Online Forensic Science Degrees

Those with an inquisitive mind and a passion for the justice system may be well suited to the field of forensic science. Professionals already working in law enforcement, crime laboratories, medical examiners’ offices, and other similar fields can hone their skills and knowledge with an online forensic science degree and advance their career. Forensic scientists often testify as expert witnesses in court and provide psychological profiling in criminal cases. Popular careers include crime scene investigators, medical examiners, or crime laboratory analysts.

The field of forensic science is growing due to advances in science and technology, and professionals have a broad range of opportunities to choose from. Forensic science technicians will see a much faster than average rate of job growth between 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many working students and aspiring professionals opt to earn their forensic science degree online due to the flexibility an online classroom offers.

Meet our expert

Read More

Anthony Buffone Forensic Science

“I could still teach full-time and work on my coursework at convenient times for me.”


Jump to a Section

Degrees

Online Forensic Science Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $9,316 19.71% 1+ years N/A $54,300 N/A
Bachelor's $10,080 9.58% 4-Mar years $48,000 $60,000 5.2%
Master's $24,043 6.13% 1.5+ years $55,000 $78,000 N/A
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Online forensic science degrees allow maximum flexibility for busy students or working professionals, and many colleges and universities offering an online forensic science degree provide financial aid and scholarships. While an associate degree provides a solid starting point for a career in forensic science, a majority of employers in this field require at least a bachelor’s degree for entry-level work, and many forensic scientists choose to pursue graduate degrees for more specialized careers and higher salaries. A doctorate degree in forensic science is highly specialized, and usually pursued by those who wish to work in academia or university-level teaching.

Online Forensic Science Degrees

/

Online Associate’s Degree in Forensic Science

An associate-level online forensic science degree can be earned in one to two years (program applicants must have a high school diploma or GED). Associate degrees from forensic science colleges offer affordability and flexibility, and allow aspiring professionals to get their foot in the door when it comes to jobs in crime prevention.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Introduction to Criminal Justice, Crime Scene Safety, Fingerprint Identification and Development, Laboratory Methods, and Interview and Interrogation

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Criminal Justice

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Forensic Science Technicians, Private Investigator, Crime Scene Investigator, and Loss Prevention Specialist

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $41,000

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science

Most jobs in the field of forensic science require a bachelor’s degree. Bachelor’s-level online forensic science degrees can take up to four years to earn, but transfer credits, accelerated degree options, and summer courses may shorten this timeframe. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field of forensic science will continue to grow steadily in the next decade, so a forensic science bachelor’s degree is a strong choice for those seeking an interesting and stable career path.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Arson Investigation, Cyber Crimes, Crime Scene Investigation, White Collar Crime, and Victimology

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Criminology and Criminal Justice, Computer Criminology, and Forensic Science

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Detective, Crime Intelligence Analyst, Social Services Case Manager, and Law Enforcement

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $48,000

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    27% increase

Online Master’s Degree in Forensic Science

A master’s-level forensic science online degree usually takes two to three years to complete, and students wishing to earn a master’s-level forensic science degree online must have a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degrees are more of a financial investment than associate or bachelor’s degrees, but the financial payoff is often greater. Many of the jobs that are associated with master’s degrees in forensic science are projected to grow steadily over the next decade.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Advanced Criminological Theories, Criminal Investigative Analysis, and Trauma and Crisis Intervention

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Forensic Psychology and Forensic Anthropology

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    Clinical Psychologist, School Psychologist, and Forensic Psychologist

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $55,000

  • EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS

    27% growth

Online Doctorate Degree in Forensic Science

Earning a doctorate degree in forensic science usually takes between four and eight years. During this time, students gain extensive knowledge and experience in the field of forensic science and criminal justice. Researching and writing a thesis are integral parts of the PhD program. PhD-holders in this field can pursue leadership positions in criminal justice or law enforcement, or they can research and teach forensic science at colleges and universities. A forensic science online degree offer flexibility for those who may already be working. If you are passionate about becoming a forensic science expert and interested in pursuing a career in research or academic, a doctorate degree in this field may be the right choice for you.

  • SAMPLE COURSES

    Crime Scene Reconstruction, Criminal Law and Ethics, and Organized Criminal Gangs

  • COMMON MAJORS

    Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology

  • POTENTIAL JOBS

    College-level Teaching, Academia, and Forensic Science Research

  • AVERAGE INCOME

    $75,000

Online Forensic Science Choose Your Career

Average Forensic Science Salaries

$183,125
$51,205
$44,083
$214,029

Forensic Medical Examiner

Salary: $183,125
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
5% 7,680 Doctorate Medical Licensing, 3-4 year residency

If you are an aspiring doctor or a doctor who has graduated from an accredited medical school and you have an interest in the justice system and crime, obtaining a certification in anatomic, clinical, and forensic pathology may be the right career path for you. Forensic science colleges offer a variety of certifications to propel your career as a forensic medical examiner. These professionals examine bodies post-mortem to determine the cause of death, usually under violent, suspicious, or unexpected circumstances. Because of the highly specialized nature of this field, those who have the proper qualifications and an advanced online forensic science degree will find highly competitive salaries.

