Most Affordable Forensic Science Degrees 2021

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Forensic science applies interdisciplinary knowledge and skills from chemistry, biology, criminal justice, and computer science. Forensic science professionals collect, examine, and analyze physical evidence for civil and criminal cases. This field requires strong ethics, problem-solving skills, and laboratory-science technical skills. Some forensic science roles demand meticulous documentation and presentation of evidence.

This discipline features many subfields, including cybercrime, forensic pathology, forensic toxicology, and forensic anthropology. A bachelor’s in forensic science qualifies graduates for lucrative positions, such as forensic science technician. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a median annual salary of $59,150, plus rapid growth projections of 14% for this profession during 2019-2029. With additional education and experience, some forensic science bachelor’s degree-holders eventually become forensic toxicologists or pathologists.

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Forensic Science Program Questions

  • What kind of jobs can you get with a degree in forensic science?

    A degree in forensic science supports various law enforcement or science jobs. Graduates often pursue careers as forensic scientists or technicians.

  • How do I start a career in forensic science?

    Forensic science professionals need specialized education and skills, so these careers typically begin with earning a forensics-related undergraduate degree.

  • What kind of degree do you need for forensic science?

    Not everyone in this field holds a bachelor’s degree. February 2021 PayScale data shows that AS in forensic science graduates earn an average salary of $56,882 annually. However, the BLS indicates that many forensic science technician jobs require a bachelor’s degree. More advanced roles, such as forensic pathologist or toxicologist, often demand master’s-level education.

  • Is forensics a good career?

    Forensics professionals typically make a good living and enjoy diverse daily tasks at crime scenes and in laboratories.

Why Get a Degree in Forensic Science?

Getting a degree in forensic science can yield many personal and professional advantages, including career advancement, salary increase, networking opportunities, and access to interesting careers.

Career Advancement
Working professionals often finish their bachelor’s in forensic science to qualify for promotion to more interesting and prestigious roles.
Salary Increase
Completing a forensic science bachelor’s degree moves graduates up the salary scale, although salaries vary widely by location, position, and employer.
Networking Opportunities
Online forensic science programs typically serve working students with potentially valuable career connections, so enrollees often benefit from networking with their cohorts.
Interesting Career Paths
Forensic science features many exciting and challenging careers, particularly when professionals gain advanced education and expertise to qualify for higher-level roles, such as forensic psychologist.
General and Specialized Skills
Forensic science bachelor’s degree-holders possess a very specialized skill set. However, forensic science programs also cultivate general analysis and problem-solving skills that prove beneficial in various contexts.

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Courses in Forensic Science

Bachelor’s in forensic science programs typically require about 120 credits of general, forensics, and elective coursework. General education classes often span the humanities, social sciences, sciences, and maths. The core curriculum includes forensic biology, math, chemistry, and criminalistics. Enrollees learn key skills in evidence collection, analysis, and documentation.

Some bachelor’s in forensic science programs allow learners to choose a concentration field, such as biology, chemistry, DNA, or toxicology. Each concentration features specific required courses. The classes below appear in most affordable online bachelor’s in forensic science programs.

This course teaches participants how to collect and process physical evidence at crime scenes. Students learn how to do forensic photography, courtroom testimony, and report-writing. Enrollees gain skills in crime scene technologies, problem-solving, and teamwork.

Forensic pathology covers common types of unanticipated deaths, including suicide, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, accidents, and homicides. Course participants learn techniques and tools for identifying and autopsying victims. Enrollees acquire knowledge of forensic terminology, human anatomy, and physiology.

Criminal psychology classes study common thoughts, feelings, and personalities found among criminals. Learners practice analyzing and creating hypotheses to explain criminal behavior. These skills prove particularly beneficial for aspiring forensic psychologists. Some programs offer coursework exploring adolescent criminal psychology specifically.

Often an elective or concentration class, cybersecurity covers common digital crimes, such as identity theft, hacking, fraud, and money laundering. Enrollees study various security theories, practices, and technologies used for organizational information security.

These experiential learning opportunities differ widely based on career interests, concentration, and location. Forensic science interns may work with various criminal justice authorities, such as local police departments or the FBI.

Certifications and Licensure for Forensic Science

Forensic science bachelor’s degree graduates may benefit from earning professional certifications, which verify possession of particular knowledge and skill sets. These certifications typically require related degrees, professional experience, and an examination. Forensic science professionals may benefit from the following three certifications.

Comprehensive Criminalistics Certification

The American Board of Criminalistics grants this certification to professionals with regionally accredited bachelor’s degrees, two years of criminalistics experience, and specialized casework authorization. Candidates must pass a three-hour, 200-question exam covering various forensic disciplines. This general certification supports diverse forensic science careers.

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Forensic Photography and Imaging Certification

The International Association for Identification certifies forensic photographers. Candidates need two endorsement letters, 80 hours of photography classroom training, two years of professional forensic photography experience, and passing scores on written and practical examinations.

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Forensic Toxicology Analyst

The American Board of Forensic Toxicology certifies forensics professionals at various levels. For analyst certification, candidates need associate or bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, 1-2 years of current professional experience, and successful certification exam results. This entry-level certification supports forensic technician careers.

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Scholarships for Forensic Science Students

Even students attending the most affordable online bachelor’s in forensic science programs apply for scholarships, reducing out-of-pocket expenses. Many nonprofit and for-profit organizations award scholarships to applicants demonstrating relevant study fields, marginalized identities, financial need, or academic merit. See below for three scholarships available to online bachelor’s in forensic science students.

  • Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This AFTE scholarship goes to upperclass undergraduate or any level graduate students seeking a career in forensic science. To qualify, candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Submission requirements include an application form, transcripts, and recommendation letters.

    Amount: $2,000

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  • Johnson-Whyte Memorial Foundation Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: The International Association for Identification provides financial awards to full-time upperclass undergraduates enrolled in accredited forensics-related programs. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Amount: Varies

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  • Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: NEAFS provides two scholarships for full-time, upper-level undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in forensic science. Qualified candidates live in the Northeast and submit recommendation letters.

    Amount: $1,750-$2,000

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Most Affordable Online Degrees in Forensic Science

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