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Forensic Science Colleges in Mississippi

For many U.S. schoolchildren, their knowledge of Mississippi (MS) does not extend beyond the sing-songy way that they learn to spell the Ojibwe word “Mississippi.” However, the Magnolia State has been an important part of the United States since it joined the union in 1817. As the site of important civil rights battles and rich antebellum history, Mississippi is the heart of the American South.

Mississippians interested in exploring a new career may want to consider the possibility of forensic science. Although the absolute number of forensic science technician jobs in Mississippi is somewhat low, there are opportunities for those looking to enter the field. By attending a forensic science college in Mississippi, students can learn the essentials for the career, including how to collect evidence from crime scenes, undertake analysis in laboratories, and even present evidence in courts, depending on the occupational role they pursue.

While students typically start by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the field, many professionals actually have an undergraduate degree in the natural sciences, and then pursue a master’s degree in forensic sciences, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Education is essential for aspiring forensic technicians. Mississippi offers a few schools with both online and on-campus programs.

Interested students may also be able to find degrees that take less time to complete, such as a certificate in CSI, or an associate degree in forensic science. An education in CSI typically prepares students for field work, while an education in the forensic sciences usually prepares them for work in a lab, or at the upper level, even the chance to be involved in research.

Keep reading to find out more about schools and employment opportunities in the forensic science field for Mississippi.

Jump Down to Mississippi Forensics Programs >>

How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Mississippi

Every career path has its own twists and turns. It is a good idea to get as clear a picture as possible of what it means to pursue a certain career before jumping in head first. Following are the most common steps that successful forensic science technicians take on their way to employment.

Step 1: Graduate High School (Four Years)

Career One Stop, which is an employment statistics site that sources its data from the U.S. Department of Labor, indicates that 96 percent of forensic science technicians have at least a high school diploma or GED (CareerOneStop.org). As noted above, admission to forensic science undergraduate programs can be competitive, so high school students should aim to do well in their relevant coursework, particularly 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. An undergraduate education from a four-year university is the most effective way to build this educational foundation. According to Career One Stop, 14 percent of forensic science technicians have an associate’s degree (2 years), while 35 percent have a bachelor’s degree (4 years). Forensic science-specific degrees are available at some institutions, but other degrees can also be relevant, including biology, chemistry, or criminal justice.

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. Those new technicians who wish to specialize further often seek professional certification. Professional certification is available in a range of fields. In fact, as of 2024, the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) has approved nine different organizations to issue professional certification. Some of the available certifications include forensic toxicology, forensic document examination, and forensic anthropology. Most of these certifications require that applicants have at least some professional experience in the specialty before they can be certified.

Step 4: Earn a Graduate Degree (timeline varies)

Career One Stop indicates that 11 percent of forensic science technicians have a master’s degree. An additional 3 percent of forensic technicians have a PhD (CareerOneStop.org). Earning a graduate degree is not required in order to find success in this career, but those who do will be better suited to certain high-level positions, including academia.

Following these steps, aspiring forensic science technicians in Mississippi may seek jobs in various contexts, such as police crime labs, psychiatric hospitals, and government at all levels, to name a few.

The AAFS also lists a variety of characteristics that are important to becoming a forensic scientist. These include:

  • Having curiosity, integrity, and the ability to be unbiased
  • Having solid speaking skills, as well as note-taking and observation skills
  • Possessing writing skills to be able to write scientific reports

In all, it could take four or more years in Mississippi to be able to work as a forensic scientist. However, it is up to the individual to decide if they want to pursue forensic science beyond four years and complete either a master’s degree or even a PhD, which could add multiple years to their education.

How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator in Mississippi

Becoming a CSI could be an alternative to completing a forensic science degree and take less time in terms of academic investment, even as little as 12 months if completing a certificate. In fact, a college education may not even be required to become a crime scene investigator when training is offered on the job. As a result, the steps needed to enter the CSI field can vary based on an individual’s goals, but some of these steps could include:

Option 1: Complete an education program at a postsecondary college (one to two years)

CSI programs can lead to a certificate or an associate degree or, in some cases, be offered as a concentration area or specialization of a bachelor’s degree. These programs may include coursework such as fingerprint identification, introduction to criminal justice, crime scene photography, and more. In some cases, students who complete a certificate program may be able to transfer their credits toward completing an undergraduate degree.

Option 2: Finish a bachelor’s degree (four years)

Another alternative is simply to complete a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, as this is the recommendation of the BLS, particularly when an individual hopes to become a non-uniformed worker, i.e., not employed through a police force.

Option 3: Receive training on the job (timeline varies)

Many CSI workers are actually police officers who have completed training through an academy. In this case, they may receive training by working closely with fellow officers already working as CSIs or by completing internal educational programs.

