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Forensics Colleges in Arkansas

With terrain ranging from the majestic Ozark mountains to the lowlands of the Mississippi Delta, Arkansas (AR) is a state that sits in the midst of the beautiful American South. Though it may not be the tourist mecca of nearby regions like New Orleans or have the white sandy beaches of the Gulf coast, Arkansas still plays an important part in U.S. geography and its economy.

Those ambitious citizens in Arkansas considering a career in forensic science have several options in what is known as “The Natural State.” Both on-campus and online opportunities are available for those who are willing to study and work hard towards this challenging career.

So what can a person expect from a forensics college in Arkansas? O*NET (2024)—a data group sponsored by the US Department of Labor—reports that forensic science technicians must be trained in a variety of skills including collecting, analyzing, and carefully documenting evidence from crime scenes; liaising with medical, law enforcement, and other professionals; performing laboratory tests on multiple types of evidence (e.g., fingerprints, bodily fluids, hair, fibers, soils, documents, electronics, tool marks, etc); and testifying as expert witnesses in court. It’s important to note that there are many specialties in forensics, such as criminalistics, toxicology, forensic accounting, cybercrime, DNA analyses, document examination, ballistics, arson investigations, and other subfields.

Keep reading to learn about the forensic science colleges available to students in Arkansas and beyond.

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How To Become a Forensic Scientist in Arkansas

Becoming a forensic scientist in Arkansas depends on developing a strong educational foundation. With nearly a third of forensic science professionals holding a bachelor’s degree, showing academic dedication is critical to getting started in this career. The following is just one potential path for an aspiring forensic technician, but it is among the most common paths followed.

Step 1: Graduate High School (Four Years)

According to Career One Stop, 96 percent of forensic science technicians have at least a high school diploma or GED. Completing high school is virtually a requirement for forensic science professionals. High school students interested in pursuing this career should aim to do well in all their coursework but pay special attention to science courses like biology and chemistry.

Step 2: Earn an Undergraduate Degree (Two to Four Years)

A career in forensic science requires a strong background in the scientific method, data collection, and careful analysis, which is best learned in an undergraduate science program. While a specific forensic science degree is not a requirement, a bachelor’s degree with a science focus (chemistry, biology, etc.) is generally the minimum education required for work in a crime lab.

Step 3: Become Professionally Certified (Timeline Varies)

Upon graduation from an undergraduate program, most forensic scientists will find an entry-level position at a lab or with a police department. After some entry-level work, technicians who wish to specialize further often seek professional certification from a certifying body. Professional certification is available in a range of fields. As of 2024, the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) has approved nine different organizations to issue professional certification, with certification available in forensic toxicology, forensic document examination, forensic anthropology, and odontology.

Step 4: Earn a Graduate Degree (Timeline Varies)

Around 11 percent of forensic science technicians have a master’s degree and an additional 3 percent of forensic technicians have a professional degree or PhD. Earning a graduate degree is not required in order to find success in this career, but those who do may be more likely to obtain professional advancement opportunities, particularly if they want to work in academia.

Occupational Demand and Salary Data in Arkansas

With just 150 forensic science technicians currently employed in Arkansas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, competition for jobs can be significant (BLS May 2024). That said, there is excellent news for aspiring forensics professionals in Arkansas: forensic science is a field on the rise.

As proof of point, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023) projects that openings for forensic science technicians will increase 13 percent between 2022 and 2032, much faster than the growth rate expected for all occupations during that period (3 percent). This expected addition of 2,300 positions nationally is only one career possibility for people trained in forensic science.

The outlook is even brighter for residents of Arkansas. Projections Central (2024) found that demand for forensic science technicians in Arkansas, specifically, is expected to grow 17.6 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Following the completion of a degree program and specialized training, people with degrees in forensics may pursue jobs as crime scene investigators, laboratory scientists, toxicologists, medical examiners, forensic engineers, cybercrime analysts, forensic accountants, criminal profilers, forensic nurses, odontologists, document examiners, arson investigators, and more.

There is an abundance of places of employment for aspiring professionals in forensics. The BLS states that 60 percent of forensic science technicians work for the local government. Additionally, depending on a person’s specialty, they may work in private laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, ecological research institutes, biomedical research organizations, private investigation (PI) offices, law firms, insurance companies, and other businesses seeking forensic expertise. Although many forensics specialists work during normal business hours, due to the nature of the profession, those who work in criminal investigations may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2023) reported that there were 150 forensic science technicians in the state.

