Finding a forensics program in Washington DC can take more than just a little bit of research. After all, there are just 19 schools in the city. That may sound like a lot, but several of them are small or private or only offer a few courses in forensic science but not full degrees or programs. That’s why our list of seven top Washington DC forensics & CSI programs reaches outside the scope of the city to include schools in the greater metropolitan DC area. Most of these are within driving (or Metro) distance of the city, and provide options from the undergraduate to graduate level. Don’t take our word for it. Our list of seven top Washington DC forensics & CSI programs starts with schools offering undergraduate education and builds up to schools providing graduate level work. Depending on the type of program students complete, employment as a crime lab technician, crime scene technician, DNA analyst, forensic scientist or toxicologist could be within their reach when they are done.
Prince George’s Community College, in Largo, Maryland, provides an associate of science degree in forensic science that could be perfect for students who later want to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field. A science-based curriculum is used that when coupled with hands-on training in collecting, processing and analyzing crime scene data gives students a solid context in their understanding. Students also gain a contextual framework for the field through courses in criminal investigation, the law and physical science. Students who want to pursue further learning can take advantage of articulation agreements with the University of Baltimore or the University of Maryland University College.
George Mason University right outside of Washington, DC in Fairfax, Va., offers a bachelor’s degree, minor, master’s degree and graduate certificate to students interested in forensic science. The school’s programs are designed to help students gain knowledge about criminal procedures, expert testimony, forensic biology and chemistry, laboratory testing and trace and physical evidence analysis. They also can gain hands-on experience through the school’s forensic laboratories and Outdoor Forensic Excavation Research and Training Facility. When done, students should be prepared to seek a career in local, state or federal government, in a laboratory, or to pursue a more advanced education.
University of Maryland Global Campus students can enroll in a bachelor’s degree in investigative studies, at a campus located about 10 minutes outside of Washington, DC. Students take classes in biology, criminal justice, criminalistics, digital forensics, firearms and toolmark analysis and the physical sciences, providing them with a well-rounded education. Students also must complete 15 credits of coursework in either a digital or scientific specialization. When they are done, students should know how to use the scientific method to do analysis and draw conclusions, understand legal precedents and ethical principles and be able to synthesize evidence to come up with a theory about a crime.
Trinity Washington University, in northeast Washington, DC, offers a bachelor’s degree in forensic science with a solid grounding in the sciences of biology and chemistry. Critical thinking, data analysis and hands-on experience in the laboratory are important components of the school’s program. Featured classes include Cell and Molecular Biology, Forensic Instrumental Analysis and Organic Chemistry. When students are done, they should be prepared to seek employment in forensic science or public health laboratories or to pursue advanced education.
University of Baltimore bachelor’s degree in forensic science, offered at the campus located about half an hour north of Washington, DC, is designed specifically for transfer students and functions through a partnership with the Baltimore Police Department. In this program, students study the theories behind forensic science and gain practical application through their coursework, some of which will be completed through the Baltimore Police Department. Students also learn about the criminal justice process, evidence collection, scientific evaluation and presentation in court. Students can focus their degree in one of the two concentrations available, either forensic science or police science.
George Washington University has a master’s of forensic science (MFS) degree, a master’s of science (MS) degree and a graduate certificate, all available through its Mount Vernon campus in Northwestern DC. In the MFS program, students can complete a concentration in forensic chemistry, forensic molecular biology or forensic toxicology. The MS degree gives students two options, either in crime scene investigation or high technology crime investigation. The graduate certificate is focused on forensics investigations. More information can be found on the website of the school’s Department of Forensic Sciences, which, since 1968, has offered graduate students the chance to learn from practicing forensic science professionals.
Stevenson University, in Stevenson, Md., has an accelerated master’s degree in forensic sciences available to students who want to learn more about the value of applied science in the field. Students work with experts in the field through school partnerships developed with the Baltimore County Crime Lab and Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division. They also choose one of three tracks of study available in biology, chemistry or crime scene investigation and must complete a thesis that is based on original research. They can find campus-based and online courses to provide them with flexibility in their learning.
Barry is Managing Editor of ForensicsColleges.com, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, which he co-founded. Barry was previously VP for a financial software company, and currently sits on the board of a K-8 school and lives with his wife and daughters in the San Francisco Bay Area.