s
  • Degree Information: 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.

Visit School Page

8. Arizona State University

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, ASU Online

Tempe, AZ

Arizona State University's campus

  • School Type: Public University
  • Number of Online Programs: 48
  • Types of Programs: Undergraduate Certificates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Graduate Certificates, and Doctorates
  • Degree Information: 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.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students: SAT or ACT requirement: Yes. Minimum GPA requirement: 3.00. Admission Requirements for Graduate Students: Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 credit hours (or 90 quarter hours) of undergraduate study. . GRE or GMAT requirement: Yes. Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission provides Arizona State University with accreditation. Visit School Page

9. Temple University

College of Science and Technology

Philadelphia, PA

Temple University's campus

  • School Type: Public Research University
  • Number of Online Programs: 12
  • Types of Programs: Bachelor’s, Master’s, Certificates
  • Degree Information: 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.

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students: Applicants must submit high school transcripts. Admission Requirements for Graduate Students: Application requirements vary by school or college. Visit School Page

10. LIU Post – Long Island University

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Brookville, NY

LIU Post – Long Island University's campus

  • School Type: Private University
  • Number of Online Programs: 21
  • Types of Programs: Master’s, Certificates
  • Degree Information: 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
  • Toxicology
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Forensic Molecular Techniques
  • Criminal Procedure

Admission Requirements for Undergraduate Students: Applicants must submit a Secondary School Report and a letter of recommendation. Admission Requirements for Graduate Students: Applicants must submit a letter of recommendation and a personal statement. Visit School Page

Forensic Science | Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Forensic Science?

Forensic science utilizes science to aid in law enforcement. Forensic scientists work to provide unbiased, impartial, scientific evidence professionals can use in courts and criminal investigations.

Forensic science, a multidisciplinary field, utilizes information acquired from a wide array of fields and disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, information technology, geology, as well as the social sciences.

Forensic scientists primarily work in crime laboratories. A crime laboratory typically includes units such as a Physical Science unit, a Biology unit, a Firearms unit, a Document unit, and a Photographic unit.

A crime laboratory may provide additional services such as fingerprint analysis, voiceprint analysis, toxicology, and evidence collection.

What Do Forensic Scientists Do?

A forensic scientist performs tests and evaluates evidence and provides reports and/or expert testimony in a court of law. Many forensic scientists are employed in crime laboratories, some of them may collect evidence at crime scenes.

For example, a forensic chemist evaluates non-biological trace evidence discovered at crime scenes to identify unknown materials and match samples to known substances. A forensic biologist typically specializes in DNA analysis. A forensic geologist provides soil analysis to crime investigations.

How do you become a Forensic Scientist?

Forensic Scientists typically need a bachelor’s degree, such as forensic science or a science degree including chemistry, biology, and physics. They may also want to take courses in math, statistics, biostatistics, genetics, and general and organic chemistry, as well as courses which provide writing skills. Courses in criminal justice may provide some useful knowledge.

Forensic technicians need extensive laboratory experience.

Some forensic scientist jobs require an advanced degree such as psychiatrist, pathologist or anthropologist.

A Master’s degree in forensic science can help to obtain a leadership position as a forensic scientist or criminologist within crime labs.

What Do You Study in a Forensic Science Program?

Forensic science students will study the following forensic science fields:

  • Ballistics
  • Chemical Trace Evidence
  • Computer Forensic Examination
  • Criminalistics
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Digital & Multimedia Sciences
  • DNA Profiling
  • Drug Analysis
  • Facial Identification
  • Fingerprints
  • Firearms/Toolmarks
  • Fire Debris & Explosives Analysis
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Forensic Biology
  • Forensic Engineering
  • Forensic Photography and Electronic Digital Imaging
  • Handwriting
  • Information Security
  • Jurisprudence
  • Microscopy
  • Mobile Phone Forensic Examination
  • Paternity Testing
  • Questioned Documents
  • Toxicology

What Are Some Forensic Science Careers?

Many forensic scientists work in forensic science (crime) laboratories. The United States, has over 4000 crime laboratories administered by federal, state, or local governments or private industry.

Many crime laboratories employ scientists in the areas of forensic chemistry, forensic biology and criminalistics. Graduates of a Bachelor in Forensic Science degree program can seek an entry-level position as a crime lab technician and other positions.

Some of the careers in forensics include:

Crime Laboratory Analyst
They use their refined scientific knowledge to assess the evidence obtained.
Digital Forensic Examiner
They’re involved in searching a suspect’s hard drive or cell phone for evidence of a crime. They often perform this work in close collaboration with Law Enforcement.
Forensic Pathologist
Doctors which do autopsies on victims to assess the reason(s) for dying.
Forensic Science Tech/
They work in crime labs analyzing the evidence collected from crime scenes.
Forensic Toxicologist
They look at the chemistry of people who have passed away to assess the use of chemicals, drugs, or poisons.
DNA Analyst
They help to connect potential DNA evidence to crime suspects.

Here are some forensic science careers outside of the crime laboratory.

  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Forensic Engineering
  • Forensic Entomology
  • Forensic Odontology
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Forensic Psychiatry

What Government Agencies Hire Forensic Scientists?

  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • U.S. Secret Service
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service Headquarters
  • State Crime Labs/State Police Departments
  • Coroner Offices
  • Medical Examiner Offices
  • Law Enforcement Offices

Do Law Enforcement Officers or Federal Agents Need To Have a Forensic Science Degree?

Typically no. Most law enforcement agencies at the local, state, or federal levels require a four-year degree of some type, but not specifically a forensic science degree.

What are Major Forensic Science Certifications

What Are Some Forensic Science Professional Organizations

Search Online Degrees

Successfulstudent.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Alumni? Write a review.

Help future students by rating and leaving a review of your experience at this school. Some helpful Information to include would be:

  • Did you attend online or on-campus, or both?
  • What subject(s) did you study?
  • What degree level did you pursue (bachelor's, master's, etc.)?
  • What years did you attend?
  • Did you graduate?
  • What advice would you give future students?

Thanks for your valuable review!

Your email address will not be published.

*

*

*