Top 100 Best Affordable Forensic Science Programs

Best Most Affordable Forensic Science Programs

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Are you considering earning a degree in forensic science? This is a good choice for people interested in aiding with criminal investigations. Forensic science professionals often collect and analyze evidence found on-site, to include taking photographs, making sketches, recording observations, determining what items should be collected, and cataloging findings. If this seems appealing and/or aligns well with your ultimate career goals, it is time to find an accredited forensic science degree program.

Degrees of this type can lead to extremely impactful career opportunities. Students learn to help solve crimes, prosecute guilty parties, and offer comfort to individuals who are impacted by crime. Forensic science programs provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue a career in criminal justice or legal studies. A firm understanding of biology, chemistry, and computer programming is also recommended. In fact, most forensic science technicians begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in one of the natural sciences before enrolling in a master-level program.

It’s important to note that on-the-job training is likely to be required after graduation. Whether you aspire to examine crime scenes or work in a lab, it’s common for new investigators to work under more experienced professionals until they become more familiar with how to collect and document evidence. You can also receive training in a laboratory specialty, which rarely takes more than a year to complete. Additionally, those seeking to become forensic science technicians may need to pass a proficiency examination or seek approval from an accrediting body before being allowed to work independently.

Forensic science technicians work in a wide variety of conditions, including all types of weather. They also spend long hours in laboratories and/or offices reviewing evidence. Additionally, these professionals must be able to work constructively with law enforcement personnel and other specialists to solve crimes.

As mentioned above, careers relating to forensic science require some level of higher education. Earning a degree of any kind can be expensive, so it’s important to keep affordability in mind as you finalize your academic and career goals.

Why a Degree from an Affordable Forensic Science School?


Circumstances are different for everyone, but many prospective students make finding an affordable academic program a top priority. Paying to attend classes at a college or university is no small financial commitment, especially if multiple degrees are necessary.

Financial aid such as scholarships, grants, and loans, can make attending school more fiscally possible. Scholarship and grants, in particular, are beneficial because they do not need to be repaid in the future. Unfortunately, these types of assistance rarely account for all of the costs associated with earning a degree. While applying for loans is common, these funds must be paid back over time and can cause financial burden in the future.

Ultimately, the best solution is to find a forensic science program you can afford to pay for. Identifying affordable colleges and universities is particularly important for students who demonstrate significant financial need. Regardless of your academic goals, opting for a less expensive program is often optimal.

Many students choose legal studies degrees because they allow for significant professional flexibility.

There are a variety of different career paths available to graduates, including:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Cybersecurity
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Environmental Forensics

Most colleges and universities allow bachelor’s and master’s degree students in this field to select a concentration or specialty. Doing this allows students to take classes that align with their interests. Some of the most common tracks include criminology, criminal justice, legal studies, information technology, and cyber security. Those interested in working within the private sector should seek to take courses in business administration and project management.

Choosing an Affordable Forensic Science College


When choosing an affordable forensic science program, there are several factors you should consider. Every college and university is different, making it necessary to compare and contrast the option thoroughly before making a final decision. Some of the most significant differences you should look for include cost, location, accreditation, instructional methods, and graduation requirements.

  • Cost
    The cost associated with earning a forensic science degree will vary significantly depending on a few key factors. Becoming familiar with these elements now can make it easier to find an affordable program. Consider financial aid options available, possible living accommodations, and approximately how long it will take to reach your academic goals. Public schools also tend to be less expensive to attend than private institutions. Assess your personal financial situation carefully before committing to a single program.

  • Location
    There are forensic science programs available throughout the nation and where you choose to study matters. Not only can location affect the cost of attendance, but it can impact also employment opportunities available after graduation. Opting for an out-of-state university often costs more due to differences in tuition for state residents and non-state residents. Additionally, some employers give preference to graduates from schools in their regions, as classes are assumed to be more locally relevant.

