You don’t need to attend a big-name school to get a great forensics education; however, you do need to consider several factors when deciding on a college. Teacher/student ratio, location, housing, the cost of tuition and internship opportunities all come into play, and the institution that best meets your needs may be one that’s not even on your radar. Exploring all your options is the first step to making the correct decision.
While not all colleges offer forensics degrees, these five picks can give you the start you need to succeed in a forensics career. Whether you want to be on the front lines gathering evidence from crime scenes, or you prefer a white coat and the sterile lab environment, you’ll discover that a career in forensic science can be a very rewarding — and lucrative — career path.
1. Appalachian State University
Tucked into the foothills of the picturesque Appalachian mountains, Appalachian State University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with a concentration in forensic science. Most of your classes will be centered around chemistry theory and practical applications, but you’ll also have a criminal justice component, including classes like Forensic Investigation and Criminal Procedure. The program requires students to complete 44 general education credits and 9 hours of electives, ensuring you graduate from the program with a well-rounded education and the skills you need to go on to a master’s degree — and beyond — or straight into a career in forensics.
2. SUNY Buffalo State
A few states north, the State University of New York Buffalo State offers both a bachelor’s and master’s forensics program. The Bachelor of Science is in forensic chemistry, and it includes chemistry and criminal justice classes, with the opportunity to complete coursework on genetics and DNA technology. If you wish to continue your education, you’ll find SUNY Buffalo State’s Master in Forensic Science offers classes such as Drug Chemistry and Toxicology, and Mass Spectroscopy; the program requires you to complete a thesis before graduating. If you want to take advantage of the school’s internship opportunities, keep in mind you’ll need to undergo an extensive background check, fingerprinting and a drug test.
3. University of Central Oklahoma
You’ll feel at home at the University of Central Oklahoma if fly-over states and the wide-open prairies are more your style, The University of Central Oklahoma offers students all the amenities and perks of a large university while still maintaining that hometown vibe. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in forensic science, and it allows you the opportunity to specialize in chemistry, molecular biology or digital forensics. UCO offers the Forensic Science degree as part of a concurrent degree program, which means students must have an additional major. Completing a double major can even make you a more marketable prospective employee. Some of the concurrent degree programs include criminal justice, crime scene reconstruction and behavioral profiler.
4. Chaminade University of Honolulu
This university, located on the island of Oahu, offers students the chance to study forensics in the midst of a tropical paradise. The school boasts intimate class sizes and hands-on training with the latest technologies. Chaminade University of Honolulu has you covered, whether your chosen career is in criminal justice, you’re searching for extra forensics background or you picture yourself leading a crime lab. The school offers a minor in forensic sciences and a bachelor’s and master’s program. Classes range in instruction from teaching how the scientific method applies to forensic situations to how to extract and handle forensic evidence. You’ll appreciate how the school also stresses those with a Forensic Science degree aren’t limited to one specific field. Some students go on to careers in pharmacies, law or even veterinary medicine.
5. University of Montana
Montana may be more famous for its unforgiving terrain and wild horses, but this state university also offers a Bachelor of Science in forensic chemistry. Students enrolled in the four-year program will start with math and chemistry classes, and begin criminal justice classes in their sophomore year. The third year includes courses like Applied Physical Chemistry and Advanced Instrument Analysis, and the program culminates in a forensic research seminar during the senior year. The Division of Biological Sciences and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry work together to give forensics students a complete overview of the field; the program is known for its small class sizes and close interaction with professors. You’ll gain forensics knowledge in a setting where people know you by name.
Your undergraduate education is the first step toward a career in forensic science, and your college decision should be undertaken with care. Remember that each school has different admission requirements and may limit the number of students accepted to the program each year. In addition, Allianz Tuition Insurance can help protect your financial investment. When you find a school that seems to be a good fit, gather your best recommendation letters and admissions essays, and get ready to experience all that forensic science has to offer.