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Compare Popular Forensic Science Programs

What is Forensic Science?

North Carolina is a great starting point for students seeking a career in forensic science. With a variety of colleges offering degrees in this field, you're positioned for an education that is both comprehensive and applicable in the real-world. Some institutions offer associate degrees in biology and chemistry that can be applied to forensic science, while others provide a multidisciplinary approach through their own forensic science programs. These degrees are designed to equip you with the relevant scientific principles and methods necessary for a successful career in the legal system.

Various colleges and universities exemplify the mission to create highly skilled graduates ready for the modern crime laboratory. These programs emphasize foundational science and lab-based problem-solving skills. Whether your preference is to attend an online platform or a traditional in-person setting for a more personalized experience, North Carolina's programs aim to satisfy diverse educational needs. Furthermore, online forensic science educational pathways in the state offer flexibility with programs tailored to fit your schedule and learning preferences.

Overview of Forensic Science Programs

Forensic science programs offer flexibility and convenience, allowing you to pursue a degree in the midst of a busy life. By embracing the latest science and technology in the criminal justice field, these programs prepare you for work in various laboratory and crime scene settings.

Major Requirements

When you enroll in a forensic science degree program in North Carolina, your major requirements are designed to provide a comprehensive education in forensic science.

You're likely to learn to:

  • Interpret evidence: Courses will focus on the proper methods for interpreting physical evidence from crime scenes.
  • Solve crimes: You'll gain insight into the techniques used for solving crimes, employing logic and scientific methods.
  • Laboratory skills: Training in standard and advanced laboratory skills prepares you to handle and analyze different types of forensic evidence.

To fulfill major requirements, your coursework will typically include a blend of science, such as biology and chemistry, coupled with specialized forensic science subjects.

These may cover areas like:

  • Forensic pathology
  • DNA analysis
  • Trace evidence
  • Fingerprint analysis
  • Crime scene reconstruction

These courses and skills are crucial as they lay the foundation for your career, whether that be in a local, state, or federal crime lab. Through these programs, whether at the bachelor's, master's, or certificate level, your academic and practical preparations will align with the evolving nature of forensic science practices and technologies.

Online Educational Pathways for Forensic Science Degrees in North Carolina

If you are interested in becoming a forensic science professional in North Carolina, numerous educational pathways are available to you. These programs accommodate different levels of expertise and career aspirations, from associate degrees to PhDs.

Online Associate Degree in Forensic Science (AS)

You can pursue an associate degree in forensic science to gain a fundamental understanding of criminal justice and the scientific techniques used to analyze evidence. This level of education can be a steppingstone to entry-level roles or a foundation for further studies.

National rankings - online AS in forensic science

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science (BS)

A Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science equips you with more advanced knowledge in interpreting evidence and solving crimes. You'll learn professional techniques used in crime labs across local, state, and federal levels, preparing you for a substantial career in the field. These programs are often multidisciplinary and take around four years to complete. This is the time to decide if you want to work in clinical laboratory science or the forensic science field.

National rankings - online BS in forensic science

Online Master’s Degree in Forensic Science (MS)

Enrolling in a master’s degree in forensic science program allows you to delve deeper into specialized areas, such as cyber-crime or criminal behavior. These degrees typically focus on research and advanced methodologies, positioning you for leadership roles.

National rankings - online MS in forensic science

Online PhD in Forensic Science (PHD)

If your ambition is to drive innovation and perhaps teach the next generation of forensic scientists, consider a PhD in forensic science. Doctoral programs often center on original research and can culminate in a contribution to the field's body of knowledge.

Get our resources and scholarships guide for criminal justice Get the UniversityHQ financial aid guide

Online Forensic Science Certifications

Forensic science certifications can complement your existing degree or provide focused expertise in areas like forensic psychology or digital forensics. Whether you hold a degree or not, a certificate program can help specialize your skills or update them with the latest forensic science advancements. Some certification might be necessary before you can work in crime laboratories, but your degree will decide if you can find a role in organic chemistry.

Comparing Online and On-Campus Platforms

When evaluating forensic science degree programs in North Carolina, you will encounter two options: online and on-campus programs. What you choose between these two can significantly impact your learning experience and lifestyle.

