5 Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Science Programs

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Forensic science professionals are commonly involved in criminal and civil investigations, helping police departments resolve civil disputes and enforce criminal laws. Graduates in the forensic science field are always in demand, as crime is present in every society, especially in metropolitan areas. The best forensic science colleges prepare students for rewarding careers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic science technician positions are projected to experience a 27% growth rate, which is much higher than the national average of 5%. Certifications are available in the field, allowing students to pursue personal and career interests, and some schools offer unique specializations. A forensic science career offers stability and room for growth.

Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Science at a Glance

Fast Facts

Time to Complete 4 years
Credit Hours Average of 120 credit hours
Core Courses
  • Introduction to Statistics
  • Introduction to Investigative Forensics
  • Psychology of Criminal Behavior
  • Introduction to Biology
  • Crime Scene Investigation
Accreditation The Forensic Science Education Programs Commission and American Academy of Forensic Sciences are two of the most prominent program accreditors.
Additional Info Students pursuing a degree in forensic science should have an interest in chemistry, analytics, and forensics.
5 Affordable Online Bachelor's in Forensic Science Programs
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1

University of Maryland-University College

Value Score 6.55
Average Tuition $6,696
Students Receiving Financial Aid 38%
Net Price $12,299
Graduation Rate 8%
Student to Faculty Ratio 22:1
Admissions Rate 100%
Enrollment Rate 25.68%
Retention Rate 25.68%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 97%
Number of Online Programs 28

UMUC offers a variety of flexible distance learning programs, including an affordable forensic science degree online. This bachelor's degree in investigative forensics emphasizes the intricacies of crime scene investigation and teaches students how to recognize and evaluate evidence, synthesize forensics to derive theories about a crime, and apply the scientific method to draw conclusions.

The 120-credit curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, including cyber crime and security, fingerprint analysis, firearms and toolmarks analysis, and crime science investigation. Students are also prepared to sit for three certification exams: Crime Scene Certification, Bloodstain Pattern Analyst Certification, and Latent Print Certification. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED to be considered; there are no ACT or SAT test score requirements. UMUC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.


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2

Liberty University

Value Score 6.52
Average Tuition $19,569
Students Receiving Financial Aid 75%
Net Price $23,150
Graduation Rate 49%
Student to Faculty Ratio 18:1
Admissions Rate 21.56%
Enrollment Rate 45.42%
Retention Rate 45.42%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 90%
Number of Online Programs 7

Liberty is the largest evangelical Christian university in the world and the largest private nonprofit university in the U.S. The school offers a variety of distance learning programs, including an affordable online forensic science degree. This bachelor of science in criminal justice - crime scene investigation prepares students for careers as crime scene technicians, crime scene investigators, senior forensic analysts, forensic project coordinators, and criminalists.

The 120-credit curriculum includes major coursework on a variety of topics, such as administration of justice organizations, juvenile justice, judicial process, criminology, and criminal law. Students can receive prior learning credits from past law enforcement and some forms of military experience. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED with a minimum GPA of 2.0 to be considered. Liberty is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


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3

St Mary's University

Value Score 6.07
Average Tuition $26,480
Students Receiving Financial Aid 76%
Net Price $15,361
Graduation Rate 52%
Student to Faculty Ratio 11:1
Admissions Rate 55.2%
Enrollment Rate 18.42%
Retention Rate 18.42%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 6%

StMU is a private liberal arts college of the Catholic Marianist tradition. The school offers a variety of distance learning programs, including a cheap forensic science degree online. Students are able to choose between three different forensic science programs: a bachelor of science in forensic science with biology option, a bachelor of science in forensic science with chemistry option, or a bachelor of arts in forensic science with criminology option.

Students have gained internships with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Park Service, and U.S. Department of Justice. Past graduates have pursued careers as criminal profilers, security specialists, private investigators, and forensic science technicians. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and submit valid SAT or ACT scores, a letter of recommendation, completed application, and an essay to be considered. StMU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


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4

National University

Value Score 5.82
Average Tuition $12,744
Students Receiving Financial Aid 64%
Net Price $23,483
Graduation Rate 30%
Student to Faculty Ratio 20:1
Admissions Rate 100%
Enrollment Rate 25.68%
Retention Rate 25.68%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 69%
Number of Online Programs 36

NU is located in La Jolla, California, and offers a variety of distance learning programs, including an online forensic science degree. This bachelor's degree in criminal justice with a major in forensic investigation is offered in both England and Spanish. Students learn how to communicate effectively, critically analyze problems in society, use technology to search for information, and apply mathematical reasoning and analysis to the collection of data.

