2019 Best Master's in Forensic Science Online Programs

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The best online master's degrees in forensic science are offered by these five universities. University of Central Florida is the least expensive school on the list, with an annual tuition of only $9,572. Forensic science students at University of Central Florida have two options: an MS in Digital Forensics and an MS in Forensic Science. Graduates of top-ranked Florida International University report earning a median salary of $97,224, making it a good return on investment for prospective students.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about SR Education Group.

Find an Online Degree:
Rank School Annual Tuition Median Salary
#1 #1 Florida International University $10,500 $97,224
#2 #2 University of Central Florida $9,572 $94,282
#3 #3 University of New Haven $13,725 $90,221
#4 #4 Nova Southeastern University $11,325 $79,814
#5 #5 National University $13,760 $73,100
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo. Updated 2018.
  • Annual Tuition: $10,500
  • Median Salary: $97,224
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Florida International University offers a Professional Master of Science in Forensic Science (PMSFS). The 32 credit program includes 23 credits in technical forensics and 9 credits in business. This cohort based PMSFS can be completed in 16 months and prepares students for careers in management in the forensics field. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in a science field, a 3.0 GPA and GRE scores. An on-campus summer residency is required, as is an internship. Faculty at FIU's National Forensic Science Technology Center are active in forensics research. Yearly tuition is priced at $8,330 for residents and $18,158 non-residents. Courses include Forensic Biology, Forensic Chemistry, Chemistry and Analysis of Drugs and Intermediate Statistics. FIU is one of the most diverse universities in the country.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,572
  • Median Salary: $94,282
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of Central Florida offers an online Master of Science in Forensic Science. A bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA is required for admission, and undergraduate degrees in science are preferred. The program is 34 credits, and requires a capstone project rather than a thesis. Courses in the program include Forensic Analysis of Explosives, Forensic Molecular Biology, and Kinetics and Catalysis. Faculty at UCF's National Center for Forensic Science often collaborate with business and industry professionals, as well as regional law enforcement; meaning they can offer extensive professional contacts in the field. Tuition is priced at $327.32 per credit for residents and $694.82 for non-residents, and UCF offers career services and academic assistance for online students. UCF, located in Orlando, is Florida's largest university.

Online Master's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $13,725
  • Median Salary: $90,221
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NECHE
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The University of New Haven's online Master of Science in Investigations has three options. Students chose concentrations in Criminal Investigations, Financial Crimes, or Digital Forensics. Financial Crime looks at cybercrime and fraud, while Digital Forensics focuses on how to protect an organization's digital presence, and Criminal Investigation offers tools for career enhancement for students already in law enforcement. The overall program focus is white collar crime, and UNH offers a discount for Connecticut firefighters and police. Each 30 credit program can be completed in under two years, with 15 credits required from core courses and the remainder in the student's concentration. This UNH program was the first of its kind in the country, and admission requires a bachelor's with a 3.0 GPA. Tuition is $915 per credit.

  • Annual Tuition: $11,325
  • Median Salary: $79,814
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Nova Southeastern University offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a focus in Investigative Forensic Technology; one of twelve concentrations available for the MSCJ program. All concentrations are offered online, with each program requiring 40 credits; 15 credits from core courses, 15 from the Forensic concentration and an additional 10 from required practical courses like U.S. Health Policy. Degrees may be completed in under two years by taking more than two courses per semester, and courses include Crime Scene, Forensic Analysis of Trace and Drug Evidence, and Firearms, Fingerprints and other Impression Evidence. Admission requires a bachelor's with a 2.5 GPA, and tuition is priced at $755 per credit, with a 20% discount for law enforcement, veterans, military and first responders. Though NSU is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, there is extensive support for online students.

  • Annual Tuition: $13,760
  • Median Salary: $73,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC ACCJC and WASC WSCUC
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National University offers an online Master of Forensic Science degree, with concentrations in either Criminalistics or Investigations. The program requires 54 quarter credit hours, 36 required from core courses, and the remainder from the student's area of specialization and electives. The Criminalistics track requires a bachelor's in a lab science, while the Investigations concentration accepts a bachelor's in any subject. The Criminalistics concentration focuses on lab analysis, with courses including Forensic Medicine and Pathology, and Advanced Forensic toxicology. Investigations courses include Forensic Photography, Forensic Pathology, and Criminal Profiling. NU is military friendly and offers extensive support for online students, with tuition priced at $430 per credit on the quarter system.

Online Master's in Forensic Science Overview

The master's degree in forensic science is a two- or three-year degree. Students who are taking full-time courses take two to three per academic semester or quarter. To qualify for a spot in one of these programs, students must have a bachelor's degree and, oftentimes, some experience in forensics or law enforcement.

Earning a master's degree in forensic science is ideally a hands-on endeavor. Students will put their problem-solving skills to the test, sorting out actual crimes based on given evidence, learning how to interrogate or question people, and learning how to look for evidence that may not be obvious. There may be some technical training, working with forensics analysis software and general equipment. Students will get specialized experience by taking on an internship or relevant part-time job or by completing a master's thesis on a topic of their choice.

A master's degree in forensic science can make it easier to get your foot in the door at federal or state investigative agencies, which are usually very selective about whom they hire. Still, having experience is key, and even with a master's degree, some graduates will have to start in entry-level positions. Many investigators were originally police officers. Federal agencies are also more apt to hire people who have master's degrees, as they work on some of the most challenging and high-profile crimes. With experience and the education provided by a master's degree, a forensic scientist can choose to work privately, as there are many private investigation agencies that work on everything from violent crimes to missing persons.

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