Enrolling in a CSI degree program when you are already working in the criminal justice field is a great way for you to add credentials to your list of achievements. Online degree programs provide you with the latest technology when it comes to investigative tools and techniques. Crime service investigation is one of the top career choices for individuals who have an interest in criminology and forensics. The ability to work and go to school at the same time is a blessing for those who have to support their families.
CSI online degree programs teach the same high-intensity curriculum that students receive if they take their courses in a classroom. CSI degree programs offer students who can’t attend a conventional classroom an opportunity to obtain all of the skills they need to be an effective crime scene investigator. Students are taught how to perform interviews, collect specimens, log their findings, and secure a crime scene. These valuable tools can be used in a variety of career paths in the criminal justice field.
How We Ranked the Best CSI Online Degree Programs
For the Bachelor’s Degree Center ranking of the best CSI degrees online, BDC editors researched trusted, accredited institutions all over the US. With a broad range of choices, editors ranked programs according to their tuition cost, student satisfaction, and salary potential, using data from College Scorecard, IPEDs, and Niche.
1. Purdue University Global
When you are looking for the best CSI online degree to help with your career goals, the bachelor of science in criminal justice with a concentration in crime scene investigation from Purdue University Global is a good choice. The degree program provides students with a strong foundation in the criminal justice system and emphasizes applied research methods to evaluate evidence. It prepares students to handle challenges when working in the field of crime scene investigation.
Purdue University Global encourages students to gain hands-on experience with internships. Students are expected to start an internship and learn from other professionals in crime scene investigation before they graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Since the program is available online, it does offer an accelerated format that allows students to finish their degrees at a fast pace.
What We Like: Purdue University Global offers multiple starting dates for students in the CSI program.
Degree: Criminal Justice: Crime scene investigation, BS
2. Florida International University
Florida International University offers one of the best CSI online degrees at the undergraduate level for students who want to work in crime scene investigation. The Crime Science program emphasizes research and crime mapping, as well as forensic science, to prepare students for a challenging career evaluating evidence left at a crime scene. It ensures that students have a strong foundation in the sciences behind forensics and are able to evaluate and draw conclusions based on the evidence.
Florida International University takes an international approach to CSI studies and requires students to take a foreign language and to complete global learning courses throughout their studies. Students who are fluent in a foreign language may be able to avoid the studies in a language if they show competence in a second language. The focus on international and global crime scene investigation sets the school apart from other programs.
What We Like: Florida International University encourages students to take an internship throughout their studies to gain hands-on experience.
Degree: Crime Science, BS
3. Excelsior College
When you are looking for CSI degrees online that help you start a career in criminal investigation, Excelsior College offers an option to help with your goals. The Criminal Justice degree in the college emphasizes the role of law enforcement, as well as measures to prevent corruption within law enforcement and proper procedures for criminal investigations. The focus on the justice system ensures that students have a strong foundation to help them reach their long-term goals of working in crime scene investigation.
Excelsior College emphasizes psychology, sociology, and criminology as theories before teaching students the practical application of theories in a law enforcement role. The focus on different theories and ideas as it applies to criminal investigations and law enforcement ensures that students are prepared to take on challenging roles in crime scene investigation as they gain experience in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
What We Like: Excelsior College offers credit for military experience and is a military-friendly school.
Degree: Criminal Justice, BS
4. Portland State University
Portland State University offers a Criminology degree that prepares students for the challenges of working in the criminal justice system. The degree program provides students with the fundamental skills and theories they need to evaluate potential criminal behaviors and to find solutions to reduce the rate of criminal activity by addressing the underlying causes of the situation.
Portland State University emphasizes criminology as it applies to the individual, family, and societal focus of the person committing the crime. Since crime scene investigation requires an understanding of criminal behavior, the degree provides students with the basic theories and ideas that help determine why individuals behave in certain ways. It also provides students with a strong foundation in the criminal justice system and current practices to address concerns about the system.
What We Like: Portland State University allows students to transfer credits into the program to speed up the process of completing their degrees.
Degree: Criminology, BCJ
5. Maryville University
Maryville University offers a criminology degree program that helps students focus on their career goals. It provides students with a strong foundation in the criminal justice system and ensures that students have the theories to understand the behavior of criminals and other individuals. The program also offers students a strong foundation in modern technology used in criminal justice to evaluate data and clarify evidence.
Maryville University requires students to take a practicum in their senior year of college to gain hands-on experience in the criminal justice field. Since the school requires students to gain hands-on experience, it offers a solution to help students focus on their long-term goals. It also prepares students for the challenges they may face when working in law enforcement and crime scene investigation.
What We Like: Maryville University offers small class sizes with a student-to-teacher ratio of 14 to one.
Degree: Criminology, BCJ
6. University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati offers a degree in Criminal Justice that prepares students to work in crime scene investigation and law enforcement. The degree program teaches students the theories behind different criminal behaviors and helps them understand the factors that may impact behaviors to result in criminal activity. By understanding the reasons for criminal behavior, students are able to evaluate evidence and recognize different patterns of behavior to solve crimes.
