Online Master’s In Forensic Science Programs 2021

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Forensic scientists investigate and analyze evidence to aid criminal investigations and other legal proceedings. Encompassing traditional scientific disciplines including biology, physics, and chemistry, forensic science also incorporates crime scene investigation tools and techniques.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that forensic science technicians earn an annual median salary of $60,590. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 14% from 2019-2029.

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This guide ranks the best online master’s in forensic science programs. It also covers other important information for prospective students, such as common courses and scholarship opportunities for forensic science students.

Top 10 Online Master’s In Forensic Science Programs

FAQ


  • Do forensic scientists get paid well?

    Forensic science technicians earn an annual median salary of $60,590. However, a master’s degree may qualify forensic scientists for advanced positions with higher salaries.


  • What qualifications do I need to do forensic science?

    Most forensic science technician jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree. Higher-level positions with specialized duties may require a master’s degree.


  • Is forensic science a good career?

    According to the BLS, forensic scientists earn above-average salaries. The BLS also projects jobs for these professionals to grow faster than average between 2019-2029, making forensic science a practical career choice.


  • How do I get a job in forensics?

    Forensics jobs typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree may qualify graduates for leadership roles in the field.


Why Get a Degree in Forensic Science?

A master’s in forensic science builds advanced knowledge and skills in the scientific analysis of forensic evidence. While most entry-level forensic science positions only require a bachelor’s degree, earning a forensic science master’s degree prepares candidates for leadership roles in the field.

Many online forensic science master’s programs cater to professionals already employed in the field, enabling students to earn their degree while maintaining full-time employment. Programs may encourage students to apply their learning to their current job. Additionally, colleges often provide tuition discounts to online learners.

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How Much Does a Forensic Science Degree Cost?



Tuition for master’s in forensic science programs varies by factors such as school, delivery format, and enrollment status. Private schools typically charge higher tuition rates than public schools. In-state students at public schools usually pay the lowest tuition rates.

Online students often save money on their degree compared to on-campus students. For instance, distance learners may save on some of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as transportation costs. Additionally, many schools offer tuition discounts to online students.

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Our college affordability calculator considers income, potential financial aid, expected tuition, and other relevant factors to determine how much you can afford to pay for a degree.

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How Much Do Forensic Science Majors Make?

Forensic science professionals earn competitive salaries. The BLS reports that forensic science technicians earn an annual median salary of $60,590, with the top 10% of earners making an annual median salary of over $100,000.

However, salaries vary by factors like location, experience, and industry. Scientists employed by the federal executive branch typically make the highest wages, earning an annual median salary of $120,790. Forensic scientists employed by local governments earn an annual median salary of $65,840.

Earning a master’s in forensic science can help candidates advance to leadership roles with higher pay. Obtaining professional certifications can also help forensic scientists move into higher-paying positions.

Courses in Forensic Science



A master’s in forensic science builds advanced knowledge in forensic techniques and scientific analysis, training students to interpret evidence from crime scenes and other forensic circumstances. The degree encomapsses major scientific fields including biology, chemistry, and physics. Students also explore specialized forensic investigation techniques and the application of forensic evidence to legal proceedings.

Many forensic science programs require students to complete a research-based thesis or capstone project. This culminating requirement typically entails significant research on a contemporary forensic science issue or problem.

Courses vary by program, but the following list outlines several courses commonly found in master’s in forensic science programs.

This course introduces common scientific techniques for the examination of biological and physical evidence. Students receive an overview of the scientific method in relation to crime scene investigation, including collection, preservation, and testing techniques for biological evidence. Common topics include crime scene procedures, evidence documentation, and legal integrity of evidence.

Forensic toxicology applies the principles of analytical chemistry to drug and body fluid analysis. This course highlights key concepts in forensic toxicology, including impairment versus intoxication, pharmacology and pharmacokinetics, and the use of toxicology results in criminal court proceedings. Students also explore key sample extraction, preparation, and interpretation techniques.

A key component of forensic science, criminalistics refers to the analysis of trace physical evidence such as glass, fibers, and hair. This course highlights techniques in microscopy and microchemistry, teaching students how to identify and assess distinguishing characteristics in various types of physical evidence.

Certifications and Licensure for Forensic Science



Forensic scientists and other forensic specialists can use professional certifications to demonstrate key knowledge and competencies. Earning certification may help forensic scientists transition to a new career path or advance in their current job. This list highlights three common forensic science certifications offered through the American Board of Criminalistics.

Hair and Fiber Certification


This credential serves forensic examiners who work with hair and/or textile analysis. Certification candidates need at least two years of relevant professional experience and professional authorization to perform forensic analysis of hairs and fibers. Candidates must also pass a three-hour, 200-question exam.

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Molecular Biology Certification


Serving forensic biologists, this certification demonstrates skills in the analysis of biological evidence such as DNA. Candidates need at least two years of experience related to forensic biology casework.

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Comprehensive Criminalistics Certification


This certification serves skilled criminalists authorized to perform forensics casework in multiple specialty areas. Candidates must hold at least two years of experience and pass a comprehensive 200-question exam.

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Scholarships for Forensic Science



Candidates pursuing a forensic science master’s degree can take advantage of financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of the degree, including student loans, grants, and scholarships. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines three scholarship opportunities for master’s in forensic science students.

  • Johnson-Whyte Memorial Foundation Fund

    Who Can Apply: The International Association for Identification offers this scholarship to students pursuing programs related to forensic identification. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Amount: Varies

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  • George H. Robinson Memorial Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Students enrolled in criminal justice or forensic science programs qualify for this opportunity. Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA.

    Amount: $1,000

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  • Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: WIFLE offers scholarships to female students pursuing criminal justice-related programs, including forensic science programs. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a short essay.

    Amount: Varies

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Online Master’s In Forensic Science Programs 2021



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