Best Forensic Science Degrees

Earning a degree in forensic science can open the door to exciting career opportunities. Here, we list the best forensic science programs available.

Best Forensic Science Degrees

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Forensic science degrees combine the physical, biomedical, and social sciences. Learners analyze aspects of criminal cases, such as evidence and human testimony. These programs feature courses on anthropology, forensic medicine, and autopsy procedures.

Applicants to a bachelor's program in forensic science typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Students pursuing a master's degree often need a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as biology, chemistry, or natural science.

Graduates of forensic science programs can become forensic scientists and technicians. Graduates often work for law enforcement agencies, such as local police departments and the FBI. People may also pursue a forensic psychology degree.View Our Rankings List Here

Frequently Asked Questions About Forensic Science Degrees

What is forensic science?

Forensic scientists apply biology, psychology, and chemistry to criminal and civil laws. Forensic scientists manage evidence and crime scenes for law enforcement.

What is the difference between forensic science and criminology?

A hard science, forensic science deals with hands-on evidence and crime scenes. Criminology combines soft sciences including sociology and psychology. Criminologists analyze crimes and their societal impacts.

What kinds of jobs can I get with a forensic science degree?

Graduates can pursue forensic science careers such as forensic scientist and forensic scientist technician. Graduates often work for law enforcement agencies. They can also become criminal investigators and clinical lab scientists.

Featured Online Forensic Science Programs

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Why Get a Degree in Forensic Science?

Students can earn a degree in forensic science to qualify for positions as forensic scientists and forensic science technicians. Experienced professionals may work for agencies such as the FBI or CIA. 

Forensic science technicians earn a median salary of $60,590 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These professionals often analyze and photograph crime scenes. They also record observations and findings, collect and analyze evidence, and reconstruct crime scenes. Technicians who work in labs analyze evidence through various techniques. They may also use DNA to explore links between suspects, evidence, and crimes.

Many institutions offer forensic science degrees online. Learners often choose in-person programs because of the hands-on nature of forensic work. However, online programs can help students continue working while earning their degree.

How Much Does a Forensic Science Degree Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual cost of undergraduate tuition, fees, and room and board for the 2018-19 academic year was $18,380 at public schools and $47,420 at private schools. Students can save money by living off campus and applying for financial aid and scholarships. 

Pursuing an online degree in forensic science may also help learners reduce their expenses. Online learners often avoid relocation costs. They may also save money on transportation, housing, and childcare. Additionally, online learners can continue working full time while earning their degree.

Prospective students should also budget for lab fees, books, and other materials.

How Much Do Forensic Science Majors Make?

After earning a forensic science degree, graduates often become forensic science technicians. Degree holders can also become fire inspectors, who earn a median annual salary of $62,120, according to the BLS. Clinical laboratory technologists earn a median salary of $54,180 per year, and police and detectives earn a median of $67,290 annually.

With more training or higher education in law enforcement, forensic science graduates can become federal government detectives. These professionals earn a median salary of $92,080 per year.

Forensic Science Courses

Forensic science students gain foundational knowledge in biology and chemistry. Coursework explores lab equipment and methodology and their applications to criminal law. Degree-seekers learn how to analyze crime scenes and evidence. Coursework also covers forensic analysis and ethics. Available courses vary by program. However, many forensic science programs feature the following classes.

  • Forensic Chemistry

    Students in this class learn how to analyze physical evidence through chemical and physical analysis. Coursework covers forensic microscopy, toxicology, and arson examination. Forensic scientists apply these skills while analyzing evidence and crime scenes.
  • Forensic Crime Analysis

    The course prepares learners to analyze and process crime scenes. Students learn how to process prints and trace evidence. Degree-seekers practice identifying evidence through fire marks, toolmarks, and impressions. Graduates apply these skills to careers as forensic scientists working with crime scene units and law enforcement agencies.
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice

    Forensic scientists often work with law enforcement agencies, so students must understand the criminal justice system. Professionals process evidence contributing to individuals' trials, alibis, and convictions. The course examines law and crime as social constructs.

How to Become a Forensic Scientist Technician

Most forensic science technicians hold a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related field, such as natural sciences. Some technicians have a general science bachelor's degree and a master's degree in forensic science.

Crime scene investigators in police departments often must be sworn police officers, which requires additional training. However, not every forensic scientist technician works within police departments.

Forensic scientists hired by an agency or company may receive extra hands-on training under experienced technicians. In some specialties, technicians must pass an exam in laboratory techniques or technologies.

Featured Online Criminal Justice Programs

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Forensic Science Career Options

Besides forensic science technician, a degree in the forensic sciences leads to many other career opportunities. Graduates can work in the field or a lab. The following list features common job options for forensic science degree holders. Some positions need more education in forensics or another field.