The University of Cincinnati helps students with their career goals by allowing them to join different organizations that relate to the criminal justice system. Students are able to join the Criminal Justice Society, the Student Ambassador Program, or the CEPH Tribunal while they are attending school and working through their online degrees. That ability to connect with others through different organizations ensures that students are able to gain new opportunities for their careers.
What We Like: The University of Cincinnati offers scholarships to students in the online criminal justice program.
Degree: Criminal Justice, BS
7. Norwich University
Norwich University offers a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice that allows students to advance in their careers in law enforcement or to take measures to move into a different area of law enforcement. For students who plan to work in crime scene investigation, the school allows students to select elective courses for a concentration in crime scene investigation that prepares them for the challenges of evaluating evidence.
Norwich University emphasizes flexibility and working at your own pace. That means the online program allows students to advance in their studies when they complete course materials and does not hold students back when they are ready to move forward. The emphasis on flexibility allows students to accelerate their education and complete their degrees at a fast pace.
What We Like: Norwich University allows students to transfer up to 90 credits into the online criminal justice program.
Degree: Criminal Justice, BS
8. Western Carolina University
Western Carolina University offers a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice that prepares students for a career in law enforcement and crime scene investigation. The degree program emphasizes the theories and ideas behind the criminal justice system and criminology. That emphasis on theory ensures that students are able to recognize patterns of behavior and solve crimes through effective problem-solving skills.
Western Carolina University allows students to join Alpha Phi Sigma, or the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, as long as students maintain a high grade point average and meet the standards for honor students. Students are also able to join the Student Association of Criminal Justice Affairs to volunteer in the local community and participate in student-related criminal justice activities.
What We Like: Western Carolina University allows students to transfer credits into the online program from a community college or other universities.
Degree: Criminal Justice, BS
9. Roosevelt University
The Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Roosevelt University prepares students to work in crime scene investigations and other law enforcement positions for their careers. The degree program emphasizes the maintenance of social control while also balancing the rights discussed in the U.S. Constitution. It provides students with a basic understanding of the law and criminology to understand the factors that may contribute to crime. Students are also able to learn about the basics of investigating crime and resolving potential complications with the law.
Roosevelt University emphasizes the Constitutional Rights that apply to individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system. It recognizes that law enforcement professionals must consider the laws that apply to individuals and ensure that the rights of each person are taken into account when evaluating evidence.
What We Like: Roosevelt University requires seniors in the criminal justice program to complete a Capstone project.
Degree: Criminal Justice, BA
10. Utica College
When you want to find the best CSI degrees for specialized areas of crime scene investigation careers, Utica College offers a solution to help with your goals. The Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation program emphasizes specialized training in economic crime scene investigation to prepare students to identify potential crimes and clarify the type of financial crime that occurred. It also allows students to check on corporate compliance with laws and regulations as it relates to the industry.
Utica College stands out by focusing on a highly specialized area of crime scene investigation with a focus on economic crimes. It ensures that students are able to recognize corruption, fraud, and related crimes that may occur in large and small-scale situations. It also provides students with the ability to assist state and federal law enforcement agencies when looking into large-scale crimes.
What We Like: Utica College was the first college in the nation to offer a specialized crime scene investigation degree that focuses on economic or financial crimes.
Degree: Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation, BS
11. Liberty University
Liberty University offers an online CSI degree program that helps you focus on your long-term career goals. The CSI concentration under the Criminal Justice degree emphasizes the skills you need to evaluate a crime scene, maintain proper procedures as required by the law, and protect or record evidence that is vital to a case. The program teaches you about the criminal justice system to prepare you for the challenges of a career as a forensic investigator.
Liberty University stands out from other online programs by providing a fast-paced environment for student learning. The accelerated classes are eight weeks long and allow students to work at their own pace. That focus on providing flexible and fast-paced courses allow students to finish their bachelor’s degree within 3.5 years or to finish up a degree at a fast pace after transferring up to 75 percent of the classes into the program.
What We Like: Liberty University offers multiple start dates for students in the online CSI program.
Degree: Criminal Justice: CSI, BS
12. Champlain College
Students who want to work in crime scene investigations with a focus on economic crimes may find the Economic Crime Investigation degree from Champlain College is a good choice for your goals. The degree program focuses on building up problem-solving skills and analytical skills to ensure that you are able to catch the signs of economic crime. It also provides the training you need to work in financial fraud investigation positions.
Champlain College stands out by emphasizing specialized skills that allow you to focus on a specific area of crime scene investigations. The degree program also prepares you for the Certified Fraud Examiner test and other certification exams to ensure that you are ready to take on specific roles within law enforcement. You can work in federal, state, or local law enforcement when you finish your degree.
What We Like: Champlain College is a military-friendly school that works with active-duty members of the military and veterans who are working on a degree.
