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A career in forensic science can be especially fulfilling to people who have a passion for these disciplines: forensic science often combines chemistry, biology, computer technology, psychology, anthropology, DNA science, and, of course, law and criminal justice. Of course, such a broad and complex field requires a lot of specialized training. While many people start their careers at the entry level, with an associate’s degree, if you ever want to be the director of a lab or move into managerial roles, a higher degree is necessary.

Working professionals can start that process with a forensic science degree online, which allows them to keep their current job while earning their degree. It also gives them the chance to apply what they’re learning in their day-to-day work. Online degrees are more convenient, but for students looking for an online degree in criminal forensics, affordability may be the biggest selling point. A higher degree that helps you enhance your career without putting you into debt – that’s a real value.

Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Forensic Science Degree Online Programs

Bachelor’s Degree Center makes a point of featuring colleges and universities that offer accredited, reputable degree programs and make a real, positive impact on students’ careers. All of the schools on the 10 Most Affordable Forensic Science Degree Bachelor Programs for 2019 have proven their worth, but for ordering the most affordable ranking, only one thing matters: cost. Schools are arranged from lowest tuition cost to highest, according to current IPEDS data.

1. Miami Dade College

Miami Dade College’s online Bachelor of Applied Science in Public Safety Management offers a specialty in Crime Scene Investigation. This forensic science degree online is designed for students who hold an associate’s degree with a Grade Point Average of 2.0 or better. Coursework includes Crime Science Technology, Criminal Evidence, Crime Scene Safety, and Fingerprint Technology. Generally, typically finish the 60-credit specialty degree in two years. Graduates are prepared to enter the public safety sector that includes the Secret Service, the FBI, ICE, and the Marshall Service.

Miami Dade College is a public school that was established in 1959. The school operates from eight campuses in the greater metro Miami area. With more than 165,000, the college holds the distinction of being the largest in the Florida College System and the second largest institution of higher learning in the country. Miami Dade’s online degree is considered one of the most affordable in the nation.

Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science in Public Safety Management – Crime Scene Investigation

2. University of North Carolina at Pembroke

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Criminal Justice Studies Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Forensics prepares graduates for careers in the fields of corrections, courts or traditional police work. This degree in criminal forensics is divided into 4 educational components – General Education, Core Educational Requirements, Elective Requirements, and Forensic Specialty Coursework. Students graduate with a comprehensive education and practical training that allows for advancement in their chosen field, or even an opportunity to start their own business.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke was founded in 1887 and remains a historically American Indian liberal arts school. UNCP is one of seventeen member schools that are organized under the University of North Carolina system. The school has ranked nationally in a number of college categories. The school is located between the North Carolina coastline and the beautiful mountains in Western North Carolina.

Degree: BIS in Criminal Justice Studies – Forensics

3. Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global’s online BS in Criminal Justice degree program prepares students with both necessary, fundamental criminal justice knowledge and the specialized training required for forensics. Purdue Global is one of the most affordable online forensic science colleges offering two select educational paths. The Crime Scene Investigation path focuses on how to manage crime scene evidence in accordance with industry standards. The Forensic Psychology path focuses on how the field of psychology impacts the people navigating the criminal justice system. Graduates find successful career opportunities in a variety of criminal justice fields that include counter-terrorism, probation, and public safety, among many others.

Purdue University Global is the distance learning school arm of the Purdue University System. Purdue University Global was created when Purdue University purchased the private education company that was once known as Kaplan University. PG’s seven divisions serve more than 30,000 students. PG’s programs are generally career-centric and focus on the adult learner. Degree options are available for bachelors, masters, and doctorate coursework.

Degree: BS in Criminal Justice – Crime Scene Investigation or Forensic Psychology

4. SUNY Canton

SUNY Canton’s Bachelor’s of Technology in Criminal Investigation prepares students for a career in forensics. Graduates from this forensic science degree online are also required to complete a unique and innovative internship within a variety of criminal investigative settings. Coursework includes the application of investigative skills, fingerprint technology, the management of homicide investigations, and investigative photograph techniques. SUNY Canton also offers an associate’s level online crime scene investigation certificate.