Applicants must complete an application to the university, provide proof of high school completion or equivalent, and submit the College Entrance Examination Board or SAT scores to be considered. Those under the age of 21 must also provide their vaccination records as required by the Department of Health. NU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.


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5

Hampton University

Value Score 5.33
Average Tuition $20,526
Students Receiving Financial Aid 81%
Net Price $26,432
Graduation Rate 63%
Student to Faculty Ratio 9:1
Admissions Rate 69.05%
Enrollment Rate 13.19%
Retention Rate 13.19%
Percentage of Students in Online Programs 5%
Number of Online Programs 17

HU is located in Hampton, Virginia, and offers a variety of distance learning programs, including an affordable online forensic science degree. This bachelor's in chemistry prepares students for careers in chemistry and other science-related industries. Students can also earn an American Chemical Society Certification with a forensic chemistry concentration. The 126-credit curriculum includes courses on a variety of topics, such as forensic chemistry, criminology, criminal justice, statistics, and analytical chemistry.

Applicants must complete an application, provide official high school transcripts and standardized test scores, a letter of recommendation, and an autobiographical essay to be considered. Students who have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or those who ranked in the top 10% of their class have the option to choose whether or not to submit standardized test scores when applying. HU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.


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What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in Forensic Science Degree?

Graduates of forensic science degree online programs are eligible for a variety of careers, like forensic science technician and criminologist, who often work on crime scenes, using their forensic skills to help solve crimes. More specialized careers are also available, like bloodstain pattern analyst and forensic document examiner.

Career Paths

Forensic Science Technician

$56,750 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor’s degree Degree Required

Forensic science technicians collect and analyze evidence for criminal investigations. Technicians typically specialize in crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis, and they spend much of their time writing reports. Laboratory forensic science technicians work standard, full-time hours, while crime scene investigators often work extended or unusual hours and have to travel to crime scenes in their jurisdiction.

Projected Growth Rate 27%

Private Detective and Investigator

$48,190 Avg Annual Salary
High School Diploma Degree Required

Private detectives and investigators conduct searches for information about legal, personal, and financial matters. They investigate computer crimes, assist in missing persons cases, complete background checks, and verify witness statements. Some private detectives and investigators work in an office doing computer searches, while others spend the bulk of their time in the field, conducting interviews and surveillance.

Projected Growth Rate 5%

Criminologist

$79,750 Avg Annual Salary
Master’s degree Degree Required

Criminologists analyze the behavior behind criminal activity. A master’s degree is usually required to earn this position. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in forensic science will prepare students for a graduate program. Criminologists write reports, conduct interviews with correctional officers and criminals, and participate in courtroom proceedings as expert witnesses.

Projected Growth Rate 15%

Bloodstain Pattern Analyst

$56,320 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor’s degree Degree Required

Bloodstain pattern analysts examine the location and shape of blood pools, drips, and stains at a crime scene, using this information to help solve the crime. They use different methods to collect evidence, which they take back to the lab to analyze and process. Analysts can confirm or deny statements made by suspects and witnesses based on their findings.

Projected Growth Rate 27%

Forensic Document Examiner

$56,320 Avg Annual Salary
Bachelor’s degree Degree Required

Forensic document examiners uncover discrepancies and consistencies in documents to reveal pertinent information about criminals. Professionals examine different types of forgery, including tracing and signatures, which allows them to compare written documents to determine whether they are real. Examiners understand machine printing processes and are hand writing experts.

Projected Growth Rate 27%

Educational Paths for Graduates of Online Forensic Science Programs

Graduates with an online forensic science degree have many options for becoming experts in their chosen field. Forensic science programs offer specializations and pathways to certifications. Criminologists and sociologists have extensive knowledge about criminal behavior, which is taught through a master’s program.

What Will I Learn in My Bachelor’s in Forensic Science Program?

