Best Forensic Science and Technology Degree Colleges in the U.S. 2017

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“Physical evidence can not be intimidated. It does not forget. It sits there and waits to be detected, preserved, evaluated, and explained.” —Herbert Leon Macdonell

You like to get facts straight — even if they present themselves wrapped around a bloodied knife or spliced between the wheels of a tire. You will do whatever it takes to learn the truth. And as a forensic science and technology major, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to identify hard evidence, interpret its significance, and apply it to criminal and civil investigations and litigations for the integrity of justice and a safe, prosperous society.

The Best Forensic Science and Technology Colleges of 2019

Forensic science and technology isn’t your run-of-the-mill degree program. This field takes specialized knowledge and training from experienced industry practitioners. The good news is that there are numerous programs around the country that offer a great education in forensic science and technology — all you have to do is seize it. Below you’ll find the top 10 programs in the United States.

Rank School Name Location Description
1 University of New Haven West Haven, CT

Experiential education awaits you at the University of New Haven. This private institution houses its main campus in West Haven, Connecticut, with 82 acres of quiet hillside greenery located just 90 minutes from New York City and two and a half hours from Boston. Several other satellite locations offer programs throughout Connecticut, New Mexico, San Francisco and even Tuscany, Italy. Join 6,800 students for a quality education with an emphasis on “real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities” — a perfect component for a forensic science and technology education.

The undergraduate forensic science program boasts the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science, a $14 million state-of-the-art center that incorporates working crime-scene labs and high-tech visual displays, as well as an extensive forensic archive. Here, as an undergraduate, you’ll venture down either a chemistry or biology focus, which will allow for specialization in the field. Or you can be an overachiever and opt for a double major in both chemistry and biology. As a graduate student, you can earn a master’s degree in either forensic science or forensic technology, where you’ll gain even more hands-on experience and theoretical and practical knowledge “necessary to apply analytical and scientific methods to criminal investigation.”

Regardless of your program, the University of New Haven’s forensics department will connect you with highly experienced and respected instructors who can help you leave in two to four years well-prepared to do some actual forensic work and stay at the forefront of the field.

2 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY

John Jay College of Criminal Justice is one of a kind. You can join people from all over the country and world in New York City to gain an education where justice is the No. 1 priority, with programs that balance sciences, humanities, and arts with professional studies. The university’s website states:

“The College is unique in its mission, providing rigorous course work, research, internships, community service and other learning experiences to prepare students to make a difference for themselves and others and to transform ideas into social action and leadership...Now and always, we educate fierce advocates for justice.”

In the undergraduate program, in forensic science specifically, you’ll be prepared for forensic science laboratories, research positions, teaching positions or medical professions through biology, chemistry, physics, and law courses. You’ll have the opportunity to choose one of three tracks: criminalistics, molecular biology, or toxicology. No matter your track, you’ll come away with the ability to draw appropriate scientific data from evidence and experiments as well as practical skills and hands-on experience, and practice with oral and written forms of scientific communication.

3 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA

Study at the 15th largest private institution in America among 26,000 others, and gain an education rooted in research. Drexel University has three Philadelphia campuses and other regional satellite locations, as well as international research partnerships with China and Israel. Drexel graduates boast a 96% success rate with landing jobs or with enrollment in graduate programs. And chances are, if you do well within your undergraduate degree, you’ll be successful in enrolling in Drexel University’s Forensic Science program. This two-year program will provide you with a solid foundation in forensic sciences, while pushing you to grow into a leadership role in new and emerging applications in the field. You’ll gain exposure to law, comparative science, professional courtroom testimony, research, quality control and quality assurance, ethics, and crime scene investigation techniques. All your professors will be working professionals employed in the fields they teach, and they’ll provide you with a hands-on, practical education you can easily apply to a career upon graduation.

4 George Washington University Washington, DC

If you study at George Washington University, you’ll study in one of the greatest concentrations of federal crime labs and investigatory agencies in the world. Located in the Washington, D.C. metro area, George Washington University attracts roughly 26,000 students each year. GWU is for students who are tired of looking at slides or presentations of some of America’s greatest art and architecture — students who want to work with and among some of our nation’s strongest lawmakers. This city will be your classroom, one you can’t match anywhere else.

