26 California Schools With Forensic Science Programs


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1. Alliant International University

Doctorate in Forensic Psychology (Ph.D. & Psy.D.) – Alliant International U.

The School of Forensic Studies at Alliant International University offers both a Ph.D. and Psy.D. in Forensic Psychology, giving you a breadth of choices in the clinical paths you take toward a doctorate in the field.

The Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology is a the clinical approach. Offered at the Fresno campus, the program is designed to prepare you to sit for the clinical licensure exam. Courses are offered generally in the criminal justice system, legal research, serial killers, sex offenders, and domestic violence.
The Psy.D. in Forensic Psychology has far more geographical options than the Ph.D. Alliant offers it on the Fresno, Irvine, Sacramento, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco campuses. Having the Psy.D. alongside the Ph.D. allows you to choose where on the academic-clinical spectrum you would like to work, thus shaping the choices you have when you look for a job.

2. Azusa Pacific University

Family Forensic Psychology Concentration, Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) – Azusa Pacific U.

In addition to the traditional doctoral-level courses in forensic psychology, Azusa Pacific University offers a unique combination of courses to permit a sub-specialization in Family Forensic Psychology. The concentration requires, specifically, a research project or practicum in forensic psychology, and four additional elective courses covering an introduction to the subject, forensic assessment, and two electives in general family forensic psychology.

3. California Baptist University

Masters in Forensic Psychology – California Baptist U.

California Baptist offers a Masters of Arts in Forensic Psychology, training students to be clinicians first and foremost. The program is spread over 5 terms, and covers a broad array of topics. In the first term, students tackle legal research and writing, statistics, research techniques in forensic psychology, and psychopathology. By the second term, you’ll be ready for a general introduction to criminal law, criminal behavior, forensic evaluation, psychotherapy and crisis intervention. The remaining three terms are rounded out with ethics, victimology, criminal evidence, as well as legal-centric Memory & Perception in the Courtroom.

If your undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or better, you can apply and be admitted unconditionally regardless of what your GRE scores are. If your GPA is between 2.75 and 3.0, you can be admitted conditionally. If your GPA is less than 2.75, you can still apply and be admitted, but your combined quantitative and verbal GRE score must be 1000 or greater. It’s nice to know that the GPA requirement is not absolute, considering that many applicants do come from much harder schools, where achievement would more likely be indicated by test scores and not GPA. In addition to these numerical requirements, you’ll need a 500 word biography, recommendations, and completing of a personality inventory exam offered on campus. Last but not least, you’ll need to have taken some prerequisite courses: general psych, development psych or human behavior, theories of personality, statistics, abnormal psych and research methods. You can call 951-343-4249 to get more information about the program.

4. California Lutheran University

Criminal Psychology – California Lutheran U.

California Lutheran offers a 300-level undergraduate course in criminal psychology. Focusing on understanding the behavior of violent offenders, the course delves into the psychological and societal causes of criminality. Specifically addressed is the role of the forensic psychologist in making sanity and suitability determinations and the role of criminal profiling.

5. California State University at Bakersfield

Forensic Anthropology – California State U. at Bakersfield

Cal State Bakersfield offers a 400-level undergraduate course on forensic anthropology, tying together the work of biological anthropology and archaeology to identify decomposing bodies and bone and skeletal fragments. This course largely focuses on teaching you human skeletal anatomy, and how you go about using this knowledge to estimate the sex, age, health and inflicted trauma on recovered remains. You’ll also learn how to recover the bone fragments from the crime scene without screwing it up, and document what you’ve done so it stands up in a court of law. The course only requires a basic understanding of human anatomy, and prior coursework in general biology or biological anthropology.

6. California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo

Forensic Computer Examiner (Online) – Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

CalPoly offers a comprehensive online Computer Forensics Examiner program designed to prepare you for the primary certification for computer forensics examiners, the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE). Unlike many other programs, this one lets you enroll at any time and start the training right away. The course is entirely online, and does not require any visits to campus. It costs about $3100 to enroll.