  • Crime Scene Investigator:Crime scene investigators work with law enforcement agencies to analyze and record crime scenes and collect evidence. These professionals preserve evidence and crime scene integrity. These investigators often work closely with law enforcement professionals.
  • Forensic Nurse:Forensic nursing requires legal and healthcare knowledge. Forensic nurses often work with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and neglect. In addition to providing healthcare, these nurses collect testimonies and testify on behalf of their patients.
  • Toxicologist:Toxicologists evaluate the effects of chemicals on humans and animals. While many work in the pharmaceutical industry, toxicologists can also work in forensic science. These professionals study tissue samples to determine the presence of drugs and chemicals.
  • Forensic Psychologist:Forensic psychologists interview suspects to evaluate mental competency for trials. They often diagnose and treat individuals in prisons, jails, hospitals, and government agencies.
  • Forensic Engineer:Forensic engineers determine why structures and products failed to perform as intended. Their findings often contribute to civil cases against companies and government agencies.

Best Forensic Science Degrees

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#1

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The bachelor of science in forensic science program at University of Central Florida is one of 88 total bachelor's programs. This forensic science degree builds broad knowledge and skills that prepares students for entry- and mid-level careers. After completing a bachelor's degree, graduates can also apply to master's programs to continue their education.

The bachelor's curriculum covers the major principles and methods in forensic science. In addition to major coursework, undergraduates build communication and critical thinking skills in general education courses. Students gain interdisciplinary skills by declaring a minor or second major.

Student services help incoming degree candidates transition into the school's community. For example, academic advisors work with students to make a graduation plan that takes transfer credits into account.

University of Central Florida at a Gance:

Location: Orlando, Florida

Type of School: Public

Admissions Rate: 44%

Total Online Bachelor's Programs: 19

Undergrad Tuition In State: $4,478

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $19,810

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#2

Texas A & M University-College Station

School Information
Location College Station, Texas
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 82%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The bachelor's in forensic and investigative sciences program at Texas A&M University-College Station, a public institution, prioritizes flexibility. The school offers both in-person and online enrollment options. The institution's flexible course options, along with high academic standards, meet the needs of many undergraduates.

The bachelor's program incorporates general education and major courses to build in-demand knowledge and skills. The general education curriculum introduces major academic subjects including humanities, math, and natural sciences. Learners prepare for the workforce or further education by taking advanced forensic science courses that cover theoretical and practical topics.

Texas A&M University-College Station at a Glance:

Admissions Rate: 58%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 21-to-1

Total Bachelor's Programs: 112

Total Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Undergrad Tuition In State: $7,941

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $34,190

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $10,115

Graduation Rate: 82%

Average Graduate Earnings After Six Years: $53,600

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#3

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

School Information
Location University Park, Pennsylvania
Admission Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 71%
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus, a public institution, enrolls learners in its top-ranked bachelor's in forensic science program. The school offers flexible enrollment options, including online classes. Flexible course options, rigorous academics, and comprehensive support services appeal to many undergraduates.

Majors take courses in the bachelor's in forensic science program and meet general education requirements to complete their degree. The general education curriculum introduces major academic subjects including humanities, math, and natural sciences. Within the major, learners take upper-division courses that provide an advanced understanding of forensic science, preparing graduates for the job market.

Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus at a Glance:

Admissions Rate: 76%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15-to-1

Total Bachelor's Programs: 154

Undergrad Tuition In State: $17,416

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $34,480

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $8,354

Graduation Rate: 71%

Average Graduate Earnings After Six Years: $43,600

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#4

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

School Information
Location Lincoln, Nebraska
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 66%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The bachelor's in forensic science program at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a public institution, enrolls degree-seekers with flexible options. From its Lincoln campus, the school runs in-person and online programs. Undergraduates benefit form flexible course options and rigorous academic standards.

The bachelor's in forensic science curriculum combines upper-division forensic science classes with general education courses. The general education curriculum introduces major academic subjects including humanities, math, and natural sciences. Within the program, learners gain a theoretical and practical understanding of forensic science, preparing graduates for the workforce.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln at a Glance:

Admissions Rate: 78%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17-to-1

Total Bachelor's Programs: 149

Total Online Bachelor's Programs: 1

Undergrad Tuition In State: $7,560

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $24,000

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $6,609

Graduation Rate: 66%

Average Graduate Earnings After Six Years: $39,900

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#5

Virginia Commonwealth University

School Information
Location Richmond, Virginia
Admission Rate 87%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The bachelor's in forensic science program at Virginia Commonwealth University, a public institution, prepares graduates for the workforce. From its Richmond campus, the school runs in-person and online programs. Undergraduates benefit from rigorous academic standards and comprehensive college support services.

Majors graduate with a bachelor's degree after taking forensic science and general education courses. Students complete general education requirements by taking classes in the social sciences, STEM, and humanities. Upper-division forensic science classes cover theoretical and practical topics, preparing graduates for entry-level careers or further education.

Virginia Commonwealth University at a Glance:

Admissions Rate: 87%

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18-to-1

Total Bachelor's Programs: 61

Total Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Undergrad Tuition In State: $12,177

Undergrad Tuition Out of State: $32,825

Average Amount Aid Awarded: $10,295

Graduation Rate: 67%

Average Graduate Earnings After Six Years: $37,500

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