Forensic science is a prestigious and well-paid profession, requiring high-level skills and specialized knowledge, from analyzing evidence to interpreting crime scenes. Therefore, to land a job in this industry, you’ll typically need a recognized graduate qualification.
Master’s in forensic science programs take a multidisciplinary approach, allowing you to develop in-depth knowledge of chemistry, psychology, biology, computing, medicine, law, and governance. Here are the best schools offering graduate forensic science programs that will set you up for a successful career in this field.
Table of Contents
Best Schools for Forensic Science Master’s Programs
The University of New Haven
Alabama State University
George Mason University
The Pennsylvania State University
Texas A&M University
Sam Houston State University
La Salle University
Florida Gulf Coast University
The University of New Haven
Master of Science in Forensic Science
Forensic Science, M.S.
Alabama State University
M.S. in Forensic Science
Forensic and Biological Anthropology, Master of Science
George Mason University
Forensic Science, MS
The University of New Haven, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences
The University of New Haven was named the best university to study forensic sciences by Universities.com. This forensic science master’s program is well-known, with graduates including eminent forensic scientists worldwide. The program equips the students with strong theoretical and practical knowledge that can be applied to the analytical and scientific aspects of criminal investigations.
Courses include: Forensic DNA analysis, forensic expert testimony, and advanced criminalistics.
Marshall University is a student-centered and research-oriented institution committed to affordable education: the school has awarded a total of $144M in financial aid. This is one of the few forensic science graduate programs where you can choose between a thesis and non-thesis curriculum.
Courses include: Forensic comparative sciences, biochemistry: forensic science, and legal court in forensics.
Alabama State University was the first state-sponsored liberal arts institution in the state, originally founded as Lincoln College following the abolition of slavery, with an emphasis on higher education for the marginalized black community. The primary objective of this forensic science MS program is to create capable, impartial professionals in forensics that follow the AAFS (American Academy of Forensic Sciences) code of ethics.
Courses include: Principles of forensic toxicology, ethics and professional responsibilities, and forensic serology and DNA analysis.
Mercyhurst University is a Catholic institution committed to the principles of the dignity of work, and service to the community: 100% of its undergraduate students receive financial aid. This is one of only a handful of forensic masters programs with a specialization track in forensic & biological anthropology that gives students a strong foundation in specialized subdisciplines in forensic anthropology, including forensic archeology and forensic osteology.
Courses include: Forensic archaeology, fragmentary human osteology, and forensic archaeology lab.
George Mason University is ideally located for graduate forensic science programs in the Washington DC metro area, close to various crime laboratories and federal, state, and local investigative agencies. This program aims to prepare students for rewarding careers in these kinds of organizations.
Courses: Basic crime analysis, advanced forensic DNA sciences, and advanced forensic chemistry.
The Pennsylvania State University’s faculty is renowned for conducting world-class forensics research in advanced areas such as drug analysis of bodily fluids, analysis of designer drugs, sensing of clandestine laboratories, reconstruction of shooting incidents, and DNA analysis of degraded crime scene samples. As part of the program, students can choose between two streams: forensic chemistry and forensic biology.
Courses include: A scientific approach to crime scene investigation, drug chemistry and Toxicology, and forensic molecular biology.
Texas A&M University was the first higher-education institution in Texas and continues to be a prestigious name in education. This is one of the best forensic science master’s programs centered around forensic nursing. Along with covering medical care for victims of crime or trauma, the program equips students to participate in forensic examinations, as well as understand how forensic evidence is used in criminal and civil legal procedures.
Courses include: Foundations of forensic healthcare, forensic mental health, and forensic investigation of injury.
Sam Houston is a public university and a leader in social mobility in Texas, with a holistic approach that encompasses not only academics but also professional skills, as well as mental health and emotional well being. The university has strong ties to a number of renowned public and private forensic laboratories, giving their students the opportunity to work with these organizations as part of this forensic science master’s program.
Courses include: Forensic biology, trace evidence and microscopy, and law and forensic Science.
