Georgia (GA), also known as the Empire State of the South, offers abundant opportunities to forensic science people. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) 2021 Crime Statistics Summary Report, there were 745 reported murders across the state.
However, these aren’t the only cases requiring careful evidence collection, documentation, and analysis by a skilled forensic scientist. A majority of the crimes committed in Georgia, according to the report, were non-violent and related to the theft of personal property. There were 4,103 cases of robbery reported, 2.18 percent of all crimes in the state. In these cases, forensic scientists assist in collecting biological, chemical, or physical evidence to discover the perpetrator’s identity.
For people interested in crime-solving, there are many forensic science schools in Georgia to provide proper training. Coincidentally, the state motto embodies the core of a successful forensic investigation: “Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation.”
Read on to discover how to become a forensic scientist in Georgia and the occupational demand, featured forensic science colleges, program accreditation, and professional certification.
There are several paths to becoming a forensic scientist or forensic science technician in Georgia. Some candidates receive hands-on crime training at a police academy and pursue associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees in forensics later on.
As access to quality forensic science programs increases, it is becoming increasingly common to pursue one’s education and credentials before joining any number of investigative occupations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most forensic science technicians have at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify for entry-level positions.
Here is one direct path to becoming a forensic scientist in Georgia:
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2021), 700 forensic science technicians are employed in Georgia. This is one of many occupations that people trained in forensic science pursue. Alternatively, graduates from forensic science colleges in Georgia become crime scene investigators (CSIs), detectives, laboratory managers, handwriting analysts, forensic pathologists, and other related professions.
The BLS (May 2021) provides a breakdown of the annual salary ranges for the 700 forensic science technicians in Georgia, who commanded an average annual salary of $50,910 and the following percentiles:
In hourly figures, these equated to an average of $24.47 per hour, and these percentiles:
Unsurprisingly, the highest employment regions tend to be located around major urban centers. In fact, 490 of the 700 forensic science technicians in GA worked in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area and earned an average annual salary of $51,880, higher than the state average (BLS May 2021). Here were the annual salary percentiles for that region of Georgia:
Additionally, there are several employment opportunities for those trained in forensic science in Georgia. The (BLS 2022) projected an 11 percent explosion in job openings nationwide for forensic science technicians between 2021 and 2031, much more robust than the average growth expected across all occupations during that period (5 percent).
Some of the common employing organizations across the state include:
Finally, there are many resources to provide support and further training to forensic scientists in Georgia. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) offers a comprehensive list of societies, professional organizations, conferences, publications, employment opportunities, and more, all related to the varied fields of forensics.
Georgia is host to many quality forensic science programs, including one bachelor’s program in forensic science accredited by the prestigious Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC):
Albany State University’s FEPAC-accredited forensic science bachelor of science (BS) degree program is offered through the College of Sciences and Technology. Through its rigorous coursework and supervised externship opportunities, Albany State aims to prepare aspiring professionals in forensic chemistry, microscopy, toxicology, photography, fingerprinting, and DNA.
Furthermore, this competitive program has received grants from the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense. It is the only established forensics program among HBCU (i.e., Historically Black Colleges and Universities) institutions nationwide.
This 124-credit program includes courses such as organic chemistry; scientific mathematics; quantitative analysis; principles of genetics; forensic photography; forensic serology; forensic chemistry; controlled substance; introduction to criminal justice; and evidence collection in scientific crime investigation.
There are several other notable forensic science colleges in Georgia, such as:
Savannah State University offers a bachelor of science (BS) in forensic science program through its College of Sciences and Technology. Students choose between two specialty tracks: chemistry or biology.
This “highly marketable interdisciplinary degree” requires core coursework in personal identification with DNA, drug abuse and analysis, and a forensic science seminar. Additionally, several electives are offered to accommodate more specialized interests, such as computer forensics, lab biotechnology, and forensic photography. Students must complete a total of 123 credits to graduate.