  • Accreditation
    It is absolutely imperative to verify the accreditation status of a college and university prior to enrolling. Academic institutions can choose between regional and international accreditation, and some are not accredited at all. In the United States, accrediting agencies are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

    Regional agencies approved by CHEA and the U.S. Board of Education include:

    • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
    • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
    • North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCACS)
    • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC)
    • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Schools (WASC ACS
  • Graduation Requirements
    No two institutions are exactly alike, which means graduation requirements can vary. Always review college and program expectations carefully before choosing to enroll in a forensic science program. Most institutions provide a complete breakdown of their curriculums, course descriptions, and available concentrations online. Become familiar with this information to ensure the program aligns with your ultimate education and career goals.

  • Instruction Methods
    You may also want to identify your learning needs and preferences before selecting a forensic science program. Consider class size, assignment types, and what learning tools are available to students. If this information is not provided online, contact the department directly for assistance. Additionally, while most students prefer traditional classroom settings, online options are available. Many colleges and universities now offer distance learning as an option, either for the entire degree or a portion of it.

Online Options


Not every field is well-suited to distance learning, but man web-based programs give students the opportunity to complete the same coursework as an in-person program. As a result, there are numerous colleges and universities that offer remote degrees for those interested in the field. Online or on-campus, classes will generally relate to the criminal justice system, crime resolution procedure, police accountability, legal processes, biology, chemistry, and psychology.

Online forensic science programs offer flexibility for students with personal and professional obligations that make attending classes in person difficult. Distance learning is often particularly appealing for returning students, individuals with families, and current professionals interested in transitioning into the field.

Many colleges and universities also offer accelerated online programs in forensic science. Through these, distance learners are able to graduate with an associate degree in as little as 18 months. There are also accelerated virtual options for students seeking bachelor’s degrees. While a traditional bachelor’s degree typically requires four years of on-campus instruction, accelerated online programs can take as little as two years to complete.

While convenient, some students avoid online programs because they sometimes lack the resources of traditional, on-campus experiences. This is a valid concern, but one that can be mitigated by verifying academic resources and career services prior to enrolling. Many colleges and universities offer traditional and remote students and recent graduates a variety of helpful resources.

Programs vary, but most post graduate job placement assistance programs consist of the following assistive tools:

  • Interview Preparation
  • Resume Development
  • Career Coaching Services
  • Internship Opportunities
  • Job Fairs

Ultimately, enrolling in an online forensic science program is a completely viable means of earning a degree. As long as the school is properly accredited, graduates can still expect to find employment.

Are Forensic Science Programs in High Demand?


Overall, the outlook for forensic science professionals working in the United States is quite promising. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for technicians is projected to grow by 14% from 2019 to 2029. This is faster than the national average for all other professions. As this is a relatively small field, however, this increase will only result in an additional 2,400 new jobs nationwide.

The primary explanation for the anticipated job growth is that state and local governments are expected to need more professionals to help process high caseloads. Anticipated advances in science and technology will have an impact. These changes are expected to increase the availability, reliability, and usefulness of objective forensic information, making findings even more useful as evidence in court trials.

Competition for jobs in this field is likely to be strong. Those with master’s degrees will have access to the best employment opportunities. Many colleges and universities offer credible forensic science degree programs. Whether you want to study on campus or online, you should have little trouble finding an option that meets your needs.

Best Most Affordable Forensic Science College Rankings


It’s always advisable to review rankings for affordable forensic science programs prior to submitting applications. The information provided often offers valuable insight that can help you make the best choice regarding your academic and professional future. Not only will you be able to identify options with the best value, but you will know which programs are well-regarded by prospective employers.

To help narrow your search, we focus our data collection solely on colleges and universities that specialize in affordable forensic science programs. Our goal is to identify and organize the most relevant data points into a simple, easy-to-understand, and useful format. To do this, we focus our attention on the most pertinent information, effectively streamlining the search process for prospective students.

While we consider a range of data types when generating our rankings, some of the most prominent ones include the institution’s graduation rate, cost of tuition, and number of students receiving financial aid.

Graduation rates refer to the percentage of students who graduate within an expected timeframe. Most traditional colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees, which typically take students about four years to complete. The graduation rate can help you plan for school more accurately.