La Salle University is a Catholic University that emphasizes practical education. Focused on economic crime forensics, this forensic science master’s program is delivered online and aims to equip students for roles such as fraud auditors, litigation support analysts, and anti-money laundering investigators.
Courses include: Financial statement fraud, litigation support practices and procedures, and computer digital forensics.
A public institution located in Southwest Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University strives for excellence at the regional and state levels and is known for equity, inclusion, and diversity. This interdisciplinary master degree forensic science program offers a choice of two applied research concentrations: human identity & trauma analysis and forensics behavioral analysis.
To gain admission to a forensic science master’s degree, you’ll typically need:
A bachelor’s degree with a relevant science major
Minimum credits in subjects like chemistry, physics, calculus, and statistics
Academic transcripts showing a set minimum GPA
Letters of recommendation (usually three)
TOEFL or IELTS score for non-native English speakers
Of course, the exact requirements vary depending on the program, so you should always check the pre-requisites and application process with the school’s admissions department.
Why Get a Forensic Science Master’s Degree
A master’s degree in forensic science will allow you to focus on a particular specialty of forensics and build a career as an expert in your field. Not only is this one of the highest-paying master’s degrees, but graduates with an MS Forensic Science have a higher employment rate than those with a general bachelor’s degree in the discipline.
Common jobs and average salaries for professionals who hold an MS in Forensic Science include:
When you weigh this up against the cost of a master’s degree in forensic science, you’ll likely find that a master’s in forensic science is worth it. Though tuition can vary widely based on a range of factors, most well-known colleges charge between $14,000 to $35,000.
You’ll also need to factor in the cost of fees, living expenses, books, and other educational supplies. For example, at Marshall University, the tuition is $11,278 per year, while the total annual cost of attendance is $28,214.
How to Choose the Best Forensic Science Program
There are a few different types of forensic science graduate programs. Apart from general streams, you’ll find degrees in forensic anthropology, forensic-based nursing, economic crime forensics, and a number of other multidisciplinary forensic studies. Additionally, some programs offer concentration tracks in digital forensics, DNA analysis, forensic psychology, and other specialized areas.
Therefore, the first step in choosing the right forensic science program for you is to determine which specialization you want to pursue. This could narrow down your choices to schools that offer that track.
Other factors to consider when choosing the best forensic science program include:
Faculty: Look for schools with faculty that include renowned scholars in their fields.
Admission requirements: Review the admission requirements to check if you meet the prerequisites, and see if you can work to address any gaps.
Cost: Tuition and other expenses can be a determining factor, but also consider what financial aid options are available.
Accreditation: Make sure the program has proper accreditation from recognized accreditation bodies.
Accreditation is important because this ensures that the program is recognized by the authorities in the field and that the education you’ll receive meets certain standards of quality. Forensic programs are typically accredited by FEPAC (Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a master’s in forensic science worth it?
A master’s in forensic science degree is arguably worth the investment of time, money, and effort in order to become an expert in the specialized fields of forensics and crime investigation. This degree can set you up for a promising career, with professionals in the field in high demand, especially in emerging niche areas such as digital forensic experts.
Do forensic scientists need a master’s degree?
You can become an entry-level forensic scientist with a bachelor’s degree. However, to progress to more senior positions in the field, you will generally need a master’s degree. Not only do employers prefer candidates with a graduate qualification, but it is a legal requirement for some roles.
What GPA do you need to be a forensic scientist?
Master’s in forensic science programs can be fairly competitive, with most universities looking for a minimum GPA of 3.0.
The best master’s in forensic science programs will give you the skills, knowledge, and recognized qualifications you need to build a successful career in forensics. You could work for a prominent legal service organization, investigative agency, or state and national security affairs departments, in a specialized role like a crime scene technician, forensic scientist, or forensic DNA analyst.
These multidisciplinary roles allow you to collaborate with experts from other fields and throw new challenges at you every day, making this a rewarding and exciting career path.
Interested in a career in the crime and security sectors? Take a look at these guides to the best master’s programs incriminal justice andcybersecurity.