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Online Master’s Degrees in Forensic Science (MFS/MSFS)

“You have no victim to avenge, no guilty or innocent person to convict or save—you must bear testimony within the limits of science.”Dr. P.C.H. Brouardel, 19th-Century French Medico-Legalist

The term “forensic” embraces many meanings. Derived from the Latin word for a public discussion, forensic science is at its heart the process of analyzing evidence for use in a court of law. In addition, forensic science can be defined as the systematic discovery of physical matter and other criminal traces that help law enforcement reconstruct what happened at a crime scene.

While some assume that blood or fingerprints are the predominant sources of evidence in forensics, in reality, the breadcrumbs leading to a criminal perpetrator are varied and include digital documents, soil samples, explosive residues, plastics, tool marks, fibers, and toxins, to name a few. In short, the field of forensic science is complex and varied, but its centrality to public safety and the integrity of the law is undeniable.

Becoming a forensic scientist can prove a rewarding career for those interested in establishing fact- and evidence-based cases to solve crimes, specifically by deconstructing clues with reasoned analysis and scientifically based methods.

According to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), forensic scientists search for truth above all else and seek it by processing and testing varied types of evidence in a laboratory using valid, reliable techniques; writing detailed reports on findings; and testifying as expert witnesses in court to convict or acquit alleged criminals, among other duties. These professionals must be methodical, accurate, detail-oriented, and knowledgeable since forensic evidence is often sensitive.

To become a forensic scientist, a person must have proper training and credentials. While some professionals may find that a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for an entry-level position (e.g., forensic science technician), others may wish to develop more granular expertise, pursue leadership opportunities, or qualify for higher pay.

In addition to the traditional campus-based programs, there is a growing number of online master’s degrees in forensic science, which combine distance-based coursework with in-person laboratory externships or residencies completed at approved facilities. In addition, many face-to-face training experiences are completed in federal, state, or local crime labs, and some opportunities are available in private facilities.

Featured Forensic Science Graduate Programs
Arizona State University Forensic Science (PSM)Visit Site
Grand Canyon University MS - Forensic ScienceVisit Site
Stevenson University Online Online Master of Forensic Science (MFS)Visit Site
Stevenson University Online Online MFS - Biology ConcentrationVisit Site
Stevenson University Online Online MFS - Chemistry ConcentrationVisit Site

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Online master’s students generally will specialize in an aspect of forensic science at this stage, gaining expertise in areas such as chemistry, biology, criminalistics, psychology, geology, entomology, anthropology, or other subfields of this exciting discipline, many of which offer professional credentialing through certification entities approved by AAFS’s Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB). systematically gathers data about more than 200 online forensics programs in various subfields at the bachelor’s, master’s, PhD, and certificate levels. This guide examines online master’s in forensic science programs, details about the distance-based experience, and accreditation information.

Featured Online MS & MFS Programs – Forensic Science

As mentioned above, there are over 200 online forensics programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and certificate levels. Here is the complete list of online and hybrid master’s in forensic science programs:

Master of Science in Forensic Science, University of Florida

UF offers several online MS programs through its College of Pharmacy, including specializations in forensic DNA and serology; forensic toxicology; forensic drug chemistry; and forensic science. The latter comprises 32 credits of coursework in criminalistics, environmental forensics, forensic medicine, forensic anthropology, forensic DNA analysis, drug analysis, and toxicology. This program may be ideal for people seeking work in crime labs, law enforcement agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and medical examiner offices.

It’s important to note that this is an online MS program in pharmacy with a concentration in forensic sciences. Courses are conducted fully online, with no on-campus visits required, through asynchronous learning.

  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Master of Forensic Sciences, National University

The distance-based MFS program is a professional degree program ideal for those who wish to work with police departments, attorneys, lab personnel, criminal investigators, etc. This 54-quarter-credit program is offered in two specializations: investigation or criminalistics. Please note that those interested in the criminalistics track must have an undergraduate degree in laboratory sciences to qualify.

The core courses include forensic pathology; forensic anthropology; forensic photography; crime scene investigation; fingerprint analysis; digital evidence; and topics in forensic sciences.