While the cost of tuition should never be the sole deciding factor in selecting a forensic science program, it is an important variable worth serious consideration. Prospective students often use this data to determine which colleges and universities are within their price-ranges. You can also assess the overall value of the education offered.

Not everyone needs financial aid, but many people do. Knowing the number of students receiving assistance at the school can be helpful. This statistic can indicate the institution’s overall affordability, as well as show whether or not a healthy aid program is present.

1
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,470
    • Out-of-state: $15,420
  • Net Price: $4,221
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Total Enrollment: 15,880
  • Undergrad Students: 13,746
  • Graduate Students: 2,134
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 641
  • CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
2

California State University-Fresno

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,643
    • Out-of-state: $18,523
  • Net Price: $6,906
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 24,298
  • Undergrad Students: 21,541
  • Graduate Students: 2,757
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 13
  • California State University-Fresno
3
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $5,309
    • Out-of-state: $16,917
  • Net Price: $7,016
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,551
  • Undergrad Students: 5,644
  • Graduate Students: 907
  • Graduation Rate: 34%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 8
  • Fayetteville State University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
4
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $5,906
    • Out-of-state: $16,806
  • Net Price: $8,184
  • Retention Rate: 65%
  • Total Enrollment: 41,728
  • Undergrad Students: 41,186
  • Graduate Students: 542
  • Graduation Rate: 32%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 14
  • Utah Valley University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
5

The University of Texas at El Paso

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $9,450
    • Out-of-state: $24,516
  • Net Price: $8,758
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Total Enrollment: 25,177
  • Undergrad Students: 21,427
  • Graduate Students: 3,750
  • Graduation Rate: 37%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 36
  • The University of Texas at El Paso
6

Savannah State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $5,902
    • Out-of-state: $16,624
  • Net Price: $9,611
  • Retention Rate: 61%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,668
  • Undergrad Students: 3,482
  • Graduate Students: 186
  • Graduation Rate: 29%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 14
  • Savannah State University
7

Eastern New Mexico University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,648
    • Out-of-state: $8,688
  • Net Price: $9,922
  • Retention Rate: 63%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,685
  • Undergrad Students: 4,465
  • Graduate Students: 1,220
  • Graduation Rate: 36%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 10
  • Eastern New Mexico University
8

Florida Gulf Coast University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,118
    • Out-of-state: $25,162
  • Net Price: $10,151
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Total Enrollment: 14,977
  • Undergrad Students: 13,722
  • Graduate Students: 1,255
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 4
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
9

Fairmont State University

  • Tuition
    • In-State: $7,738
    • Out-of-state: $16,814
  • Net Price: $10,608
  • Retention Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,803
  • Undergrad Students: 3,563
  • Graduate Students: 240
  • Graduation Rate: 41%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 2
  • Fairmont State University
10
  • Tuition
    • In-State: $6,368
    • Out-of-state: $22,467
  • Net Price: $11,108
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 69,402
  • Undergrad Students: 59,371
  • Graduate Students: 10,031
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 28
  • University of Central Florida
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
Full Ranking Report

What Can You Do with a Degree in Forensic Science?


There are a few different career paths available after earning a degree in forensic science. Selecting a concentration during your bachelor’s and/or master’s program will help prepare you for work in criminal justice, cyber security, forensic psychology, or environmental forensics.

  • Criminal Justice
    Criminal justice professionals often work as law enforcement officials, lawyers, policymakers, and criminal reform advocates.
  • Cyber Security
    Cyber security professionals are responsible for identifying and assessing security gaps in a company or organization’s information systems.
  • Forensic Psychology
    Forensic psychology professionals often serve as jury consultants, licensed professional clinical counselors, or expert witnesses.
  • Environmental Forensics
    Environmental forensics professionals use the scientific method to investigate the contamination of natural areas, as well as the misuse of resources.

Forensic science graduates often work for local governments, state governments, medical and diagnostic laboratories, or testing laboratories. In 2019, the largest employer for forensic science technicians was local governments, excluding education and hospital facilities.

