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Forensic Science Colleges in Minnesota

For those interested in a career related to law enforcement but who do not want to become law enforcement officers or attorneys, a career in forensic science is the answer. Forensic scientists in Minnesota (MN) help law enforcement and those in the private sector, like defense attorneys, retrieve and analyze evidence related to many crimes. To pursue this career, students should start by studying biology and chemistry and potentially earning a degree from a forensic science program.

There are a few options for studying forensic science in Minnesota today, and more options will likely become available shortly as the demand for forensic professionals grows. Several subfields in this career may require specialized training, experience, and even professional certification, including serology, toxicology, DNA analysis, trace analysis, fingerprints, ballistics, document examination, digital evidence, tool marks, latent evidence processing, and footwear impressions.

While many maintain regular business hours, it’s important to note that due to the nature of evidence collection and analysis, these professionals may be called upon to work on weekends, evenings, and even holidays as needed.

Read on below to discover how to become a forensic scientist in MN; what the job outlook is in the state; the availability of quality traditional or distance-based programs; and what prospective students should know about program accreditation and professional certifications.

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How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Minnesota

As with any career, there are different paths that one can take to become a forensic scientist. The following steps are certainly not universal, but are most common for aspiring forensic scientists in Minnesota:

Step 1: Graduate High School (Duration: Four Years)

A high school degree is a prerequisite for nearly every job in forensic science. According to Career One Stop, a site that sources its data from the U.S. Department of Labor, just 4 percent of forensic science technicians have less than a high school degree. High school students who want to pursue this career should focus on their science and mathematics courses, particularly chemistry and biology.

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

While a bachelor’s degree is not strictly required for all forensic science careers, Career One Stop indicates that more than 35 percent of forensic science technicians have a bachelor’s degree, with an additional 14 percent having associate’s degrees. There are some forensic-specific options for students in Minnesota, but students may also consider degrees in related fields, including biology, chemistry, or even criminal justice.

Step 3: Consider Professional Certification (Timeline Varies)

Professional forensic certification is ideal for those who want to advance from entry-level forensic science positions. The Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) has approved nine different organizations to issue professional certifications. Some of the certifications offered include forensic document examination, forensic engineering, and forensic odontology.

Step 4: Assess Graduate Study Options (Timeline Varies)

14 percent of forensic scientists have an advanced degree, at either the master’s or doctorate level. Online forensic science programs can be ideal for graduate studies so that forensic professionals can continue to work while earning another degree to further their careers.

Occupational Demand and Salary Data in Minnesota for Forensic Science Specialists

Minnesota is not one of the most populous states in the country, but it still employs 130 forensic science technicians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2023). Of those employed, most work in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI area. This area is the most populated in the state and the only one for which BLS tracks employment data in Minnesota.

As mentioned above, the BLS (2024) anticipated that openings for forensic science techs across the nation would swell 13 percent between 2022 and 2032, faster than the growth rate projected for all occupations during that time period (three percent). Currently, there are 17,520 of these professionals nationwide, not including those in related occupations, and they make an average annual salary of $71,540.

According to the BLS (2024), 60 percent of forensic science technicians are employed by the local government, while the state government employs 26 percent.

The outlook is almost on par for residents of Minnesota. Projections Central (2024) found that from 2020 to 2030, the demand for forensic scientists in Minnesota is expected to grow by 12.5 percent, making Minnesota an attractive place to start a career in this field.

Finally, the ForensicsColleges blog offers several in-depth career articles for graduates in forensic science in its How to Become series, with step-by-step instructions to becoming profilers, crime scene technicians, forensic psychologists, forensic accountants, detectives, and more. Of course, anyone studying to be a forensic science technician will want to know how much they can expect to make working in Minnesota.

Furthermore, the state boasts higher-than-average wages for forensic science technicians. 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 MN, the average salary in this field is $77,030.

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

United States Minnesota
Number of Forensic Science Technicians Employed 17,520 130
Annual Mean Wage $71,540 $77,030
10th percentile $41,410 $46,510
25th percentile $50,480 $61,230
50th percentile $64,940 $75,620
75th percentile $84,720 $101,940
90th percentile $107,490 $101,940

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

When considering earning potential, the cost of living is a key piece of the puzzle. Forensic science technicians in MN fared much better than people in this industry nationwide. What makes this salary point particularly interesting is the fact that Minnesota is one of the cheaper states to live in across the country. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2024) found that MN was the 21st most affordable state.

Featured Forensic Programs in Minnesota

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Students looking for forensic science colleges in Minnesota will find that Hamline University is the main option. While other schools offer educational programs in specific areas of forensics, such as computer forensics, Hamline is the only school offering an on-campus program that can provide a foundational education in forensic science.

Hamline University

With Hamline University’s bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees in forensic science, students will gain hands-on, practical skills in Hamline’s forensic laboratory to develop their strength in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and beyond to ensure no evidence goes unused. Through internship opportunities, Hamline ensures every student has the opportunity to translate classroom learning and mock casework into direct experience. Whether students wish to explore careers in crime labs, law enforcement, cybersecurity, or analytical chemistry, this program has internship opportunities for everyone.

The bachelor of science program offers two concentration options: biology and chemistry. The curriculum includes courses such as the survey of forensic science; professional issues in forensic science; crime scene and death investigation; forensic anthropology; forensic photography; forensic fingerprint examination; latent fingerprints; forensic firearm and tool mark examination; and the law of evidence for legal professionals.

The bachelor of arts program in forensic and investigative science is designed for those who wish to discover the theory, procedures, and analysis used in scientifically investigating and processing crime scenes. Core courses in this program include crime and justice in America; survey of forensic science; constitutional issues in criminal procedure; professional issues in forensic science; and policing in America.

