Find Your Forensic Science Degree
|Arizona State University||Bachelor||Online Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
Learn to uncover and analyze evidence that can be used in court during criminal and civil cases.
|Arizona State University||Master||Online Professional Science Master’s in Forensic Science (PSM)
Courses in toxicology, botany, entomology, forensic science and forensic DNA.
|Arizona State University||Master||Online Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
Explore research methods, legal psychology and the treatment of mental disorders to learn how such issues connect with the legal system.
|Arizona State University||Bachelor||Online Bachelor of Science in Psychology – Forensic Psychology
Explore the intersection of law and mental health with an online forensic psychology degree
|Utica University||Bachelor||BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation||Website|
|Concordia University - Saint Paul||Master||MAHS in Forensic Behavioral Health
Coursework focuses on key topics like research, psychopathology, ethics, and cultural awareness.
|Carlow University||Bachelor||Master of Science in Fraud & Forensics||Website|
Welcome to the largest - and one of the oldest - resources solely dedicated to Forensic Science degrees and careers online.
We have researched thousands of pages on the web, including specific forensic science programs at schools, colleges, and universities across the United States. Additionally, we have researched and reviewed some of the top career choices in forensic science.
Forensic Science Degrees Online
In our database, we have over 300+ specific forensic science programs. You can review them all, but here is a quick overview by degree level:
- 47 Certificate Programs in Forensic Science
- 13 Associate's Degrees in Forensic Science
- 87 Bachelor's Degrees in Forensic Science
- 47 Master's Degrees in Forensic Science
- 3 Doctorate Degrees in Forensic Science
Why Study Forensic Science Online?
The study of Forensic Science has progressed immensely with the advancement of technology over the past 20-plus years. Progressions and advancements in DNA evidence and cyber technology and security have helped law enforcement officials - private, public, and for state or federal governments - solve crimes that otherwise may not have been solved.
Technological advancements are expected to be made and forensic scientist careers could be in demand as a result. Areas such as cyber security are a major focus for the U.S. government and across the entire world. Likewise, more law enforcement agencies and departments are becoming more streamlined with gathering and analyzing forensic evidence, understanding that all forensic science specialty areas can work together to solve crimes.
|Utica University||Bachelor||BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation||Website|
|Concordia University - Saint Paul||Master||MAHS in Forensic Behavioral Health||Website|
|Carlow University||Bachelor||Master of Science in Fraud & Forensics||Website|
|Utica University||Master||MS in Cybersecurity - Computer Forensics||Website|
|Utica University||Bachelor||BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation||Website|
|The University of Scranton||Master||Master of Accountancy - Forensic Accounting||Website|
|Campbellsville University||Associate||AS in Criminal Justice Administration||Website|
|Virgina Wesleyan University||Bachelor||Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice||Website|
|Utica University||Bachelor||BS in Criminal Justice - Cyber Criminology and Policy||Website|
Forensic science can be a great field of study for students who are strong in the subject of science and want to help solve crimes. Being a forensic scientist means you would take part in analyzing evidence, and helping put the pieces of an unsolved puzzle together with other professionals in law enforcement. There are so many online options for those who want to learn online while working, taking care of their family, or other responsibilities.
If you are just starting your education, there are bachelor’s programs in forensic science you can compare. For those who have a bachelors in criminal justice or forensic science, you can find many graduate level forensic science degrees. Many of these programs offer unique specializations and concentrations.
Many graduate level programs online are offered at an accelerated pace. But, there are many that are geared towards students who need 2-3 years to complete their education. This pace, along with the convenience of online learning, can help you continue your career and education simultaneously. Class lectures are usually stored where students can access them and download for viewing at their convenience.
Whether you take an online bachelor’s or masters level forensic science program, you will want to be sure if there are any on-campus requirements for lab, tests, etc. Some 100% online forensic science degree programs will utilize testing centers throughout the country for students who reside out of the area. This is just another reason why you need to look into all your options, and compare several programs before deciding.
Most online bachelor’s in forensic science programs will include curriculum that covers the process of an investigation from start to finish. When you work as a forensic specialist, for example, you will need to understand how the collection, analyzation, and reporting works within organizations. You will also get to know the latest tools and technology for analyzing evidence.