The specialization in criminalistics includes courses such as trace evidence; advanced forensic toxicology; forensic serology and DNA; and advanced forensic DNA analysis. The specialization in investigation includes courses such as advanced criminalistics; forensic psychology; law and criminal procedure; and major case investigation.

Since tuition varies by the student’s location and the campus through which they are enrolled, please reach out to program coordinators for a cost estimate.

  • Location: More than 20 campuses in California and Nevada
  • Accreditation: WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Master of Science in Forensic Sciences, Oklahoma State University

The forensic sciences program at Oklahoma State University offers several graduate degrees in a variety of academic disciplines. The master’s program in forensic sciences offers online pathways in forensic investigative sciences (FIS); arson, explosives, firearm, and tool mark investigations (AEFTI); forensic science administration (FSA), and forensic psychology. The forensic biology/DNA (DNA) and forensic chemistry/toxicology (TOX) tracks can be completed fully online if students pursue a non-thesis degree option.

The 32-credit curriculum offers a strong background in forensic sciences and specialized topics such as criminalistics, blast injuries and effects, ethics, forensic leadership, psychology, organizational development, and the law and expert evidence.

  • Location: Tulsa, OK
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Master of Science in Forensic Science, Stevenson University

The master of forensic science degree at Stevenson University offers two areas of concentration in forensic biology and forensic chemistry equipping graduates with the ability to achieve excellence in a dynamic global community. Students will graduate with the confidence and competence needed to creatively address the problems and opportunities facing the nation, the world, and their communities. Graduates will be prepared for employment at state, federal, or local government crime laboratories, DNA testing facilities, forensics laboratories, the biotechnology industry, or continued study at the doctoral level.

The program comprises 36 credits. Core courses include survey of forensic science; physical evidence at crime scenes; crime lab: structure and operations; thesis development in forensic science; forensic science thesis; and expert witness preparation and practice.

The concentration in forensic biology includes courses such as serology and immunology; DNA analysis; and forensic DNA computer applications. The forensic chemistry concentration includes courses in trace evidence; drug analysis; and forensic toxicology.

  • Location: Owings Mills, MD
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education’s (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Master of Science in Forensic Science, University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida offers an online master of science in forensic science program that is designed for both full-time students and practicing professionals. With both thesis and non-thesis options, students can earn this degree in forensic science in as little as two years.

With three concentration options in forensic professional (non-thesis); forensic analysis (thesis); and forensic biochemistry (thesis), students will be able to focus on the area they are most passionate about. Graduates will be prepared to harness the power of modern forensic topics and technologies to lead forensic investigations.

No prior forensic science experience is required for admission, however GRE scores must be submitted.

Consisting of 32 to 34 credits, the program includes courses such as topics in forensic science; the forensic expert in the courtroom; quality assurance for forensic scientists; forensic analysis of ignitable liquids; and forensic analysis of biological materials.

  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a Forensic Science Concentration, Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University offers an online master of science program in criminal justice enhancing the professionalism and effectiveness of both active and aspiring law enforcement professionals. This program has a concentration in forensic science that introduces students to how forensic science is used in the field of criminal justice.

This 36-credit program requires students to successfully complete the five core courses, the four forensic science courses, and two elective courses. Core courses include ethical issues in criminal justice administration; legal issues in criminal justice administration; public policy making in criminal justice; leadership applications in criminal justice; and an applied project in criminal justice administration.

Courses in the forensic science concentration include introduction to forensic science; advanced forensic science; forensic and medicolegal death investigation; and crime scene investigation and management.

  • Location: Saint Leo, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months or fewer

Professional Science Master of Forensic Science, Florida International University

The professional science master’s program offered by the Florida International University is an innovative program that enables graduates to pursue advanced training while developing highly-valued management skills. Offering a cross-cutting forensic science curriculum with coursework in public administration and business, this program provides professional development opportunities for management and supervision.

Students gain graduate-level forensic science knowledge and the ability to apply it in operational forensic organizations. Courses are delivered in a flexible online delivery format with practical exercises.