7. California State University, Channel Islands

Forensic Chemistry – Cal State Channel Islands

CSUCI’s chemistry department offers a 300-level undergraduate course, with 2 hours of forensic chemistry lecture per week and three hours of lab. You’ll learn the various lab techniques involved in analyzing evidence from crime scenes: chromatography, mass spec, atomic absorption, IR, UV, X-ray spectroscopy, fingerprints, firearms, DNA, and toxicology.

8. California State University, Chico

Certificate in Forensic Identification – Cal State Chico

Cal State Chico offers nearly 20 courses in forensic anthropology, not to mention staffing a full forensic recovery lab regularly used for human remains identification, dental analysis, and case work. Chico offers a Forensic Identification Certificate program that gives undergraduates the opportunity to get into entry-level positions in forensics. Likewise, at the graduate level, the certificate gives more advanced students the opportunity to refine the skills they already have.

In order to qualify for the Certificate Program, students must be enrolled in a bachelor’s program at the same time they are pursuing the certificate, or they must already have a bachelor’s degree. The core requirements are 27 to 38 units, mostly in physical anthropology, field archaeology, human identification, and the legal system. The more run-of-the-mill courses are in general chemistry, organic chemistry, quantitative analysis, electron microscopy. You will also have to complete a course in comparative anatomy of vertebrates.
During the course of the program, you have to maintain a 2.5 average. You can reach the program at 530-898-6192.

Summer courses in forensics – Cal State Chico

CSU’s Department of Anthropology leverages the facilities and labs on campus to offer courses during the summer. Forensic Archaeology: Field Recovery Methods, is a 5-day, intensive summer course on materials and methods involved in the recovery of human remains from outdoor environments. You learn how to find clandestine graves, map human remains that you dig up, document and interpret the grave site. The course also looks at the recovery of burned remains from arson and fire scenes, and looks at simulated outdoor forensic scenes for course work. Combined with lectures on various topics, this is definitely a course to consider if you’re interested in pursuing forensic anthropology as a career, with more intensive courses to follow.

9. California State University, Dominguez Hills

Computer Forensics – Cal State Dominguez Hills

CSU Dominquez Hills offers an undergraduate, 300-level course called Computer Forensics and Investigation. It’s a new course, part of the bachelors program in computer science. Additional courses on hacking and security are also offered.

10. California State University, East Bay

Forensic Computer Examiner Certificate (online) – Cal State East Bay

CSU East Bay offer training for the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) certificate program in an online-only format. As you might expect, the topics cover what is required for certification: types of computer media, chain of custody, DOS, Windows, NTFS partition table, boot records and recovery methods for each. The course is self-paced, results in a certificate, and costs around $3100. You can get more information by calling the program coordinator at 510-885-2321

Basic Forensic Nursing (continuing education) – Cal State East Bay

Cal State East Bay offers a continuing education course for nurses on the basics of forensic nursing, helping to give you an idea if this is a specialty you want to pursue. The course starts with the basics, with crime scene and death scene analysis, crisis intervention, and later moves on to substance abuse, evidence, death classification and evidence collection. An RN license is required to enroll.

Forensic Chemistry Bachelors – Cal State East Bay

Cal State East Bay also offers undergraduate chemistry and biology majors the opportunity to focus their training into forensic chemistry or forensic biology specialties. For chemistry, the course-load emphasizes instrumental methods, learning the analysis techniques and machines that are used in forensics labs throughout the world. The program also demands knowledge and experience with PCR, DNA sequencing, fragment analysis, as well as the dreaded physical chemistry.

11. California State University, Fresno

Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) – Cal State Fresno

CalState Fresno offers a full-scale masters in forensics, called a “professional science” masters degree, but in no way shorted from a traditional MS. The only change from a traditional curriculum is that the masters is offered after 6 pm, so that working lab techs can complete the degree. A strong up-side of this program is that it has a long history. The school has been training forensic scientists for more than 50 years. Despite the long history, the program has remained small, and the courses regularly enroll fewer than 10 people per instructor. Combine this with the fact that the tuition is relatively inexpensive as far as graduate training is concerned, and you’ve got one of the best deals in the United States as far as forensic training goes.