Furthermore, BLS found that the salary figures are much lower than the national salary ranges. As proof of point, the United States employs 17,520 forensic science technicians with an average annual salary (mean annual wage) of $71,540. In AR, the average salary in this field is $46,960.

In more detailed terms, here is a breakdown of the salary percentiles among all forensic science technicians in the country compared with those in AR (BLS May 2023):

United States Arkansas
Number of Forensic Science Technicians Employed 17,520 150
Annual Mean Wage $71,540 $46,960
10th percentile $41,410 $34,900
25th percentile $50,480 $41,660
50th percentile $64,940 $46,970
75th percentile $84,720 $52,730
90th percentile $107,490 $54,720

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (April 2024), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the forensic science techs reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles for the US:

  • 10th percentile: $30,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,565
  • 90th percentile: $65,000

Although the wages in AR are much lower than the national averages in forensics occupations, it’s important to note that the cost of living is also significantly lower in Arkansas. For illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2024) found that AR ranked 7th among all American states with respect to affordability, boasting savings in the realm of transportation and housing costs.

When searching for a forensic program, prospective students will want to consider accreditation. The only recognized programmatic accreditation for forensic science programs comes from the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission, also known as FEPAC. Unfortunately, there are no FEPAC-accredited programs in Arkansas as of 2024, which means students should instead look for institutionally accredited schools. Each of the schools below has earned accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Arkansas

In partnership with the Criminal Justice Institute, the University of Arkansas offers a 60-credit associate degree in the field of crime scene investigation, a 31-credit technical certificate in crime scene investigation, as well as a 15-credit certificate of proficiency in crime scene investigation. Both certificates are embedded in the AAS in crime scene investigation program.

The curriculum includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; world civilizations; sociology; advanced crime scene special topics; quantitative literacy; law enforcement certification; and general psychology.

Notably, the university also offers a 60-credit associate degree in criminal justice for those who wish to transfer into a bachelor’s program majoring in criminal justice.

  • Location: Hope, AR; Texarkana, AR
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One to two years

Arkansas State University at Beebe

Arkansas State University at Beebe offers a two-year associate of science degree and a two-year associate of applied science degree in criminal justice. The university also offers technical certificates and certificates of proficiency in four areas: law enforcement, community policing, criminal investigation science, and wildlife enforcement. These degrees can be earned onsite or online.

Arkansas State University’s criminal justice program balances hands-on technical training with classroom instruction and helps students develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed on the job and meet the demands of the ever-changing law-enforcement profession.

The curriculum includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; introduction to law enforcement; community relations in the administration of justice; criminal investigation; criminal evidence and procedure; victimology; ethical dilemmas; and criminal profiling.

  • Location: Beebe, AR
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years

University of Arkansas at Fort Smith

University of Arkansas at Fort Smith offers a bachelor of science program in criminal justice providing students with the perfect blend of scientific facts, theory, concepts, and practical training. This comprehensive program allows students to dissect and understand criminal justice issues and identify practical solutions to criminal justice system problems. The program can be completed on campus or online.

Made up of 120 credits, the program includes courses such as legal aspects of law enforcement; crime scene documentation; criminalistics: an introduction to forensic science; juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice; courts and criminal procedure; correctional systems and practices; police systems and practices; and criminology.

  • Location: Fort Smith, AR
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

Harding University

Harding University offers a bachelor of science program in forensic science preparing students for careers in this rapidly growing field. Technological advancement has made solving crimes more dependent than ever on trace analysis of evidence left by criminals at crime scenes.

Forensic science techs or scientists play a crucial role in the system by providing scientifically-based information through the analysis of physical evidence. This major serves as a pathway to a range of careers and provides a solid foundation in chemistry and other sciences, while also providing students with a detailed understanding of the criminal justice system.

Consisting of 128 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; criminal procedure; evidence; forensic science; criminal investigation; forensic chemistry; biostatistics; instrumental methods of chemical analysis; and research methods in chemistry.

Notably, Harding University also offers a 128-credit bachelor of science program in criminal justice providing students with knowledge regarding the roles of prosecution, law enforcement, courts, defense, corrections, laws, probation and parole, juvenile justice systems, and other governmental agencies as they relate to social order.

  • Location: Searcy, AR
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

NorthWest Arkansas Community College

NorthWest Arkansas Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in criminal justice providing students with knowledge of the criminal justice system and the several agencies and processes established by the government to control crime and impose penalties on those who violate laws. Students in this program will also be able to take advantage of internship opportunities to gain further hands-on experience in the field.

