Online Forensic Science Degrees

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 1/5/2022
Quick Facts
Accreditation: AAFS
Average Tuition: $22,852

Forensic science is a multidisciplinary approach to analyzing crime scenes and evidence. An online bachelor's degree in forensic science covers applications of chemistry and biochemistry, physics, computer science, and psychology in criminal investigations. Professionals trained in forensic science are in high demand, and graduates can work in 11 different specializations of the field. Some of these careers require only a bachelor's degree to enter, but others require a master's degree or doctorate.

Read on for more information about common forensic science bachelor's courses, potential career opportunities for alumni, and suggested criteria for choosing a program.

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Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Forensic Science Bachelor's Degrees

Visitors to our site are most interested in these schools
Rank School Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 Purdue University Global $14,358 70% (405 reviews)
276 Programs, 2 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
276 Programs, 2 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Crime Scene Investigation
  • BS in Criminal Justice - Forensic Psychology
# 2 #2 Southern New Hampshire University Online $9,600 63% (421 reviews)
268 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
268 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BA Psychology - Forensic Psychology
# 3 #3 DeVry University $18,197 60% (214 reviews)
118 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
118 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor's - Justice Administration
# 4 #4 Arizona State University $24,413 67% (107 reviews)
250 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
250 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • BA in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
  • BS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
# 5 #5 Grand Canyon University $17,800 52% (504 reviews)
282 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
282 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
# 6 #6 Walden University Not Provided 52% (665 reviews)
450 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
450 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
# 7 #7 Liberty University $11,700 57% (316 reviews)
691 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
691 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BS: Criminal Justice: Crime Scene Investigation
  • BS: Criminal Justice: Criminal Psychology
  • BS: Psychology: Criminal Psychology
# 8 #8 Waldorf University $8,700 100% (16 reviews)
126 Programs, 2 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
126 Programs, 2 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice/Forensic Mental Health
  • Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice/Forensic Psychology
# 9 #9 Columbia Southern University $6,600 79% (182 reviews)
81 Programs, 2 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
81 Programs, 2 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • B.S. Criminal Justice Administration-Forensics
  • B.S. Criminal Justice Administration-Arson Investigation
# 10 #10 Maryville University $28,470 36% (36 reviews)
117 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
117 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BA in Forensic Psychology/Criminal Justice
# 11 #11 Eastern Kentucky University $19,948 25% (4 reviews)
127 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
127 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
# 12 #12 Florida Tech - Online $12,240 65% (79 reviews)
80 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
80 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BA Applied Psychology - Forensic Psychology
# 13 #13 Touro University Worldwide $14,600 69% (13 reviews)
63 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
63 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BA - Psychology: Forensic Psychology
# 14 #14 University of Arkansas Grantham $8,280 57% (93 reviews)
73 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
73 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BA in Criminal Justice w/ Computer Forensic Investigation
# 15 #15 American InterContinental University Not Provided 70% (202 reviews)
47 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
47 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Forensic Science
# 16 #16 Abilene Christian University $36,300 100% (1 review)
90 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
90 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BS: Psychology
# 17 #17 Florida State University $18,786 100% (1 review)
85 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
85 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BS in Public Safety and Security - Crime Scene Investigation
# 18 #18 National Louis University $11,010 0% (3 reviews)
92 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
92 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • B.A. in Criminal Justice - Forensic Social Justice
  • B.A. in Criminal Justice - Forensic Social Justice: Human...
  • B.A. in Criminal Justice - Forensic Social Justice: Leade...
# 19 #19 Salem University $16,700 100% (1 review)
47 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
47 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • BA Criminal Justice - Crime Scene Investigation
# 20 #20 Bay Path University $35,081 100% (1 review)
139 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
139 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
# 21 #21 DeSales University $38,700 0% (1 review)
82 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
82 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology: Forensic Psychology - ...
# 22 #22 SUNY College of Technology at Canton $12,580 Add Review
25 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
25 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Criminology
# 23 #23 Trine University $32,810 Add Review
40 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
40 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Psychology
# 24 #24 The University of Tennessee - Martin $15,788 Add Review
42 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
42 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Forensic Science
# 25 #25 Florida International University $18,963 77% (13 reviews)
137 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science (view all)
137 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Crime Science

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Forensic Science

The broad category of forensic science bachelor's degrees contains a variety of curriculum paths. Some colleges offer a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, but most of the popular online programs listed above are either a B.S. in Criminal Justice with a concentration in forensic science or a B.S. in Psychology with a concentration in forensic psychology. The first degree tends to focus on physical evidence collection and testing, while the second emphasizes the mental processes behind criminal behavior.

