Thinking about beginning the search for accelerated CSI degrees? You’re in good company. Many people who already work in law enforcement choose to get accelerated CSI degrees to allow them to advance in their career field fast. When you choose an accelerated degree, you’re going to have to work hard, but you’ll get the degree that you want in much less time than if you went with a traditional degree program option.
Many accelerated degree programs offer blended learning formats, allowing you to do some of your work in the classroom setting and other work in an online setting. This can make an accelerated degree program doable for someone who is also working to advance their career while advancing their education. You’ll want to check in with your academic adviser about the average time commitment for your accelerated program to make sure you’re not overextending yourself if you choose to work while also earning your degree.
How We Ranked the Best Accelerated CSI Degrees
Bachelor’s Degree Center editors begin the process by researching accredited, reputable online programs in criminal justice and forensics that offer an accelerated option. Then, we ranked programs according to alumni salary, reputation, and tuition rate, using Niche and IPEDS data.
1. Florida State University
Florida State University’s Public Safety and Security Program offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Crime Scene Investigation. It is recognized as one of the best accelerated CSI degrees available in Florida by the BestSchools.com. Students enrolled in Florida State University’s CSI degree program can further refine their academic choices by adding a certificate in underwater crime investigation or law enforcement intelligence. Students attending FSU’s CSI degree program must complete 120 credit hours in coursework that includes criminal investigation, evidential reasoning, forensic science, pattern evidence, forensic death investigation, and crime science professionalism, to name a few.
Florida State University was founded in 1851. FSU is a sea-grant and space-grant institution of higher education and a member school of the State University System of Florida. The university’s campus in the state’s capital is home to more than 41,400 students.
What We Like: Florida State University operates the Ringling Museum of Art.
Degree: Crime Scene Investigation, BS
2. Baker College
Baker College offers an accelerated BS in Criminal Justice. Coursework for Baker College’s best accelerated CSI degrees includes criminal justice concepts, victimology, criminology, inequality and crime, law and society, and youth and crime, to name a few. Students may take the program online with a two-year completion date anticipated if a student takes one course each semester. Students must complete 33 credit units in the criminal investigation curriculum to graduate with a Crime Scene Investigation major. Baker College is recognized among the military-friendly schools in the United States.
Baker College was founded in 1911. The college’s main campus covers more than 50 acres and serves more than 34,000 students. Baker College was victorious in the 2008 and 2009 national Cyber Defense Competition for colleges.
What We Like: Baker College operates a dozen campuses through Michigan’s lower peninsula, including a culinary institute.
Degree: Criminal Justice, BS
3. Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University’s Department of Entomology offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Forensic & Investigative Sciences that can be completed as accelerated CSI degrees. Texas A&M University’s CSI degrees have received accreditation from The American Academy of Forensic Sciences’ Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC). Students can opt for a FEPAC accredited track with a science emphasis or a pre-law track that is not-accredited b FEPAC. Coursework for this program includes biotechnology and forensics, problem-solving case studies, forensic implications, principles of science and law, and applied forensic entomology, to name a few.
Texas A&M (A&M) University was established in 1871 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. The university’s campus in College Station covers more than 5,100 acres and serves more than 69,500 students.
What We Like: Texas A&M University holds the distinction of being the first institute of higher learning in the Lone Star State.
Degree: Forensic and Investigative Sciences, BS
Texas A&M University Forensic and Investigative Sciences, BS
4. Florida International University
Florida International University’s Green School of International and Public Affairs offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Crime Science (BSCS). FIU’s programs offer students accelerated CSI Degrees with coursework that includes criminological theory, crime mapping, statistics, courts, and forensic science and cybercrime, to name a few. Crime scene majors at Florida International University must complete core curriculum courses that total 40 credit hours. This program is available online and through the Modesto A Maidique Campus in the western portion of Miami-Dade County in South Florida.
Florida International University was established in 1965. FIU is organized into eleven schools/colleges that serve nearly 59,000 students. The school also operates campuses in Downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay.