All students in this program must select either the forensic management track or the veterinary forensic science investigation track. Made up of 33 credits, the program includes courses such as forensic analysis; forensic biology; forensic chemistry; forensic DNA chemistry; public finance & budgetary process; advanced topics medicolegal investigations; and advanced forensic and legal aspects of animal cruelty.

Notably, Florida International University also has an on-campus master of science program in forensic science that is FEPAC-accredited.

  • Location: Miami, FL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Professional Science Master’s in Forensic Science, Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers an online professional science master’s in forensic science allowing professionals working in law enforcement, forensic science, medical, and legal professions to elevate their careers in research and management. Best suited for those who are currently in forensic science fields, this program is designed to help graduates advance their careers and develop skills related to leadership roles in this space.

Courses in this program provide students with the opportunity to simultaneously explore forensic science ethics, as well as their leadership abilities in this field. Students will also have the opportunity to utilize their current experience and skills in a culminating applied project at the end of the program.

Courses in this 30-credit program include ethics in forensic science; forensic science and governance; laboratory leadership, policy, and practice; advanced forensic psychology; criminal procedure of investigations for social and forensic scientists; forensic botany; forensic entomology; forensic toxicology; and quantitative methods in forensic science research.

Graduates will be able to take up roles such as forensic nurses, forensic engineers, forensic anthropologists, crime or forensic laboratory directors, managers, supervisors, and attorneys.

Applicants to this program must have a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degree in a related field such as chemistry, biology, toxicology, or physics, or in a social science field such as psychology, sociology, criminology, or criminal justice from a regionally accredited institution.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Master of Science in Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation, University of Maryland Global Campus

The University of Maryland Global Campus offers a master of science in digital forensics and cyber investigation. This 36-credit program prepares graduates for investigative leadership and cybersecurity careers, protecting private companies and government organizations from cyber threats and bringing digital criminals to justice.

The US Department of Homeland Security awarded the UMGC program with a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Graduates from this program go on to work as special agents, IT directors, chief information security officers, cryptologic managers, and technical directors.

This 36-credit program includes courses such as communicating, problem-solving, and leading in cybersecurity; cyberspace and cybersecurity foundations; digital forensics technology and practices; digital forensic response and analysis; advanced forensics; and a cybersecurity capstone.

  • Location: Largo, MD
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Master of Science in Crime Scene Investigation, Stevenson University

In addition to the master of forensic science program mentioned earlier, Stevenson University offers five more online master’s related to forensic science. These include crime scene investigation; cybersecurity and digital forensics; forensic accounting; forensic investigation; and forensic studies.

The master of science in crime scene investigation prepares its graduates to become crime scene investigators, crime scene photographers, crime scene technicians, evidence technicians, fingerprint and DNA specialists, forensic artists, and forensic scientists.

The program’s 36-credit curriculum includes courses such as survey of forensic science; crime scene photography; seminar in forensic science; thesis development in forensic science; forensic science thesis; expert witness preparation and practice; crime scene investigation; and pattern analysis.

Stevenson University is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA) Academy Alliance, which provides a 20 percent tuition reduction and waives the GRE requirement and application fee when applying to the program.

  • Location: Owings Mills, MD
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Master of Science in Media Forensics (Hybrid), University of Colorado Denver

The University of Colorado at Denver offers a hybrid master of science in media forensics (MSMF). Most courses are online, with five weeks of in-person residencies spread over the two-year program. These experiential learning visits include time spent in regional crime laboratories and attending scientific conferences focused on applying forensic investigation techniques with audio-visual equipment.

Graduates from this program go on to work in federal, state, and local law enforcement, academic research and teaching, private practice, and corporate research and development.

The curriculum includes courses such as forensic science and litigation; research practices in media forensics; foundations in media forensics; computer forensics; mobile phone forensics; forensic audio analysis; forensic video and image analysis; and a research thesis in media forensics.

  • Location: Denver, CO
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 30 months

Master of Science in Forensic Science, Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University’s College of Natural Sciences offers an online master of science program in forensic science that is designed for professionals looking to advance their careers in the forensic science field as well as for those aiming to begin working in crime scene processing, forensic science, medicolegal and criminal professions, and law enforcement.

