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Forensics Colleges in New Mexico

Whether you live in New Mexico already or are eyeing a move to the Land of Enchantment, there are plenty of opportunities for forensic science education as well as ways to pursue a career as a professional in forensics and crime scene investigation. Forensic science technicians and CSIs have hands-on involvement in solving crimes from start to finish – from collecting and evaluating evidence to testifying to their findings in court.

In order to achieve success on this career path, it is necessary to start with the right credentials. This can begin as early as high school with the decision to take and excel in science and mathematics in order to be granted admission later to undergraduate and perhaps graduate programs.

Forensic science is currently a small but growing field in New Mexico. Fewer than 100 people are currently employed as forensic science technicians in New Mexico, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but the occupation is expected to grow by 6% over the next 10 years (BLS, 2012).

Keep reading to learn more about forensic science degree programs, certification, and career opportunities in New Mexico.

Programs for NEW MEXICO Students

Stevenson University Online

Online Master's in Cyber Forensics

Online Master of Forensic Science

  • Biology Concentration
  • Chemistry Concentration

Online Master's in Forensic Studies

Online Master's in Forensic Accounting

Online Master's in Forensic Investigation

Online Master's in Digital Forensics

Online Master's in Crime Scene Investigation

Maryville University

Develop into a dual threat cyber security professional

Online MS in Cyber Security

Online BS in Cyber Security

Southern New Hampshire University

BA in Psychology - Forensic Psychology

MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology

BS in Accounting - Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination

MS in Accounting - Forensic Accounting

MBA in Accounting - Forensic Accounting

BS in Criminal Justice

MS - Criminal Justice

Utica College

Online BS - Cybersecurity

  • Cybercrime & Fraud Investigation
  • Network Forensics & Intrusion Investigation
  • Cyber Operations

Online Financial Crimes Investigator Certificate

Online BS - Fraud & Financial Crime Investigation

Online MS - Financial Crime & Compliance Mgmt

Online MS - Cybersecurity

  • Cyber Intelligence Specialization
  • Computer Forensics Specialization
  • Cyber Operations Specialization

Online MBA - Economic Crime & Fraud Mgmt

Online MBA - Cybersecurity

St. Joseph's University

Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MSCJ)

  • Behavior Analysis
  • Behavior Management
  • Federal Law Enforcement
  • Intelligence & Crime Analysis
  • Homeland Security

Post-Master's Certificate - CJ Behavior Analysis

How to Become a Forensic Scientist in New Mexico

There are a few different pathways to becoming a forensic scientist in New Mexico and not every person can or should follow a traditional path. Following are some of the most common steps people take towards becoming forensic science technicians in New Mexico.

High School

At minimum, forensic scientists must have a high school diploma or GED. If possible, high school students should focus on science courses that will help them in their further education, including chemistry and biology, as well as math courses. Having a good GPA will also help when applying to forensic science colleges in New Mexico.

Undergraduate Education

After high school, prospective forensic scientists should enroll in an undergraduate program. While some forensic science technicians (13.8%) have only a high school diploma, many more (46%) have at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration. Some universities, including Eastern New Mexico University, offer undergraduate degrees in forensic sciences. However, it is also possible to pursue the career by studying more broadly at the undergraduate level and choosing a program in biology, chemistry, or another scientific pursuit. On average, an undergraduate degree will take 4 years to complete, although it may be possible to finish faster with advanced high school courses, and it may take longer for those students who start at a community college level.

Graduate Studies

Of the 46% of forensic scientists that earn at least a bachelor’s degree, more than 15% have a master’s or doctoral degree. The timeline for completing these types of advanced studies in forensic science varies. A master’s degree may take as little as two years while a doctoral degree with a thesis component can take up to 10 years – or more – to complete.

Certification

There is no federal or state requirement for forensic scientists to become registered or certified, but there are options for peer certification that may assist in finding employment as a forensic scientist. For instance, the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) offers certification both in general forensic science knowledge as well as specialities such as toxicology, fingerprints, and firearms.

Specialization

Although organizations like the Bureau of Labor Statistics tend to group all forensic scientists together as “Forensic Science Technicians” the reality of the work is that of specialization. Forensic scientists may choose to specialize in anything from blood spatter analysis to DNA research. These specializations may be pursued at the graduate level or as a post-graduate certification after gaining some hands-on experience in a laboratory or in the field. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences, which offers a student membership, recognizes the following specialties in the forensic field:

  • Anthropology
  • Criminalistics
  • Digital & Multimedia Sciences
  • Engineering Sciences
  • General
  • Jurisprudence
  • Odontology
  • Pathology/Biology
  • Psychiatry & Behavioral Science
  • Questioned Documents
  • Toxicology

How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator in New Mexico

While working as a forensic science technician can certainly be a fulfilling career, there are those who are more interested in working in the field as a crime scene investigator. The pathway to a successful career as a CSI in New Mexico is similar to that of a forensic scientist, but not identical.

