Graduate from a forensic program and you’ll be ready to collect evidence, dust for fingerprints, search for blood stains and analyze DNA evidence. A growing number of women enroll in forensic programs, according to Jeni Smith, a forensic science professor at Pennsylvania State University and retired DNA analyst and FBI special agent, because they want to do just that while helping victims of crimes. Although the American Academy of Forensic Sciences doesn’t rank colleges or forensic programs, it offers accreditation to universities and colleges that meet a range of requirements.
Forensics-School.com, which collects and provides information about forensic science education and training programs, ranks the forensic program at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, as the best in the country. Not only is the school located in the same building as a paternity and federal DNA lab, but it lets students survey a range of forensics courses during their first semester. Graduates have also historically performed extremely well on the American Board of Criminalistics’ Forensic Science Assessment Test.
Pennsylvania State University
The Eberly College of Science at Pennsylvania State University offers programs for students interested in earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in forensics. The forensics program includes classes in biological and physical sciences and also covers forensic chemistry, forensic anthropology, forensic biology and related social sciences. In 2013, "U.S. News & World Report" ranked Pennsylvania State University as the 46th best college in the United States. The Princeton Review also included Penn State in its Best Colleges list in 2014. Forensic-School.com ranks the forensic program at Penn State as the ninth best in the country.
University of California, Davis
If you’re interested in applying to the forensic science graduate program at the University of California, Davis, you must have a bachelor’s degree in a physical or natural science, such as biochemistry, chemistry, molecular biology, generics or engineering. The college gears the program to students who want to work as forensic scientists or criminalists in crime labs. U.C. Davis is the only college in the University of California system to offer this type of forensics degree program.
Syracuse University offers undergraduate and graduate forensics programs. Its Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute works with federal, state and local organizations to develop real-world solutions to complex threats, such as bioterrorism and direct criminal actions. Students learn how to collect and analyze evidence and detect and monitor threats.
UAB College of Arts and Sciences
Forensics-School.com ranks the forensic program at The University of Alabama at Birmingham as the sixth best in the country. It also credits the school for “doing forensics before forensics was cool.” The school offers a summer program for high school students interested in learning more about working as forensic scientists and crime scene investigators.
- Pennsylvania State University: Why Are the Number of Women in Forensic Science Higher Compared to Other STEM Fields?
- Forensic Outreach: Five Best Colleges for Forensic Science in the USA
- Pennsylvania State University: Forensic Science Program Overview
- The Princeton Review: Pennsylvania State University -- University Park
- University of California, Davis: Forensic Science Graduate Program -- Frequently Asked Questions
- UAB College of Arts and Sciences: Department of Justice Sciences
- UAB College of Arts and Sciences: Camp CSI
- Forensics-School.com: Marshall University
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.