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Top Forensic Schools

Television shows such as CSI (and its related spinoffs) have glamorized the field of forensic investigation. This dramatization has sparked a greater interest in the profession. But, in real life, forensic science is serious business. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), crime scene investigation—a component of forensic science—can be both unpleasant and distressing because of the material forensic investigators work with and the actions they attempt to replicate. Forensic science technicians can expect to collect evidence, retrace the steps of the crime and attend autopsies.

The BLS notes that forensic science technicians often have degrees in the natural sciences, including chemistry or biology. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report released its rankings of the best universities for chemistry and biology alike. According to U.S. News & World Report, the best universities for chemistry included the following:

1.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2.  University of California, Berkeley
3.  Harvard University
4.  Stanford University
5.  California Institute of Technology

The best universities for biological sciences in 2012, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, included the following:

1.  Harvard University
2.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3.  University of Cambridge
4.  Stanford University
5.  University of Oxford

Below is more about the forensic focus available from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com

According to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), forensic science technicians can expect to work either at the crime scene as a crime scene investigator or in a laboratory as a forensic technician. Some laboratory technicians may specialize in specific types of evidence, such as DNA or ballistics to analyze bodily fluids or determine the trajectory of a bullet. The bureau also reports that all forensic science technicians must file reports and be prepared to explain their findings to lawyers, detectives and other law officials.

For forensic science technicians who specialize in multiple disciplines of criminalistics, certification is available from the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC). The ABC is comprised of representatives from the nation’s major forensic science associations. To qualify to take the certification exam, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, have two years of full-time work experience in a forensic laboratory and be currently employed in criminalistics.

There are also several other fields of forensic investigation that do not involve traditional crime scenes. For example, there is the field of computer forensics, a branch of computer information technology, where technicians are able to review past computer activity to trace criminal actions taken by invading cyber-intruders. There is also forensic accounting, a subset of the bookkeeping profession, and criminal psychology, a subset of behavioral science.

According to O*Net Online, forensic science technicians can expect to understand chemistry, biology, mathematics and have a working understanding of computers. Forty-two percent of respondents also felt a bachelor’s degree was required for employment, and only 17 percent viewed on-the-job training as acceptable.

The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) notes that for employment in a laboratory, forensic science technicians are required to have a bachelor’s degree and that as both laboratory technicians and as field investigators, extensive on-the-job training is required and that 90 percent of forensic science technicians were employed by state or local government as of 2010.

The BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) also reports that the national median salary for a forensic science technician in May of 2011 was $52,180 per year with the lowest 10 percent earning up to $32,760 a year. Employment outlook is expected to grow by up to 19 percent from 2010 to 2020, about the same pace as what the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) projects all other professions to grow at during the same period. Additionally, the job openings from year-to-year should increase or decrease based on state and federal budgets for that year.

Learn more about accredited forensic programs from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com

When researching colleges and universities, make sure to verify that your choice of school is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council or by another accrediting agency that is approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both. DETC and CHEA both provide a searchable list of approved schools.

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences accredits programs in the clinical laboratory sciences and health professions. It provides a searchable list of accredited programs which provide forensic education and training. Additionally, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) also accredits forensic science education programs and provides a list of accredited schools. The AAFS does not, in any way, endorse any program it lists.


Sources and further reading:

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation

The U.S. Department of Education

The Distance Education and Training Council

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

O*NET Online

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences

The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences

The American Board of Criminalistics

Wiley Online Library