Find Forensic Science Schools

Online Programs:

  • Flexibility: You have the convenience of accessing your coursework at any time, ideal if you're balancing responsibilities like work or family.
  • Location Independent: Study from anywhere with an internet connection, potentially saving on relocation or commuting costs.
  • Interaction: Limited face-to-face engagement, though modern technology can offer interactive forums and video conferencing.
  • Technical Requirements: Ensure you have a reliable internet connection and a computer that meets the technical specifications of the program.
Online Platforms On-Campus Platforms
Flexible scheduling Structured timetable
Remote access Physical presence required
Virtual collaboration Direct peer interaction
Potential cost savings Access to campus facilities

On-Campus Programs:

  • Structured Environment: Benefit from a consistent schedule, which can enhance discipline and time management.
  • Hands-On Experience: Access to labs and forensic equipment which is crucial for practical skills.
  • Networking: Proximity to peers and professors can foster professional relationships.
  • Campus Resources: Utilize libraries, study spaces, and other resources that might not be available online.

Your choice between online and on-campus forensic science degree programs in North Carolina should align with your personal and professional goals, learning style, and lifestyle needs. Consider the trade-offs carefully to make an informed decision that best suits your path to a career in forensic science.

Financial Aid and Scholarships for a Forensic Science Education

When pursuing a degree in forensic science, it’s essential to explore various financial aid options. Funding can significantly offset your educational expenses, and numerous scholarships cater specifically to forensic science and criminal justice students.

If you’re a high school senior eyeing a forensic science degree, scholarships like the Edison Scholars Program offer substantial support and could be applicable if you plan to channel your science or engineering studies toward forensics.

Applying for Aid:

To ensure you don't miss out on these opportunities:

  • Maintain a qualifying GPA
  • Research scholarships early
  • Note application deadlines

Remember to also consider federal financial aid and check with your prospective schools to learn about any institutional scholarships for which you might qualify. As institutions in North Carolina may have programs specifically designed for future forensic scientists, contacting the financial aid office directly can provide you with tailored information for your forensic science or criminal justice degree quest.

Navigating Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Programs

In North Carolina, pursuing a degree in criminal justice or forensic science offers various paths that cater to your educational and career goals.

Here's how to compare the programs to discern which aligns with your aspirations.

  • Criminal Justice Degree:
    • This is a comprehensive program that covers a broad spectrum of topics, from law enforcement to corrections and court systems.
    • A typical Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice requires the completion of 120 credit hours.
    • These programs generally do not prepare you for roles in a lab.
  • Forensic Science Degree:
    • Specializes in the application of scientific methods and techniques to crime investigations.
    • Often entails a rigorous curriculum in mathematics and science, essential for the field of forensic analysis.
Degree Type Credit Hours Key Courses Career Path
Criminal Justice ~120 Introduction to Criminal Justice, Criminology, Corrections Law enforcement, Probation officer, FBI agent
Forensic Science Varies Biology, Chemistry, Forensic Pathology Forensic technician, Laboratory analyst, Crime scene investigator

In choosing between the two, consider if you have an interest in the more traditional aspects of criminal justice versus the scientific focus of forensic science. North Carolina colleges and universities may also offer options to earn a certificate in criminal justice separately without completing a full degree. Course requirements for forensic science degrees may include a minimum grade of “C” in key mathematics and science classes, reflecting the program's analytical emphasis.

When selecting your path, consider the differences in curriculum and how they relate to your long-term career goals. Both degrees provide foundational knowledge and can be completed through various online and traditional programs, yet they diverge in specialization and application in the field of criminal justice.

Networking and Professional Organizations

In North Carolina, as a student or professional in forensic science, you have access to a robust network of professional organizations that can aid in career development, alongside worthwhile opportunities for continuing education.

Local and National Associations

Local Associations:

  • North Carolina Forensic Science Advisory Board: Stay informed about state-specific standards and advances.
  • North Carolina International Association for Identification (NCIAI): Enhance your professional network and gain insights into the forensic community.

National Associations:

  • American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS): A leading organization for forensic science professionals.
  • Association of Forensic Science Providers (AFSP): Offers a platform for collaboration among forensic science providers.

Leverage these associations for networking opportunities, annual conferences, workshops, and publications.