Degree: Bachelor’s in Economic Crime Investigation
13. Brandman University
The Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Brandman University is a good option for students who want to work in crime scene investigations with law enforcement. The degree provides students with a strong foundation in the criminal justice system and the law, as well as the basic skills they need to work in forensics and crime scene investigations.
Brandman University stands out by emphasizing the value of multiple viewpoints when looking into criminal law and investigations. It encourages students to think about different aspects of crime and understand the underlying causes of a crime to fully understand the evidence that may be left at the crime scene. Students are also encouraged to collaborate and work as a team to ensure that they do not miss important information.
What We Like: Brandman University offers a fully online as well as a hybrid online program so students can work around their personal schedules and obligations.
Degree: Criminal Justice, BA
14. Hampton University
The Forensic Chemistry bachelor’s degree from Hampton University is a good option for students who want to work in crime scene investigations. The degree program focuses on the application of science and chemistry to the evaluation of evidence in the criminal justice system. It teaches students to use their knowledge of science and their skills in chemistry to analyze, evaluate, and interpret the physical evidence left at a crime scene.
Hampton University stands out by offering a specialized area of crime scene investigations that is part of the science department of the university. Students are expected to have a strong foundation in science and chemistry to ensure that they understand the data and are able to provide effective testimony based on the evidence found in a criminal case.
What We Like: Hampton University works with members of the military to help with financial aid and scholarships.
Degree: Forensic chemistry, BS
15. Salem University
Salem University offers a crime scene investigation program that prepares students to work on a crime scene investigative team when they graduate. The degree program teaches students the proper ways to handle security and the maintenance of evidence as well as proper communication within the team. Students also learn to collect, record, and document evidence from a crime scene as part of the investigative process.
Salem University encourages students to work on their course materials in a format that is comfortable for their personal learning styles. Students in the CSI program are able to take the classes through a fully online, hybrid online, or on-campus class environment based on their needs and goals. The flexible solutions ensure that students can work around personal and professional obligations.
What We Like: Salem University provides courses on a monthly basis, so students are able to enroll in the college at multiple times throughout the year.
Degree: Criminal Justice: Crime Scene Investigation, BA
Why Should I Get My CSI Degree Online?
Online CSI degrees are a great way for individuals who are working in another field to get the education they need if they want to change their career path. They can start with the general education courses and work they way up until they have the degree of their choosing. Students can take all of the time they need to complete each step of their degree program ensuring they have a full understanding of their online courses before they move on to the next phase. The convenience offered by CSI online degree programs makes any level of education possible.
Do I Need a Degree to Become a Crime Scene Investigator?
Depending on your past work experience and the amount of education you have in other fields, you may not need to complete more education to be a crime scene investigator. While there is some form of education required for a crime scene investigator, you may be able to earn some of what you need by actually working in the field in other capacities. When it comes time for you to apply for the investigator’s position, however, you may want to enroll in a CSI online degree program to make sure you have the knowledge you need to perform the required duties.
Crime scene investigator required education courses can include forensics, interviewing skills, photography, scene management, and others that will give you the tools and abilities you need to investigate many different types of crime scenes. Because crime scene investigation is a part of law enforcement, you will be required to know and understand the law as it applies to each specific event. It will be up to you to learn what limitations and freedoms you have as an investigator and what channels you must follow as an investigation progresses.
In order to become an effective and reputable crime scene investigator, you need to know how to perform various tasks. While some can be learned through watching others, it is best to enroll in an online CSI degree program that provides you with all of the required skills and resources you will need to be successful. The convenience of an online program will offer the education required for a crime scene investigator position. These degrees can be earned in whatever amount of time is best for the student. There is no rush and the courses can be completed while working a full-time job.
Be aware of the accreditation status of the school you’re considering. Accreditation from the one of the regional Commission on Colleges means you’re choosing a solid distance learning program. Accredited online programs are just as trustworthy as in-person, and online learning is ideal for certain learners.
What Does It Take to Be a Crime Scene Investigator?
The list of qualifications for a crime scene investigator is rather long, but there are a few key characteristics that are absolutely necessary. Being observant is a must. You must be able to pay attention to even the smallest details. Some pieces of evidence can be incredibly minute, so having an eye for detail and being able to observe the environment you are in will be what defines you as an investigator.
Problem-solving skills are also important. You need to be able to take many different pieces of a large puzzle and fit them together correctly to get the right answer to the question at hand. Part of problem-solving is having the ability to communicate. Investigators need to be able to ask the right questions if they plan on getting the right answers. Being able to interview someone who may have vital information means being able to put them at ease and carry on a calm and collected conversation.
Tenacity is another trait of a good crime scene investigator. Many cases are eventually solved because a dedicated crime scene investigator refused to give up. Staying committed to a case and continually looking for new clues and better answers is how an investigator solves cases. It’s also important to want to continue to learn. The eagerness to continue your education will ensure that you have the skills you need to perform every duty that is required of you. Online CSI degree programs can provide you with all of the skills necessary to do your job.
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