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The Best Forensic Science Colleges 2021

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The Best Forensic Science Colleges 2021
RankSchoolLocation
1University of New HavenWest Haven, Connecticut
2University of Pittsburgh-BradfordBradford, Pennsylvania
3Columbia CollegeColumbia, South Carolina
4Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing, Michigan
5Arizona State University-TempeTempe, Arizona
6Long Island UniversityBrookville, New York
7Temple UniversityPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
8Montclair State UniversityMontclair, New Jersey
9Ohio State University-Main CampusColumbus, Ohio
10New York UniversityNew York, New York
11Grand Canyon UniversityPhoenix, Arizona
12Liberty UniversityLynchburg, Virginia

This is a ranking of the 12 Best Forensic Science Colleges for 2021 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.

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.

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Related: The Best Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Psychology Degree Programs

Online Forensic Science Colleges: Get More Information

Next Steps: Request Degree Information

The 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 Best Forensic Science Colleges 2021

1.University of New Haven

Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences

West Haven, Connecticut

  • School Type: Private
  • Forensic Science 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.

2.University of Pittsburgh-Bradford

Bradford, Pennsylvania

  • School Type: Public
  • Forensic Science 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

3.Columbia College

Columbia, South Carolina

  • School Type: Private Liberal Arts College
  • Forensic Science 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.

4.Michigan State University

School of Criminal Justice

East Lansing, Michigan

  • School Type: Public
  • Forensic Science 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.

5.Arizona State University-Tempe

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, ASU Online

Tempe, Arizona

  • School Type: Public University
  • Forensic Science 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.

6.Long Island University

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Brookville, New York

  • School Type: Private University
  • Forensic Science 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.

7.Temple University

College of Science and Technology

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • School Type: Public Research University
  • Forensic Science 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.

8.Montclair State University

Justice Studies Department

Montclair, New Jersey

  • School Type: Public Research University
  • 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.

9.Ohio State University-Main Campus

Columbus, Ohio

  • School Type: Public University
  • Forensic Science 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.

10.New York University

School of Medicine, Department of Forensic Medicine

New York, New York

  • School Type: Private
  • Forensic Science 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.

11.Grand Canyon University

College of Science, Engineering, & Technology

Phoenix, Arizona

Grand Canyon offers the Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree, on campus. This program teaches chemistry and biology as the foundation, and puts them into the context of forensic science training.

Forensic science competencies that students will learn are:

  • forensic DNA analysis
  • crime scene processing
  • toxicology
  • forensic photography
  • serology

As an on-campus program, students will learn to collect and analyze forensic evidence samples in the classroom but also in the field. Students learn best practices on crime scene evaluations, such as photography, evidence collecting, and analyses, with the purpose of making sense of what happened in the crime.

The bachelor of science in Forensic Science requires 120 credit hours. 76 are in the major, with general credits ranging from 34 – 40 credit hours, and 4 – 10 electives.

Core courses include:

  • General Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Crime Scene Processing
  • Body Fluid and DNA Analysis

Seniors will have a Capstone in Forensic Science.

Grand Canyon also offers the online Master of Science in Forensic Science program. This program is 36 credit hours in length, and can be completed online. Students will be able to conduct hands-on collection and analyses of forensic evidence, using a laboratory at home.

Core courses include:

  • Advanced Topics in Forensic Science
  • Comparative Methods
  • Applied Statistics for Forensic Science
  • Courtroom Presentation of Scientific Evidence

Students will learn in the forensic science domains of chemistry, biology, genetics, and statistics, among others.

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12.Liberty University

School of Health Sciences

Lynchburg, Virginia

  • School Type: Private
  • Forensic Science Degree Information: Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science

Liberty University is a leader in online education and one of the largest schools in the nation in terms of enrolled students.

Liberty offers the on-campus Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science degree.

The Forensic Science bachelor’s is interdisciplinary, and teaches students from Criminal Justice, Biology, and Chemistry. There are hands-on labs for almost all of the classes taken through the Department of Biology and Chemistry. Liberty accepts transferring in up to 75% of the degree in accepted transfer credits. This degree also provides opportunities for internships in New York City and Washington D.C.

Length: The program is 120 credit hours and students can usually finish in four years.

Major courses include:

  • Forensic DNA Analysis
  • Forensic Entomology
  • Criminal Investigations I
  • Trace Evidence

Liberty offers the online Master’s in Criminal Justice: Forensic Psychology as well. This program is 36 credit hours. Courses are 8 weeks long, and students can usually complete this degree in 1 and a half years. This master’s programs teaches online master’s students how to become professional psychologists for forensic purposes. It’s a degree oriented for assisting people affected by crime or abuse, and for unlocking and aiding law enforcement through psychological tenets.

Accreditation: Liberty University’s Forensic Science program receives accreditation from the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, and Toxicology.

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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 Analysts use their refined scientific knowledge to assess the evidence obtained.Digital Forensic Examiners are 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 Pathologists do autopsies on victims to assess the reason for dying. Forensic Science Technicians work in crime labs analyzing the evidence collected from crime scenes. Forensic Toxicologists look at the chemistry of people who have passed away to assess the use of chemicals, drugs, or poisons. DNA Analysts 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, and Forensic Psychiatry.

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What Government Agencies Hire Forensic Scientists?

Government agencies that hire Forensic Scientists include the 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, and Law Enforcement Offices.

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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.

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What are Major Forensic Science Certifications?

The major Forensic Science Certifications are the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners, which offers the Forensic Document Examiner certification, The American Board of Forensic Toxicology provides a certification program in forensic toxicology, The American Board of Criminalistics provides certification, The International Association for Identification offers several certifications, and Forensic Science Technicians.

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What Are Some Forensic Science Professional Organizations?

Professional organizations in Forensic Science include: American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc., American Forensic Association, American Board of Criminalists, Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists, International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners, and the International Association of Identification: The International Association of Identification is the oldest and largest forensic association in the world. The Association represents a diverse, experienced and knowledgeable membership which educates, shares, critiques and publishes methods, research, and techniques in the physical forensic science disciplines. The Association provides student membership to full-time college students at an accredited college with a major in a forensic science related field or law enforcement.

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