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Forensics Colleges in New York (NY)

In popular culture and the collective imagination, few American states have gotten as much attention for their forensic science—real or imagined—as New York (NY). From Batman’s Gotham City to NYPD Blue and CSI: NY, the Empire State is renowned for its morbidly creative crimes and potential for investigating juicy mysteries.

Luckily for aspiring crime solvers in New York, there are several quality forensic science programs in the state, both on-campus and distance-based, as well as a healthy employment landscape for these trained professionals.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2021), forensic science technicians make an average of $81,370 annually in NY, nearly 22 percent more than the national average for this occupation ($66,850).

Students interested in this field should note that becoming a forensic science technician is just one of many career options for program graduates. Another option, becoming a detective or criminal investigator, can be even more lucrative. These specialists make an average annual salary of $107,990 in NY (BLS May 2021), 19 percent more than the national average ($90,370).

Read on below to discover how to become a forensic scientist in NY; 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 New York State

For prospective forensic scientists and technicians in New York, there are a variety of educational and experiential paths, although these professionals typically pursue at least a four-year degree in natural sciences prior to employment. In fact, Career One Stop (2022)—a job-planning tool sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor—reports that 31 percent of forensic science technicians have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 14 percent with associate degrees and 24 percent with some college education.

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

Step 1: Graduate from high school.

Since these specialists often get degrees in physical or natural sciences, strong grades in physics, chemistry, biology, statistics, and mathematics may prepare them for postsecondary work.

Step 2: Pursue a bachelor’s degree (four years).

Many forensic scientists hold a four-year degree, typically a bachelor of science (BS), in a subject such as chemistry, biology, psychology, engineering, and even computer science. The right degree will depend on the person’s intended specialization.

Step 3: Apply for certification through a national organization (optional, timeline varies).

Although certification is not necessary for practice in all branches of forensic science, it can indicate a level of achievement or professional standards to employers, especially in fields that are more competitive. There are 10 professional certification organizations accredited by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB), including the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC), 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: Pursue an advanced degree in forensic science or a specialty discipline (optional, timeline varies).

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

Forensics Career Outlook in New York

It’s no surprise that the metropolitan region around the Big Apple is one of the top-paying and top-employing regions for forensic science technicians in the state, especially among public law enforcement agencies and their affiliates. According to the New York Office of Forensic Services (OFS)—a sub-branch of the NY Division of Criminal Justice Services—there are 20 accredited public forensic laboratories (e.g., NYC Police Department Police Laboratory, Monroe County Public Safety Laboratory, Onondaga County Center for Forensic Sciences). The OFS is tasked with the administrative oversight of the NY State DNA databank and upholding the standards of lab accreditation in each of its precincts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022) projected an 11 percent increase in openings for forensic science technicians around the country between 2021 and 2031, much faster than the average growth expected across all occupations during that period (5 percent).

The outlook is even brighter for residents of the Empire State. Projections Central (2023) found that demand for forensic science technicians in New York specifically is expected to grow 24.7 percent between 2020 and 2030.

The availability of openings is partly driven by advancements in technology and instrumentation. Therefore, pioneering techniques in chemistry, biology, and other sciences can continue to shape the employment landscape and help resolve the backlogs of cases in forensic labs, especially concerning DNA analyses.

Degrees in forensic sciences can be versatile and these graduates in New York may go into a variety of careers such as:

  • Medical examiner
  • Forensic engineer
  • Crime scene examiner
  • Crime laboratory analyst
  • Physical anthropologist
  • Document examiner
  • Behavior scientist
  • Criminal profiler
  • Digital analyst

The education, training, and experiential requirements may vary for these professions. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) provides a career resource list with organizations, professional associations, and networking opportunities across a range of disciplines in forensic science.

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 a profiler, crime scene technician, forensic psychologist, forensic accountant, detective, and more.

Forensics Salaries in New York

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Not only are forensic science technician occupations among the fastest growing in New York, but the state also employs the fifth most workers in this field relative to other US states. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2021) reported 760 forensic science technicians in the state.

Furthermore, the state boasts higher-than-average wages for forensic science technicians. As proof of point, the United States employs 17,020 forensic science technicians with an average annual salary (mean annual wage) of $66,850. In NY, the average salary in this field is $81,370.