The program’s unique curriculum works provides hands-on, in-home laboratory activities and equipment preparing graduates for the analysis of several forms of forensic evidence. Graduates of this program will be able to gain knowledge and skills across a vast array of forensic science competencies, such as integrity and ethical principles in forensic science, laboratory quality management, applied forensic statistical analysis, forensic toxicology, effective courtroom testimony, impression evidence comparison, and more.

Applicants to the program must have a bachelor’s degree in forensic science (or another natural, physical, or biomedical science) or a bachelor’s degree in any field, including coursework in organic chemistry, chemistry, advanced biology, and statistics.

Comprising 36 credits, the program includes courses such as crime scene processing and medicolegal death investigation; applied statistics for forensic science; microscopy and instrumental analysis methods in forensic science; advanced body fluid and DNA analysis; general principles of drug chemistry and forensic toxicology; advanced topics in forensic science; and courtroom presentation of scientific evidence.

Graduates in this degree may also pursue additional skills and specializations in bloodstain pattern analysis, medical examination, forensic pathology, and analytical chemistry.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Master of Science in Digital Forensic Science, Champlain College Online

Champlain College Online offers a fully online master of science in digital forensic science (MSDFS). The college is nationally recognized as a cybersecurity and computer forensics education leader and was designated in 2006 as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the US Department of Homeland Security.

The program curriculum focuses on 34 scripting languages and cloud- and software-based applications and leadership and communication skills tailored to the field of digital forensics. Graduates from this program pursue careers in computer and information research science and information security analysis.

This 30 to 36-credit program includes courses such as computer forensics lab operation & management; digital forensics and encryption; digital investigations for civil litigation; incident response and network forensics; scripting for digital forensics; the practice of digital investigations; digital forensic science; and mobile device analysis.

Graduates will be ready to take up positions such as computer forensics investigators, digital forensics analysts, digital forensics examiners, and digital forensics consultants.

  • Location: Burlington, VT
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

In addition to the above programs, there’s a wealth of distance-based master’s programs in various forensics subfields. To explore the options, please check out the main online forensics programs page.

Admissions to Online Master’s in Forensic Science Programs

The admissions requirements to online master’s degree programs in forensic science are similar to their on-campus counterparts. Admissions offices typically ask for the following:

  • Completed application with processing fee
  • Official transcripts from a qualifying undergraduate program with proof of prerequisite coursework (e.g., biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, calculus, statistics)
  • Competitive GPA (e.g., >3.0)
  • Personal statement (500-600 words)

Please note that specific tracks within forensic science (e.g., biochemistry) may have additional course prerequisites. Additionally, some programs may require test scores, a candidate interview, a resume, or letters of recommendation.

Accreditation & State Authorization of Forensic Science Programs

Finally, before applying to any online master’s program in forensic science, aspiring students are encouraged to verify the program’s accreditation and state authorization statuses.

Accreditation is a process of programmatic or institutional approval where an established entity evaluates the quality of facilities, curriculum, or faculty; the administration of finances; and student outcomes, among other measures of merit.

As previously mentioned, the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) is the gold standard in evaluating forensic science programs. As of February 2024, 52 United States and Canada programs met the rigorous FEPAC accreditation standards.

In addition to programmatic accreditation, forensic science schools can also have institutional accreditation, bestowed by an entire educational institution. Institutional accreditation is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Six CHEA-approved accreditation agencies approve institutions in different regions of the country:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Due to differing laws governing distance-based education, online forensic science schools may not be able to enroll students from certain states. This information is typically available on a program’s website or retrieved from program coordinators. Prospective students can learn more about state authorization by visiting the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) webpage.


Rachel Drummond, MEd

Rachel Drummond has given her writing expertise to since 2019, where she provides a unique perspective on the intersection of education, mindfulness, and the forensic sciences. Her work encourages those in the field to consider the role of mental and physical well-being in their professional success.

Rachel is a writer, educator, and coach from Oregon. She has a master’s degree in education (MEd) and has over 15 years of experience teaching English, public speaking, and mindfulness to international audiences in the United States, Japan, and Spain. She writes about the mind-body benefits of contemplative movement practices like yoga on her blog, inviting people to prioritize their unique version of well-being and empowering everyone to live healthier and more balanced lives.