What We Like: Florida International University is a research, member school of the State University System of Florida.
Degree: Crime Science, BS
5. American InterContinental University
American InterContinental University offers a BS in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Forensic Science that is considered one of the top accelerated CSI degrees located in the midwestern portion of the United States. Students enrolled in American InterContinental University CSI degree programs must complete 180 credit units to graduate. This program is available in Houston, Atlanta, and through the school’s distance learning programs. Coursework for this CSI degree program includes forensic biology, criminal investigations, medicolegal death investigation, forensic psychology, psychopathology, and cybercrimes, to name a few.
American InterContinental University was established as a for-profit in 1970. The school’s campuses ‑both virtual and on-campus, serve more than 15,000 students. Branch campuses of American InterContinental University are located in Atlanta, Florida, Texas, London, and Los Angeles, among others.
What We Like: American InterContinental University was established by an American couple in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Degree: Criminal Justice: Forensic Science, BS
6. Troy University
Troy University offers a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice program that prepares students for careers as a bailiff, emergency management director, patrol officer, security guard, railroad police or detective, among others. These accelerated CSI degree programs from Troy University are available online and six on-campus options through Troy University. Students enrolled in Troy University’s CSI degree program must complete 120 credit units to graduate, including coursework like law enforcement, constitutional law, corrections, victim advocacy criminal research methods, and criminology, to name a few.
Troy University (Troy) was established in 1887 as a teacher training school. The school’s campus covers more than 800 acres and is located in Troy, AL. Troy University operates more than 50 academic sites in the United States.
What We Like: Troy University is a conglomeration of several schools, Troy State in Montgomery, Phenix City, Troy and Dothan, AL.
Degree: Criminal Justice
7. West Virginia University
West Virginia University’s Department of Forensic and Investigative Science offers a Bachelor of Science degree program in Forensic and Investigative Science that offers students three academic tracks in Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Biology or Forensic Examiner. WVU manages more than 200 internships sites throughout the country for students enrolled in their programs – including an ongoing agreement with the criminal justice division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). WVU’s accelerated CSI degrees offer students tremendous research opportunities and an early college program.
West Virginia University was founded in 1768 under the Morrill Land Grant Act. The school is also a space-grant and flagship institution of higher education. The main campus in Morgantown is organized into fourteen colleges/schools and serves nearly 30,000 students.
What We Like: West Virginia University operates academic outreach centers in each of West Virginia’s fifty-five counties.
Degree: Forensic and Investigative Science, BS
8. Lamar University
Lamar University offers accelerated CSI degrees through the school’s online division. The Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Criminal Justice is offered with rolling admissions. Coursework for Lamar University’s accelerated CSI degree program includes 120 credit units, including ethical issues in criminal justice, deviant behavior, social theory, organized crime, internet security, police problems, response to crime and law, and ethics in criminal justice. Students complete 45 credit hours chosen from the advanced CSI elective curriculum. Students at Lamar University have multiple opportunities to participate in internships throughout Texas.
Lamar University (Lamar) was established in 1923 as South Park Junior College. Lamar University operates as a member school of the Texas State University system since the mid-1990s. The school’s 285+ urban acres in Beaumont, Texas, serves more than 15,000 students.
What We Like: Lamar University’s name honors the second president of the Texas Republic.
Degree: Criminal Justice, BS
9. University of Maryland — Universities at Shady Grove
The Universities at Shady Grove offers a BS in Investigative Forensics that requires enrolled students to complete 120 credit hours to graduate. The Universities at Shady Grove’s accelerated CSI degrees may approve up to 90 transfer credits for incoming students. Classes for this CSI degree include investigative forensics, digital analysis, crime scene investigation, cybercrime, fingerprint analysis, and firearms analysis, to name a few.
The Universities at Shady Grove began as a part of the University of Maryland but became reformed and reestablished in 2000. The Universities at Shady Grove offers learners an opportunity to enroll in nine programs from nine higher education institutions on one single campus.