The most obvious career pathway after earning a bachelor’s degree in forensic science is to become a forensic science technician, financial examiner, or technical writer. Four-year programs are generally designed to provide students with an introduction to the field. Core classes generally include criminal procedure, evidence processing, fingerprinting, firearms and tool marks, and types of digital evidence.

A master’s in forensic science will provide the knowledge and skills necessary to become a laboratory manager, security consultant, forensic DNA analyst, or forensic toxicologist. Doctorate degrees tend to prepare graduates for careers as forensic psychologists, forensic pathologists, and postsecondary instructors.

Regardless of the job selected, professionals in this field tend to gain a number of easily transferrable skills, making them highly marketable.

Some of the most in-demand skills include:

  • Math
  • Communication
  • Critical-Thinking
  • Organization
  • Research
  • Problem-Solving
  • Attention to Detail

Forensic Science Graduates Earn More After College


Overall, the earning potential for professionals with forensic science degrees is above average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for forensic science technicians was $60,590 in 2020, which is significantly higher than the median annual wage around $42,000 as reported for all occupations. It is worth noting that the lowest 10% of workers in this profession earned less than $36,700. The highest 10%, however, earned more than $100,900.

According to PayScale, the average hourly wage for forensic science technicians with one to nine years of experience ranges between $16.00 and $17.63. After 20 or more years of working in this position, the average hourly compensation becomes $20.25.

Education level can also impact pay. Graduates with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in forensic science make an average salary of $56,350. This average goes up with an advanced degree. Those with a Master of Science (MS) in forensic science earn an average salary of $58,900.

Salary is also often dependent upon location. Some states pay forensic science technicians more than others. Prospects for professionals in this field are best in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Alaska. Conversely, the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, and New Mexico have some of the lowest salaries in the industry.

FAQs


  • What are the admission requirements for legal studies students?
    Every college and university has different admissions requirements and procedures for incoming freshman. Despite variances, most institutions have similar admittance processes. While you should always review prerequisites carefully when completing your application, the majority of schools will expect the following:

    • Official High School Transcripts or College Transcripts
    • Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA)
    • Application and Fees
    • Letters of Recommendation
    • Personal Statement or Supplemental Essay
    • Academic Work Samples
    • Scores from College Entrance Exams (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT etc.)
  • How long will it take to complete a law degree?

    The length of time needed to complete a forensic science degree will depend on the type of degree you are seeking. Upper-level degrees may take longer to finish, but graduates often enjoy higher salaries, more job security, and increased promotion opportunities.

    It’s rare to find a college or university offering an associate degree in forensic science. At this academic level, students often opt for programs in criminal justice, legal studies, or paralegal studies. Associate degrees usually consist of about 60 credit hours and take full-time students two years to complete.

    Many professionals in this field start their academic careers with a bachelor’s degree. These programs typically consist of 120 credit hours and require approximately four years for full-time students to complete.

    Masters degrees are most appropriate for individuals seeking management positions with more supervisory responsibilities. These degree programs usually consist of 30 credit hours and take full-time students two years to complete.

    Those seeking executive-level employment in the field are most likely to need doctoral degrees in forensic science. Most programs consist of at least 70 credit hours of coursework and take students five to seven years to complete.

  • How much does a forensic science program cost?

    The cost of enrolling in a forensic science degree program will vary significantly depending on a number of important factors.

    The total amount you will pay will likely depend on the following:

    • Degree Type
    • Institution Type
    • Housing
    • Commute
    • Technology Fees
    • Books and Supplies
    • Location
  • Is there specific accreditation for forensic sciences?
    Attending a school that lacks proper accreditation can make finding employment difficult or impossible. They also tend to offer less financial aid and make transferring credits more difficult. In addition to institutional accreditation by a CHEA-approved regional agency, departments and programs can seek specialized accreditation within their fields. In this case, the most prominent specialized accreditation organization is the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). This organization is responsible for evaluating bachelor’s and master’s degrees but does not deal with associate degrees or certificate programs.