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Forensics Colleges in Michigan

The Great Lakes State boasts more than 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of streams, making it an especially fertile ground for those interested in ecological forensics. In fact, the catastrophic Flint water crisis was uncovered by careful, scientific assessments of lead contamination in the drinking water. This devastating disaster is just one example of how a subfield of forensics is helping to unearth criminal misconduct.

According to Michigan State University (MSU), additional areas of forensics specialization include biological evidence, toxicology, drugs & firearms, pathology, odontology, anthropology, toxicology, trace evidence, and even entomology (i.e., the study of insects). The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) adds to this list the following subfields: arson, bite marks, blood & bodily fluids, crime scene, child abuse, DNA, death investigation, digital evidence, fingerprints, and sexual assault. Forensic students might major in forensic science or pathology, for example, and still have the option to specialize in one or more of those other areas.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2024), forensic scientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree and maintain responsibilities such as analyzing crime scenes; taking photographs of the evidence at the crime scene; making sketches of the crime scene; reconstructing crime scenes; collecting evidence, including fingerprints, bodily fluids, and weapons; and recording findings and observations, such as the position and location of evidence.

The Wolverine State is home to a wealth of forensics colleges at every level, including certificate, associate, bachelor’s, and graduate programs. Further, forensic science professionals are relatively well-compensated. As proof of point, the BLS reported that Michigan’s forensic science technicians make more money annually than the average salary of all occupations across Michigan (mentioned below).

Read on to discover the occupational outlook for forensic scientists in Michigan, as well as the variety of accredited forensics programs in the state and professional certification information.

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How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Michigan

Prospective forensic science techs in Michigan have a variety of experiential and educational paths, although professionals in this field typically pursue at least a four-year degree in natural sciences prior to employment.

In fact, Career One Stop (2024)—a job-planning tool sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor—reports that 35 percent of forensic science technicians have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 14 percent with associate degrees and 20 percent with some college education.

Following is one of the most common paths to becoming a forensic scientist or technician in MI:

Step 1: High school Graduation.

Since specialists in this field usually possess degrees in natural or physical sciences, having strong grades in biology, chemistry, physics, statistics, and mathematics may prepare them for postsecondary work.

Step 2: Bachelor’s degree (four years).

Forensic science technicians or forensic scientists generally hold a four-year bachelor of science degree in biology, chemistry, engineering, computer science, and psychology. The right degree will depend on the person’s intended specialization.

Step 3: Certification through a national organization (optional, timeline varies).

Although not a necessity for practice, certification can indicate professional standards or a level of achievement to employers, especially in more competitive fields. There are nine professional certification organizations accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB), including the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO), the American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT), and a variety of other subfields. Please note that these specialties may involve advanced training, experiential requirements, or examinations prior to admission.

Step 4: Advanced degree in forensic science or a specialty discipline (optional, timeline varies).

For forensic techs looking for increased responsibilities, deeper knowledge, and higher pay, a more advanced degree is typically required. According to Career One Stop, 11 percent of forensic scientists hold graduate degrees.

Occupational Demand and Salary Data for Forensics Professionals in Michigan

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As mentioned above, forensic science technicians stand to make more money annually than the average for all occupations across the state, and there’s more good news for aspiring forensics professionals in Michigan.

The BLS (2024) projects that openings across the country for forensic science technicians will swell 13 percent between 2022 and 2032, substantially faster than the average growth anticipated for all occupations during that time period (3 percent). The outlook is even brighter for residents of Michigan. Projections Central (2024) found that demand for forensic science technicians in Michigan is expected to grow 19 percent between 2020 and 2030.

There are currently 600 forensic science technicians employed in Michigan, but this doesn’t include those in related occupations such as medical examining, forensic nursing, forensic accounting, cybercrimes (i.e., digital evidence tracing), questioned documents, handwriting analysis, forensic odontology, forensic anthropology, DNA analysis, and more.