The State University of New York (SUNY) at Canton was established in 1906 and is a member school of the State University of New York system. SUNY Canton’s campus is located near the New York — Canadian border that makes the school accessible to the Canadian cities of Montreal and Ottawa. Students from the School of Science, Health and Criminal Justice are home at Cook Hall, which includes cutting edge science/medical facilities.

Degree: Bachelor of Technology in Criminal Investigation

5. American Intercontinental University

American Intercontinental University’s BS in Criminal Justice includes a specialization in Forensic Science. AIU’s forensic science degree online is an integrative effort that combines the disciplines of law enforcement, science education, and the practical application of crime scene techniques. American Intercontinental University’s criminal justice degree requires students to complete 180-credit hours. AIU offers reduced military rats, transfer credits, scholarships, and grants. Students can opt to complete the program as a part-time student or a full-time student.

American Intercontinental University was established in 1970 in Lucerne, Switzerland. The school operates as a for-profit school offering degrees on a doctoral, masters and bachelors level. AIU’s branch campuses include Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, London, and Dubai. American Intercontinental University serves more than 15,000 students each semester. The school has been recognized as a ‘best college’ by Military Times.

Degree: BS in Criminal Justice – Forensic Science

6. Arizona State University

Arizona State University Online’s BS in Psychology degree program offers with a concentration in Forensic Psychology that can be completed in 120-credit hours. Classes are offered in seven and a half week terms for quick completion. The New College of Interdisciplinary provides the platform on which a student can complete ASU blends coursework from the fields of mental health and crime. Each class contributes to the student’s comprehensive education and applied real-world skills.

Arizona State University is a public university that was founded in 1885 as a land grant school; 27 years before Arizona became a state. The school operates several regional learning centers throughout the state in addition to its 5 campuses located across the greater Phoenix area. In 2017, US News and World Report ranked ASU 61st, among 1,800 public universities. By enrollment, ASU is one of the largest universities in the country.

Degree: BS in Forensic Psychology

7. Portland State University

Portland State University’s online BS in Criminal Justice includes a Certificate in Advanced Crime Analysis. PSU’s online crime scene investigation certificate (within the baccalaureate degree program) develops each student’s practical skills in the realm of forensics. PSU’s BS in Criminal Justice degree can be earned exclusively online. Students graduate with the comprehensive knowledge and know-how to manage a crime scene investigation appropriately.

Portland State University was established in 1946 as a public institution of higher learning in Portland’s university district. The school consists of seven affiliated colleges that offer more than 120-degree options. The school’s 50-acre urban campus is home to nearly 30,000 students. Portland State University is recognized nationally for its online criminal justice bachelor’s degree. Portland State University adheres to a campus-wide student-centric philosophy.

Degree: BS in Criminal Justice – Certificate in Advanced Crime Analysis

8. Florida State University

Florida State University’s online BS in Public Safety and Security includes a Crime Scene Investigation concentration. This associate’s degree program is completed in 2 years with all classes offered online, except lab work is done on campus in the summer semester. Students graduate with the skills required succeeding in the fields of law enforcement, corrections, technology, and the law.

Florida State University was established in 1851 and is a member school of the State University of Florida. The school holds the distinction of being the longest continuing institution of higher learning in the state. US News and World Report recognize FSU as a top public school in the country. Florida State University is a land grant, space-grant, and sea-grant university that is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Degree: BS in Public Safety and Security – Crime Scene Investigation

9. CSU-Global Campus

The Colorado State University-Global Campus BS in Criminal Justice offers an advanced focus in the area of Criminal Forensics. This forensic science degree online is an interdisciplinary approach that includes the fields of social work, public safety, and law enforcement. This forensic specialty requires 30-credit hours of core specialty courses within a 120 credit hour baccalaureate program. Students graduate ready for gainful employment as a criminal investigator, medical examiner, or crime analyst.