Forensic Science Technician

Salary: $51,205
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
27% 14,400 Bachelor's None

A bachelor’s-level online forensic science degree prepares graduates to become forensic science technicians. Forensic science technicians aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing data to help law enforcement officials identify, convict, or acquit suspects. Forensic science technicians process and package physical evidence collected at crime scenes, communicate with law enforcement personnel about procedures and protocol, and may be called to testify in court, especially if they have more specialized expertise. Forensic science technicians must be detail-oriented and strong communicators.

Criminologist

Salary: $44,083
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
27% 14,400 Masters None

Graduates who earn their master’s-level forensic science online degree may pursue a career as a criminologist. Criminologists analyze criminal patterns based on biographical, social, and economical factors that may have motivated a person to commit a crime. This information helps law enforcement, lawmakers, and social workers better respond to crime and evaluate the effectiveness of our laws and policies. If you are interested in human behavior, crime, and its impacts on society, and are detail-oriented and intellectually curious, this may be a good career path for you. Employment opportunities in criminology are projected to grow steadily.

Forensic Pathologist

Salary: $214,029
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
27% 14,400 Bachelor's None

Forensic pathologists are trained physicians who examine and determine the cause of death of individuals who have died unexpectedly or by violent means. These professionals are also responsible for documenting sexual assault and collecting medical evidence. Because of the nature of this work, forensic pathologists must be able to deal with sometimes graphic or otherwise disturbing situations. Forensic pathologists must also be extremely thorough and accurate, as they are sometimes asked to testify in court and defend their findings. In the next decade, the field of forensic pathology is expected to grow by 27%. Bachelor’s degrees are a necessary starting point in this career. A higher degree earned from forensic science colleges results in higher salaries, and certifications can also make a difference in salary.

Online Forensic Science Degree in Action

Anthony Buffone Forensic Science

Anthony has earned a BA in Biology and a BS Ed in Science Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania as well as an MS in Forensic Science from University of Florida. He has previously taught in The School District of Palm Beach County (FL) and at Armstrong-Indiana Intermediate Unit Adult Education Programs in Western Pennsylvania. He is currently in his 11th year teaching high school Science and Biology at Homer-Center School District in Homer City, Pennsylvania.

Why did you choose to pursue your forensic science degree online?

I live and teach in Pennsylvania. Quite frankly, I initially looked at Penn State for my degree. I am a biology teacher and was looking to pursue a master's degree in the the field of forensic science to expand the curriculum for my students in biology and Integrated Science 8. I also looked at University of Florida because when I was searching programs in forensic science, I saw that they had a blended but largely online program. (My first teaching position was in West Palm Beach, Florida, so I was already a Gator fan!) It turns out that the tuition for UF was considerably cheaper for me than even my in-state tuition at Penn State. I looked at one of their online learning modules and saw that they required a final course competency exam in person and on-site at the University of Florida. This confirmed for me that this was a quality online program with the integrity of assuring that the student on the other end of the computer was the student receiving the degree.

What were the advantages of taking classes online?

The obvious advantage here was that I could still teach full-time and work on my coursework at convenient times for me. It was tough juggling all of that at times, but I think it was well worth it for me in the end.

What were the challenges of working online?

Time management was my biggest challenge. For a procrastinator, asynchronous online courses can lead to last minute "all-nighters."

How did your online classes prepare you for the job market?

My goal was to obtain a master's degree in an area that highly interested me and from which my students could greatly benefit. The UF Online Forensics program fulfilled that goal for me. I received a pay increase for my master's degree and have incorporated much of what I learned into my curriculum to help my students to master the rigorous standards set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. They are engaged and interested, and that is a rewarding outcome for all parties involved.

Online Forensic Science Professional Requirements

Becoming certified in forensic science is an excellent option for those who are unsure about committing to a bachelor’s degree, or for those who have degrees and want a competitive edge among job-seekers. There are no official certifications required to work in the field of forensic science, but many professionals choose to get certified by the American Board of Criminalistics or the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute to get ahead in the job market.

ACFEI Certifications

There are many options for ACFEI certification. Among others fields, you can become a certified forensic nurse, medical examiner, criminal investigator, or engineer. Certified forensic nurses are registered nurses with experience identifying forms of violence and injuries, collecting evidence, and understanding forensic examinations. A certified medical examiner may be asked to analyze crime scenes or DNA evidence. In order to become certified through ACFEI, you must obtain either 15 or 30 credits every three years (depending on the certification) and successfully pass certification exams. Certification maintenance fees, study material fees, and exam fees range from $400 – $800.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

Varies

American Board of Criminalistics

The American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) is the first certification body accredited by the Forensic Specialty Accreditation Board. In order to become ABC-certified, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and have at least two years of full-time work experience (including on-the-job training), and pass the certification exam. Fees associated with the ABC certification include a $300 exam fee and ongoing certificate fees after you have passed the exam. The ABC certification is important for those wishing to move forward in the field of forensic science, as certification is a type of quality assessment that demonstrates specialized knowledge and skills.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

Varies