  1. Crime Scene Investigation: Learners are taught how to investigate crime scenes and apply learned skills. Course topics include the initial crime scene, documentation, evidence, and post-crime activities.
  2. Fingerprint Analysis: Students learn how to analyze fingerprints as part of a crime scene. The course teaches learners how to assess surfaces for fingerprints; how to process and collect fingerprints; how to analyze, evaluate, and apply evidence; and how to convey their findings.
  3. Cyber Crime and Security: Students are taught how to analyze crimes that involve computers and technology. The course covers federal and state laws and the investigative and preventative methods used to secure computers.
  4. Criminal Procedure and Evidence: Students learn how to interpret statutes and case law and evaluate relevant evidence.
  5. Introduction to Investigative Forensics: Learners are taught the basics of forensic science. They learn about the scientific methods used in the field, ethical and legal practices, and case law.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor’s in Forensic Science Graduates

Bachelor’s in Forensic Science Salary

Cities with larger populations typically have a higher crime rate, which is where forensic science degree online graduates are most in demand. Salary will vary by state and employer. The federal executive branch pays the highest salary to forensic science professionals, with a mean of $96,680.

Top 5 paying U.S. states for forensic scientists
U.S. State Mean Annual Salary Wage
California $80,150
New York $66,690
Arizona $56,520
Texas $51,700
Florida $47,740

Forensic Science Licensure and Certification

Online forensic science degree graduates have the opportunity to earn field certifications, which can lead to higher salaries and career growth. Most certification programs require students to pass an exam or complete additional coursework. Below, are some of the most common certifications that forensic science graduates seek.

  • Bloodstain Pattern Analyst Certification: Applicants must have a minimum of 240 hours of instruction in a related field. Forty of the hours are earned through the certificate program’s courses. Applicants must also have three years of work experience and an associate or bachelor’s degree.
  • Crime Scene Certification: Graduates applying for crime scene investigation certification must have at least one year of related activities and have completed a minimum of 48 hours of board certified instruction within five years of applying. Crime scene analyst certification is also available, which requires three years of related activities.
  • Latent Print Certification: Individuals who hold this certification are qualified to collect and analyze fingerprints at a crime scene. Students receive latent print training as part of a certification curriculum.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Science Degrees

It’s important to earn you online forensic science degree from an accredited school. The most common forms of certification are regional and national. Regionally accredited schools are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The vast majority of online schools are regionally accredited. Nationally accredited schools are not organized by regional areas and usually focus on career and vocational training.

Regionally accredited schools are more popular because their credits and degrees are easily transferred and they are eligible for tuition reimbursement plans. There are six different bodies that award regional accreditation.

Financing Your Online Bachelor’s in Forensic Science Program

Many students who pursue an online forensic science degree are eligible to receive college credits if they have military experience or if they have completed a program at an accredited police academy. Students can fill out a FAFSA to obtain financial aid in the form of grants or loans in order to help pay for tuition, books, and room and board. Scholarships are the best way for students to finance their schooling, because students do not need to repay the awarded funds.

Scholarships for Online Forensic Science Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Forensic Science Scholarships

Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners Scholarship $2,000

Available to students seeking a career in forensic science.

Scholarship Deadline: Applications are accepted between January 1 and April 1 each year.

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be entering their third year or higher of their bachelor’s program and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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American Society of Crime Lab Directors Scholarship $1,000

This scholarship is offered to students involved in forensic science, forensic chemistry, physical sciences, and natural sciences.

Scholarship Deadline: April 15

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be an undergraduate or graduate student with a good scholastic record.

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BHW Scholarship $3,000

Offered to women pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in STEM programs.

Scholarship Deadline: April 15

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be female and submit a 500-800 word essay on a provided topic.

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The J. Edgar Hoover Foundation Scholarship $25,000

Offered to students pursuing a career in forensic science in law enforcement.

Scholarship Deadline: April 18

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be a junior, senior, or graduate student and submit a detailed explanation of their career plans as well as letters of recommendation.

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The Ellis R. Kerley Forensic Sciences Foundation Scholarship TBD

This scholarship is available to graduate students pursuing a forensic anthropology degree.

Scholarship Deadline: May 30

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must have graduated from an accredited school with a good academic record and be sponsored by a member of the ABFA by written recommendation.

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