Colorado State University-Global was founded in 2007 and operates as the distance-learning arm of Colorado State University. The school is affiliated with Colorado State University and has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Colorado State University-Pueblo. The school offers its online programs using the ‘Schoology’ platform. Colorado State University offers a tuition guarantee for students who remain continuously enrolled.

Degree: BS in Criminal Justice – Criminal Forensics

10. Kent State University

Kent State University’s online forensic science baccalaureate degree program offers two tracks. The school’s Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies in Fraud Examination readies graduates for complex work in the business/financial sector regarding fraud and financial abuse. Kent States’ BS in Information Technology with a focus in Applied Computer Security and Forensics prepares graduates to succeed in the field of computing infrastructure and application development.

Kent State University is a public university that operates seven campuses in the Northeast portion of the State of Ohio. The school was founded in 1910 and is one of the largest institutions of higher learning in Ohio with an overall student enrollment nearing 40,000. Kent State is one of the most affordable online forensic science colleges. Kent State took home first prize for the distinguished Healthy Campus Award. Kent State University is home to the country’s first gluten-free campus dining hall.

Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies – Fraud Examination
BS in Information Technology – Applied Computer Security and Forensics

What Kind of Education Do I Need to Become a Crime Scene Investigator?

One of the most daunting tasks in pursuing forensic science is the educational aspect, particularly the costliness of it. So you are looking to get an education in forensic science but are worried about money. If that is the case, you’re not alone; college tuition in America has become an extremely expensive problem and many students are wanting to avoid a massive amount of debt. Affordable higher education is out there, you just need to know where to find it.

Becoming a general forensic scientist or a forensic science technician isn’t the only available option to you. There are various areas of concentration within the field of forensic science and crime scene forensics is one of those concentrations. Crime scene forensics is appealing to those who are interested in combing actual crime scenes to collect and preserve evidence. Think of the TV series CSI. In order to specialize in this area, the student will need a crime scene investigator education and training.

Crime scene investigator requirements include the following: a bachelor’s degree (usually in forensic science, forensic anthropology, or forensic biology), on-the-job training under a supervisor, and a crime scene investigation certificate. It also helps if the aspiring investigator has strong analytical skills and an eye for detail. Online crime scene investigation certificates are available to forensic scientists who work best under a virtual program. It’s common for people already working in the field of forensic science to also be pursuing an education in special areas like crime scene investigation.

Can I Get a Forensic Science Degree Online for Free?

No. In fact, it’s pretty unlikely to get a free degree anywhere. There are free non-credit courses and educational resources that teach certain areas of forensic science. While these online courses won’t go toward a degree, aspiring forensic scientists can take the courses to test whether a career in this field is right for them. For instance, someone interested in crime scene forensics could find an online course in it.

However, to receive a full online degree in forensic science, the career seeker will need to earn an education from a FEPAC accredited forensic science program. It also helps to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.

On average, tuition for a forensic science bachelor’s degree can cost around $4955 to $9,232 a year. Tuition tends to be more expensive for people who attend college out of state. Online guides are available to list the most affordable colleges and programs. Certain guides will do comparisons of forensic science programs for you. You can also look into scholarships and organizations dedicated to providing student financial aid.

What’s the Return on Investment for an Online Crime Scene Investigation Degree?

According to the Crime Scene Investigator EDU, the median annual salary for crime scene investigators is between $51,100 to $94,800. Meanwhile, the average forensic science technician earns about $57,850 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Outlook is also great for this field, with job growth expected to grow by 17 percent in the next decade. While forensic science isn’t easy to learn, lovers of both science and criminal justice find its pursuit to be worthwhile in the long term.

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25 Best Bachelor’s in Forensic Science Degree Programs for 2019
15 Best Online Forensic Science Degree Bachelor’s Programs for 2019
10 Fastest Online Forensic Science Degree Bachelor’s Programs for 2019