High School

Like forensic scientists, crime scene investigators will need to have a high school degree for most jobs. Taking as many math and science courses as possible – and excelling in them – is recommended for those high school students who want to pursue a career as a crime scene investigator.

Undergraduate Education

After high school, there are two common paths for crime scene investigators. Some choose to study towards an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a related field, while others choose to enter law enforcement. Both of these paths can lead to eventual employment as a crime scene investigator. Choosing a law enforcement path means that prospective CSIs will have to complete a police academy training, which takes an average of 6 months. Though it is rigorous, it is a shorter training time than an undergraduate degree, which takes on average 4 years to earn.

On the Job Experience

Much of the training of a crime scene investigator comes from on the job experience, either through law enforcement work, internships or entry level positions.

Certification

As with forensic scientists, there is no legal requirement for certification in crime scene investigation. However, certification as a CSI can help in obtaining jobs, particularly for those that are new to the career. CSI certification is available from organizations like the International Association for Identification (IAI), the International Crime Scene Investigators Association (ICSIA), and the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute (ACFEI).

Occupational Demand in New Mexico

Both forensic scientists and crime scene investigators are classified as “Forensic Science Technicians” by the BLS. Unfortunately, New Mexico is not the state with the highest demand for forensic scientists. According to the BLS, in May 2014 between 30 and 70 forensic science technicians were employed in New Mexico during that time period. The occupation overall is expected to grow by 6% through the year 2022, which is a bit slower than the average pace for all occupations. In New Mexico, that rate is only predicted to be about 4%.

The median annual salary for a forensic science technician in the U.S. is $55,400 according to BLS data as reported on O*Net OnLine. The expected salaries for forensic science technicians in New Mexico are as follows:

    • High: $74,300
    • Median: $57,000
    • Low: $32,000

The highest concentration of jobs for forensic scientists tend to be in more densely populated areas. New Mexico consist of large swaths of rural land that is not densely populated (the state is ranked 45th in the U.S. for population density), therefore most of the forensic science jobs are likely to be concentrated in cities like Albuquerque and Las Cruces, which are the two most populous cities.

Featured Forensic Science Colleges in New Mexico

Both graduate and undergraduate studies in forensic science are available in New Mexico. Upon successfully completing high school, as well as any general education prerequisites, student can apply to any of the following programs in the state:

  • Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU): Located in rural Portales, New Mexico, ENMU offers undergraduate degrees in Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Biology, and Forensic Chemistry. It is the only program in New Mexico that has been accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). The program includes 35 hours of core coursework in addition to courses in the student’s chosen specialization.
  • University of New Mexico (UNM): The University of New Mexico, at its main campus, offers an undergraduate degree in criminology. Students can place particular emphasis on learning law enforcement or can take a track that will lead them to graduate studies in criminology, depending on their career goals.
  • University of New Mexico – Gallup (UNM – Gallup): At its Gallup, New Mexico campus, UNM offers an Associate of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. The program requires 29 credits of criminal justice core coursework along with 6 credits of criminal justice electives.

Hybrid & Online Programs in New Mexico

There are any reasons why a forensic science student may prefer or require online coursework. There are schools around the country that can accommodate these determined learners, including programs based in New Mexico.

  • New Mexico State University (NMSU): NMSU offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice, which would be appropriate for those pursuing crime scene investigation as a career. The program is one of the oldest in the U.S., first having started in 1962 and is currently the largest program in the school’s College of Arts and Sciences. Both the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees are offered with an online learning component. An undergraduate must have completed enough coursework to be considered a sophomore before enrolling in online learning.

It should certainly be noted that even those programs that take place online may require hands-on laboratory experience prior to graduation. While distance learning can be extremely effective in many ways, there are some career prerequisites that require a student’s physical presence.

Program Accreditation & Certification

Before enrolling in any program, students should be sure to verify its accreditation. Although the process differs between agencies, most accrediting agencies require a thorough self-study as well as a site visit that confirms facilities, faculty, and curricula before offering accreditation.

FEPAC is the main accrediting agency for forensic science programs, but not all programs have yet been recognized by FEPAC. Other accrediting agencies, for forensic science and for institutions of higher learning in New Mexico include the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Those interested in pursuing individual certification in forensic science, crime scene investigation, or other forensic specialties should visit:

School NameCityWebsiteDegrees AwardedCertificates AwardedTotal Forensics Grads
Eastern New Mexico University-Main CampusPortales303

School data provided by IPEDS (2013), and includes all certificates and degrees awarded for the following programs: Arson Investigation, Computer Forensics, Forensic Accounting, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Psychology, Forensic Science and Technology, and Law Enforcement Investigation

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