Forensic science is an exciting industry. It’s also a field that’s ripe with opportunities for hard-working professionals who can think outside the box. You’ll get new challenges each day that can only be solved by individuals with specialized expertise.
Consider an online forensic science degree to prepare you for entry into the field. Most positions require at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify, and you’ll have the skills and knowledge to impress employers.
Benzinga is here to assist in your quest for the best online forensics degree program.
Why Choose an Online Forensics Degree?
Put your problem-solving skills to good use with a career in forensic science. An online degree is an effective way to get the education you need to qualify for lucrative roles.
Choosing to study online means you can get up to speed with the latest trends and developments in forensic science on your own time. Colleges and universities with distance learning programs bring the classroom to you virtually. You can access your courses, view lectures and complete assignments when it’s convenient.
When you graduate, you can step into a role that’s both rewarding and lucrative. Forensic scientists enjoy challenging work and salaries that are higher than what recent college graduates earn.
Another major perk is the ability to choose from 11 unique forensic science disciplines. According to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, they include:
- Digital and Multimedia Sciences
- Engineering and Applied Sciences
- General Forensics
- Psychiatry and Behavioral Science
- Questioned Documents
How to Choose an Online Forensics Degree
Keep the following in mind as you evaluate online forensics degree programs.
Is the school you’re considering accredited? This is significant because it helps prospective employers determine whether your degree is from a reputable institution.
If your degree is from a non-accredited college or university, employers have no assurance that the coursework will prepare you for the responsibilities and duties of a particular role. Consequently, they may be reluctant to hire you.
College credits from non-accredited institutions usually aren’t transferable. In other words, if you begin coursework and decide to continue your education elsewhere, you may have to start from scratch. Plus, you won’t be able to use the credits earned while pursuing your degree to meet the educational requirements of a graduate program.
Instructors inundated with questions and requests from students often find it challenging to respond promptly. This is typical if class sizes are large and there are no teaching assistants on hand to handle the inquiries. It can also become problematic if you’re stuck on a particular concept or assignment and need assistance to move forward.
For this reason, you want an online forensics degree program that offers small class sizes. There should be no more than 20 students per classroom if you want the optimal experience.
Cost of Attendance
The cost of attendance varies by institution. Keep more money in your pocket by selecting an online forensics degree program that offers rates on tuition and fees. It’s also ideal if an institution allows you to transfer a large number of credits to help minimize costs.
Jobs Waiting for You with a Forensics Degree
Here are some of the top jobs that await forensic science degree holders.
Forensic Science Technician
Forensic science technicians play an integral role in criminal investigations. They are responsible for gathering and analyzing evidence from crime scenes to help paint a picture of the crime that occurred.
If you’re hired to work in a lab, you will process evidence through biological, chemical and microscopic analyses. You may also work with odontologists and toxicologists to assess evidence and compile reports.
Crime Scene Investigator
Crime scene investigators are experts at collecting evidence from crime scenes. Instead of getting involved with processing and analysis, their goal is to ensure no critical evidence that could crack a case is left behind.
You’ll perform a medley of tasks that require extreme attention to detail. These include collecting bodily fluids and DNA, lifting fingerprints from surfaces and gathering weapons for the lab. If you’re investigating the scene of a murder, you may also be tasked with determining the time and cause of death, speaking with other members of law enforcement. Some crime scene investigators are also asked to testify in court.
Prefer to skip the crime scenes and handle the processing of evidence behind the scenes? A career as a forensic analyst may be a good fit. In this role, you will apply the proven methods and scientific knowledge gained in college and through hands-on exercises to analyze evidence and help solve crimes.
Roles and responsibilities vary by organization. However, some specialize in blood splatter and DNA analysis. Others only deal with cybercrimes. You may also spend a substantial amount of time in the crime lab conducting tests on biological, chemical and physical evidence.
Best Online Colleges for a Forensics Degree
Here are Benzinga’s top picks for online forensic degree programs. We’ve also included a description of each program so you can properly evaluate your options and enroll with confidence.
1. University of Maryland
An online degree in investigative forensics from the University of Maryland equips you with vital knowledge to succeed as a forensic specialist. The program dives into the basics of detecting, collecting and processing evidence. You will also learn how to create reports that communicate vital details related to your investigation.
Candidates for the Bachelor of Science in investigative forensics must pass the following core courses:
- Criminalistics I: The Comparative Disciplines
- Criminalistics II: The Scientific Disciplines
- Criminal Procedure and Evidence
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Cybercrime and Security
- Fingerprint Analysis
- Firearms and Toolmarks Analysis
- Introduction to Investigative Forensics
- Medical and Legal Investigations of Death
- Principles of Digital Analysis
Expect to complete 120 hours to earn your degree. You can transfer credits to meet the requirements faster.
2. Liberty University
Liberty University can help you prepare for a rewarding career with its Bachelor of Science in forensic science degree program. It is offered through the biology and chemistry department and accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission.
The program is ideal for students who want to work in medical examiner’s offices and police departments. You will also possess the skills and knowledge needed to land a role in the Department of Health, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Institute of Health and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
You need 120 credit hours to reach the finish line.
3. Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University offers an online Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. It prepares you for a career as a forensic psychologist working in crime analytics, investigative research and psychological assessment.