The types of professionals who might want to earn their masters in forensic science include forensic specialists, attorneys, law enforcement (police, detectives, investigators), who want to increase their role in their organization, or qualify to branch out into new areas of the field. At the graduate level, you can compare degree programs in forensic science that offer a broad curriculum, or you can choose programs that have specializations, such as Investigation, Criminalistics, toxicology, DNA and Serology, and others.
Accredited Forensic Science Degrees
Accreditation is a top concern among most prospective students. The credibility of an accredited program, plus the financial aid incentives for choosing an accredited school make it an important topic to consider. When comparing online forensic science programs, you will want to look for accreditation from the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission – (FEPAC)”>Source. This commission helps ensure colleges meet particular standards for curriculum so graduates will be best equipped to work in the field. They accredit undergrad and graduate level programs. They also have several helpful resources for students, including a complete list of programs they have accredited.
There are many routes individuals who want to earn their online forensic science degree can take to work in the field. First, compare programs for online students in your area to narrow down your options.
Physical Evidence Forensics
Forensic Science Majors
The opportunities to expand your forensic science education really happens at the graduate level. Although you may find bachelor’s programs that are somewhat specialized or offer additional concentrations, master’s level programs offer an opportunity to target the high-level careers you want in the field.
Bachelors or Masters in Forensic Science
Starting with the most broad type of program, this degree can be the right move for those who want to have the most options for work environments. Graduates of this types of program can work in crime labs, police departments, hospitals and laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, and even become high school teachers or college science professors. Students will likely take several courses in the biological sciences, data analysis, and forensics as it applies to several other scientific areas.
Toxologists are needed to study the effects of chemicals on our bodies. This can apply to drug testing for employment, autopsies, and other purposes that are related to criminal justice and legal cases. If you graduate with this type of degree, you can work in lab settings at police departments, hospitals, or testing facilities owned by private drug companies. This type of program can also teach you the professional skills required for these settings, along with the confidence to handle the high-pressure and teime-sensitive situations that can accompany this profession.
This type of program can prepare graduates for work in military or medical professions, as well as careers in law enforcement. Courses will cover such topics as blood spatter, analysis of DNA, immunology, nucleotide activity, as well as courses in biochemistry and biology. With DNA technology expanding into so many healthcare and law enforcement related industries, this type of program can offer several career options for graduates.
Forensic Psychology is a degree route that can lead to careers in law enforcement, working directly with people involved in criminal and legal situations. The careers related to this degree include criminal profiler, consulting, curriculum development, providing treatment for prisoners and the mentally ill.
Forensic engineers work to figure out if objects, devices, products and other material items function properly or may have contributed to a criminal act. These types of programs are a little more rare than the others, but there are options for those who want to work as a forensic engineer.
Sometimes, crime scenes involve bodies that are decomposed and beyond recognition. That’s when it is up to the forensic anthropologist to help determine the history of the remains. This may involve using special technology that reconstructs human remains to identify victims or figure out other clues behind the crime.
Some facts about forensic science
Forensic Science Wasn’t Invented by Scientists
Although its methods are highly scientific, forensic science owes its beginnings to cops who relied heavily on observation and common sense. Police officers using fingerprints to identify culprits led to forensic science as we know it today. The most impressive advances, such as DNA testing and UV light screening, came into the picture much later, when technology was more advanced. The practicality of investigators in the past is responsible for modern scientific forensic methods.
Fingerprints Aren’t Foolproof
In movies and on television, once a fingerprint has been discovered at the crime scene, it’s only a matter of time until the criminal is caught. A fingerprint seems to be the most damning piece of evidence that can be used against an individual. Real-life forensic scientists will tell you, however, that while each person does have unique fingerprints, matching them can be difficult, even for experts.
Although fingerprints are distinct among individuals, their patterns are so intricate and variable that it takes a well-trained eye to recognize a match. Computer technology has made this process a lot easier, but seasoned forensic scientists note that there is no completely foolproof statistical formula for matching fingerprints.