Courses in the forensic biology track include microbiology; genetics; cell biology; organic chemistry; elementary statistics; and principles of chemistry. The forensic chemistry concentration includes courses such as physical chemistry; instrumental analysis; analytical chemistry; chemistry research methods; and principles of biology.
Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro provides a crime scene investigation (CSI) certificate through its criminal justice program. Students complete fundamental courses such as methods of criminal investigation and crime scene processing. This hands-on program may be ideal for those looking to work in police departments.
This 12-credit program introduces students to several careers in this rapidly growing field of forensic science. Additionally, students will gain an introductory exposure to skills and knowledge that may encourage further academic preparation in forensic technology careers such as death investigation, crime scene investigation, evidence technology, laboratory technology, general forensic science, forensic computer science, or criminal justice fields.
Georgia Piedmont Technical College offers a crime scene investigation (forensics) technical certificate program providing students with the introductory exposure to skills and knowledge that relate to evidence collection, crime scene reconstruction, courtroom testimony, and documentation and report writing. Graduates of this program will be prepared to pursue diverse opportunities in forensic technology careers such as death investigation, crime scene investigation, evidence technology, laboratory technology, general forensic science, and criminal justice fields.
Made up of 22 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to forensic science; crime scene investigation; documentation and report preparation; case preparation and courtroom testimony; and composition and rhetoric.
Southern Crescent Technical College of Griffin, Georgia, offers a 64-credit forensic science degree with coursework in criminal justice; anatomy and physiology; crime scene investigation; death investigation; methods of criminal investigation; crime scene processing; and documentation and report preparation, among other classes.
SCTC also provides a 12-credit forensic science fundamentals certificate and a 51-credit forensic science technology diploma. It also offers three closely related criminal justice programs that award a 12-credit technical certificate, a 48-credit diploma, and a 60-credit AAS degree.
American Intercontinental University in Atlanta hosts a 180-credit bachelor of science (BS) degree in criminal justice with a forensic science specialty. Notably, this program is also offered online with training in forensic biology, psychopathology and criminality, and criminal investigation.
The curriculum includes courses such as introduction to criminology; introduction to criminal law; foundations of corrections; juvenile justice & delinquency theory; constitutional issues in criminal procedures; criminalistics; medicolegal death investigation; and crime victim studies.
These are only a few of the forensics programs available. Here are some other renowned forensic science colleges in GA, including some with distance-based programs:
The University of West Georgia offers an undergraduate certificate in forensic sciences that uses lectures, fieldwork, and lab to prepare students for careers in biology, anthropology, chemistry, or criminology, with a focus on forensic applications. This 16 to 17-credit program includes courses such as forensic anthropology; human osteology; entomology; drug abuse; criminal investigations; field methods in physical anthropology or archaeological field research; and modern forensic science.
The university also offers a 120-credit bachelor of science degree in criminal justice with courses in criminal law; criminal procedure; criminology; corrections; criminal justice research methodology; and ethical issues in criminal justice.
The University of North Georgia offers a bachelor of science in criminal justice with a forensic science concentration preparing students for various crime scene investigation positions. The program’s faculty includes former practitioners with more than 30 years of combined experience. The program offers hands-on experience and a robust internship program with many networking opportunities.
This 120-credit program includes courses such as criminal procedures; juvenile justice; corrections; criminology; research methods in criminal justice; criminal investigations; drug identification & investigation; criminal forensics; evidence; death investigation; and criminal typologies.
Augusta University offers a bachelor of science in chemistry with a forensic science track. The forensic science concentration emphasizes biochemical and chemical analysis providing students with a flexible curriculum allowing them to customize their education to suit their career aspirations.
This 124-credit program includes coursework in principles of chemistry; organic chemistry; laboratory management and safety; forensic chemistry; biochemistry; integrated laboratory; principles of medicinal chemistry; and judicial process.
