Online Master’s Degrees In Forensic Science

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Pursue Graduate Education with a Master’s in Forensic Science

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 Online Master’s In Forensic Science

Rank School Location
1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
2 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
3 Stevenson University Stevenson, MD
4 National University La Jolla, CA

Frequently Asked Questions: Master's in Forensic Science

  • 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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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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  1. University of Central Florida

    Orlando, FL



    The master's in forensic science degree at UCF comprises 32-34 credits and can be completed in as few as two years. The MS program offers concentrations in three areas: forensic analysis, forensic biochemistry, and forensic professional. Full-time students usually graduate from the program after two years of continuous enrollment. Most part-time enrollees complete the program after four years.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in forensic science or in another physical science field of study. The program requires applicants to submit their latest GRE scores.

    Students pursuing the forensic analysis or the forensic biochemistry specialization must perform original research and defend a thesis. The forensic professional specialization is a non-thesis option that requires students to complete an independent research capstone project.

    Regardless of the specialization a student pursues, the program requires enrollees to complete three core courses in special topics. These include forensic science, the forensic expert in the courtroom, and quality assurance for forensic scientists.

    UCF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo, FL



    The College of Education and Social Services at Saint Leo University offers a master of science in criminal justice with a specialization in forensic science. The 36-credit program consists of 12 credits of core classes in criminal justice and forensic science, six credits of electives, and a six-credit applied project in criminal justice administration. Saint Leo offers the specialization in forensic science only as an online program.

    The core curriculum covers topics such as legal issues, public policymaking, and leadership applications in criminal justice. Forensic science coursework includes an introductory class and courses in forensic and medico legal investigation, crime scene investigation and management, and advanced forensic science.

    Online students begin the program by enrolling in the ethical issues in criminal justice administration course. The six-credit capstone project gives enrollees the chance to address a specific problem or launch an initiative focused on criminal justice administration.

    Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. Stevenson University

    Stevenson, MD



    Developed specifically to meet the educational needs of full-time working professionals, the master's in forensic science at Stevenson University offers concentrations in biology and in chemistry.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in a natural science field from an accredited college or university. Applicants must also show an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. The program requires the completion of prerequisite courses in biology, general and organic chemistry, physics, and statistics. Students can transfer up to six credits from an accredited four-year institution toward the MS degree.

    A fully online degree, the forensic science master's program includes coursework in serology and immunology, crime scene investigation, and toxicology. Graduates of community colleges with existing partnership agreements with Stevenson University can avail of lower tuition rates. The university also partners with local nonprofit organizations and criminal justice agencies to provide students with internship and hands-on training experiences.

    Stevenson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. National University

    La Jolla, CA



    National University in La Jolla, California, offers a master's in forensic science with a specialization in criminalistics and in investigation. The program comprises 54 quarter credits, or 36 semester credits. Students can transfer up to 13.5 quarter credits (nine semester credits) from another accredited program or institution toward the degree.

    Students who plan to pursue the criminalistics specialization must hold a bachelor's degree in laboratory science. The specialization focuses on trace evidence, forensic serology, and toxicology. The investigation specialization does not require a specific course of study and concentrates on advanced investigative techniques currently implemented in the field.

    The core curriculum includes courses in forensic pathology, crime scene investigation, fingerprint analysis, and digital evidence. The program requires candidates to complete a supervised research project as a culminating experience prior to graduation. The degree includes several classes that follow accelerated four-week delivery schedules, which can facilitate progress through the program.

    National University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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