20 Best Master’s in Forensic Science Degrees

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Blood spatter, DNA, bullet ballistics. To make these pieces of physical evidence usable in court, lawyers and prosecutors need forensic analysts trained in biology, chemistry, or physics to interpret their presence at a crime scene.

How did they get there and what does it tell us about what happened? To answer these questions scientists need strong educational backgrounds, such as one of the 20 Best Master’s in Forensic Science.

Quick Look: Best Master’s in Forensic Science

Rank School Average Net Price
1 Sam Houston State University $11,742
2 University of Nebraska $11,727
3 University of Cincinnati $21,050
4 Arizona State University $12,299
5 University of Central Florida $15,341
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What Is Forensic Science?

Forensic Science is the application of hard sciences including physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, or engineering to matters of law or criminal justice. Scientists work with law enforcement to investigate things such as the physics of blood spatter or to source trace amounts of drugs with chemistry.

The information and expertise provided by forensic scientists can help provide hard evidence for investigators. Each crime science provides its own unique challenges, which is why investigators must have a strong academic background and critical thinking abilities.

How Much Money Can I Earn Working in Forensic Science?

Forensic science is a highly specialized field and the skills that students in these programs develop are always in high demand. Entry-level forensic science technicians earn an average of around $58,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Technicians who hold Master’s degree are more likely to earn closer to $75,000-$80,000 per year.

There are currently more than 15,400 people working in this field in the United States, and the BLS expects a 17 percent growth (much faster than average) in this job market over the coming decade. That translates to more than 2,600 new job openings! All waiting for someone with the right credentials.

Why Choose A Master’s in Forensic Science?

Master’s degrees give students more options than undergraduate programs can offers. By delving further into their field of choice, students can learn whether or not they prefer the academic or professional aspects of subjects like forensic science.

As mentioned above, master’s graduates who wish to begin their professional careers can enter the field with a salary at least $20,000 more compared to students with just a bachelor’s. And students who find the academic side of the subject more fulfilling will be prepared to enter doctoral programs that can lead to teaching jobs or highly specialized work in the area of their dissertation.

What Are the 20 Best Master’s in Forensic Science?

We’ve found that the best degrees are those that offer fair not only fair prices, but ample flexibility and convenience as well! To find the best degrees for you, we look at the best schools in the country based on reputation, student satisfaction, program quality, and return on investment. Then we review the bottom line – just how much is this going to cost? Check out our methodology page for a more in depth description of our data.

Once we determine all of the above, we curate a list of stellar schools for you! These not only represent the best degrees you can get, but also ones that will fit your budget. Check out our picks below!

Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Sam Houston State University
    Location

    Huntsville, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Sam Houston State University is a public university located in Huntsville, TX. Sam Houston was originally founded in 1876 as Austin College, which was founded as a Presbyterian institution of higher learning. Sam Houston now has more than 20,000 students and almost 600 academic staff members. Their endowment is just short of $100 million and they offer around 60 different master’s degree programs.

    Program Features

    Sam Houston State offers an online Master of Science degree program in Forensic Science. It is a 44 credit hour program, which begins each Fall. Courses in the program include:

    • Forensic Toxicology
    • Forensic Biology
    • Controlled Substance Analysis
    • Forensic Instrument Analysis

    Students also select ten credits of elective courses to pursue during the program. Students will also complete at least six credit hours of Forensic Science Research.

    Notables

    The program ends with a capstone course, which students must complete with a grade of B or better to satisfy university requirements. Students applying to the program are required to submit official GRE scores and should possess a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, forensic, or natural science. Applicants should have completed instrumental analysis and molecular biology at the undergraduate level.

  2. University of Nebraska
    Location

    Kearney, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Nebraska Omaha is a public university located in Omaha, NE. It began as the Omaha Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1908, before eventually joining the University of Nebraska system in 1968. It has approximately 15,000 total students, including more than 3,000 postgraduates. Its endowment is around $72 million and it employs over 1,000 academic staff members.

    Program Features

    The University of Nebraska Omaha offers an online Master of Science degree program in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Students must complete 36 credit hours of study, which includes courses such as:

    • Seminar in Administration of Justice
    • Nature of Crime
    • Seminar on Race, Ethnicity, and Criminal Justice
    • Statistical Applications in Criminal Justice & Public Administration

    Nine credits from the program are elective courses chosen by the student. The program ends with a final capstone course in criminology and criminal justice.

