Entering the field of forensic science typically requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a closely related field. However, a master’s degree in forensic science is often necessary to become employed in the industry. Many forensic science colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in the subject.
Colleges for forensic science are accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). Certification after graduation is typically not mandatory, but regulations differ by state and the student’s area of specialization.
1 Boston University
Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts is one of the top forensic science colleges in the United States and has a state of the art campus. The school has a Master’s of Science in Biomedical Forensic Sciences available to prospective students who hold a bachelor’s degree in natural or engineering science or those with a bachelor’s degree in other fields that satisfy various prerequisite course requirements.
The program has a top-notch faculty who specialize in various areas of forensic science. Throughout their studies, students will participate in class work as well as laboratory components. Students must complete 4 credits of forensic laboratory which provides students with hands-on experience. In addition, electives focusing on biomedical sciences are also available. After completing all degree requirements, graduates can become employed in a variety of fields related to forensic science such as crime scene responders, DNA analysts, and chemists.
2 Drexel University
Drexel University, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers students a two-year program that leads to a Master of Science degree. Students can choose between three different concentrations in the field of forensic science: molecular biology, criminalistics and clinical forensic medicine. The school also offers students the opportunity to participate in internship programs in various locations.
In order to apply to the MFS program, prospective students must have an undergraduate degree. Although there is no specific bachelor’s degree needed to enter the program, applicants should possess a strong academic background in science.
3 George Washington University
Ranked as one of the top forensic science colleges, George Washington University in Washington DC, was established in 1968. The school’s location gives students the opportunity to study in close proximity to agencies at the federal, state, and local level.
The master’s degree offered by the university has three degree concentrations: Forensic Chemistry which trains students for careers in laboratory analysts, Forensic Toxicology which is for students who wish to work in medical examiners’ offices , and Forensic Molecular Biology which is designed for students who would like to work in crime labs performing DNA analysis.
4 Michigan State University
Michigan State University is a top forensic science school located in East Lansing, Michigan. Established in 1946, the forensic science program within the School of Criminal Justice houses exceptional laboratory facilities where students will learn analysis of various types of physical evidence.
There are three degree options available for those enrolled in the Masters of Forensic Science program: forensic anthropology, biology, and chemistry. Students who wish to apply to the program must have a bachelor’s degree in a natural or physical science field.
5 Ohio University
Ohio University in Athens, Ohio is home to the oldest forensic chemistry program in the United States. Established in 1976, the school is home to exceptional faculty and typically has 50-80 students in the program.
The Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry is an intense program and graduates often find employment in the forensic science field and in the private sector. Students in the program must take core classes, and then in the junior or senior year choose classes from either the trace analyst track or the DNA analyst track. The university also offers a PhD in Chemistry with a research emphasis in forensic chemistry.
6 Pennsylvania State University
The forensic science program at Pennsylvania State University is located in University Park and offers students state of the art facilities and laboratories. The faculty within the department are experts in their fields, and students are taught by the faculty in an interdisciplinary manner.
The Forensic Science undergraduate degree provides students with a solid education in biological and physical sciences as well as learning about forensics and the application of forensic science within criminal justice. The school also has a master’s degree in Forensic Science which gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field and allows students to specialize in the areas of forensic biology, forensic chemistry, and criminalistics.
7 Syracuse University
Syracuse University, located in Syracuse, New York, has several degree options for prospective forensic science students. The programs are flexible and allow students to interact closely with faculty, and students can train in such top-notch facilities as the New York State Police Crime Laboratory System, and The Wallie Howard Jr. Center for Forensic Science.
The university offers an Integrated Learning Major in Forensic Science at the undergraduate level which is designed to complement other majors and gives students overview of forensic science. There are also several master’s degree programs: the MS Forensic Science(Advanced), MS Forensic Science (General), and the MS Forensic Science (Nuclear Forensics). A combined MS/JD Forensic Science and Law degree is available to students who wish to become lawyers with knowledge of forensic science.
8 State University of New York – Albany
The university offers a Master’s of Science in Forensic Biology which a collaboration between the school and New York State Police Forensic Investigation Center which is located next to the Albany campus.
The program trains students to enter careers in the public or private sectors and while in school, students can expect to learn in an environment that focuses on forensic theories and techniques. Students who complete the program are also prepared to continue their studies at the PhD level.
9 University of California – Davis
The Master of Science in Forensic Science at UC Davis, is an intense program that offers full and part time schedules for students with classes conveniently held in the late afternoon or evening. Students who attend full time can complete the program in two years, while part time students typically take three years to graduate.
The MS program has a thesis and a non-thesis option; however, both options are research oriented. Prospective students to the program can hold a bachelor’s degree in various fields in the sciences, engineering, or another related field as long as they have satisfactorily completed prerequisites.
10 Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth University is a top program for forensic science and gives students in the Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science major the opportunity to study at an institution that has been accredited by FEPAC since 2005. The program has 400 students between the forensic biology and forensic chemistry concentrations which are the two areas students can opt to specialize in.
The degree is made up of 123 to 126 credits. General education courses as well as required classes for the major make up the credits.