And in the U.S. national security hub, you’ll find a forensic science department that emphasizes objective science-based study and application, cutting edge research, and practitioner-based mentorship. With your choice among a variety of master’s or certificate programs, you’ll build technical and theoretical knowledge, skills, and abilities with classical and modern forensic techniques that will position you well to compete for a job upon graduation. The program site states:

“We will accomplish this through rigorous scientific scholarship, hands-on experiences, inspiring mentorship, and a stimulating academic environment conducive to and providing for opportunities to conduct research and scholarly inquiry and otherwise to contribute to the knowledge base of forensic science and improvement of the forensic community. We will take advantage of our location in the nation’s capital, our national security hub, and forensic laboratory- and investigation-rich environment.”

5 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY

At the heart of New York state, discover a private campus covered in green that is “made for those who want a quintessential college experience.” Syracuse University offers many areas of study but remains proud to select only the brightest and best to learn in its buildings. The administration wants to teach people with big dreams, and when you attend their school, they want to see you achieve them.

If you dream of becoming a forensic scientist or forensic technician, you can work to achieve those dreams in the forensic science department at Syracuse. The coursework proves rigorous and the research in-depth. At Syracuse, you’ll have the ability to tailor the program to your career goals, through a dozen different concentrations. In a forensic anthropology concentration, you can take courses such as “reading the body” or “anthropology of death.” In an impressions evidence concentration, you’ll learn about “latent prints” and “firearms and impressive evidence.”

Regardless of your concentration, you’ll gain hands-on experience at state-of-the-art laboratories, as well as experiential training opportunities through internships, externships, and field studies. Former students have even gone on to have internships and careers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

6 Hofstra University Hempstead, NY

If you’re into small classes, dedicated professors and lecturers, a beautiful campus, and quick access to all that New York City has to offer, then you should look no further than Hofstra University. This 240-acre campus on Long Island offers a calm academic life with an up close and personal 14:1 student to faculty ratio. And its close proximity to the Big Apple will still provide you with plenty of career and cultural opportunities. The forensic science undergraduate program will take you through four years of building a strong foundation in physical and natural sciences and the legal system. The program requires an internship in a science laboratory, government crime lab, or police department, so you’ll be sure to gain real-life experience that takes you a step ahead of others trying to get into the industry.

7 Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL

The city may be windy, but you won’t get any blowback for wanting to study at Loyola University. This private Jesuit, Catholic university educates a student body of 16,000 per semester. Their mission states:

“We are Chicago’s Jesuit, Catholic University — a diverse community seeking God in all things and working to expand knowledge in the service of humanity through learning, justice, and faith. We are guided by a simple promise: to prepare people to lead extraordinary lives.”

As a forensic science major at Loyola University, you’ll be setting yourself up for just that: an extraordinary life. The institute is known for strong health and science programs, so you’ll be well-prepared for a forensic science career with a strong foundation in chemistry, biology, anthropology, physics, mathematics, and criminal justice. And this program boasts an accreditation by the Forensic Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), an accreditation that less than twenty bachelor’s programs in the U.S. can claim.

8 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX

Within driving distance to Houston, Austin, and Dallas, Texas A&M educates over 64,000 students a semester. “Aggieland,” as you’ll come to know it, offers a sprawling Texas campus with educators who work to send “Aggie leaders out into the world prepared to take on the challenges of tomorrow — with ideas, integrity, and an unmatched desire to serve the greater good.” Within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, you’ll find a forensic and investigative sciences program that prepares students for a real-life career in collecting, preserving, processing, and using evidentiary information to solve problems. This program won’t be a glamorized television show, but rather based in science, fact, and integrity. You’ll even take unique classes like “Science of Forensic Entomology,” “Forensic Soil Science,” or “Forensic Implications of Inheritance.”

9 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA

Virginia Commonwealth University prides itself on being a premier urban, public research institute. The university buzzes to life in the center of Richmond, where you’ll be able to enjoy both the city and natural sites like the 65-acre James River Island known for mountain biking, running, sunbathing, and hiking. Virginia Commonwealth University’s forensics program takes a storytelling approach to forensic science. You’ll learn how to unravel stories with hard facts, thorough science, and objectivity. Because where stories can get blurry in criminal investigation, physical evidence prevails — and it’ll be your job to analyze and interpret it for its truth. After obtaining your undergraduate degree, you’ll be prepared for entry-level positions in forensic science. Or if higher education is up your alley, you can pursue advanced degrees in physical sciences, biological sciences, forensic science, law, allied health, and medicine. And you can go on to pursue your master’s degree at VCU, too, where you’ll be prepared for a career as a forensic scientist in government or private forensic laboratories.