    Notables

    Applicants to the program should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last two years of undergraduate coursework and possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university. Applicants should also have completed a minimum of 12 credit hours of criminal justice courses or related courses. They may also meet this requirement if they have taken a basic statistics course or a research methods course.

  3. University of Cincinnati
    Location

    Blue Ash, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Cincinnati is a public university located in Cincinnati, OH. Having been founded in 1819, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the city of Cincinnati. It has a student population of more than 44,000, which includes over 11,000 postgraduate students. UC is divided between 14 different colleges and schools, and has an endowment over $1.1 billion.

    Program Features

    The University of Cincinnati offers an online Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice. Students choose a concentration from the following list of options: Analysis of Criminal Behavior, Corrections & Offender Rehabilitation, Law Enforcement & Crime Prevention, and General Track (no concentration). Core courses include:

    • Seminar in Criminal Justice
    • Seminar in Criminology
    • Basic Research Methods in Criminal Justice
    • Demonstration Research Project

    The Demonstration Research Project is the culminating course in the program, challenging students to undertake an individual research project.

    Notables

    Each student accepted to the program is assigned a student success coordinator to help guide them through the program and keep them on track for graduation. Elective courses in the program include Applied Crime Prevention and Seminar in White-Collar Crime.

  4. Arizona State University
    Location

    Phoenix, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Arizona State University is a public university located in Tempe, AZ. ASU has

    additional campuses throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, including their Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic, and West campuses. The main Tempe campus is home to 50,000 students, pursuing more than 250 undergraduate majors and 100 graduate degree programs.

    Program Features

    Arizona State offers an online Master of Science degree program in Forensic Psychology. Each class in the program lasts 7.5 weeks and the program includes 11 required courses (for a total of 33 credits). Students take courses such as:

    • Seminar in Courts and Sentencing
    • Quantitative Analysis
    • Advanced Correctional Psychology
    • Advanced Legal Psychology

    The final course in the program is a Capstone in Forensic Psychology course. Students may also find replacement courses for the statistics and criminal justice system course requirements, with the approval of the academic unit.

    Notables

    Applicants to the program are expected to have earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in psychology, criminal justice, social science, or a closely related field. Applicants to the program are expected to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the final 60 hours of the student’s first bachelor’s program. Students whose GPA falls below 3.3 are encouraged to submit official GRE scores as part of their application.

  5. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    It’s no secret how Orlando, FL is home to industry research leaders such as Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and the Kennedy Space Center. At the center of it all is the University of Central Florida, a public space-grant university, originally established in 1963, is now home to around 66,000 students as of 2017. UCF also operates the Central Florida Research Park, which is one of the largest research parks in the United States and where research is conducted by the National Center of Forensic Science.

    Program Features

    Among the numerous science-based degrees at UCF is the online Master of Science in Forensic Science. The research-heavy degree is offered through the College of Sciences, where full-time Knightros’ can earn the 34 credits-degree within two years. There are three types of Forensic Science concentration offered, but the only concentration completed entirely online is the Forensic Professional.

    The Forensic Analysis and Biochemistry concentrations, both, require a lengthy research thesis on campus. The Forensic Science concentration only requires a one-credit capstone project under the guidance of an online faculty member. All three concentration require students to complete courses such as:

    • Topics in Forensic Science
    • The Forensic Expert in the Courtroom
    • Quality Assurance for Forensic Scientists

    Notables

    Students who graduate with their MSFS from UCF work in industries such as Forensic Toxicology, Pathologists, or Crime Scene Investigation. Ironically, Florida has more documented murderers than other state in the U.S., so there appears to be a dire need for the profession – on a local level, anyway.

  6. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Florida International University is a public university located in University Park, FL. They have an additional campus located in Biscayne Bay, FL, along with regional centers throughout South Florida and a number of international campuses in countries such as Italy and China. FIU began operating in 1972 and has grown to educate more than 56,000 students each year, including almost 9,000 postgraduates.

    Program Features

    Florida International University offers a Master of Science degree program in Forensic Science. The program is intended to prepare students either for careers in forensic science laboratories or for doctoral instruction in several disciplines. It is a 32 credit program that includes courses such as:

    • Forensic Chemistry
    • Forensic Biology
    • Forensic Analysis
    • Nine credits of elective courses excluding research or seminars

    Students also take three courses involving their Master’s thesis, which serves as the cornerstone of the program.

    Notables

    Students may transfer up to six hours of credit from a separate post-baccalaureate program into the FIU program. If a student does not wish to pursue the thesis track, they will still conduct original research, but will present a report instead of a thesis. Applicants to the program are required to submit GRE scores.

