Why This Matters

  • WORK AT THE INTERSECTION OF SCIENCE AND LAW

    Pursue coursework in biology, chemistry, and toxicology while gaining the skills you will need to present as an expert witness in a court of law.

  • THE FIELD WILL GROW 14% BY 2029

    The job outlook for forensic scientists and technicians is excellent and anticipated to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

  • FOCUS ON ANTHROPOLOGY, PATHOLOGY, AND MORE

    Forensic scientists can choose a career track focusing on a range of sub-disciplines, including jurisprudence, psychiatry, toxicology, and criminalistics. Many forensic scientists also earn law degrees.

Our Research

We focused on Master’s in Forensic Science programs that are among the top programs in the country, offering coursework online, on campus, or via a hybrid format. They may include internship options that place students in real-world forensic laboratories and courtrooms.

Many of these programs are accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), which maintains and enhances the quality of forensic science education through formal evaluation of college-level programs in the U.S. Some have alternative accreditations through regional bodies, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. These organizations ensure the quality of each program and its ability to produce trained professionals able to excel in the field.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 79 hours to write this article
  • 171 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 202 education programs we compared

The Top 38 Master’s in Forensic Science Degree Programs

Best Master's in Forensic Science Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the largest forensic science organization in the world, has named 11 distinct areas of expertise for forensic scientists and technicians. These include pathology/biology, engineering and applied sciences, and psychiatry and behavior science.

Your ability to work within one of these areas of specialty will be determined largely by the program you choose, since your coursework will focus on one or more areas of interest. Be sure, when you are searching for the right program, that you choose one that includes courses that interest you.

Although there is no licensing required to become a forensic scientist, you may earn certifications in specific areas within which you are working. Toxicologists, for example, may earn specialty credentials through the American Board of Toxicology. The International Association for Identification, meanwhile, provides certifications for forensic artists and photographers.

Most forensic scientists are employed by local and regional police departments and federal government agencies such as the FBI. Work may be primarily in a laboratory setting, but forensic scientists also are called frequently to crime scenes and are a presence in courtrooms during criminal trials, where they serve as expert witnesses.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Forensic Science programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Although many master’s in forensic science programs accept students from a variety of undergraduate backgrounds, preference is given to those with degrees or concentrations in chemistry, biology, or any of the natural sciences. Many master’s applicants are already working in the field as forensic technicians and are looking to expand their skill set.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Many of our top programs have between 30 and 48 credit hours of coursework required. If you were to take classes full-time, you could earn your degree in a year. Most students, however, take courses part-time while continuing to work. Depending on the number you take each semester, you may earn your degree in two to four years.

Since there are many different career tracks you can take on the road to becoming a forensic scientist, make sure you carefully research programs to ensure that the one you choose has a good range of courses in your particular area of interest. A call to the institution’s admissions office can get your questions answered and help you find the information you need to make an informed decision.

Pay attention to deadlines when applying. There may be one deadline for applications and another for financial aid or scholarship requests. If you are already working as a forensic technician, check with your company’s human resources office to see if they will help pick up some or all of the cost of your degree.