Most online bachelor's degrees take 120 credit hours and four years of full-time study to complete. Some programs are also offered part-time. Besides classwork, most forensic science degrees include many hours of lab work. Programs may culminate in a field internship or a capstone course that ties together students' knowledge.



Most online bachelor's degrees take 120 credit hours and four years of full-time study to complete.

Admissions officers don't expect prospective students to have criminal justice experience, but applicants should have a high school diploma with a record of good grades in science courses. Colleges often ask for letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, and most admissions officers look favorably on a student's community service activities.


Common Courses in a Bachelor's in Forensic Science Program

Even though the majors may differ, many forensic science degrees have similar learning outcomes, such as knowledge of criminal procedure and applied research methods. Forensic psychology programs, however, concentrate on personality theory, abnormal psychology, and behavioral research. Below, we've listed several examples of courses that undergraduates are likely to encounter in their forensic science curriculum.

Crime Scene Investigation

This course covers the fundamentals of processing a scene and gathering evidence. Techniques include photography, fingerprint capture, hair and fiber collection, and witness interviews. Faculty emphasize the importance of the chain of evidence in the criminal justice system.

Forensic Chemistry

Professors in this class discuss the uses and limits of chemistry for evidence analysis. Students use common lab equipment to analyze samples of various substances, including fibers, paint, hair, soil, and narcotics. Online students may use a local facility for lab experience or may receive a lab kit for home use.

Forensic Criminology

Students learn the role of forensic science and technology in understanding and prosecuting criminal acts. The curriculum generally ranges from gathering evidence at crime scenes to answering questions in court. Topics can include technology advances through the years, the "CSI effect" on jury expectations, and the role of DNA in correcting miscarriages of justice.

Introduction to Forensic Psychology

Even degrees that focus on natural sciences usually include this class to help students understand criminal behavior. Students learn the history of behavioral analysis in law enforcement and psychology's impact on criminal defense and sentencing reform. The curriculum also introduces the basic methodology for writing psychological profiles to be entered into evidence.

Research Methods in Criminal Justice

Enrollees adhere to the scientific method to design studies and test the results. As a culminating project, they map out a novel research project seeking to answer a question relevant to forensic science. Professors may also share cutting-edge research in the field and discuss the methods the researchers used in their designs.


What Can I Do With a Forensic Science Degree?

Specialists in forensic science usually work for law enforcement agencies or departments, but their work can touch other parts of the criminal justice system. No matter what branch of science they use, their work is designed to discover the truth about a crime wherever it may lead.


As technology and methods in the field advance, forensic science professionals can go to conferences and read professional journals to update their knowledge. Some employers and professional certifications require a certain number of continuing education hours per year, which can be done by attending seminars and webinars.


We've listed a few jobs here that graduates can attain once they earn a bachelor's degree in forensic science. Unless otherwise noted, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places these jobs in the broad category of forensic science technicians, who earn a median annual salary of $60,590 and can expect a rapid job growth rate of 16% through 2030.

Crime Scene Investigator

CSIs collect and document physical evidence from crime scenes and ensure its safe passage to laboratories. They often assist medical examiners during autopsies to document evidence and contribute to toxicology reports. Many CSIs are sworn police officers who specialize in this field, but others are civilians — the requirements vary by department.

Criminalist

These are the crime laboratory technicians who analyze and interpret physical evidence. They must be organized and meticulous because any procedural misstep can impede an investigation or trial. Criminalists typically specialize in a particular field of forensic evidence such as toxicology, forensic DNA, or explosive residue and debris. The American Board of Criminalistics offers certification exams in eight specialties.

Digital Forensic Analyst

These analysts examine data from computer and mobile devices to use as digital evidence and detect both traditional and cybercrime. They are trained to recover deleted computer files, track people's locations using a phone's GPS information, and interpret security camera footage and audio recordings. Depending on their expertise, a digital forensic analyst might join one of several professional organizations for career development and support.

Forensic Document Examiner

These analysts are experts in writing instruments and technology, writing materials, and handwriting. They might authenticate a document by analyzing its ink, restore a damaged document to legibility, or compare handwriting samples to convict or exonerate a suspect. The American Board of Forensic Document Examiners provides continuing education on methods and materials and also certifies examiners.

Police Officer

Police officers start their careers on uniform patrol and can pass exams to gain increasing responsibilities such as crime scene investigation. A bachelor's degree generally isn't required to work at a local police department but is usually required for a job as an agent with the U.S. Department of Justice. A degree can also boost an officer's promotion package if they apply to be a detective. Uniformed officers have median yearly salaries of $65,540, and detectives earn median wages of $86,940 a year.


How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s Program in Forensic Science

Selecting a college is a major decision, so it's important to have as much information as you can. As you read program websites and talk to admissions officers, you may want to ask questions that are tailored to your circumstances. Below, we've included some examples to help inform your search for an online bachelor's degree in forensic science.