10 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL

The University of Central Florida, located just 13 miles from downtown Orlando, offers more than 200 graduate programs with more than 60,000 students taking advantage. The website states, “The University of Central Florida is a public multi-campus, metropolitan research university that stands for opportunity.” And they back it up by providing high-quality, broad-based education and experience-based learning rooted in research, leadership development, and growth. Grow among others with the Master of Science in Forensic Science program. This program is geared for practicing professionals and full-time students who have undergraduate degrees in forensic science, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, or biology. You’ll be able to choose from one of three concentrations: forensic analysis, forensic biochemistry, or forensic professional. If you study full-time, you’ll finish in just two years. But if your life is busy, and you study part-time, it could take closer to four years. Depending on your program, you’ll be required to write a thesis and finish an original laboratory-based research project before graduation.

List of Forensic Science and Technology Schools in the U.S.

Degree Levels
  • Associate's
  • Bachelor's
  • Certificates
  • Doctoral
  • Master's
Program Length
  • Less than 2 years (below associate)
  • At least 2 but less than 4 years
  • Four or more years
Control Type
  • Private for-profit
  • Private not-for-profit
  • Public
School Logo School Name Average tuition Student Teacher Ratio Enrolled Students
University of New Haven University of New Haven West Haven, CT
18 : 1 6,786
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York, NY
23 : 1 14,732
Drexel University Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
14 : 1 25,595
George Washington University George Washington University Washington, DC
17 : 1 26,212
Syracuse University Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
18 : 1 21,789
Hofstra University Hofstra University Hempstead, NY
16 : 1 10,814
Loyola University Chicago Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL
15 : 1 16,437
Texas A & M University-College Station Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX
21 : 1 63,813
Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
14 : 1 30,918
University of Central Florida University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
41 : 1 62,953
Boston University Boston University Boston, MA
11 : 1 32,158
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus University Park, PA
16 : 1 47,307
University of California-Davis University of California-Davis Davis, CA
15 : 1 35,186
Farmingdale State College Farmingdale State College Farmingdale, NY
24 : 1 8,648
The University of Texas at Austin The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
18 : 1 50,950
George Mason University George Mason University Fairfax, VA
21 : 1 33,929
SUNY at Binghamton SUNY at Binghamton Vestal, NY
23 : 1 16,913
Duquesne University Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA
15 : 1 9,404
Saint Louis University Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO
11 : 1 17,047
Towson University Towson University Towson, MD
20 : 1 22,284
Pace University-New York Pace University-New York New York, NY
18 : 1 12,843
Michigan State University Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
18 : 1 50,538
West Virginia University West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
14 : 1 28,776
University of Scranton University of Scranton Scranton, PA
16 : 1 5,422
University of Nebraska-Lincoln University of Nebraska-Lincoln Lincoln, NE
20 : 1 25,260

Find Local Colleges Offering Forensic Science and Technology Degrees

Getting a Forensic Science and Technology Degree Online

If you really want to become a forensic scientist or forensic technician, you can’t use location as an excuse as there are several options to earn your certificate or degree online. Numerous schools offer online programs that range in degree types, from associate degrees to master’s degrees, and in cost, with some even below $10,000. Online, you’ll gain an introduction to forensic science, investigative techniques, and criminal psychology. The University of Florida Health’s website states:

“UF offers four master’s degrees and four specialized graduate certificates. Students are admitted year-round in this graduate program, and international students are welcome. The online forensic science graduate program covers a wide array of relevant topics in an online format designed to fit your busy schedule. Taught by award-winning faculty, you will connect with students and alumni from around the world through online, interactive discussion boards and forums.”

These programs give you the flexibility you may need with your lifestyle. You can go part-time and stretch out your program or even accelerate your graduation with summer classes. Online programs allow you to go at your own speed, whatever that may be. To get the best experience, though, look for accredited programs. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) accredits programs and ensures that the money you invest will garner you a quality education in the forensic science fields. It’s not all perfection though. One downside of studying forensic science and technology online is that you’ll miss out on labs and the hands-on experience with specialized equipment. To best prepare yourself for the field, and to give yourself a leg up in the job market, shoot for at least one if not more internships that will give you the experiences you’ll need to put your degree to work in a career after graduation.

Schools offering online Forensic Science and Technology degrees

Online Forensic Science and Technology degrees are available at a variety of different schools with as many as 70 degrees earned at the most popular school. Read more below about all schools that have offered online Forensic Science and Technology degrees. If you are interested learning more about getting a degree online, check out our page dedicated to online degree information.