To enroll in the program, you have to have the general list of undergraduate courses, a year of bio and lab, a year of chemistry and lab, a year of physics and lab, a year of organic chemistry and lab, and a course each of calculus, statistics, analytical chemistry and biochemistry. The program can give you a run-down of specifics in your case, particularly if a course on your transcript will qualify. Call them at 559-278-2103.

Joint Doctorate in Forensic & Behavioral Science – Cal State Fresno and UC Davis

Cal State Fresno and UC Davis both offer a combined Doctorate in Forensic and Behavioral Science. Similar to the Fresno’s masters program in forensic science, the doctoral program lays out a series of course over four years (three if you come into the program with a masters). Toward the end of the program, the number of courses drop off, but the hours required for your dissertation take off.

Admission to the program is granted to undergraduates who have a bachelors in either forensics or behavioral science. Of course, you can enroll with a masters in either of these two as well, and provided you pass the qualifying exam, you can knock most of the first year of courses out of the way. This will allow you time to focus on your research, your exams and oral defense of your dissertation.

Unlike some other doctoral programs, this one leads only to a doctorate. It cannot and does not lead to a masters degree for those who complete the coursework but elect not to complete their research, or have research that does not pan out. This is certainly something to keep in mind, as there can be no payout whatsoever at the end of your four years if things go bad.

12. California State University, Fullerton

Certificate in Basic Understanding of Forensic Science – Cal State Fullerton

Cal State Fullerton offers an online forensic science certificate that shows a basic understanding in the underlying science and theories of forensic science. The online program is made up of six required courses totaling 57 hours of online lecture and discussion. In addition to the credit, you get 5.7 continuing education units out of it.

The course is primarily designed for police officers, private investigators, insurance employees, attorneys and fraud investigators. The program coordinator can give you more details, at 714-278-3123.

13. University of California Riverside

Forensic Investigation and Crime Analysis – UC Riverside

UC Riverside offers a one-year certificate program in crime scene investigation, focusing on criminal intelligence gathering and techniques for crime analysis. The course is open to anyone with a minimum age of 15, but don’t let that throw you off. The courses offered are serious material, and will offer sound preparation for a career in forensic science.

The course runs the course of the quarters, starting in September and finishing up in June. In the first quarter, you learn the basics of crime scene management, how a criminal investigator analyzes facts at hand, and the variety of tools that exist for analyzing a crime scene on a computer. During this first term, you choose two electives in blood stain pattern analysis, geographic information systems (GIS, or computer mapping software), forensic document and handwriting analysis, and organizational behavior.

During the second term, you start work in crime scene photography, then move on to criminal intelligence. Electives (from which you pick two) include autopsies, computer digital imaging, crime scene mapping, DNA analysis and population genetics, and finally business writing.

Finally in your third term, you wrap things up with courses in fingerprints, criminalistics, research methods and statistics, blood stain pattern analysis, forensic anthropology, and finally forensic entomology.

For more info, give them a ring at 951-827-4346.

14. City College of San Francisco

Certificate in Forensic Identification – City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco offers a one-year (two-semester) course crime scene investigation and forensic analysis. There are five courses that are required for the certificate, and you should understand that they are not all offered each semester: criminal law, physical evidence, criminal identification, criminal investigation and legal concepts of evidence. Furthermore, the classes are 50 minutes apiece, and usually finish before noon.

This really is a nicely decompressed program, giving you the time to fully appreciate the breadth of what forensics has to offer, Instead of trying to cram as many classes as they can into such a short amount of time, they reduce the crush and give you the chance to appreciate what you’re studying. On top of this, you are permitted to complete two of the courses at another university. Three of the five, however, must be completed at City College of San Francisco.

You can get more info by calling them at 415-239-3202.

15. Diablo Valley College

Crime Scene Investigator Certificate – Diablo Valley College

The Administration of Justice program at Diablo offers some really cool certificate programs in a variety of fields, including crime scene investigation. There are four courses required to earn the certificate, and the four courses can be taken either online or on campus. The courses are Intro to the Administration of Justice, Physical Evidence and the Crime Lab, Criminal Investigation and Patrol Procedures. This is a program that will prepare you for an entry-level career as a CSI, an analyst, fingerprint examiner, CSI photographer, private investigator or criminal investigator. This course also lays the groundwork for those who might want to pursue more advanced criminalistics or behavioral profiling.