The BLS reports that a college education may not even be necessary for rural areas, where someone already has on-the-job training and has learned the necessary CSI skills by working closely with others. Finally, certification (different from a certificate) is available to individuals working in CSI who want proof and validation of their skills.

Occupational Demand and Salary Data for Forensic Scientists in Mississippi

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2024) projects that openings for forensic science technicians nationwide will increase by 13 percent between 2022 and 2032, much faster than the growth rate expected for all occupations during that time 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 slightly lesser for residents of MS. Projections Central (2024) found that demand for forensic science technicians in Mississippi specifically is expected to grow 7.7 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Most jobs are concentrated in the state capital of Jackson and the surrounding metropolitan area, where 80 forensic science technicians were employed as of 2024, according to BLS data.

Those who are working in the field find employment in a number of different areas, including with law enforcement and at crime labs throughout the state. The majority of the jobs are going to be in the areas that have higher populations, such as Jackson, Gulf Coast, and Biloxi. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety offers information about careers, and much more, on their site.

Salary is always a concern when it comes to choosing a career, and according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics (May 2023), 17,520 forensic science technicians across the nation earned an average annual salary of $71,540. In comparison, the 130 forensic science technicians working in Mississippi earned $53,390 per year, making Mississippi a lower-paying state.

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

United States Mississippi
Number of Forensic Science Technicians Employed 17,520 130
Annual Mean Wage $71,540 $53,390
10th percentile $41,410 $32,860
25th percentile $50,480 $36,480
50th percentile $64,940 $52,800
75th percentile $84,720 $71,450
90th percentile $107,490 $74,190

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

As noted above, the median annual wage (50th percentile) for forensic science technicians throughout the country is $64,940, making Mississippi a lower-paying state. However, the cost of living in Mississippi is among the lowest in the country. Indeed, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2024) ranks Mississippi as the state with the 2nd lowest cost of living in the U.S., meaning that the median forensic science technician’s salary will go much further there than anywhere else in the nation.

Featured Forensic Science Schools in Mississippi

As of 2024, there are five Mississippi schools that offer programs focused on forensic science, including one that has earned programmatic accreditation from the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).

University of Mississippi

The only Mississippi program accredited by FEPAC is at the University of Mississippi (also known as Ole Miss). The chemistry department at Ole Miss offers a bachelor of science (BS) degree in forensic chemistry. The program requires 46 credits of chemistry courses in addition to a summer internship at a local, state, or federal crime laboratory. Because of its accreditation and internship opportunities, the Ole Miss program is likely to be quite competitive and provide a strong background for future employment.

This 120-credit program includes courses such as principles of investigation; criminal procedure; law enforcement process and policy; cell and molecular biology; genetics; biochemistry; advanced instrumental analysis; forensic DNA analysis; a forensic chemistry senior research; and a forensic science internship.

  • Location: University, MS
  • Accreditation: Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg offers a variety of choices for students, including a bachelor of science degree in forensic science with an emphasis in criminal justice. This program is open to freshmen students as well as those transferring in. Further, students can choose an emphasis for their forensic science degree from the following options: anthropology; biological sciences; and chemistry and biochemistry.

This forensics program provides education for students pursuing careers as crime laboratory technicians, forensic investigators, or graduate school. The criminal justice emphasis is designed for students who wish to pursue employment as crime scene investigators.

Made up of 124 credits, the program includes courses such as crime scene documentation; the science of forensic science; introduction to forensic science; forensic laboratory policies and procedures; internship in forensic science; field study in forensic science; forensic analysis; forensic biology; fingerprint analysis and techniques; firearms identification; survey of forensic toxicology; and drug identification.

The criminal justice emphasis includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; criminal law; criminal investigation; criminal procedure; drugs and society; and criminal justice ethics.

  • Location: Hattiesburg, MS
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years

Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University (MSU) offers a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry with a concentration in forensic science. The MSU program represents an opportunity for students to gain significant hands-on experience in the types of work they will do in a forensic science lab, specifically in the area of DNA analysis. However, the program also includes diverse forensics courses that cover topics such as forensic psychology, computer forensics, and correctional systems.

This 120-credit program includes courses such as criminology theory; forensic psychology; human osteology; introduction to computer forensics; genetics; cell biology; introduction to forensic science; advanced forensic science; and correctional systems.

Notably, Mississippi State University also offers a bachelor of arts degree in criminology which is ideal for students wishing to pursue career paths in all justice-related fields such as law enforcement, community-based prevention and control programs, probation and parole, corrections, and court-based programs.

The 124-credit BA in criminology program includes courses such as crime and justice in America; crime, justice, and inequality; criminological theory; deviant behavior; juvenile delinquency; drugs, crime, and control; victimology; issues in criminal justice; crime prevention and policy; media, crime, and justice; and globalization and crime.