What We Like: students attend classes at the Universities at Shady Grove, but earn academic degrees from the school offering the actual program.
Degree: Investigative Forensics, BS
Universities at Shady Grove BS in Investigative Forensics
10. Sam Houston State University
Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Criminal Justice that is recognized among the oldest and most preeminent accelerated CSI degrees. Both of the accelerated CSI degree programs offered by SHSU are available through the school’s online division. Students enrolled Sam Houston State University’s CSI degree programs have the option of completing an internship for course credit during their senior year at SHSU. Students graduate ready for careers as police or probation officers, fire inspectors, or social workers, to name a few.
Sam Houston State University (SHSU) was founded in 1879 as a teacher’s training institute called the San Houston Normal Institute. Sam Houston State University is recognized as the third oldest public institution of higher education in the Lone Star State. Sam Houston State University serves more than 21,100 students as a member school of the Texas State University System.
What We Like: Sam Houston State University was the first school in the Texas State University System to receive classification as a doctoral research school.
Degree: Criminal Justice, BA/BS
What are the Advantages of an Accelerated CSI Degree Program?
When you choose an accelerated CSI degree program, you’re not just accelerating your education — you’re likely accelerating your career as well. By getting the education you need to move up fast, you’re making it easy for your supervisors to see that you’re willing to put in the hard work necessary to succeed in your career. If you need to alter your schedule you accommodate your education, be sure to talk with your supervisor before committing to a degree program.
Can I Become a Crime Scene Investigator with a Bachelor’s Degree?
Wondering what degree do you need for CSI work? Curious about what degree is needed to be a crime scene investigator? Wondering whether your bachelor’s can help you get a CSI job? Yes, you can use your bachelor’s degree for crime scene investigator positions. While there are CSI degrees that are specific to crime scene investigation careers, you do not necessarily need a CSI degree to work within the crime scene investigation department of a law enforcement agency.
Many people who want to eventually earn an accelerated degree in CSI start out with a different degree. Whether degrees for CSI were unavailable when they went to college, or they weren’t sure which career path they eventually wanted to pursue, many people who work in CSI have degrees in psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, sociology, and more. There’s no one degree needed for CSI. If you’re wondering what degree do you need to be a CSI official, the news is good: many CSI departments hire applicants from a variety of academic backgrounds.
What Kinds of Jobs are in Crime Scene Investigation?
When you’re looking for jobs in CSI, it’s important that you fully understand the different specialties that fall under the crime scene investigator job umbrella. While some people assume that all CSI jobs involve dealing with blood and other evidence from violent crimes, the truth is not always quite so sensational. Some people who gain CSI employment work as gatherers of evidence for all types of crimes. This could mean working with financial firms to seize assets after a fraud conviction, or it could mean going to the scene of a traffic accident and taking measurements of skid marks to determine who is at fault. Other types of CSI jobs include crime scene photography, detective work, supervising others, and communicating with police officers and lawyers regarding the evidence found at the crime scene.
As with most jobs in law enforcement, it’s key for people who work in CSI to have strong teamwork and communication skills. People who work in CSI need to be able to work quickly under pressure, and must be able to cope with a schedule that is not always regular. When a crime occurs, crime scene investigation professionals may need to go to work right away, even if it’s the middle of the night or on a weekend. While the job is stressful, it can be incredibly rewarding for people who love the work.
What If I Don’t Want a Bachelor’s Degree?
If you’re interested in working in CSI but don’t want to get a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to get an entry level position in crime scene investigation program with a CSI certificate. A crime scene investigation certificate online can be especially valuable if you already have experience working in law enforcement and would like to transition into the department of crime scene investigation.
If you’re already working for a law enforcement agency, talk with your crime scene investigation department about the type of experience and education required to earn a job in their department. You may also want to ask about tuition assistance for CSI certificate programs. Your organization may pay for part or all of your tuition. You may also have the option to earn your crime scene investigation certificate now, and go on to get your bachelor’s degree later, with tuition assistance from your law enforcement organization.