Why This Matters

  • CHOOSE FROM OVER 15 POSSIBLE CAREER PATHS

    Forensic science skills are applicable in a number of different jobs related to law enforcement and criminal justice, including police officer, forensic toxicologist, investigator, criminologist, lab director, and more.

  • DEMAND FOR FORENSIC TECHNICIANS RISING 14%

    Employment in the crime scene investigation field is expected to grow at a faster-than-average pace through 2028. As a relatively small field, this growth will result in approximately 2,400 new jobs.

  • 2,600 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR JOBS EXPECTED

    The job outlook for criminal investigators is also good, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting 8 percent job growth in this occupation in the next decade. Forensic science skills will give job candidates an advantage.

Our Research

With this list we sought to identify the best master’s in forensic science programs. The most common graduate-level degree in this field is a Master of Science (MS).

We specifically looked for programs that are delivered completely or primarily online, to ensure accessibility for the greatest number of students. Several programs are also offered on-campus, and students may have the option of taking classes online or in-person.

This list includes both regionally and nationally accredited schools. Regional accreditation is the highest standard for quality in postsecondary education. Degrees and credits from regionally accredited schools are more widely recognized and transferable than those from nationally accredited schools.

Once we narrowed the list of programs, we evaluated each of them on the basis of outcomes, faculty, flexibility, price, and reputation. Then we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best online master’s in forensic science are well-respected, affordable, and customizable. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 74 hours to write this article
  • 145 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 395 education programs we compared

The Top 10 Online Master’s in Forensic Science Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Forensic science is a bachelor’s-level entry field, meaning a bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum level of education needed to qualify for most jobs. A master’s degree can help you advance to mid- or senior-level positions, although on-the-job training is also highly valued. Consider your career goals and the qualifications needed for the type of job you are seeking when deciding if a master’s degree is the best route for you.

Depending on your interests, there are several related degrees that you may want to explore including a master’s in computer forensics, master’s in criminal justice, master’s in forensic psychology, and master’s in crime scene investigation. All of these programs involve different methods for investigating and solving crimes, and can help law enforcement professionals enhance their resumes with specialized skills.

If you are planning on becoming a private investigator, you should note that most states require private investigators and detectives have a state-issued license. The licensure regulations vary based on state, and may or may not include education in forensics or crime scene investigation. If you are interested in pursuing a private investigator license, you should confirm the requirements with your state prior to enrolling in a master’s program.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s in Forensic Science programs:

  • Does the program offer tuition discounts for law enforcement professionals? Some programs may offer tuition discounts to individuals who already work in public safety or criminal justice as sworn police officers, firefighters, or other related roles. Find out if any of the programs you are considering offer discounts, and if so, what the eligibility requirements are.
  • Does the program offer the specialization I want? You may be considering a specialization within forensic science, such as forensic analysis, forensic biochemistry, or field investigative techniques. If so, find out if the programs you are considering will give you the opportunity to specialize through electives or focused tracks.

At this point, you should start keeping track of deadlines for application and other steps in the admissions process. Now is also a good time to collect your application materials, and take any required standardized tests.

You should also consider your options for funding your graduate degree. Financial resources include student loans, scholarships, assistantships, and tuition benefits from your employer.