Bullets Aren’t Foolproof Either
As with fingerprints, ballistics and bullet markings are not easily matched. The barrel of each gun has its own unique grooves and surfaces, creating a distinct imprint that acts as the “fingerprint” of the gun. As the bullets shoot out of the gun, they fly through the barrel and are marked by that imprint. While this ballistics theory is sound, the process of actually finding a match for the gun and bullet has no strong statistical formula behind it.
When you consider the fact that a bullet can be damaged upon impact, finding a matching pattern becomes even more difficult. Although authorities have been able to trace weapons from the bullets they fired (and from those who fired the weapons), the process itself is extremely meticulous and open for error. Ballistics specialists must therefore be precise with their analysis.
DNA Testing Saves Lives
To date, DNA testing has exonerated more than 242 wrongfully-convicted individuals. Thanks to advances in DNA technology, questionable convictions are sometimes re-investigated using DNA testing. Should the evidence show that the defendant could not have committed the crime, he or she can successfully be exonerated.
Because of this, there are several organizations pushing for the requirement of DNA testing on all convicts. No one knows exactly how many innocent citizens are wrongfully convicted, so many individuals strive to right this wrong.
DNA Testing Makes Mistakes
Unfortunately, the reverse can also happen. DNA testing has never been 100% accurate. There have been more than 50 false incriminations based on faulty testing. DNA testing is a precise science, and a single mistake can lead to the wrongful conviction of innocents. Although the odds of error in DNA testing are relatively low, the possibility of mistaken results does exist.
6. Teeth Are Trustworthy
What piece of crime scene data is responsible for identifying over 93% of remains? Dental records. Because bones are among the sturdiest parts of the body, they are often the best-preserved area in remains. Combine this with the fact that every individual has a unique dental imprint, and you have the recipe for an extremely reliable form of identification.
Identification by dental records is especially useful in cases where the victim was left unrecognizable. Crimes that involve mutilation, burning, or any other form of disfigurement may still leave the teeth relatively intact. Samples procured from teeth can be matched to existing dental records to help identify the body.
Bugs Are Used for Forensics
While maggots on a corpse may be disgusting to some these critters are a welcome sight to forensic scientists. Insects have proven to be a reliable indicator of an individual’s time of death. There is an entire field of forensic science dedicated to the study of insects in the crime scene – forensic entomology.
Insects can provide even more information. The times at which the insects were known to have been active can tell investigators when the crime occurred. Because insects also exhibit a certain level of endemism (the tendency to live only in certain areas), bugs present in the corpse can help tell scientists where the crime was committed. This helps investigators determine whether the body was moved from the actual crime scene post-mortem.
The Nose Knows
Dead bodies emit certain smells when they die, often to the revulsion of many. These pungent aromas are actually a combination of chemical gases emitted by the corpse, like ammonia and sulphur. Scientists are currently working on machines that will be able to detect these chemical gases, thereby determining where a corpse may be found. Such a machine would give crime scene investigators another method of locating dead bodies in addition to traditional, conventional methods.
9. Deleted Computer Files Aren’t Always Gone
Savvy forensic scientists may be able to find evidence that’s been deleted from a computer. Every time you “delete” a file from a computer, the file is simply set aside, hidden, and marked as data waiting to be rewritten. Computer analysts use this fact to their advantage and have developed programs that detect these hidden files, allowing them to copy and open the data.
Forensic Science Comes Second
Despite its reputation, forensic science, is only the second best method of identifying criminals. What’s number one? Eyewitness account, of course. Eyewitness testimony far outweighs the deductions based on forensic scientific methods. It’s much easier to believe someone who’s actually witnessed a crime than the educated guesses of several scientists.
Witnesses have been known, however, to provide unreliable accounts of the crime. Fear or panic can cause people to recall things differently from what they actually saw. Many variables affect the credibility of eyewitness testimony, including poor lighting and quick movement. Investigators often use forensic science to corroborate the stories of the eyewitnesses. If evidence produced by forensic methods helps an eyewitness recognize certain facets of the crime, then their testimony is strengthened.