16. La Puente Valley Regional Occupation Program

Forensic Science Academy Certificate, La Puente Valley Regional Occupational Program

La Puente Valley teaches a 4-/12 month Forensic Science Academy spread over the fall and spring semesters, with the intent of teaching students contemporary investigative and scientific techniques. In the end, the certificate that the program grants will get your foot in the door with jobs in crime scene investigation, fingerprint analysis and the coroner’s office.

The cool thing about this program is that it is built around weekends, so if you have a day job, or are enrolled in school, this is a program you can work into your schedule. Some of the courses include basic crime scene investigation (offered on Saturdays and Sundays), Advanced CSI Technology (also offered weekends), fingerprint comparison and ridgeology, death investigation.

For more information, call them at 626-810-3300 x 248.

17. Southwestern College Chula Vista

Crime Scene Investigator Associates Degree or Certificate – Southwestern College Chula Vista

Chula Vista offers one of the most flexible programs out there, giving the you alternative between taking core courses in CSI and earning a certificate, or taking more courses and getting an associate’s degree. Another nice thing is that this program focuses exclusively on CSI, so if your interests are involved in hard biology or hard chemistry, this may be an option to explore.

Courses in the program include a general survey course on criminal justices, criminal law, the law of evidence, and evidence technology, the basics of an investigation, fingerprints and forensic photography. There are, however, biology and chemistry courses that are required, but they are only 100-level general survey introductions to the subjects.

Just recently, the program added computer forensic investigations to the courses you can choose, giving you experience in the fastest growing branch of forensics out there.

18. Grossmont College

Forensic Technology Certificate or Associates Degree – Grossmont College

Grossmont offers either a certificate or an associate’s degree in Administration of Justice that you can refine to specialize in Forensic Technology. The nice thing is that you can complete the course requirements for the certificate, and then if you decide, take the additional 15 hours of courses (in elective work and general education) to get the full Associate’s degree.

The certificate (and the start of the Associate’s degree) requires the completion of 13 3- or 4-hour courses. They cover broad, general topics in criminal justice, including fingerprint ID, forensic photography, criminal law, forensic evidence procedures, introduction to criminal investigations, the technology behind forensic analysis, and the principles of biology and chemistry. The program recommends two electives: internships and human anatomy.

19. California State University, Stanislaus

Undergrad in Criminal Justice with Forensic Science concentration – Cal State Stanislaus

At Cal State Stanislaus, the Sociology and Criminal Justice Depts. put their heads together and came up with an interdisciplinary program to create a BA degree in criminal justice, with specialty courses on a variety of forensic science issues that will qualify you for an entry-level position in the field.

To get your Bachelors in CJ with an emphasis in Forensic Science, here’s how you do it. First, you have to complete the university’s 51 general requirement units. These are your standard education backbone courses that are required throughout the university. Second, there are 5 prerequisites of the major that you have to knock down: Intro to Criminal Justice; Evidence; Criminal Investigations; Criminal Law; and Criminal Court Processes. Third, to complete the Forensic Science concentration, you have to finish more than 48 upper-division units in the field. These courses include General Chemistry, Human Genetics, Statistics and Adjustment Psychology. The concentration courses cover the fields of Forensic Psychology, your CJ Internship, Criminal Evidence and the Law, Criminal Psych, General Criminalistics, Forensic Chemistry, DNA and Evidence Procedure.
And you have to do all this with a minimum GPA of 2.00 or better. To finish this degree, you are not required to complete a minor. You can, however, Minor in the forensics concentration, completing a smaller subset of the same courses.

For more information about Stanislaus’ forensic program, call them at 209-667-3408.

20. San Jose State University

Forensic Science Bachelors – San Jose State U.

San Jose offers a BS in Forensic Science, with concentrations in both chemistry and biology. Depending on your interest, you can choose courses that take you the DNA and microbiology route, or instead take you through chemical analysis using mass spectroscopy, IR and gas chromatography.

