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How do I Choose the Best Colleges for Forensic Science?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are a variety of colleges for forensic science degrees, but their value to you will depend on several factors. Before you choose the best forensic science college for you, you should consider the degrees offered, the type of training, the school’s accreditation, and the courses offered in order to make the best choice, as well as previewing certification criteria.

While you might consider starting off with an associate’s degree for various reasons—including finding out whether the field seems like a good fit for you, to save money, to be able to attend a degree program near your home, or as a segue back into the academic world after being away—you should know that the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science says that this will not be sufficient to attain employment as a forensic scientist and you also will not be eligible for certification. The same holds true for certificate programs that do not include a degree, which are sometimes offered by colleges for forensic science. This means that while you may start with an associate’s degree or certificate, you should plan to attain at least a bachelor’s degree, depending on the field of forensic science in which you are interested, if you want to have full flexibility to develop a lifelong career in the field.

As you consider which colleges for forensic science you will consider, you may look at online forensic science schools, as well as four-year colleges and universities with on-campus programs. Especially since many forensic science jobs are laboratory-based and also because certification is likely to require laboratory experience, you should make sure that the laboratory aspect of forensic science is adequately addressed in any educational option you choose, particularly online schools. With all of these schools, you should make sure to choose an accredited program, as if you ever seek accreditation in the forensic science field, an accredited bachelor’s degree is a requirement. You may have to dig to find this information (it may not be in the first paragraph, but if you have to dig too far, you should be suspicious.

When you consider the courses offered at colleges for forensic science, the specialty or specialties you are interested in will come into play. If you are hoping to work in a laboratory, then a bachelor’s degree in any natural science will fulfill the American Board of Criminalistics certification requirements and you can tailor your choice to the specialty you wish to pursue. If you want to be a forensic odontologist, a forensic anthropologist, or a medical examiner, however, you will be heading to medical school, and a B.S. in, say, Earth Science or Astronomy may prove less useful than an undergraduate degree in Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry.

Certification criteria that may affect your choice of colleges for forensic science degrees vary with the certification board for each forensic science specialty. To find the accredited boards, visit the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board, Inc. website to find the eight accredited board. When you reach the board’s site, you will be able to find their certification criteria for any levels of certificate they offer. You may wish to look at more than one board’s website to get a better feel for the field.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseGeek, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
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Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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