Georgia State University offers a bachelor of science program in criminal justice with two available academic concentrations that can be earned online or on campus: legal studies or crime and justice. The concentration in legal studies is designed for those who desire more intensive exposure to the law while the crime and justice concentration provides a blend of traditional criminal justice curriculum and forward-thinking emphasis on digital criminology.
Made up of 120 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; policing in America; social science and the American crime problem; corrections; and American criminal courts.
Georgia State University also offers a 36-credit master of science program in criminal justice offered at the Atlanta campus. The program includes courses such as theory and practice in criminal justice; criminological theory; research methods in criminal justice; statistics in criminal justice; and legal aspects of criminal justice.
With rapidly expanding access to technology, schools have been developing distance education options for students who cannot attend more traditional, campus-based programs. ForensicsColleges.com has gathered a compendium of online forensic science programs of varying levels and organized them by specialty to meet the needs of students regardless of their location.
As mentioned above, American Intercontinental University (AIU) offers its bachelor of science (BS) in criminal justice program through its Atlanta campus and provides online coursework. AIU offers an optional specialization in forensic science, to make attending school more convenient for working professionals, parents, and people with other types of obligations.
The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University also offers a fully online master’s of information systems (MIS) degree program in criminal justice. In 2022, the U.S. News & World Report ranked this criminal justice program #18 on the list of best criminology schools. The online master’s in criminal justice program earned a #22 spot on the list of best online master’s in criminal justice programs in the nation.
Being one of the only online master’s degree programs in forensic science in Georgia, this program also offers a law enforcement leadership academy allowing students with professional experience to complete the program faster with pre-approval. This 30-credit MIS program can be taken on a full- or part-time schedule requiring approximately two or three years to finish depending on the number of courses taken each semester. A capstone is required to complete this degree, and students and their advisor committee select research topics.
Graduates from this program go to work for federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations.
These are only a few of the online forensics programs available from GA-based campuses. Again, Georgia residents may qualify for programs located in other states and are encouraged to check out the main page for online forensic science degree programs.
The primary accrediting body for forensics programs nationwide is the Forensic Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). There is currently one FEPAC-accredited bachelor’s program in Georgia at Albany State.
While graduating from a FEPAC-accredited program is not generally a prerequisite to employment or certifications in Georgia, it can be a useful marker of programmatic integrity, indicating to potential employers or graduate program admissions committees a student’s level of achievement. In addition to FEPAC, a program-accrediting organization, several institutional and regional accreditation bodies exist.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) approves degree programs in Georgia. SACSCOC weighs criteria such as the quality of faculty, physical facilities, school finances, and student outcomes, among other measures.
Finally, several specialized professional certifications that aspiring forensic scientists may choose to pursue depend on their discipline. While admissions procedures vary, the process typically involves applying, verifying one’s educational and professional experience, and passing a competency-based examination. The Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) has accredited 10 organizations to award professional certification. These FSAB-accredited organizations include:
|Southern Crescent Technical College||Griffin||x||23|
|Savannah State University||Savannah||x||7|
|Georgia Southern University - Armstrong Campus||Savannah||x||3|
|Atlanta Metropolitan State College||Atlanta||x||2|
School "total forensics grads" data provided by IPEDS (2018) for the 2016-2017 school year, and includes all certificates and degrees awarded for the following programs: Criminalistics and Criminal Science, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Science and Technology, Forensic Psychology, Cyber/Computer Forensics, and Financial Forensics and Fraud Investigation.
Jocelyn Blore is the chief content officer of Sechel Ventures and the co-author of the Women Breaking Barriers series. She graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley and traveled the world for five years. She also worked as an addiction specialist for two years in San Francisco. She’s interested in how culture shapes individuals and systems within societies—one of the many themes she writes about in her blog, Blore’s Razor (Instagram: @bloresrazor). She has served as managing editor for several healthcare websites since 2015.