It’s clear that a majority of forensic science technicians are employed in the public sector. The BLS (2024) reported that the government employs 86 percent of people in this field. The AAFS details common places of employment for forensic scientists, including crime laboratories, police departments, medical examiner offices, hospitals, universities, and independent forensic science groups. Some work normal business hours, although due to the nature of crime scene processing and forensic work, they may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, and holidays as needed.

One prominent employer of forensics professionals in the Mitten State is the Michigan State Police. It boasts seven regional laboratories in its Forensic Science Division with testing services for DNA, firearms & toolmarks, latent prints, bloodstain patterns, controlled substances, traces evidence & questioned documents, and toxicology. The Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists (MAFS) also hosts job postings, forensics grants, and workshops.

Further, the Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC) website provides more information on forensics positions available.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2023) reported 600 forensic science technicians in the state.Furthermore, BLS found that the salary figures are somewhat 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 MI, the average salary in this field is $61,730.

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

United States Michigan
Number of Forensic Science Technicians Employed 17,520 600
Annual Mean Wage $71,540 $61,730
10th percentile $41,410 $26,950
25th percentile $50,480 $48,360
50th percentile $64,940 $56,430
75th percentile $84,720 $88,250
90th percentile $107,490 $100,880

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (June 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): $55,654
  • 90th percentile: $73,000

Finally, although annual salary ranges in forensic science are somewhat lower in Michigan than national figures, the cost of living is also significantly lower in this state. By illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center found that Michigan ranked 10th among all American states with respect to affordability, with particular savings in housing costs compared to other US states (MERIC 2024).

Not surprisingly, salaries vary by metropolitan area as well, with higher salaries and more job opportunities offered in larger urban regions. Finally, salaries also vary by employment sector. The BLS found that the local government is the most lucrative place of employment in forensics. The top-paying industries for forensic science technicians nationwide were the following:

  • Federal, State, and Local Government, excluding State and Local Government Schools and Hospitals and the U.S. Postal Service: $119,630 annual average salary
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services: $97,040
  • Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance Related Activities: $76,440
  • Local Government, excluding Schools and Hospitals (OEWS Designation): $73,860
  • State Government, excluding Schools and Hospitals (OEWS Designation): $69,540

Forensic Science Programs in Michigan

For prospective forensic scientists, there is an abundance of forensics programs in Michigan. Before enrollment, aspiring students are encouraged to verify the accreditation status of their programs. There are two main organizations to seek out: the Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) for programmatic accreditation or the regional Higher Learning Commission (HLC) for institutional accreditation. Please see the accreditation section below for more information on these approval processes.

For Michigan’s associate degree programs, admissions committees generally call for official secondary school (i.e., high school) transcripts; TOEFL test scores (for non-native speakers of English); and an application fee.

For Michigan’s bachelor’s degree programs in forensics, admissions committees typically ask for official high school transcripts with a competitive GPA (e.g., >3.0); a personal statement; letters of recommendation; official scores from the SAT or ACT test (and TOEFL for non-native English speakers); a background check; and an application fee.

For Michigan’s master’s programs in forensics, admissions requirements typically include submitting post-secondary transcripts in a relevant major with a competitive GPA (e.g., >3.25); completing prerequisite coursework (e.g., organic chemistry, biology, genetics, DNA analysis, forensic science, etc.); writing a personal statement; sending letters of recommendation from professors or mentors; sending official scores from the GRE or MCAT tests (and TOEFL for non-native English speakers); being interviewed; and paying an application fee.

Kellogg Community College

Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, MI provides an associate’s degree in criminal justice with instruction in criminal law, criminal justice, and interpersonal communications. Designed to educate entry-level professionals in law enforcement, such as Border Patrol, Homeland Security, and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents, Kellogg can be an especially attractive option for undecided students who want to transfer to a four-year program.

The 61-credit program includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice, criminal law, crime and delinquency, ethical problem-solving in policing, criminal investigation, client relations in corrections, and institutional corrections.

  • Location: Battle Creek, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Madonna University

Madonna University in Livonia hosts the only FEPAC-accredited bachelor of science (BS) in forensic science degree in Michigan providing students with a solid foundation across the sciences. Students in this program will also be able to obtain a minor in biology, chemistry, or both, further cementing their expertise in this field. Students are also allowed to join the Madonna University Forensic Science Society (MUFSS).