Continuing Education

  • Certifications: Seek certifications like the Certified Forensic Scientist designation, which can augment your credentials.
  • Workshops and Seminars: Attend workshops and seminars by associations like AAFS to stay current with the latest forensic techniques and research.
  • Continued Learning: Pursue advanced degrees or certificate programs offered by forensic science colleges to keep your knowledge up to date.

Continuing education is critical for forensic science professionals to maintain their expertise in a field that constantly evolves due to technological and methodological advancements.

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

After graduating with a forensic science degree in North Carolina, you’ll have a variety of career paths available to you. These roles come with different responsibilities and a range of potential salaries based on your experience and specialization. Here are just some options for careers that you might have access to after an associate or bachelor’s degree in this field.

Biological Technicians:

Job Description: As a biological technician, you would work in a laboratory setting, assisting with biological research and experiments. You’ll set up and oversee experiments or processes, maintain lab equipment, make sure everything is done with safety in mind, and more. You may also gather biological or other samples for testing.


  • Bachelor's degree, Growth Potential 5% (Faster than average)
  • Assist biological and medical scientists
  • Set up, maintain, and clean laboratory instruments and equipment, such as microscopes, scales, pipets, and test tubes
  • Gather and prepare biological samples, such as blood, food, and bacteria cultures, for laboratory analysis
  • Conduct biological tests and experiments

Median Salary: $56,540

Occupational Health and Safety Technicians:

Job Description: In the role of an occupational health and safety technician, you would be responsible for ensuring compliance with regulations related to health and safety in the workplace. You might collect data on various work environments or locations, analyze the data, and plan for improvements to increase safety.


  • High School Diploma and on-the-job training – Associate degree or higher preferred
  • Collect data on work environments for analysis by occupational health and safety specialists
  • Recommend measures to help protect workers from potentially hazardous work methods, processes, or materials
  • Order suspension of activities that pose threats to workers' health or safety
  • Investigate accidents to identify causes or to determine how such accidents might be prevented in the future

Median Salary: $64,250

Detectives and Criminal Investigators:

Job Description: Your forensic science degree could lead to a career as a detective or criminal investigator. These professionals are on the frontline of solving crimes and may also work within specialized units. They may collect and preserve evidence, analyze data and evidence, direct crime scene investigations, and investigate criminal activities.


  • Associate degree or higher
  • Conduct investigations related to suspected violations of federal, state, or local laws to prevent or solve crimes
  • Check victims for signs of life, such as breathing and pulse
  • Obtain facts or statements from complainants, witnesses, and accused persons and record interviews, using recording device
  • Secure deceased body and obtain evidence from it, preventing bystanders from tampering with it prior to medical examiner's arrival

Median Salary: $95,930

Forensic Science Technicians:

Job Description: If you pursue a career as a forensic science technician, you may work on crime scenes as a crime scene investigator or in the lab analyzing evidence. Responsibilities in these roles can include collecting, identifying, and analyzing physical evidence. You may also choose a specialty with further education or certifications to prepare you to work in ballistics, DNA, etc.


  • Bachelor's degree, Growth Potential 13% (Much faster than average)
  • Collect, identify, classify, and analyze physical evidence related to criminal investigations
  • Analyze crime scenes to determine what evidence should be collected and how
  • Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
  • Make sketches of the crime scene

Median Salary: $71,540

Check out all criminal justice careers and salaries Check out the highest paying jobs with a criminal justice diploma

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements to obtain a forensic science degree?

To obtain a forensic science degree, you generally need to have a high school diploma or GED. You must also meet certain prerequisite course requirements, such as introductory courses in chemistry and biology, and maintain a minimum GPA as indicated by the program you are applying to.

Are there options to earn a forensic science degree online from schools in North Carolina?

Yes, there are options to earn a forensic science degree online from schools in North Carolina. Many colleges and universities offer hybrid programs that combine online coursework with in-person laboratory experiences or internships. And the University of North Carolina Wilmington offers a postbaccalaureate certificate in crime scene investigation.

How does one become a Forensic Scientist in North Carolina?

To become a forensic scientist in North Carolina, you must typically earn a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related field, gain relevant laboratory experience, and may need to secure online certifications specific to forensic specialties. Some roles may require more advanced degrees.

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