What Are the Best Schools for Forensic Science?

Read about three top schools with forensic science programs, based on their national rankings and program variety. Get info about finding an accredited program. Explore the forensic science degrees and certificates offered by each of these schools. Schools offering Forensic Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Characteristics of the Best Forensic Science Schools?

When choosing a school, you might consider an accredited school with national rankings and faculty who win research awards in areas of forensic science. The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), an affiliate of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, accredits forensic science programs (www.aafs.org). As recently as 2019, only 49 U.S. institutions had FEPAC-accredited programs, and only a few of those were accredited for more than one forensic science program. Laboratory facilities, internships, institutes or opportunities to study abroad might also be of interest.

Three Top Schools for Forensic Science

Florida International University in Miami

Florida International University (FIU) offers FEPAC-accredited undergraduate and graduate programs in forensic science. As a forensic science student, you would be studying under faculty members who have received research awards from organizations like the National Institute of Justice. You would also have access to the International Forensic Research Institute (IFRI) laboratories for forensic DNA profiling, toxicology and trace evidence analysis, as well as FIU's Advanced Mass Spectrometry Facility.

FIU's forensic science certificate program, one of only 12 in the U.S., prepares biology or chemistry majors to work in a forensics laboratory. IFRI also partners with the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) for a drug and explosives detector dog research certificate. Your options include the following:

  • Certificate in Forensic Science
  • Master of Science in Forensic Science
  • Professional Science Master's in Forensic Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Forensic Track

Pennsylvania State University in University Park

Penn State is ranked 59th among national universities for 2019 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. The university's forensic science programs were featured on the Crime Scene University Discovery Channel show.

The Eberly College of Science offers forensic science programs ranging from a high school summer forensic camp and workshops for middle and high school teachers to the FEPAC-accredited master's degree program. Your professional development opportunities are available to prepare for a career as a first responder, attorney or crime scene investigator.

Undergraduate and graduate-level forensic science courses are offered. In your first years of study, you can shadow working Penn State graduates, as well as conduct research for credit, apply for co-op or internship programs or apply for undergraduate fellowships for international study. You can study through the following programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • Master of Professional Studies in Forensic Science

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond

VCU tied for 80th for top public schools, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2019. The university's bachelor's and master's degree programs in forensic science are accredited by FEPAC.

You can learn serology and DNA analysis in a biology track, or analytical chemistry, toxicology and trace evidence analysis in a chemistry track. You could take a semester or year abroad at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

As a senior, you can earn credit for forensic laboratory internships or independent study. VCU provides co-op work opportunities, and encourages students to apply for FBI internships, the Department of the Navy Naval Criminal Investigative Service Student Internship or the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center College Intern Program. The state's Virginia Department of Forensic Science Lab, nationally accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, hosts several lab courses. You can study forensic science at the undergraduate or graduate level:

  • B.S. in Forensic Science
  • M.S. in Forensic Science

Ten Schools with Forensic Science Programs

College/University Institution Type LocationEstimated Undergraduate In-State Tuition (2018-2019)*
University of Alabama at Birmingham 4-year, Public Birmingham, AL$8,500
SUNY Buffalo State 4-year, Public Buffalo, NY$8,000
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis 4-year, Public Indianapolis, IN$9,500
Marshall University 4-year, Public Huntington, WV$8,000
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice 4-year, Public New York, NY$7,000
Loyola University at Chicago 4-year, Private Chicago, IL$44,000
University of New Haven 4-year, Private West Haven, CT$39,000
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences 4-year, Public Tulsa, OKN/A
Texas A&M University - College Station 4-year, Public College Station, TX$12,000
University of California - Davis 4-year, Public Davis, CA$14,500

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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