School Name Certificate Associate's Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
University of Maryland-University College 0 0 54 0 0
American Public University System 5 0 53 0 0
National University 4 0 0 46 0
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine 0 0 0 41 0
St Petersburg College 39 31 0 0 0
How many schools offer online Forensic Science and Technology degrees?
  • 15 Certificates
  • 9 Associate's
  • 2 Bachelor's
  • 6 Master's

What can you do with a Forensic Science and Technology Degree?

Forensic Science and Technology Careers Expected Job Growth (2014-2024)
Year Anthropologists and archeologists Employment Forensic science technicians Employment
2015 7,730 14,780
2016 7,760 15,160
2017 7,790 15,540
2018 7,820 15,920
2019 7,850 16,300
2020 7,880 16,680
2021 7,910 17,060
2022 7,940 17,440
2023 7,970 17,820
2024 8,000 18,200

Forensic Science and Technology Major Career Outlook

A forensic science and technology degree is the golden ticket into many different career paths in the criminal justice system or a lab setting. Many of these careers require specialization or at least solid hands-on experience. Criminalist or Forensic Scientist: You collect evidence from a crime scene to analyze. Then, you use scientific foundations, and that evidence, to reconstruct crime scenes to find the who, why, and how of a crime. Unlike many of the other positions, you’ll be less of a specialist and be able to use many different forms of science and reasoning to help you solve your tasks at hand.

  • Digital Scientist: You use computers to analyze forensic evidence, such as extracting data from a computer, a phone, a tablet, surveillance video, etc. You’ll need some experience in computer science or IT, but you might even gain this during your studies.
  • Forensic Anthropologist: You help identify the deceased through their decomposed, burned, mutilated, or unrecognizable remains. You may even get to testify in court as an expert witness from time to time. “Expert” sounds good, huh?
  • Toxicologist: You screen bodily fluids, hair, and nails for chemical substances, including drugs.
  • Pathologist: You conduct autopsies to determine the time of death, cause of death, and identity of the deceased. You may also be called upon to help at the scene of a crime to investigate the possible circumstances surrounding a person’s demise.
  • Engineering Scientist: You analyze accidents, environments, and crime scenes to recreate the story of what happened, when it happened, and how it happened. You may be called upon as an expert witness in a courtroom.
  • Odontologist: You analyze bite marks, tooth fragments, and jaws to help identify victims or suspects.
  • Document Examiner: You analyze handwriting and signatures for authenticity. You may also have to restore, decipher, and assess missing pieces and pages of documents.
  • Forensic Psychology: You profile suspects in a crime investigation. You also interview members involved in a crime and help piece together the motives of the crime.
  • Professor of Forensic Science: You teach the next generation of forensic scientists. As a professor, you’re able to continue researching areas of the field that excite you the most as well as inspire students to do great work in this important industry.
Forensic Science and Technology Career Legend
Anthropologists and archeologists
Forensic science technicians
About this Data

*Sources for career information and data include the National Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data may vary depending on year.

Average annual salary for Forensic Science and Technology careers

  • $48,725 2005
  • $56,540 2010
  • $62,190 2015

What Does a Forensic Science and Technology Major Study?

As a forensic science and technology major, you’re sure to get a well-rounded education between natural science courses and criminal justice studies that will prepare you to face real-world crimes and injustices. At the heart of what future positions entail, you’ll need to learn how to collect and analyze evidence, interpret your analysis, and communicate your findings, while avoiding human error and remaining objective throughout the whole process. Problem solving and creativity should result from your interdisciplinary studies and provide you means to react successfully to what a future career has in store. Every forensic science and technology degree program will be different, but in general you’ll spend a lot of time in labs studying or applying the principles of:

  • Chemistry — Investigators find an unknown substance at a crime scene. You make it known. There’s drug traces on a suspect’s clothing that you can help identify. Chemistry courses will help you uncover a substance’s role or irrelevance in an investigation.
  • Biology — People leave biological traces everywhere they go, from skin flakes to strands of hair to even blood and other bodily fluids. You’ll learn the science behind these crucial pieces of evidence, so you’ll be able to look for them in crime scenes, maintain their integrities, analyze them, and interpret their meanings for the situation.
  • Physics — From what angle did the bullet enter the victim? How fast was the vehicle going to cause that level of damage? By gaining a foundation of physics, you’ll be able to look at crime scenes and criminal investigations through a scientific lens that could shed insights into the truth.
  • Law/Criminal Justice — You need to understand the industry you’ll work within, and law is not as black and white as many think. You’ll learn about processes and procedures, court proceedings and more, so you’ll be able to contribute your scientific evidence and findings in a way that will best lead to justice.
  • Statistics — To what degree are we certain that the tissue sample is from a male? To what level are we sure this partial fingerprint matches the suspects? When you can’t be one hundred percent certain, which in this career will be a large majority of the time, you can at least show your level of certainty. You’ll learn how to either design, use, infer, or all the above probability models that can keep your work accurate.
  • Specialized Areas of Study — From botany to zoology to entomology to forensic anthropology, you can become a specialist in certain scientific arenas and offer expertise that could be instrumental in a criminal investigation. Explore all your degree options, especially if you’re looking into graduate programs, and see if there is any area of specialty that aligns with your passions.

What Skills Will I Learn from a Forensic Science and Technology Degree?

In your time as a forensic science and technology major, you’ll gain a lot of specialized skills, as well as other general skills you’ll be able to apply to both your career and your life.

  • The Legal Process: As a forensic scientist or a forensic technician, you’ll play a major role in crime prosecution. You’ll need to understand how to properly handle evidence and a crime scene, as to not contaminate or unqualify evidence from a case. You’ll also learn about your state’s regulations and how to fill out proper paperwork.
  • Crime Scene Procedures: Not just anyone is allowed onto a crime scene. You have to know how to identify evidence and document it, from the obvious parcels of clothes and objects lying around to the harder-to-find fingerprints and bodily fluids. You’ll also need to know the proper etiquette and composure required in these often difficult settings.
  • Lab Equipment Operation: After you discover and gather data from crime scenes, you’ll have to analyze them. And to properly analyze something, you’ll need to know more about it than your eye can tell you. So, you’ll use lab equipment. Most programs offer opportunities to learn in a lab setting, where you’ll get hands-on, practical experience. Be sure to research the quality of your potential school’s labs before applying.
  • Critical Thinking: Your job won’t be an episode of CSI. The answer to what happened at the crime scene won’t mystically come to you while you’re at home cooking anything that doesn’t have a red sauce. You have to be able to analyze the evidence and the big picture and infer what could have happened. The even trickier part is keeping your biases and other human errors from clouding your interpretations.
  • Communication: After you’ve gone through your forensic science and technology schooling, you’ll be an expert. Yes — an expert. And as an expert, it’s your responsibility to communicate your findings in objective, exact, and understandable ways, either to prosecutors or to a whole courtroom as an expert witness. Along those same lines, if you plan to lead a career in the research side of the industry, you’ll share your ideas through papers or journal articles or at speaking events at conferences.

What degrees do people get in Forensic Science and Technology?

Degree Level Program Length Colleges Graduates
Associate's 2-year Length 94 Colleges 486 Graduates
Bachelor's 4-year Length 116 Colleges 1,405 Graduates
Certificates < 1 year Length 117 Colleges 670 Graduates
Master's 1+ years Length 44 Colleges 588 Graduates

Forensic Science and Technology Degree Overview

Your journey to a forensic science and technology degree can follow one of many paths. More than one hundred colleges and universities offer some form of an undergraduate forensic science and technology degree program, in which you can earn your Bachelor of Science in four or so years. You can take a less direct route to a forensic science and technology degree by majoring in a specific branch of science that interests you — biology, chemistry, statistics, physics, botany, etc. — and then pairing that degree with forensic science and technology by completing a certificate program in about a year’s time. The University of New Haven, for example, offers a variety of certificate programs. Their Forensic Computer Investigation certificate speaks to the nature of these programs:

“This certificate is designed for those professionals who wish to enhance their knowledge and skills in forensic computer investigation. Students interested in enrolling in the courses in this certificate must obtain consent of the instructor and/or the certificate adviser prior to registration.”

For more-specialized training specific to your interests and goals — and to qualify yourself for more-advanced positions — you can further your education in one to two years and earn a master’s degree. When researching programs, focus on the core faculty’s research interests. If their interests align with yours, you’ll be sure to get the most out of the program.