The gravitational pooling of blood, called livor mortis, can indicate a victim’s time of death by analyzing the discoloration in the lowest point in the body. Livor mortis occurs shortly after the victim has died and the circulatory system has shut down. At this time, the blood will flow towards the part of the body closest to the ground, where gravity is most concentrated. As the blood accumulates, that area will swell slightly and become discolored. Forensic investigators can calculate time of death by measuring the amount and size of discoloration and comparing it with the physics behind the flow of blood.
The Nose Knows, Part 2
In cases of arson, one of the most crucial points of the investigation is learning how the crime was carried out. Everything, from the fire’s point of origin to the manner in which the fire was started, is essential in determining if it was indeed arson. From the same information, investigators can get a clue as to who committed the crime.
Investigators must also learn how the fire was spread. Arsonists often use chemicals that have distinct scents to do their dirty work. Investigators use sniffers to help identify what type of substance was used to accelerate the spread of fire. Scents they particularly note include gasoline and kerosene.
Fingerprinting is Older Than You Think
Long before police were collecting fingerprints for evidence, another culture was already using the unique grooves on a person’s fingertips to identify him. The ancient Chinese used thumbprints instead of signatures on legal documents.
In ancient times, only the elite were privileged enough to receive an education. The ability to read and write was usually confined to the royalty and the priesthood. This created problems, however, when one of the regular citizens had to sign a legal document. Rather than taking the time and effort to teach that person how to write his name, authorities decided that thumbprints were a viable alternative to signify identity.
Everything You Do on the Internet Is Tracked.
Internet tracking is one of the easiest forms of surveillance. The Internet is a vast public area, where everyone is connected to everyone else– this includes the authorities. If they wanted to, the government could watch the Internet activity of anyone, just as they are tracking many people at this very moment. Every site you visit, every single mouse click and press of the keys , can be traced by a knowledgeable computer technician. The government has taken advantage of this fact and hired several such individuals to monitor citizens, especially those under suspicion of criminal activity. Known convicts are closely monitored after their release to prevent the commission of further illegal activity.
Analysis Isn’t As Easy As You Think
On TV crime dramas, once a piece of evidence has been retrieved, the results of testing will soon follow. In reality, however, actual testing is a slow and deliberate process that can take weeks, even months. Most television shows last around 25 to 45 minutes, so the results of their fictional forensic tests are back quickly. The rule of thumb is, the more technical the forensic test, the longer it will take. For example, while a run-through of fingerprints can take a few minutes, DNA testing can go on for days, even weeks. Certain measures are taken to improve the accuracy of the tests, while increasing the time. These tests must be performed precisely — otherwise the odds of faulty results being obtained increase.
Forensic Scientists Can Learn From You
While textbooks and theories teach budding forensic scientists the tricks of the trade, there’s no substitute for actual experience. Many looking to enter the field of forensic science try to involve themselves in actual crime investigations, either through apprenticeship or through internship. Not all students are lucky enough to join in on police investigations, however, and the best way they can learn is by studying real-life dead bodies. Although this may seem revolting to some, this type of study is quite appealing to students of forensic science. It greatly enhances their learning experience. If you’d like to help them out in their endeavors, an institution known as the Body Farm can help you arrange to have your body donated to forensic science after your death.
There Is No Perfect Piece of Evidence
Contrary to what TV crime shows may lead you to believe, most of the evidence found at crime scenes is usually contaminated, sometimes even rendered unusable. By the time the authorities arrive, the crime scene will have already been contaminated by several uncontrollable variables, such as the weather and passersby. The evidence may have been moved, altered, or even broken, depending on the speed of the response of the investigating team.
Evidence at violent crime scenes can be even more difficult to pin down. Physical confrontations can cause evidence to break, shattering into minuscule pieces. Blood can stain and soak certain materials. Explosions can literally disintegrate valuable information. Add to this the fact that many criminals are smart enough to try to conceal their work, and finding good pieces of evidence suddenly becomes an extremely challenging task.
Forensics Time Travels
Forensic science is often used to shed some light on cold cases, or past cases that were previously declared unsolvable. One such cold case involves the case of Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, a man convicted of murder back in 1910. Crippen was found guilty of murdering his wife Cora, who disappeared one day, only to have her remains found hidden underneath the cellar floor of Crippen’s home. He was then apprehended, tried, and sentenced to hang.
