Published on May 31, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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University Headquarters (HQ) is an industry-leading, independent educational organization that provides independent college rankings using a proprietary formula to create first class unbiased rankings. The team at University HQ strives to provide accurate and trustworthy rankings that highlights the best programs for forensic science in Arkansas.

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What is Forensic Science?

Forensic science encompasses various disciplines including forensic biology, forensic chemistry, forensic anthropology, digital forensics, and more. Professionals in this field work diligently to examine evidence, identify suspects, and contribute to the resolution of criminal cases. In Arkansas, forensic science services are primarily provided by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory (ASCL). The ASCL is a division of the Arkansas State Police and serves as the central laboratory for forensic analysis in the state. It offers comprehensive services across multiple disciplines and supports law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and the legal system.

The employment opportunities and demand for forensic scientists vary by region and specialization. While specific data on forensic science employment in Arkansas is not readily available, we can gain insights from the national employment statistics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2019, there were approximately 17,200 forensic science technicians employed across the United States. The projected job growth for this occupation is estimated to be 14% from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Arkansas may not boast as many forensic science technicians compared to larger states like California or New York, yet due to increasing emphasis on scientific evidence in criminal cases nationwide, demand for skilled forensic professionals continues to rise in Arkansas, as well. Students looking to complete pertinent degrees at local community, technology colleges, or universities will have several options. These options may include the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University at Little Rock, the University of Central Arkansas, etc.


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Online Forensic Science Education in Arkansas

Forensic science is a fascinating field that plays a crucial role in solving crimes and assisting in legal investigations. Within the realm of forensic science, there are various disciplines, and one of the most important is forensic scientists. So, what exactly is a forensic scientist?

A forensic scientist is a trained professional who applies scientific principles and techniques to investigate evidence collected at crime scenes. Their primary goal is to produce objective, impartial scientific analyses which can be presented in court to facilitate justice administration. The work of a forensic scientist involves a meticulous examination of physical evidence, ranging from DNA samples to fingerprints, fibers, and even firearms. They use specialized equipment and techniques to identify, classify, and analyze this evidence, providing valuable insights that can help investigators reconstruct crime scenes and establish facts.

To become a forensic scientist, one typically needs to earn a bachelor's degree from forensic science schools or technology colleges. However, some forensic scientists specialize in specific areas such as forensic biology, chemistry, or toxicology, which may require additional education and training.

As well as their educational background, forensic scientists must possess several essential skills and qualities. Attention to detail is of utmost importance as they must carefully inspect evidence before documenting their findings accurately. Analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities are also indispensable as forensic scientists often encounter complex cases that necessitate unique approaches to reach solutions.

Online Associate Degree in Forensic Science (AS)

An associate degree in forensic science or criminal justice degree programs with a focus on forensics can serve as an ideal entry point into the fascinating world of crime scene investigation and forensic analysis. These two-year programs provide a comprehensive foundation in the scientific principles and practical techniques used in forensic investigations. Students gain hands-on experience in evidence collection, preservation, and analysis, as well as exposure to legal procedures and ethical considerations within the field.

Furthermore, an associate degree equips graduates with valuable skills that are highly sought after by law enforcement agencies, a crime lab or forensic laboratory, and private investigation firms. With a focus on critical thinking, problem-solving, and attention to detail, students develop an ability to analyze complex evidence and draw conclusions based on scientific methods. Additionally, this degree pathway may also serve as a stepping stone for further education or specialization in forensic science or related disciplines.

Online Bachelors Degree in Forensic Science (BS)

The pursuit of a bachelor's degree in forensic science or criminal justice with a forensics focus offers an exciting blend of scientific inquiry and investigative prowess. These undergraduate degree programs in a multidisciplinary field equips students with the knowledge and skills to analyze evidence, solve crimes, and contribute to the delivery of justice. With a focus on biology, chemistry, and criminal justice, students can delve into the intricacies of DNA analysis, fingerprinting techniques, and crime scene processing. These degree programs may provide more thorough training if you attend on campus, though there are online options from some schools. The practical application of theory in real-world scenarios not only sharpens critical thinking but also hones problem-solving abilities essential for this dynamic profession.

