Working professionals who came into criminal justice and forensics at the entry-level – usually with a high school diploma, certificate, or associate’s degree – have made their way into a rewarding, in-demand, and growing occupation. They’re also at a disadvantage, because to progress into leadership positions or roles with greater technical expertise, they will need a bachelor’s degree. A forensic science bachelor’s is the next step forward, and an online forensic science bachelor degree makes it convenient for working adults to finish their bachelor’s beyond the diploma or associate’s.
But if you want promotion and advancement as soon as possible, not all programs can do the job. Accelerated bachelor’s degree completion programs solve that problem. The fastest online degree completion programs use a variety of methods to help students finish quickly, from allowing students to transfer as much as 75% of required credits, to fast-track schedules with short classes and many start dates through the year. For students who need an accelerated online forensic science bachelor degree, Bachelor’s Degree Center has run the numbers.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Accelerated Online Forensic Science Bachelor Degree Programs
To rank the 10 Fastest Online Forensic Science Degree Bachelor’s Programs for 2019, Bachelor’s Degree Center focused on accredited, online bachelor’s completion programs that made it easy for students to finish their degree quickly. Accelerated courses, generous transfer policies, and other factors that help increase speed, without sacrificing quality, were the standards.
From there, programs are ranked according to Cost, Reputation, Alumni Salary, Graduation Rate, and Job Placement – data gathered from College Scorecard, IPEDS, and Niche. The average of these scores puts the best combination, with the fastest programs, at the top.
1. West Virginia State University
West Virginia State University’s BS in Criminal Justice provides a Certificate in Investigation. WVSU’s online forensic science bachelor degree program requires no on-campus degree-related work. Students graduate with extensive training in the country’s criminal justice system and its working relationship with the social aspects of life. Applicants have the option to transfer up to 72 credits towards the degree requirements of 120-credit hours, which reduces the time required to earn the degree. Coursework includes Fingerprinting, Interrogations, Criminal Investigation, and Crime Science Investigations.
West Virginia State University was established in 1891 and is one of the first groups of land grant colleges that were chartered by the Morrill Act. West Virginia State University is a historically black university (HBCU) and a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Its suburban campus sits upon land that was once Native American land. WVSU is recognized as a Tree Campus, USA school for its dedicated forest management initiatives.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice with a Certificate in Investigation
2. Champlain College
Champlain College’s BS in Computer Forensics and Digital Investigations can be completed exclusively online. Champlain College’s online forensic science bachelor degree is a nationally recognized program, which offers degree candidates the opportunity to study in the well-known Leahy Center for Digital Investigation. Graduates enter the workforce with the skills required to analyze digital security breaches and to recover lost data. The forensic degree is offered in seven-week class formats to allow for an accelerated pace to completion. Additionally, Champlain College allows the applicant to transfer up to 90-credit hours.
Champlain College was established in 1878. The school offers both on-campus and online degree options. Its residential campus in Burlington, Vermont is home to 2,200 full-time undergraduate students. Champlain College operates two international branch campuses in Montreal and Dublin. US News & World recognizes Champlain College as the most innovative school in the northern portion of the United States.
Degree: BS in Computer Forensics and Digital Investigations
3. Pace University
Pace University’s BS in Professional Studies Computer Forensics specialization is offered by the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Students of the online forensic science bachelor degree learn from renowned faculty that includes expert witnesses, investigators, and experts in the field of telecommunication. The Seidenberg School holds the distinction of academic excellence as a Cyber Defense Education institution of higher learning. Degree applicants can accelerate the time required to earn a degree by taking advantage of their generous transfer-credit policies.
Pace University in New York City, NY was established in 1906. The school operates 3 campuses — one in Manhattan and two in Westchester County in the town Pleasantville and the city of White Plains. It is a private institution of higher education that began as a coeducational business school by two brothers. US News & World Report ranks Pace University among the top 200 national universities.
Degree: BS in Professional Technology Studies – Computer Forensics
4. Columbia Southern University
Columbia Southern University’s BS in Criminal Justice Administration offers an advanced focus in the specialty of Arson Investigations. Columbia Southern’s program requires the completion of 120-credit hours, of which 90 credits may be transferred from previous higher learning classes. This online forensic science bachelor degree program prepares graduates to be rational thinking forensic professionals with a specialty of a fire event. Coursework includes fire analysis, investigation, and combustion, among many other topics. The online degree program provides students with some of the most flexible distance learning possibilities.
Columbia Southern University located in Orange Beach, Alabama, is a family-owned private university that specializes in distance learning educational options. The school was established in 1993 and is home to more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Columbia Southern receives its online accreditation from the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC) and offers some of the most affordable tuition rates in the country.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice Administration – Arson Investigation
5. Southern New Hampshire University
The Southern New Hampshire University BA in Psychology-Forensic Psychology specialization can be completed entirely online. Coursework includes the areas of Criminal Profiling, Criminal Offender Treatment, Abnormal Psychology, among others. SNHU’s online forensic science bachelor degree program requires the completion of 120-credit hours; however, its generous transfer credit policy (up to 90-credit hours) easily reduces the time required to complete this baccalaureate degree. Southern New Hampshire University offers online degree programs with some of the most affordable tuition rates in the country.
Southern New Hampshire University was established in 1932, and with their innovative online distance-learning platform, SNHU is now one of the fastest growing institutions of higher learning in the country. Between 2001 and 2015, the online student body swelled from 8,000 students to nearly 35,000 students. The university operates with six colleges/schools. The New England commission of Higher Education accredits SNHU.