However, in 2007, a forensic scientist from Michigan State University discovered that mitochondrial DNA samples from the corpse did not support the claims that the body found underneath Crippen’s cellar belonged to Cora Crippen. As a result, the case of Dr. Hawley Crippen has once again become open to questioning.
The Earth Loves Forensics
Humans aren’t the only ones to benefit from forensic science. Numerous eco-crimes have been resolved, thanks to the endeavors of forensic scientists. Mismanagement of hazardous waste, large-scale industrial pollution, and other serious eco-crimes can now be solved through the efforts of forensic scientists. By tracing the chemical signatures of the contaminants found in the areas of incident, the individuals responsible for many ecological wrongdoings have been caught by the authorities. The mercury poisoning in the true-to-life film “Erin Brockovich” was eventually traced to its source through a combination of investigative know-how and perseverance.
Fingerprints Streamlined Identification
Long before fingerprints became the norm for identification, authorities used bertillionage, an arduous process that entailed taking 11 different bodily measurements, including: height, length of the body from the left shoulder to the tip of the middle finger in a raised right arm, length of the torso from head to seat when in a seated position, length from the crown to the forehead, length between temples, length of the right ear, length of the left foot, length of the left middle finger, length from the left elbow to the tip of the left middle finger, the width of the cheeks, and the length of the left pinky. After all of that, the officers would then have to cross-reference these measurements with their records for a perfect match. This was a very effective, though inefficient, process.
Today, authorities simply need to run an image of the suspect’s fingerprints through a computerized record, and a match will be found within minutes.
You Can’t Lie Through Your Teeth
One of forensic science’s strangest pieces of incriminating evidence involved the crimes of Ted Bundy, one of history’s most infamous serial killers. His modus operandi was to violently bludgeon an innocent victim to a helpless state, and then strangle her to death. After his capture, he confessed to having killed over 30 women, although many believe that his actual body count was over 100.
Despite the blatant savagery of his crimes, Bundy was a highly intelligent man. He was able to skirt the law, and was not found guilty throughout 10 years of questioning. However, one piece of evidence proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bundy was indeed responsible for the heinous murders. He was found guilty based on dental matches to bite marks he left on the buttocks of one of his victims!
It’s All In Your Head
One of the best indicators of race is cranial morphology, or skull shape. Hawaiians, for example, have a characteristic jaw that rocks back and forth if pushed (known as Rocker Jaw). The shape of the skull can also tell investigators a victim’s gender. Males have slightly sloping foreheads, whereas females’ foreheads are vertical. Details such as these help investigators analyze and identify remains. This information can be used for a variety of purposes, such as gaining insight into the criminal’s modus operandi, and to notifying an identified victim’s relatives of the unfortunate circumstances.
Hay Fever Can Be Incriminating
Forensic Palynology is the study of pollen and spores, which tend to stick to a criminal’s body and/or clothing and can be used as an indicator of his whereabouts, based on areas where that particular plant grows. Pollen can land on the culprit through a variety of means, such as wind, insects, or gravity bringing pollen down from overhanging plants. Should this occur, any traces of pollen found on a suspect can be used to link him to the scene of the crime.
Forensic Science is Old
One of the first accounts of forensic science being used to solve a crime occurred in 44 B.C., when Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by Roman senators. A physician named Antistius was called to study the corpse of Julius Caesar. Upon examination of the body, Antistius concluded who was responsible for the crime, and the guilty senators were sentenced to death. The physician made his fateful announcement in the Roman forum, giving forensic (forensic – from the Latin forensics, “belonging to the forum”) science its name.
Fingerprint Identification Has Come a Long Way
Matching fingerprints wasn’t always as easy as it seems to be on TV. Most law enforcers now use the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), a program that matches a fingerprint to a record within minutes or even seconds. With its high degree of accuracy, fingerprint identification isn’t quite as complicated, or as tedious, as it used to be. Before the creation of the AFIS in 1970, officers would have to rifle through millions of cards and records to find a match.