Moreover, a bachelor's degree in forensic science opens doors to a myriad of career opportunities beyond traditional law enforcement roles. Graduates can explore paths in private laboratories, government agencies, or even academia. Their expertise is sought after in diverse sectors such as cyber security investigations, disaster victim identification, and forensic anthropology. This breadth of potential fields underscores the versatility and relevance of a forensic science degree in addressing contemporary societal challenges while delivering compelling professional prospects for graduates eager to make an impact.

National Online Rankings - Top 15 Bachelors Programs

Online Masters Degree in Forensic Science (MS)

A master's degree in forensic science programs opens the door to a fascinating and dynamic field that combines science, law, and investigation. You are more likely to find a forensics program at this level without needing to complete a criminal justice degree. With a focus on advanced analytical techniques and crime scene investigation, these programs equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in various areas of forensic science including DNA analysis, toxicology, firearms examination, digital forensics, and more. Through hands-on experience and rigorous coursework, graduates are prepared to contribute to solving crimes using cutting-edge technology and scientific methods.

Furthermore, pursuing a master's in this field allows individuals to specialize in specific areas, such as forensic pathology or criminalistics. This targeted approach provides opportunities for deeper expertise and career advancement within the field. Additionally, the collaborative nature of many forensic programs fosters connections with professionals in related disciplines like law enforcement and legal proceedings. As the demand for skilled forensic scientists continues to grow, obtaining a master's degree not only offers exciting job prospects but also allows professionals to make meaningful contributions to society through their work in public safety and justice.

National Online Rankings - Top 10 Masters Programs

Online PhD Degree in Forensic Science (PhD)

The pursuit of a PhD in forensic science marks a significant step toward advancing the fields of criminology, law enforcement, and judicial proceedings. By delving deep into the intricacies of forensic analysis, doctoral candidates develop expertise in specialized areas such as DNA profiling, ballistics, toxicology, and crime scene investigation. This advanced level of education empowers professionals to contribute valuable insights to criminal investigations and legal proceedings.

The cutting-edge research conducted during a PhD program in this field has the potential to revolutionize investigative techniques and evidence analysis. Such innovative contributions can have far-reaching implications for both solving complex crimes and preventing future criminal activities. Additionally, graduates with a PhD in forensic science often pursue careers as university professors or lead research scientists, further enriching academic institutions with their expertise and groundbreaking work in the field.

Check out our criminal justice resources and scholarships guide Learn how you can pay for your college tuition

Online Forensic Science Certifications

Trained and certified forensic scientists play a crucial role in the administration of justice, applying scientific principles to analyze evidence and solve crimes. Pursuing a forensic science certification can equip individuals with specialized expertise in areas such as DNA analysis, crime scene investigation, and digital forensics. Not only does this training offer a deep understanding of the latest techniques and technologies used in the field, but it also enhances credibility and job prospects within the industry.

Forensic science certifications vary widely in focus and requirements, ranging from basic technician-level programs to advanced specializations in disciplines such as toxicology or ballistics. These certifications are often obtained through rigorous coursework, practical training, and successful completion of examinations. Additionally, some organizations offer professional certifications that require continuing education to stay abreast of developments in the field. By obtaining these credentials, individuals demonstrate their commitment to excellence in forensic science and position themselves for thriving careers within both public and private sectors.

Become a Forensic Scientist in Arkansas

In Arkansas, there are specific steps you can take to become a forensic scientist and contribute to the field of criminal justice. Here are the essential steps to follow if you want to pursue a career in forensic science in Arkansas.

  • Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Forensic Science or a Related Field

    Step one toward becoming a forensic scientist is earning a bachelor's degree in either forensics, chemistry, biology, or forensic chemistry from an accredited program approved by FEPAC to ensure you receive quality education and can meet all certification requirements.

  • Step 2: Gain Work Experience through Internships or Entry-Level Positions

    To enhance your chances of securing a job as a forensic scientist, gaining practical experience through internships, research projects, or entry-level positions is highly recommended. Look for opportunities at local crime labs, law enforcement agencies, or forensic science research facilities. This hands-on experience will provide you with valuable skills and knowledge in real-life crime scene analysis.

  • Step 3: Pursue Professional Certification

    While not mandatory, obtaining professional certification can significantly enhance your employability and establish credibility in the field. The American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) offers certification exams in various disciplines such as forensic biology, forensic chemistry, and drug analysis. Meeting the eligibility requirements and successfully passing the exams will showcase your expertise to potential employers.