In more detailed terms, here is a breakdown of the salary percentiles among all forensic science technicians in the country compared with New Yorkers (BLS May 2021):

United States New York
Number of Forensic Science Technicians Employed 17,020 760
Annual Mean Wage $66,850 $81,370
10th percentile $37,670 $50,390
25th percentile $47,750 $63,870
50th percentile $61,930 $80,170
75th percentile $80,670 $98,560
90th percentile $103,430 $106,360

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (April 2023), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the forensic science techs reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles for the US:

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $48,166
  • 90th percentile: $59,000

It is important to note that while the wages in New York are higher than national wages, so too is the cost of living. For illustration, the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2023) reported that NY is the fifth most expensive state in the country, particularly for housing. The Empire State comes in behind only Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and California. A high cost of living means that even higher than average salaries will not go as far as they would in other states, so prospective forensic science technicians should keep that in mind while evaluating the state’s salary data.

Not surprisingly, the wages for forensic science technicians tended to vary by region within the state of New York as well. The 530 forensic science technicians in New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA earned the highest average salary of $84,090.

Featured Forensic Science Schools in New York

There is an abundance of forensic science colleges in New York State, including four programs accredited by the prestigious Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). This organization weighs factors such as faculty achievements, curriculum content, student outcomes, and the production of quality research. While graduating from one of these accredited programs is not required to join most forensic science careers, it can indicate a student’s merit to prospective employers due to FEPAC’s scrupulous evaluation standards.

The FEPAC-accredited programs in NY are:

Syracuse University

Syracuse University offers a variety of graduate programs and certificates in forensic science, including its FEPAC-accredited master of science (MS) in forensic science. The school’s Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI) boasts a world-class faculty and ample opportunities for students to practice what they learn in real-world settings.

The MS program provides hands-on training through its partnerships with the New York State Police Crime Laboratory System, Brookhaven National Laboratory, LGS Bell Labs Innovations, and other facilities. This flexible program can be tailored to student career goals and schedules. Graduates have gone on to work at private research companies, forensics laboratories, and federal agencies, among other employing organizations.

This 36-credit program includes courses such as advanced forensic science; statistics for forensic science; research and career resources; quality assurance and ethics; forensic chemical analysis; and crime scene investigation, among others. The program offers several concentration options in biology; crime scene investigation; forensic anthropology; forensic chemistry; impressions evidence; jurisprudence; linguistics; medicolegal death investigation; national security; psychiatry & behavioral science; and toxicology.

Notably, Syracuse University offers several other forensics programs, including an MS in biomedical forensic science, an MS in medicolegal death investigation, an MS in digital forensics, a dual-degree JD/MS in forensic science, a certificate in firearm and tool mark examination, and a certificate in advanced medicolegal death investigation.

  • Location: Syracuse, NY
  • Accreditation: FEPAC; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,802 per credit

Buffalo State College SUNY

Buffalo State SUNY offers a bachelor of science (BS) in forensic chemistry. Developed in 1971, this rigorous program combines didactic coursework with renowned faculty and hands-on internships working with experienced crime scene investigators. Graduates of Buffalo State have gone into several careers in local and state forensic science labs, as well as into graduate studies or professional schools in toxicology, food science, and pharmaceuticals, to name a few.

This 120- to 126-credit program includes courses such as forensic anthropology; forensic geoscience; forensic psychology; fundamentals of chemistry; organic chemistry; biochemistry; scientific criminal evidence analysis; chemistry and criminalistics; professional practices in forensic science; and general microbiology, among others.

  • Location: Buffalo, NY
  • Accreditation: FEPAC; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($295 per credit); out-of-state ($708 per credit)

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC provides many degrees for aspiring forensic science professionals, including its FEPAC-accredited master of science (MS) in forensic science. This program is ideal for administrators, directors, and other leaders in crime-solving facilities. It boasts three distinct specializations: criminalistics, molecular biology, and forensic toxicology. Additionally, John Jay has two online master’s programs: security management (for those interested in computer forensics) and public administration.

The MS in forensic science program consists of 41 to 43 credits including courses such as physical and biological evidence; fundamentals of forensic toxicology; advanced criminalistics; advanced instrumental analysis; forensic DNA technology; advanced criminalistics; advanced genetics; forensic examination of firearms and toolmarks; and crime scene investigation for forensic scientists.