Average cost of college for a Forensic Science and Technology degree

Average Tuition and Fees for a 2 year Degree

Average Tuition and Fees School Control Student Residence
$3,261 Public In-State
$6,466 Private In-State
$6,815 Public Out-of-State
$6,466 Private Out-of-State

Average Tuition and Fees for a 4 year Degree

Average Tuition and Fees School Control Student Residence
$6,797 Public In-State
$25,705 Private In-State
$16,019 Public Out-of-State
$25,705 Private Out-of-State

Questions About Forensic Science and Technology

Who Are Some Notable Forensic Science and Technology Degree Holders?

As much as you can see actors playing forensic scientists on television shows and in the movies, many forensic scientists like to remain out of the spotlight. The everyday forensic scientist plays a huge role in the justice system, notable in their own ways. There are some well-known names, though, with even better-known contributions to the field and to our society.

  • Michael Baden: This forensic pathologist hosts the HBO series Autopsy and serves as an expert correspondent for Fox News. Out of the limelight, Baden manages his own pathologist consulting practice and gives expert witness testimony in court and helps behind-the-scenes with TV crime shows. He formerly worked for New York City as the chief medical examiner and received his Bachelor of Science from the City College of New York and an MD from the New York University School of Medicine.
  • Clea Koff: Koff is a forensic anthropologist who has used bone remains to identify genocide victims in countries like Rwanda and Bosnia. At Stanford University, Koff received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. She then went to the University of Arizona where she began a master’s degree program in forensic anthropology, which she later finished at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She’s published an autobiography called The Bone Woman: Among the Dead in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Croatia in which she chronicles her work. She also has founded the Missing Person's Identification Resource Center, where families can turn to in order to connect with the U.S. Coroner’s office to uncover bodies that are unidentified.
  • Cyril Wecht: This forensic pathologist has served on a number of high-profile cases—ever heard of Anna Nicole Smith or Sharon Tate? — but he is perhaps best-known for his criticism of the forensic work performed for President John F. Kennedy’s death. Wecht earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Pittsburgh. He received a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, an LL.B. from the University Pittsburgh School of Law, and a J.D. degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. He privately consults for crime investigations.
  • Henry Lee: Lee earned a Bachelor of Science in forensic science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and a Master of Science in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from New York University. He has worked on high-profile cases, such as the JonBenet Ramsey case, Laci Peterson case, and O.J. Simpson case. He hosts a television show on truTv called Trace Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee. He’s also appeared on CNN, the Larry King Show, Fox TV, Good Morning America, and more. Out of the Media, he’s founded the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science in West Haven, Connecticut.
  • William Bass: This forensic anthropologist founded the “Body Farm,” a training facility at the University of Tennessee that helps forensic scientists learn how to study and identify human remains. Bass attended the University of Virginia for an undergraduate degree, the University of Kentucky for his master’s, and completed his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at the University of Tennessee for some years and is known for his research on human osteology and human decomposition and what those mean for crime investigations. He’s co-written a number of fictional books with journalist Jon Jefferson, such as Carved in Bone, Flesh and Bone, and The Bone Thief.

I Can’t Wait to Make a Name for Myself! But First — How is Forensic Science and Technology in the Real World Different from What I See on TV?

Your dream of becoming a forensic scientist may stem from the hours you’ve spent watching CSI or Criminal Minds. You want to be the Abby Sciuto of NCIS. You dream of playing Temperance Brennan’s role in Bones. While these shows are based on the forensic field, there are plenty of things a half-hour or full-hour episode get wrong about this type of work. Forensic evidence isn’t the end-all answer. You’ll learn that fingerprints, bullet prints, and other evidence you see strewn about crime scenes in your favorite NCIS episodes are hard to come by and even harder to make clear use of. A hair doesn’t lead to a solid conviction, and sometimes fingerprints are too fragmented to rely on. Your evidence supports a case, and, if done well, it can help support a strong case.

Forensic analysis isn’t easy or fast. Matching a bone fragment to the image of a real-life person isn’t as easy as Angela Montenegro makes it look on Bones. You’ll work with advanced technology, but you’ll be working with a slow, deliberate, often tedious process that spans weeks or months. You’re not concerned about keeping a viewing audience enthralled but rather maintaining the integrity of your evidence and the accuracy of your results.

You may never have the “aha” moment or discover the truth. While forensic science has come a long way in uncovering the story behind forensic evidence, there are still cases where that’s not enough. You may spend months analyzing evidence from a case to come up with nothing admissible in a courtroom. But that still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to try to uncover justice and realize new, innovative ways of doing so.

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