  • Step 4: Apply for Forensic Scientist Positions

    Once you have completed your education, gained practical experience, and obtained any necessary certifications, it's time to start applying for forensic scientist positions. Check job boards, government websites, and professional organizations dedicated to forensic science for job openings in Arkansas. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills and experiences and be prepared for possible interviews and background checks.

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What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Forensic Science?

With a bachelor's degree in forensic science, the career options are diverse and fascinating. Graduates can pursue roles as forensic scientists, crime scene investigators, forensic analysts, or even forensic psychologists with extra education. These professionals play pivotal roles in solving crimes through evidence collection, analysis, and presentation in court. Additionally, with the increasing importance of digital evidence in criminal investigations, individuals with a background in forensics can also explore careers in digital forensics to uncover electronic evidence.

Moreover, a bachelor's in forensics opens doors to opportunities within government agencies, such as the FBI or local law enforcement agencies. Professionals may also find employment within private laboratories or consulting firms that specialize in forensic analysis. The skills acquired during these programs not only prepare graduates for specific roles within the criminal justice system but also equip them with critical thinking and problem-solving abilities that are transferable to a range of industries beyond traditional forensics.

Potential Careers for Forensic Science Graduates

Life, Physical, and Social Science Technician

Life, physical, and social science technicians provide crucial technical assistance and support for scientists and researchers across many scientific fields. They work in laboratories, research facilities, or field settings collecting data, conducting experiments, analyzing results, or both.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a relevant scientific field
  • Strong attention to detail and organizational skills
  • Proficiency in using scientific equipment and instruments
  • Knowledge of laboratory safety protocols and procedures
  • Ability to work independently as well as part of a team

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for life, physical, and social science occupations in the US in 2022 was $83,640
  • The mean annual wage for life, physical, and social science occupations in Arkansas is $68,000

Forest and Conservation Technician

As a forest and conservation technician, you will play an instrumental role in managing and conserving natural resources. Collaborating closely with foresters and conservation scientists, you will implement land management plans, monitor forest health conditions, and help restore natural habitats.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Associate's or bachelor's degree in forestry, environmental science, or a related field
  • Strong understanding of ecological principles and forest management practices
  • Proficiency in using field equipment such as compasses, clinometers, and soil sampling tools
  • Ability to work effectively in outdoor environments and navigate through varying terrains
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively in a team setting

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for forest and conservation technicians in the US in 2022 was $45,000
  • The mean annual wage for forest and conservation technicians in Arkansas is $47,700

Biological Technician

As a biological technician, your job will involve supporting biological and medical scientists in laboratories and research and development projects. Your duties may include performing experiments, collecting data for analysis purposes, maintaining laboratory facilities and equipment, and keeping an inventory.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in biology, biochemistry, or a related field
  • Strong attention to detail and organizational skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Familiarity with laboratory techniques and equipment
  • Knowledge of safety protocols for handling biological samples and hazardous materials

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for biological technicians in the US in 2022 was $49,650
  • The mean annual wage for biological technicians in Arkansas is $48,150

Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officer

Police and sheriff's patrol officers are increasingly adapting their roles with the changing landscape of modern society. Alongside traditional law enforcement duties, officers now must also be equipped to deal with mental health crises, de-escalate conflicts, and build positive relationships within their community - reflecting an awareness that more holistic approaches to public safety that prioritize collaboration over confrontation are required.

Necessary Requirements:

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Completion of police academy training program
  • Valid driver's license and clean driving record
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure and make quick decisions
  • Physical fitness and ability to pass a physical agility test
  • No prior felony convictions

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for police and sheriff's patrol officers in the US in 2022 was $71,380
  • The mean annual wage for police and sheriff's patrol officers in Arkansas is $42,000

Occupational Health and Safety Technician

The role of an occupational health and safety technician in creating a safe working environment for employees is of immense significance. They are responsible for inspecting work sites to identify any potential hazards and implement safety protocols that prevent accidents or injuries occurring at work sites.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Associate degree or certification in occupational health and safety or a related field
  • Knowledge of occupational health and safety regulations and standards
  • Strong attention to detail and observational skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for occupational health and safety specialists and technicians in the US in 2022 was $75,240
  • The mean annual wage occupational health and safety technicians in Arkansas is $45,360

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