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Accreditation: FEPAC; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($470 per credit); out-of-state ($855 per credit)

Alfred State – SUNY College of Technology

Alfred State, located in Alfred, NY, offers a FEPAC-accredited BS in forensic science technology. The BS program is highly focused on laboratory sciences, giving students the hands-on experience they need for the rigors of a real forensic lab. In addition to core science work, students at Alfred State are trained in the usage and theory of modern instrumental techniques that crime labs use nationwide.

Made up of 122 credits, the program includes courses such as chemical principles; general biology; topics in forensic science; organic chemistry; statistical methods & analysis; introduction to criminal justice; biochemistry; principles of microbiology; genetics; instrumental analysis; law & criminal evidence; microscopy and criminalistics; biotechniques; and forensic chemistry.

  • Location: Alfred, NY
  • Accreditation: FEPAC; Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($295 per credit); out-of-state ($708 per credit)

Other featured options for forensic science degrees in New York include:

Hudson Valley Community College

Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Troy has several programs that may appeal to entry-level aspiring forensic scientists, including an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in criminal justice, an associate of science (AS) in forensic science, and an AS in criminal justice.

The school’s 62-credit forensic science program, in particular, has sent many graduates to work with the NY State Police Forensics Investigation Center. With coursework in organic chemistry; cell biology; forensic science; criminology; genetics; biochemistry; and criminal justice, this program transfers seamlessly to the FEPAC-accredited John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

  • Location: Troy, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: New York state resident ($200 per credit); New York state non-resident ($400 per credit)

Pace University

Pace University in the Big Apple offers both bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees in forensic science. With the support of the chemistry and biology departments, these programs have access to an innovative DNA sequencing lab and specialized equipment for crime scene construction, document analysis, and forensic microscopy. In combination with the state-of-the-art facilities, Pace employs a number of real forensics experts as faculty who cut their teeth on crime-solving in NYC.

The 128-credit BS program includes courses such as genetics; introduction to toxicology; mathematical methods for physical chemistry; organic chemistry; biochemistry; forensic microscopy; crime scene processing; basic criminalistics; forensic biology; and introductory statistics for the life sciences.

The master of science program comprises 40 credits and includes courses such as professional issues in forensic science; forensic separations chemistry; analytical spectroscopy; crime scene investigation and reconstruction; forensic anthropology; and principles of forensic pharmacology.

  • Location: Pleasantville, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: BS ($1,381 per credit); MS ($1,350 per credit)

Hofstra University

Hofstra University offers a bachelor of science program in forensic science providing students with a solid foundation in natural and physical sciences acquainting them with several relevant aspects of the legal system.

The program comprises 124 credits and includes courses such as foundations of biochemistry; biostatistics; foundations of analytical chemistry; forensic microscopy; methods in trace analysis; crime scene investigation methods; survey in forensic science; quality assurance in forensic science; forensic expert witness testimony; and forensic biotechnology. The program also includes an internship.

Graduates will be able to pursue careers such as forensic science technicians, crime scene investigators, and evidence collection specialists. This program also prepares them for dental school, medical school, and graduate studies in forensic science, and chemistry.

  • Location: Hempstead, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,752 per credit

Hilbert College

Hilbert offers three different degree programs in forensic science: a bachelor of science in forensic science with a laboratory sciences track, a bachelor of science in forensic science with a crime scene investigation track, and a combined 4+1 BS/MS program that lets students earn a bachelor’s degree in forensic science with a crime scene investigation track and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration in five years.

The programs involve more than 400 classroom hours of hands-on forensic training and are taught by expert faculty members who have real-life experience in the field of crime scene investigations. The programs also include internships with law enforcement agencies and investigators. Additionally, Hilbert College also has dedicated forensic labs and mock crime scene rooms.

The curriculum includes courses such as crime and society; computer crime; introduction to criminal justice; introduction to forensic science; photography and imagery; fingerprint evidence; criminal investigations; bloodstain pattern analysis; ethics in the criminal justice system; and forensic biology.

  • Location: Hamburg, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 to 60 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,100 per credit

Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are several more forensic science and related programs available in New York.

In addition to these university-based programs, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in NYC provides a broad-based forensic sciences training program that is sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) for eligible participants. Facilities include the largest DNA lab in the U.S. and groundbreaking equipment for all hazards training and disaster response. Boasting an experienced staff, the program has three sets of training modules: medicolegal death investigation, forensic specialties, and basic bloodstain pattern analysis.