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as impression and trace evidence analysis; introduction to forensic science; firearm and tool mark analysis; forensic biology; forensic chemistry; forensic anthropology; toxicology; ethics and expert testimony; criminology; population genetics; criminal law & procedure; and biochemistry. The program also includes an internship.

Graduates will be able to take up roles such as forensic scientists, forensic biologists, forensic chemists, forensic anthropologists, crime scene technicians, forensic technologists, forensic pathologists, odontologists, entomologists, and laboratory managers, among many other such roles.

Notably, Madonna University also offers several certificate programs in DNA analysis, crime scene practice, crime laboratory technician, and applied forensic science research.

  • Location: Livonia, MI
  • Accreditation: Forensic Sciences Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

Lake Superior State University

Lake Superior State University offers a bachelor of science program in forensic chemistry that combines elements of criminal justice with a strong emphasis on chemistry. Graduates of this program work in forensic laboratories for local, state, and federal government agencies and private investigative laboratories. Some might also go on to pursue graduate degrees.

Made up of 124 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to forensics; medicinal toxicology; quantitative analysis; introduction to criminal justice; investigation; criminalistics; procedural law; substantive law; and principles of statistical methods.

Graduates can take up careers such as forensic science technicians, crime scene investigators, latent print examiners, DNA analysts, drug analysis technicians, forensic pathologists, medical examiners, forensic laboratory managers, and toxicologists.

  • Location: Sault Ste. Marie, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Wayne State University

The Wayne State University of Detroit offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in forensic investigations, combining coursework in criminalistics and forensic analysis with hands-on internships and directed laboratory studies. The program utilizes experts from several areas, including the Departments of Criminal Justice and Applied Health Sciences. In addition, the Michigan State Crime Lab and personnel from the Medical Examiner’s Offices of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties also offer their expertise.

Comprising 24 to 26 credits, the program includes courses such as criminalistics; forensic investigation of firearms, ballistics, and explosives; forensic anatomic pathology; basic forensic analysis; interview and interrogation techniques; and advanced forensic analysis.

  • Location: Detroit, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months

Michigan State University

Michigan State University (MSU) offers a FEPAC-accredited master of science (MS) program in forensic science through its innovative School of Criminal Justice. MSU boasts state-of-the-art facilities for students to learn techniques such as chromatography, advanced microscopy, genetic analysis, capillary electrophoresis, and more. The program is designed to provide students with a broad practical and theoretical background in the legal, investigative, and scientific aspects of forensic science while also providing them with the opportunity to study forensic chemistry in depth.

Students enrolled in this program must complete a concentration in forensic chemistry. Consisting of 38 credits, the program includes courses such as crime scene investigation; survey in forensic science; law and forensic science; mass spectrometry; forensic analysis of drugs and alcohol; forensic chemistry and microscopic evidence; and pharmacology of drug addiction.

To be considered for admission, applicants must have a BS or BA degree in a discipline appropriate to the desired concentration with a minimum cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0.

  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Accreditation: Forensic Sciences Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Michigan Technological University

Students in Michigan Technological University’s graduate certificate forensic accounting program learn to investigate and prevent white-collar criminal activities in the banking and financial sectors. This certificate is ideal for qualified professionals looking to enhance their skill set and can be a foundation to continue to graduate degree programs.

Requiring a minimum of 9 credits, the program’s coursework allows students to develop skills and knowledge in fraud prevention and investigative accounting. Combining information security and data analysis techniques with traditional auditing principles, the program prepares students with advanced forensics training.

Moreover, this certificate assists students in passing examinations such as the CFF (Certified in Financial Forensics) and CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner).

  • Location: Houghton, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One to three semesters

University of Detroit Mercy

With a graduate certificate in forensic accounting from the University of Detroit Mercy, graduates may qualify for the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) exam or launch a career as compliance officers or fraud examiners. Students will learn about auditing, accounting and financial rules, fraud detection, and the use and misuse of information technology. This certificate can either be taken as a stand-alone program or in conjunction with Detroit Mercy’s highly-ranked MBA program.