You will complete core courses in criminal and forensic psychology and 2 courses from the following options:
- Counseling Process and Techniques
- Sociology of Crime and Violence
- Social Psychology
Courses are led by experienced faculty and delve into motives and patterns of criminal behavior, the varying degrees of insanity, criminal profiling and eyewitness memory. You will also learn how psychologists work as advisors and expert witnesses in court.
4. Arizona State University
Connect the dots between psychology and the law with an online bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology from Arizona State University. You will also gain advanced knowledge in the biological and neuroscientific components of psychology.
This 120 credit hour program requires you to complete several core courses, including:
- Abnormal Psychology
- Correctional Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
- Psychology and Law
- Substantive Criminal Law
You can confidently work in a role that requires you to conduct clinical, psychological and policy research once you graduate. Past students now work as behavioral health specialists, clinical psychologists, general counselors, mental health counselors, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists and social workers.
5. Florida State University Panama City
Learn how to identify, gather, categorize and examine evidence from crime scenes. Consider a crime scene investigation degree from FSU Panama city to show you the ropes.
You will acquire advanced knowledge to prepare you for work in intelligence services, investigative agencies, law enforcement and security. The classes from crime scene investigation majors are engaging and include the following:
- Conduct of Investigation
- Crime and Accident Scene Imaging and Reconstruction
- Criminal Investigation: Theory and Practice
- Crime Scene Professionalism
- Forensic Death Investigation (and lab)
- Impression and Pattern Evidence (and lab)
- Trace and Biometric Evidence (and lab)
This program adopts a hands-on approach to learning by requiring you to work on mock crime scenarios and real cold cases. Activities give you real-world experience with blood spatter analysis, facial reconstruction, fingerprint processing and exhumation of bodies.
6. Penn State World Campus
The online program offered by Penn State World Campus focuses on ways to identify non-compliance, abuse, neglect and violence in healthcare settings.
If this sounds intriguing, consider a Certificate in Nursing Forensic. While it’s technically not a degree, you can land a lucrative role if you’re a Registered Nurse seeking ways to beef up your skillset and professional credentials.
You will complete 4 courses to earn your certificate:
- Forensic Evidence Collection and Preservation
- Introduction to Forensic Nursing
- Seminar in Forensic Nursing
- Violence and the Impact on Society
With this certificate under your belt, you can open the door to a career as an assault or abuse nurse examiner, emergency room forensic nurse, forensic clinical nurse specialist, legal nurse consultant, medical examiner nurse investigator or nurse coroner.
7. Grand Canyon University
Want a career that allows you to help victims cope with the psychological impacts of violent crimes? Grand Canyon University offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in forensic psychology to help prepare you for a career in this field.
Students complete several core courses related to forensic psychology. These include:
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Criminal Behavior, Victimology and Law
- Experimental and Abnormal Psychology
- Understanding Trauma
When you complete the program, you will be well-versed in the core responsibilities of forensic psychologists, along with common limitations they face. You will also understand what motivates crime, how criminological theories vary and the role victim theory plays in crime.
Alumni work in educational institutions, forensic labs, government agencies, hospitals, jails, law firms, medical examiners’ offices, police departments, prisons, rehabilitation facilities and research centers.
You need 120 credit hours to earn your degree.
8. Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University offers an online bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. This program is ideal for individuals who want to enter a graduate program to prepare for a career as a clinical psychologist, laboratory manager, mental health counselor, social and human services worker or a speech-language pathologist.
As a bachelor’s degree candidate, you will complete a variety of core and major courses, including:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Adolescent and Adult Development
- Forensic Psychology
- Literacy in Psychology
- Psychology of Personality
- Social Psychology
- Statistics-Research Methods I and II
Enhance your degree by selecting a minor or earning an undergraduate certificate in communication studies, correctional intervention strategies, homeland security, industrial fire protection, intelligence studies, security management or social intelligence.
You need 120 hours to complete the program. Up to 90 credits can be transferred from an accredited college or university.
9. American Intercontinental University
Consider the Bachelor of Science in criminal justice degree from American Intercontinental University. You can specialize in forensic science to gain an in-depth understanding of crime theory, crime scene investigation concepts, constitutional principles and how the criminal justice system operates.
You will complete a series of criminal justice courses and forensic science courses, including:
- Constitutional Issues in Criminal Procedures
- Criminalistics I and II
- Criminal Investigation
- Crime Victim Studies
- Forensic Biology
- Foundation of Corrections
- Foundations of Criminal Justice Systems
- Introduction to the American Court System
- Introduction to Criminal Law
- Introduction to Law Enforcement
- Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Theory
- Medicolegal Death Investigation
- Research Methods and Statistics for Criminal Justice
- Theories of Crime Causation
A senior capstone in criminal justice is also required.
Graduates of the program have the knowledge and skills to successfully complete a death-scene investigation, analyze forensic analysis and preserve evidence for future reference. The program also prepares you for graduate studies in forensics or a related field.
The program requires successful completion of 180 credits to earn your degree.
Find the Best Online Forensics Degree for You
You want an online degree program that suits your needs and budget. Take the guesswork out of finding the best option by starting with our top picks. They are offered by accredited institutions. Our recommended programs also feature small class sizes and affordable tuition and fees.
Compare your options and pick the online forensics degree program that best aligns with your educational goals and budget. This ensures you can enroll with confidence and get the most from your online learning experience.
Southern New Hampshire University Online
SNHU Online Offers:
- Flexible schedules
- Affordable tuition
- Online tutoring
- Access to electronic research materials
- Specialized academic advising
- Supportive online community