Is this school accredited?

You should consider only regionally or nationally accredited institutions. Accreditation means that a college offers a demonstrably high-quality education as assessed by an independent agency. Regional accreditors have more rigorous standards, and regionally accredited colleges only recognize transfer credits from other colleges with the same type of accreditation.

Is this program accredited?

School-level accreditation is important, but individual programs can also earn accreditation from the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission. FEPAC accreditation isn't required for any type of certification or licensure in the field, but it does attest to a program's quality. FEPAC acknowledges that not every college has applied for accreditation, so it's worth comparing the curricula of accredited programs against the curricula of other programs you're considering to help gauge their quality.

What does it cost?

Of the 23 popular schools on this list with available cost information, the median annual tuition rate is $16,700. But tuition is only one portion of a degree's cost, so you should calculate a program's full cost by adding up tuition, fees, and books and supplies over four years. Online students won't need to pay for room and board, which can lead to considerable savings. Applying for financial aid can also help students reduce costs.

Can I work while studying?

If you can't afford to lose your income while in school, then you might prefer a program with asynchronous online classes. At the very least, you'll need a program with class times that don't conflict with your work hours. Some colleges offer part-time forensic science bachelor's degrees, which will take longer to complete but will leave you with more free time to balance priorities.

How much support will I receive?

Schools with robust virtual services can help online students feel welcome and connected. It's difficult to know in advance how much support a college offers distance learners, but you can start by reviewing the school's website for references to online tutors, academic advisors, counseling, and library services. You might also ask to meet with admissions officers to ask questions. Finally, read student and alumni reviews to gain unique insights and learn more about the student experience. Be sure to find reviews from online students for the most accurate picture of a college's support network.


Is an Online Forensic Science Bachelor’s Degree Worth It?

There's no answer to this question that suits every person. You need to weigh the factors that are most important to your lifestyle when deciding whether to pursue a bachelor's degree in forensic science. This degree may lead to a fulfilling job in a growing field but be sure to consider all the pros and cons before choosing to pursue it.

Potential benefits

  • Forensic science professionals report moderate to high levels of job satisfaction. They tend to point to the importance of their work as a major factor in happiness with their career choices
  • Most forensic science jobs provide the opportunity to practice a variety of skills, including developing technical knowledge, critical thinking, problem-solvi

Potential drawbacks

  • The 16% job growth rate for forensic science technicians is twice the average rate for all U.S. occupations, but the actual number of these jobs is small — the BLS expects only 2,700 new positions from 2020-2030. Jobs in some specialties may be more in demand than others.
  • According to a recent scholarly study, professionals who work at crime scenes tend to have higher levels of stress and greater potential for burnout than their lab-based colleagues. This includes CSIs who collect evidence.

You may also consider the virtue of studying forensic science online. Colleges have offered distance learning programs in the sciences for decades, and many students are drawn to the flexibility of asynchronous coursework. However, others prefer the interaction of a classroom and the ability to question professors in real time in classrooms or laboratories.

If you're not sure about pursuing a forensic science degree, you may want to consider programs in related fields. Learn more about online bachelor's degrees in criminal justice, criminology, homeland security, or law enforcement.


Frequently Asked Questions About Online Forensic Science Degrees

What Degree Is Best for Forensic Science?

The best degree depends on your career goals. For example, if you want to work as a forensic chemistry technician after college, you might choose a B.S. in Forensic Science and take as many chemistry electives as you're allowed. You can even choose a broader B.S. in Chemistry and apply for jobs in forensic science.

If you want to be a forensic psychologist, a good option is a B.S. in Forensic Psychology or psychology with a concentration in forensic or criminal psychology. You'll need to earn a doctorate to practice as a psychologist, but your B.S. may cover some prerequisite courses that you'd otherwise need to take before embarking on the doctoral degree. A B.S. could also allow you to work in the field sooner.

Is a Degree in Forensic Science Hard?

Every student has different aptitudes and abilities, so there's no blanket answer to this question. To succeed in a forensic science degree program, you'll need to demonstrate knowledge of various sciences through tests and lab work. You'll also need to write papers on the criminal justice system, diversity and inclusivity, and criminal justice ethics, which may be challenging. Some student reviews discuss professors with unclear expectations, but this concern isn't limited to this major.

Are Forensic Scientists in Demand?

The short answer is yes, but the big picture is more complicated. BLS projects a 16% increase in forensic science technician jobs through 2030 thanks to a backlog of cases in jurisdictions around the country.

However, even though this rate is twice the average for all U.S. jobs, the small number of total positions means that only 2,500 jobs on average will open each year over the next decade.

Many of the existing forensic science jobs are in high-density cities, but others are in less densely populated states such as Arizona.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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