Hybrid and Online Options

In addition to ForensicsColleges’ national listing of online CSI and forensics programs, there are a number of distance-learning opportunities based in New York as well:

Utica College

Utica College offers an online bachelor of science (BS) in cybersecurity degree endorsed by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security in Cyber Defense. Students in this program are provided with a strong foundation of cybersecurity skills and knowledge. They will be able to harness this knowledge for guarding private information, identifying network weaknesses, and defending against threats from malware, hackers, and other cyber threats. There are three unique specializations available: cyber operations; cybercrime and fraud investigation; and digital forensics and incident response.

This 120-credit program includes courses such as computer hardware and peripherals; introduction to cybersecurity; programming for cybersecurity; computer network investigations; digital forensics; network forensics; cyber operations tools; and malware analysis.

  • Location: Utica, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $475 per credit

SUNY Canton

SUNY Canton in northern NY state hosts an online bachelor of technology degree in criminal investigation. In addition to coursework in subjects such as forensic photography, investigation of death, and investigative interviews, as part of the curriculum, students can choose between an internship in Washington D.C. with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives or travel across the U.S. to work in a medical examiner’s office.

Comprising 124 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to criminal justice; criminal law & procedures; introduction to forensic criminology; criminal investigations; law enforcement communications; forensic photography; latent prints and impressions; ethics in criminal justice; crime scene investigation; and a culminating experience in criminal justice.

Graduates will be ready for taking up positions such as crime scene technicians, medical investigators, autopsy technicians, forensic scientists, and criminal investigation officers for police departments.

  • Location: Canton, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $353 per credit

Program Accreditation and Certification

Prospective forensic scientists in New York are encouraged to check the accreditation status of their institution prior to enrolling in a program. While institutional accreditation may not be a prerequisite to employment or further education, it may serve as an indicator of program quality.

While FEPAC accreditation is the gold standard for forensic science programs, it is important to note that a forensic science program that lacks accreditation from FEPAC is not necessarily subpar. Rather, FEPAC accredits only a small number of programs and focuses its efforts on those with heavily science-focused curriculums, making many criminal justice and crime scene investigation programs ineligible for accreditation.

In addition to the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission, there are a number of regional and institution-based accreditation agencies, including:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges

The U.S. Department of Education has a searchable database of all accredited locations and programs.

In addition, professional certification may be advisable to individuals prior to seeking employment. The process of licensure will vary by field, but it typically involves baseline standards of education and experience, as well as an exam or other proof of competence. The Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) currently accredits 10 certification organizations:

  • American Board of Criminalistics (ABC)
  • American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI)
  • American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT)
  • Board of Forensic Document Examiners (BFDE)
  • American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (ABFDE)
  • International Board of Forensic Engineering Sciences (IBFES)
  • American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA)
  • International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS)
  • Certified Fire Investigator Board, International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI)
  • American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO)
School Name City Forensic
Total Forensics
Grads (2016-2017)
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York x x x x 764
SUNY - Farmingdale State College Farmingdale x x 172
Utica College Utica x x 131
Hilbert College Hamburg x x x 47
The College of Saint Rose Albany x x x 33
Hofstra University Hempstead x 24
SUNY - Alfred State College of Technology Alfred x 21
Herkimer College (SUNY) Herkimer x x 19
Syracuse University Syracuse x 18
LIU Post Brookville x 17
CUNY Graduate School and University Center New York x 14
SUNY - Buffalo State Buffalo x 14
Pace University-New York New York x 14
SUNY - Erie Buffalo x 7
Onondaga Community College (SUNY) Syracuse x 6
SUNY - Broome Binghamton x 6
CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College New York x 5
SUNY - Binghamton University Vestal x 5
Hudson Valley Community College Troy x 4
CUNY Hostos Community College Bronx x 3
Roberts Wesleyan College Rochester x 2
St. Thomas Aquinas College Sparkill x 1
CUNY Queensborough Community College Bayside x 1
SUNY - Oswego Oswego x 1
CUNY Kingsborough Community College Brooklyn x 1
SUNY - Columbia-Greene Community College Hudson x 1

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.

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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.