  • Location: Mississippi State, MS
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: four years

Holmes Community College

Holmes Community College offers an associate of arts program in forensic science with an emphasis on criminal justice. This forensic science program at Holmes places emphasis on the use of forensic science in the criminal justice system.

In addition to the forensic science associate degree, the college also offers a criminal justice associate degree which is a great choice for students who wish to learn about the essential components of the criminal justice system including courts, law enforcement, the juvenile justice system, and corrections. This program allows for graduation with an associate of arts degree or for transfer to a university criminal justice program.

Lastly, the college also offers an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice administration technology preparing graduates for employment opportunities in the criminal justice field in the areas of corrections, security, and law enforcement. This program includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; introduction to corrections; criminology; criminal law; police administration & organization; police operations; criminal investigation; juvenile justice; survey of forensic evidence; administration of criminal procedure; and introduction to homeland security.

  • Location: Goodman, MS
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years

East Mississippi Community College

East Mississippi Community College’s Social Science & Business Division offers an associate of arts degree in criminal justice that includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; police administration and organization; police and community relations; introduction to corrections; criminology; traffic law; police operations; criminal law; criminal investigation; survey of criminalistics; administration of criminal procedure; juvenile justice; and foundations of terrorism.

In addition to the criminal justice program, East Mississippi Community College’s Mathematics & Science division offers an associate of arts degree in forensics/forensic chemistry that prepares students for transfer to a university.

  • Location: Scooba, MS
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years

Hybrid & Online Forensic Science Programs in Mississippi

For students that are unable to participate in an on-campus program, due to other commitments or because they are simply too far away from campus, online learning is an option. Prospective students can look for online forensic science programs both inside and outside of the state but should be sure to verify an institution’s accreditation before applying. More details on accreditation are available in a later section.

Students can find an assortment of programs available on a national scale and through schools with campuses based in other states.

American InterContinental University

American InterContinental University offers an online bachelor of science program in criminal justice with a specialization in forensic science. Offering a balanced education in law enforcement practices, investigation methodologies, and science, this bachelor’s degree helps students learn about how investigators solve crimes, the accepted theories of crime and justice, common criminal procedures, and how investigations are conducted.

The program’s curriculum has a solid criminal justice foundation that thoroughly explores the U.S. legal system, crime theory, constitutional procedures, and crime victim studies. The other major component of this program features specialized forensic science online courses as well as a senior capstone project in criminal justice.

Comprising 180 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to criminology; introduction to criminal law; foundations of corrections; crime victim studies; juvenile justice & delinquency theory; constitutional issues in criminal procedures; criminalistics; criminal investigation; psychopathology and criminality; and medicolegal death investigation.

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

University of Florida

The University of Florida offers a master’s of science (MS) degree in forensic science that is available entirely through e-learning. Other options available entirely online and that may catch the interest of students interested in forensic science colleges in Mississippi or elsewhere include master’s degrees in forensic DNA and serology, forensic toxicology, or forensic drug chemistry. A variety of graduate-level forensic science certificates are also available through the university through entirely online learning.

The master of science in forensic science program is made up of 32 credits and includes courses such as biological evidence and serology; principles of forensic science; forensic toxicology; special topics in forensic science; forensic toxicology; advanced criminalistics; bloodstain pattern analysis; drug biotransformation & molecular mechanisms of toxicity; biosecurity and microbial forensics; crime scene investigation; forensic genetics; and forensic analysis of DNA.

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

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 Mississippi.

Accreditation and Professional Certification

Students evaluating forensic science programs in Mississippi and beyond should look for both institutional and programmatic accreditation. Institutional accreditation means that the school as a whole has been evaluated for its standards and efficacy. For instance, Mississippi State University holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) offers accreditation that is specific to forensic science programs. Although this accreditation is not necessary for most entry-level jobs or certifications, it can be an important indicator of a program’s history in higher education. The University of Mississippi is currently the only program in the state with FEPAC accreditation for its Forensic Chemistry program. It is important to note that FEPAC has accredited only a small number of programs (less than 50 as of 2024) and as such, a program’s lack of accreditation is not necessarily an indicator of a program’s validity. Applicants to programs that have not earned FEPAC accreditation can evaluate that school’s institutional accreditation as an indicator of its efficacy.

Requirements for professional certification differ for each specialty. For instance, in order to become a Certified Forensic Anthropologist, applicants must have a doctoral degree in forensic anthropology, although there are no accreditation requirements. On the other hand, applicants for a Latent Print Certification through the International Association of Identification (IAI) must have at least two years of experience in the field.

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

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.

School Name City Forensic
Science
Forensic
Psychology
Digital
Forensics
Financial
Forensics
Total Forensics
Grads (2016-2017)
University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg x 26
University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) University x 9
Holmes Community College Goodman x 3
East Mississippi Community College Scooba 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.

MS
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).