Through one-on-one mentoring by faculty members and innovative courses, students will be provided with the tools needed for succeeding in a variety of jobs, such as evidence technicians, firearms examiners, forensic drug chemists, latent fingerprint examiners, trace evidence examiners, death investigators, crime scene analysts, and DNA analysts.

Notably, Hamline University also offers a post-baccalaureate forensic science certificate.

  • Location: Saint Paul, MN
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

Metropolitan State University

Metro State University offers a bachelor of applied science program in computer forensics, which prepares students with knowledge in digital and computer incident investigation, mobile and network forensics, eDiscovery, ethical and legal issues in computing, and privacy and computer laws. In addition to helping organizations and companies protect their interests, graduates of this program will also be able to assist law enforcement in fighting cyberterrorism and crimes.

This 120-credit program includes courses such as computer forensics fundamentals; computer and operating systems fundamentals; introduction to computer forensics; introduction to criminal justice; constitutional law; digital evidence analysis; mobile device security and forensics; the criminal court system; cyber operations; and cyber incident response and handling.

Notably, Metro State University also offers a 24-credit computer forensics certificate designed for those who already have bachelor’s degrees and would like to re-shape their knowledge and skills in the computer forensics field. This program prepares students with the skills and knowledge in digital incident investigation, computer forensics, computer laws, and cyberspace ethics.

  • Location: Saint Paul, MN
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

Bemidji State University

Bemidji State University’s bachelor of science program in criminal justice has four emphasis areas that allow students to choose the right career path. These emphasis areas include corrections, police science, tribal justice, and victimology.

The program’s core courses include criminal justice and society; research methods and statistics for criminal justice; judicial process; criminology and delinquency; and criminal law.

Courses in the corrections emphasis area include corrections and penology; community corrections; and principles of criminal justice supervision. The police science emphasis area includes courses in police process; introduction to emergency management; criminal procedure and evidence; and forensic victimology.

Courses in the tribal justice emphasis area include an introduction to Turtle Island, nation-building and leadership, and federal Indian law. Finally, the victimology concentration includes courses such as victimological theory and practice, forensic victimology, global perspectives in victimology, and restorative justice.

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

Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Minneapolis College’s unique associate of applied science program in computer forensics combines skills and knowledge of various areas including computer forensics, information security, information technology, criminal justice, investigation, ethics, and law.

This 60-credit program includes computer forensics coursework; criminal justice introduction; Cisco network administration; information technology concepts; constitutional law; and information technology career preparation.

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

Hybrid & Online Forensics Programs

There are still options for prospective forensics students who cannot commit to a fully on-campus experience. Both online programs and hybrid online/in-person forensic science programs are available. By taking advantage of a virtual classroom, students can complete their degrees more effectively without giving up other important aspects of their lives. Following are just a few options for Minnesota residents:

University of Minnesota Crookston

The University of Minnesota at Crookston offers an online bachelor of science program in criminal justice, providing students with the skills and knowledge that prepare them for careers in corrections, law enforcement, and other private and public agencies. This program has been approved by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST). This certification means that graduates from this program will be eligible to become licensed police officers in Minnesota.

This 120-credit program allows students to choose an emphasis area in either corrections or law enforcement. The curriculum includes courses such as crime and criminology; criminal law; criminal justice diversity; criminal justice ethics; victimology; and criminal investigation.

Graduates can take up roles such as forensic science technicians, compliance officers and inspectors, fraud investigators, game wardens, conservation officers, detectives, probation officers, and sheriff officers.

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

Concordia University, St. Paul

Concordia University offers a bachelor of arts program in criminal justice which is approved by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). This program can be completed on-campus or online.

Comprising 120 credits, the program includes courses such as foundations of the criminal justice system; research methods in criminology and criminal justice; building an integrated criminal justice system; constitutional and criminal law and justice; cultural considerations in criminal justice systems; contemporary issues in the criminal justice system; and delinquent and criminal behaviors across the life course.

Concordia University also offers an online master of arts criminal justice leadership program comprising 36 credits.

  • Location: St. Paul, MN
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months

In addition to these, several online colleges are offering forensic science and crime scene investigation programs, in most cases nationally. Some other schools that Minnesota students can consider are the University of Florida or Oklahoma State University.

Accreditation and Professional Certification

Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) is the primary accreditation body for forensic science programs. As of June 2024, no forensic science programs in Minnesota are accredited by FEPAC. However, it is important to note that a lack of accreditation does not indicate a subpar forensic science program. FEPAC has accredited very few programs overall and many have yet to seek accreditation.

To evaluate a forensic science school that does not have programmatic accreditation, students can look for institutional accreditation. Hamline University, for example, is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which offers general accreditation for the overall institution, although not the forensic science program in particular.

Forensic science professionals who wish to further their careers can apply for certification in a chosen specialty. As mentioned above, the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) has approved nine organizations to grant certification in various forensic specialties. The specialty boards approved by FSAB include:

  • 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)

The certification process for each organization will be different and may include exams, transcript reviews, or proof of professional experience.

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

School Name City Forensic
Science
Forensic
Psychology
Digital
Forensics
Financial
Forensics
Total Forensics
Grads (2016-2017)
Walden University Minneapolis x 196
Capella University Minneapolis x x 34
Hamline University Saint Paul x 9

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.

MN
Writer

Farheen Gani

Farheen Gani writes about forensics schools across the United States, and has covered topics such as forensic chemistry and forensic science and biochemistry since 2018. She writes about healthcare, technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).