Degree: BA in Forensic Psychology
6. American Public University
American Public University’s accelerated BS in Criminal Justice degree program provides an advanced focus in Digital Forensics. This online forensic science bachelor degree includes classes that cover Evidentiary Scientific Evaluation, Criminal Behavior, and Digital Forensics as it relates to the law. This four-year program requires the completion of 120-credit hours; however, APUS provides a generous transfer-credit protocol that easily reduces how long it takes to complete the degree. The school provides a variety of scholarships, financial aid and reduced rates for those who qualify for a military grant.
American Public University was founded in 1991 and operates as a for-profit, private institution of higher learning that specializes in online learning options. The university system includes the American Public University and the American Military University. The school’s student body nears 49,000. The Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council accredits APUS’ degree programs.
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice – Digital Forensics
7. Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University’s BA in Criminal Justice Criminalistics concentration prepares students to analyze DNA, Bullets, and Fingerprints — and any other crime science evidence — that leads to the identification of potential suspects and the rebuilding of a crime event. Graduates find gainful employment in the areas of law enforcement, Secret Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. To speed up the process, students can advantage of Saint Leo University’s liberal transfer-credit policy that allows for a maximum of 90 credits.
Saint Leo University was originally established in 1889. Its rural campus is situated about 30 miles of the city of Tampa. Saint Leo University holds the distinction as being the first Roman Catholic school in the state of Florida and as one of the five largest catholic affiliated universities in the sunshine state. Saint Leo University was one of the first universities to offer distance education opportunities; this began during the Vietnam War.
Degree: BA in Criminal Justice – Criminalistics
8. Columbia College (SC)
Columbia College’s BA in Criminal Justice Forensic Track requires the completion of coursework that includes Forensic DNA, Fingerprint Technology, and Forensic Toxicology Techniques. Students study from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Technical Manual through CC’s partnership with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Graduates are prepared to succeed working as a Coroner, a Detective, as an analyst in the FBI or CIA, a Customs Agent, and Forensic Investigator, among many others.
Columbia College is a private all women’s college that was established in 1854. It holds the distinction as one of the country’s oldest women’s colleges. The US News and World Report magazine recognizes Columbia College in South Carolina as a top liberal arts college in the Southern United States.
Degree: BA in Criminal Justice – Forensic Track
9. University of Maryland University College
The University of Maryland University College’s accelerated online BS in Investigative Forensics allows for up to 90-credit hours to be transferred towards the program’s requirements. Coursework for the online forensic science bachelor degree specialty includes Fingerprint Analysis, Firearms, Criminal Procedure, Evidentiary Theory, and Investigative Forensics. The school recommends students come to the program with some experience with computers, lab work, and protocols.
The University of Maryland University College was established in 1947. The school operates in Adelphi, Largo, and the greater Baltimore-Washington, DC area as well as several satellite campuses internationally. UMUC is a member school of the University System of Maryland. The school offers courses to more than 125 military installations in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Degree: BS in Investigative Forensics
10. Liberty University
Liberty University’s online BS in Criminal Justice Crime Scene Investigation concentration comes from the Helms School of Government. This 120-credit hour online forensic science bachelor degree program allows for 90-credit hours to reduce degree completion time. LU provides liberal discounts for Military members/spouses, as well as working First Responders & Law Enforcement Professionals. Classes are completed entirely online in eight-week formats.
Liberty University is a Christian evangelical university that was established in 1971 in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty holds the distinction as one of the largest Christian institutions of higher learning. Additionally, LU’s student enrollment of 110,000 makes it the world’s largest non-profit school in the country. US News & World Report ranks Liberty University 8th best in the country for its graduate criminal justice degree programs. Liberty University receives accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Degree: BS in Criminal Justice – Crime Scene Investigation
How Quickly Can I Get an Online Forensic Science Bachelor Degree?
As the name suggests, accelerated education is a fast-paced way of learning. Some people want to receive an accelerated degree in order to save time and money. Accelerated courses are usually conducted online, making it more convenient for the student in terms of scheduling and commuting. On-campus bachelor’s degree programs can take four years or more, but an accelerated online degree can take as little as a year. However, accelerated programs typically have the same amount of courses as a four-year program, so accelerated students will need to be prepared for that.
How quickly you can get an online forensic science bachelor degree will depend on the program you sign up for. For some programs, it is as short as 12 months with enough transfer credits. An online forensic science bachelor degree can lead to other opportunities, like a digital forensics degree.
Will an Accelerated Forensic Science Program Prepare Me for a Job?
As long as the forensic science program has FEPAC accreditation, yes. FEPAC (Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission) is an organization that creates high standards for forensic science educational programs. Forensic science needs excellent, highly-trained workers with enough knowledge and expertise to carry out the job. Otherwise, we risk jeopardizing the field with junk science. FEPAC ensure that students all over the country receive the quality education and training needed to prepare for the job market.
Like many other forms of science, forensic science has special areas of interest that career seekers can work in. Forensic psychology, forensic biology, forensic chemistry, toxicology, crime scene investigation, digital forensics, and computer forensics are some common areas of concentration. You can learn more about these specialties by taking a course. Knowing more about these subjects will help you to decide where to study in terms of interest.
What’s the Difference Between Digital Forensics and Computer Forensics?
While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Computer forensics is a subset under the broader area of digital forensics. The digital forensics definition encompasses the investigation of a number of digital devices, from smartphones to flash drives. Computer forensics specifically investigates computers. The job of a digital forensic scientist is to probe a digital device for any criminal activity, such as the storage of incriminating photos or illegal pornography. In recent years, digital and computer forensics have become more necessary due to the increased popularity of digital devices.
Should I Add a Digital Forensics Certification to My Bachelor’s Degree?
If you would like to increase your career opportunities and job marketability, yes. Those who are educated in specialized areas of forensic science tend to earn more than those who are not. For example, you are more likely to get hired if you have digital forensics certification on top of a bachelor’s degree in forensic science.