  7. Bowling Green State University
    Location

    Huron, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Bowling Green State University is a public university located in Bowling Green, OH. Bowling Green was started in 1910 as a normal school, which focused on teacher education. It has since developed into one of the largest public universities in the state of Ohio, with almost 20,000 total students and 2,000 academic staff members. It has a $150 million endowment and the campus comprises more than 1,300 acres.

    Program Features

    Bowling Green offers a Master of Science degree in Forensic Science. The program requires 36 credit hours of coursework at the graduate level, which includes core courses such as:

    • Elements of Forensic Science
    • Criminalistics
    • Law, Evidence, and Procedure
    • Seminar in Criminal Justice Ethics

    The degree program also includes the option for a concentration in either Forensic Biology or Forensic Chemistry. Twelve credit hours are devoted to core courses and the other 24 are dedicated to a student’s concentration.

    Notables

    Applicants to the program are required to submit GRE scores and are expected to have a minimum GPA of at least 3.0 for all undergraduate coursework. Applicants must have a degree in biology, chemistry, or other closely related field. Students may be eligible for graduate assistantships as a part of their graduate study program or financial aid package.

  8. University of North Texas
    Location

    Denton, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of North Texas is a public university located in Denton, TX. UNT began in 1890 as the Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute. The university is now divided into eleven colleges and two schools, which serve a student body of around 38,000. Roughly 7,000 of those students are postgraduate students, who work with some of UNT’s 1,063 full-time academic staff members.

    Program Features

    The University of North Texas offers a Forensic Science Certificate program. The program helps to prepare students to begin a career in the field of forensic science or to pursue medical school if they wish to become medical examiners. It is a 19 credit program and includes classes such as:

    • Biomedical Criminalistics
    • Forensic Microscopy
    • Instrumental Analysis
    • Criminal Investigation

    Students are also required to complete an internship as a part of the program. Faculty members help work with students to find internships in their given area of interest.

    Notables

    Example areas of professional interest from previous students include DNA/genetics, toxicology, anthropology, microscopy, and crime scene investigations. Students must complete the Forensic Science Aptitude Test offered by the American Board of Criminalistics to complete the program.

  9. Pace University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Pace University is a private university located in Manhattan, NY. They have two additional campuses located throughout New York State, in Westchester County and White Plains. The school originally operated in a number of cities throughout the Northeast United States, serving mostly male and female business students. In the mid-1950s the school began a permanent move to New York, where it is now home to 13,000 students. It has 1,200 academic staff members and an endowment of $172 million.

    Program Features

    Pace University offers a Master of Science in Forensic Science degree program. It is a 40 credit program, which is divided between 32 credits of core courses and 8 credits of elective courses. Core courses include:

    • Principles of Forensic Pharmacology
    • Forensic Science Seminar
    • Analytical Spectroscopy
    • Professional Issues in Forensic Science

    Students finish the program with a Forensic Science Seminar course in their final semester. There is also an internship course that is a part of the core requirements.

    Notables

    Pace’s Dyson School of Arts and Sciences has recently added a state-of-the-art DNA sequencing lab and specialized laboratories with virtual crime scene reconstruction software and forensic microscopy. Pace maintains connections with the New York Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the New York City medical examiner’s office. These connections provide opportunities both for post-grad employment and internships during the course of study.

  10. University of Louisville
    Location

    Louisville, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Louisville is a public university located in Louisville, KY. The school began operating in the early 19th century, and was officially incorporated at the University of Louisville in 1846. They now have more than 22,000 total students, some 6,000 of which are postgraduate students. The school is divided into twelve schools and colleges, which offer 78 Master’s and 22 doctoral degree programs.

    Program Features

    The University of Louisville offers an online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program. It is a 36 credit hour program, with courses divided between core courses (15 credits) and elective courses (18 credits). Core courses in this program include:

    • Theories of Criminal Justice and Delinquency
    • Applied Statistics in Criminal Justice
    • Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice Management
    • The Criminal Justice System

    The final three credits are earned in the Professional Paper course, where a student completes independent research and writes a professional paper dealing with a specific subject within criminal justice.

    Notables

    Students choose six elective courses to fulfill the degree requirements. Example elective courses from the program include Juvenile Justice Issues, Introduction to Homeland Security, Criminal Justice History, and Domestic & Family Violence. There are more than 40 different elective courses that students can choose to complete as a part of the program.

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