With flexible weekend and evening hours, UDM’s program is uniquely designed for working professionals. The program comprises 24 credits and includes courses such as personal development, ethics & social responsibility in organizations; system forensics; corporate fraud detection & prevention; accounting during cash crisis; computer & information security; and principles of loss prevention.

  • Location: Detroit, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months

Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan University’s Chemistry Department offers a bachelor’s degree in forensic biochemistry preparing graduates for a forensic science career. It provides students with the science background required for working as forensic investigators in crime labs. The forensic biochemistry curriculum includes courses from several departments and is the credit equivalent of a major plus a minor, therefore no additional minor is required.

This 120-credit program includes courses such as forensic chemistry; forensic anthropology; entomology; modern spectroscopy; introduction to criminal courts; drugs, crime, and the justice system; criminology; criminal procedure; forensic photography; substantive criminal law; advanced criminal investigation; and cybercrime.

In addition, the university also offers a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice as well as an associate degree in criminal justice for a smooth transition into the bachelor’s degree program.

  • Location: Marquette, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

Ferris State University

Ferris State University’s criminal justice program prepares students for successful careers in corrections, law enforcement, and a wide variety of state, federal, and local agencies where they can make a positive impact on their community. Professional faculty members will guide students here through hands-on, practical field experiences and the latest theoretical knowledge.

The programs offered include an associate of arts degree in criminal justice; a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice-generalist option; a bachelor of science degree in criminal Justice-corrections option; a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice-law enforcement option; and a master of science degree in criminal justice administration (online).

The generalist bachelor’s degree in criminal justice prepares students to succeed in graduate school and law school, specifically in criminology and criminal justice. This option gives students the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in an ever-changing field. Employment opportunities include parole officers, probation officers, court reporters, crime analysts, and asset protection.

Consisting of 120 credits, the curriculum includes courses such as introduction to corrections; michigan criminal law; crime control policy; michigan criminal procedure; current issues in criminal justice; criminal behavior; report writing for corrections; ethical issues in criminal justice; corrections and society; and police and society.

  • Location: Big Rapids, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months

Oakland Community College

The criminal justice programs at Oakland Community College deliver valuable learning experiences related to corrections, the court system, and law enforcement. Students will study a broad range of courses, allowing them to discover foundational concepts in evidence and criminal law; security and corrections; police procedures; criminology; and the American judicial system.

The coursework focuses on career-focused and introductory material designed to help graduates begin their careers or continue their education to a bachelor’s degree. The program’s courses allow students to develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills that are necessary for entry-level jobs in all fields.

Oakland Community College’s generalist criminal justice program is offered in both the traditional on-campus format and a 100 percent online format. This program provides experiences related to criminal law, criminology, social values, and legal procedures.

This 61 to 64-credit program includes courses such as police patrol administration and procedures; criminal investigation and case preparation; criminal evidence and procedure; criminal law and administration of justice; police administration; introduction to criminal justice; substance abuse investigation; and community relations in criminal justice.

In addition to the generalist criminal justice program, Oakland Community College also offers a criminal justice law enforcement program providing students with an educational background in criminal investigations, law, and police administration and procedures.

Moreover, the college also offers a criminal justice homeland security and emergency management program that exposes students to international and domestic terrorism issues and strategies for countering terrorist threats.

  • Location: Auburn Hills, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

For more information on forensics degrees and specializations, please visit the forensic programs page.

Hybrid & Online Forensics Programs

Attending an on-campus program is difficult due to familial, professional, or other time commitments. Fortunately, distance-based forensics programs are available for rural Michigan residents.

Baker College

Baker College offers an online bachelor of science (BS) in criminal justice. This school serves almost 28,000 students online and through its campuses around MI. The program is designed to prepare professionals in law enforcement, including aspiring criminal investigators and other forensics professionals. As graduates, students will be able to enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge needed for performing at a top level within the standards of the Michigan Corrections Officers Training Council.