Specialization options are available in areas such as forensic science; crime prevention and corrections; justice studies; child advocacy; and law enforcement.

The 60 to 62-credit curriculum includes courses such as law enforcement in society; introduction to criminology; criminal law & society; criminal procedures; criminal investigation; corrections; police administration; introduction to forensic anthropology; criminalistics; and crime scene investigation.

  • Location: Bentonville, AR
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years

National Park College

Combining practical skills and theoretical knowledge in forensic photography, crime scene investigation and documentation, fingerprinting, criminology, public administration, social justice, law, and corrections and providing a thorough understanding of the United States criminal justice system, National Park College offers a 60-credit associate of applied science degree criminal justice as well as a nine-credit certificate of proficiency in criminal justice.

The curriculum includes courses such as legal systems & terminology; introduction to criminal justice; criminalistics; criminalistics; criminal procedures and evidence; crime scene documentation; criminology; police organization and management; criminal law; juvenile justice and delinquency; and introduction to corrections.

  • Location: Hot Springs, AR
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One to two years

Hybrid & Online Options

Arkansas students interested in attending school online have several options.

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University’s main campus at Jonesboro offers a bachelor of arts degree in criminology completely online. This fully online program combines sociology, political science, and criminology courses to help students learn about the factors that lead to delinquent behaviors, criminal justice systems, crime reduction strategies, and social research methodology.

Comprising 120 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; criminal evidence and procedure; criminology; criminal justice systems; institutional corrections; community corrections; police and society; juvenile delinquency; and criminal law and constitution.

Graduates will be prepared for roles such as criminal investigators, recruiters, community supervision officers, community service managers, and police officers.

  • Location: Jonesboro, AR
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

Champlain College Online

Champlain College Online has a host of online opportunities in this field. These include:

  • an online bachelor’s degree program in economic crime investigation
  • an online bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice
  • an online undergraduate certificate program in forensic accounting
  • an online bachelor’s degree program in computer forensics & digital investigations
  • an online master’s degree program in digital forensic science
  • an online graduate certificate program in digital forensic science
  • an online graduate certificate program in digital forensics & incident response
  • an online master’s degree program in information technology with digital forensics & incident response (MS)

Graduates of Champlain’s bachelor’s degree in computer forensics and digital investigations degree will be prepared to enter digital forensics roles in a variety of settings, including crime laboratories, mid- to large-sized corporations, large municipalities, and state and national law enforcement agencies.

This 63-credit program includes courses such as criminal law; criminal procedure; criminal investigation; digital forensic investigation techniques; malware forensics; digital forensic analysis; anti-forensics and network forensics; operating system forensics; mobile forensics; and file forensics.

Graduates of this program will be able to take up roles such as computer crime investigators, computer forensics analysts, computer forensics examiners, and digital forensics specialists.

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

See also our listing of online programs available at the graduate, undergraduate, and certificate levels, broken down by specialization such as computer forensics or forensic psychology.

Professional Certification In Forensics

Prerequisites for certification typically include completion of a formal training program; one- to three years of experience in the field; professional references; and completing an examination.

There are a variety of organizations that provide professional certification to forensic science professionals nationwide. The Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) has recognized nine specialty organizations including:

  • American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (ABFDE)
  • International Board of Forensic Engineering Sciences (IBFES)
  • American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO)
  • American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA)
  • American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT)
  • American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI)
  • Board of Forensic Document Examiners (BFDE)
  • International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI)
  • International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS)

Those who wish to have detailed information on credentialing within each subfield of forensics can visit our programs or careers page.


Students attending forensic science colleges in Arkansas or elsewhere should ensure that the school has received accreditation from a notable agency. Most often a school will be accredited through a regional accrediting agency as the State University of Arkansas is by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of College and Schools. Forensic science programs and schools can also be accredited through the American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS). The AAFS offers accreditation via its FEPAC arm. As mentioned above, as of 2024, no program in Arkansas holds FEPAC accreditation.

Requirements for professional certification differ for each specialty. Some specialties require a certain number of hours of professional experience while others require a very specific educational background.

Ultimately, students should investigate their chosen specialty thoroughly to ensure that they are earning an education that will be applicable to their future career goals.


Willow Dawn Becker

Willow is a blogger, parent, former educator and regular contributor to When she's not writing about forensic science, you'll find her blogging about education online, or enjoying the beauty of Oregon.