The program consists of 120 credits and includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; introduction to corrections; criminology; legal issues in corrections; juvenile justice concepts; ethical issues in criminal justice; drugs, crime, and society; cybercrimes; evidence collection and procedures; and homeland security.

  • Location: Owosso, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

Michigan State University

Additionally, Michigan State University (MSU) has several master’s degree programs offered in an online format. These include a master of arts in criminal justice, a master of science in cybercrime and digital investigation, and a master of science in law enforcement intelligence and analysis. All programs require the completion of 30 credits.

The MA in criminal justice program includes courses such as crime causation, prevention, and control; criminal justice behavior and ethics; and basic and translational research fundamentals.

The MS in cybercrime and digital investigation program includes instruction in economic cybercrimes and fraud; interpersonal cybercrime; comparative criminal justice; and digital forensic investigations.

Courses in the MS in law enforcement intelligence and analysis program include design and analysis in criminal justice research; the intelligence process and counterterrorism; and comprehensive threat assessment.

Notably, Michigan State University also offers an online graduate certificate in cyber criminology and cyber security. This 15-credit program includes courses such as open source information analysis; cybercrime, deviance, and virtual society; digital forensic investigations; and cyber terror and cyber warfare.

  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Masters (24 months); certificate (12 months)

A variety of accredited programs through the AAFS are also available online. These are broken down into undergraduate and graduate-level programs. Online certificates are listed too, and all contact information, including the e-mail address for the director, and website information is posted.

Other national online schools also provide online forensics and CSI programs that may interest students seeking similar programs in Michigan.

Professional Certification in Forensics

In the state of Michigan, forensics certification may not be required for employment, but it can be advisable. Certification can enhance a job candidate’s resume and earning prospects and serve as an indicator of one’s skills. Typical requirements for various forensic certifications include having at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science (or a related field); having at least one year of experience; paying an application fee; and passing an exam. To maintain various credentials, the organizations below generally ask candidates to recertify by paying a fee and fulfilling continuing education (CE) requirements.

There are currency nine professional certifications recognized by the esteemed Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB), including:

  • American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA)
  • American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (ABFDE)
  • American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO)
  • 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)
  • International Board of Forensic Engineering Sciences (IBFES)

For some subfields of forensics and employers in Michigan, certification may be required. For example, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) reports that in an amendment to the longstanding Professional Investigator Act, computer forensics professionals must have two types of certifications: general information security certification and a computer forensics-specific certification.

Since requirements vary by place of employment, interested forensics professionals are advised to check with individual agencies for certification requirements.

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

Forensics Program & School Accreditation

As mentioned above, forensics students in Michigan are encouraged to check the accreditation status of their programs or institutions. The main approval body for programmatic accreditation is the Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), and for institutional accreditation, it’s the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The former selectively accredits the most competitive forensic science programs across the country. There are currently two schools in Michigan with FEPAC-accredited programs: Madonna University and Michigan State University (MSU).

It is important to note that as of 2024, FEPAC has accredited fewer than 50 programs and a lack of FEPAC accreditation does not mean that a program is substandard. In many cases, a program that lacks programmatic accreditation may simply not have applied for accreditation up to this point.

The HLC is one of six regional organizations recognized by the US Department of Education, which accredits universities. In addition to Michigan, the HLC approves programs in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Finally, both accrediting organizations weigh criteria such as student outcomes, faculty effectiveness, comprehensiveness of program curricula, institutional finances, quality of facilities, administrative organization, and other factors in their respective evaluation processes. Please visit accrediting body websites for a full list of evaluation criteria.

School Name City Forensic
Science
Forensic
Psychology
Digital
Forensics
Financial
Forensics
Total Forensics
Grads (2016-2017)
Madonna University Livonia x x 22
Northern Michigan University Marquette x 7
Michigan State University (MSU) East Lansing x 4
Davenport University Grand Rapids x x 3
Ferris State University Big Rapids x 2
Oakland Community College Bloomfield Hills 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.

MI
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Jocelyn Blore

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.