The Biology Concentration for the BS in Forensic Science requires, well, you guess it, a lot of biology — 48 units worth. Some are your standard basic Criminal Justice fare: Criminal Law, Evidence & Procedures, and Investigations, as well as Criminalistics and Introduction to Forensic Sciences. In your biology courses, you’ll be expected to knock down both Animal and Cell Biology, General, Molecular and Human Genetics, Molecular Cell Biology and its lab course. When you get into you upper years, you’ll have the choices of Forensic Anthropology, Mammalian Physiology, Toxicology and Forensic Entomology.

For the Chemistry Concentration for the BS in Forensic Science, the courses in Animal, Cell and Human Genetics are replaced with Organic Chemistry, the labs, Biochemistry, and the dreaded Physical Chemistry. Upper level courses include Mechanics, Calculus, Electricity & Magnetism, Atomic Physics (no kidding) and the old stand-by, Quantitative Analysis.

You can give them a ring if you’re interested in learning more: 408-924-2940.

21. California State University at Sacramento

Forensic Chemistry Bachelors – California State U. at Sacramento

Cal State Sacramento offers a BA in chemistry with the ability to specialize in Forensic Chemistry. While Sacramento also offers a BS in chemistry, you are not required to take the harder, more science-centric courses for the BS in order to pursue the Forensics route. Instead, the BA is specially picked for the Forensic Chemistry concentration.

The Forensic Chemistry concentration requires all the same courses as a standard BA in chemistry would, but has some quirks: first, you have to take two courses in Criminal Justice, the first an introduction course to Criminal Justice and Society, the second a survey course on Physical Evidence.

22. California State University at Los Angeles

Masters in Criminalistics – California State U. at Los Angeles

Cal State LA offers a Masters in Criminalistics from their graduate school, combining the rigors of science training with the liberal arts background of a criminal justice major. To apply to the program, you have to have B average or better in the last 60 semester hours of your undergraduate training. GRE scores are also required, and there is no minimum cut-off as in many programs.

Unlike some other schools, you have to make two different applications: the first to the graduate school, the second to the forensics program. The real kicker is that admission to one does not guarantee admission to the other. This is something you often see at less-than-competitive schools with more-than-competitive individual programs. If you have more questions about the program, call the school office at 323-343-4610.

23. Golden Gate University | Golden Gate U.

Certificate in Forensic Accounting – Golden Gate U.

Starting in 2009, Golden Gate pursued a new graduate specialty certificate in forensic accounting. The school had been working for some time to get the certification to move forward, and just recently the American Institute of CPAs authorized a specialty credentialing in forensic accounting, called the Certified Financial Forensic. The requirements for calling yourself a CFF is continuing education. Golden Gate offers a lot of this in its training program.

The courses you can take in Golden Gate’s program include bankruptcy, economic damages, shareholder and stakeholder disputes, lost profits and insolvency. The certificate program addresses each of these, paying particularly close attention to the lingo you would be expected to know if you took the stand in a forensic accounting trial. So you can see how this course is geared to both attorneys and accountants working (or intending to work) in the accounting field.

The academic requirements for Golden Gate’s certificate are pretty straightforward: 18 units of forensic accounting courses with a B or better (recognize, of course, that some of the courses have pre-requisites that can increase the number of courses you’d have to take). Here’s how the courses break down: Both Fraud Auditing and Introduction to Financial Forensic Accounting are required, accounting for 6 hours. That leaves 12 elective hours, to be selected from forensic accounting and family law, economic damages, allegation of audit failure, expert witness and testimony, intellectual property, mergers & acquisitions, construction claims, forensic valuation, and financial statement investigations. The program can give you a heads-up about course times, or the possibility of just taking one or two courses for information’s sake, without pursuing the certificate. Call at 415-442-6559.

24. Holy Names University

Forensic Psychology (Certificate and Masters) – Holy Names U.

Holy Names’ certificate and masters program in Forensic Psychology is designed to train you to work with victims of crimes and serious offenses, as well as the criminals involved. In addition to courses, you spend a lot of your time working in the field, in supervised training sessions. Unfortunately, students completing this program are not eligible for state MFT licenses (Marriage and Family Therapists). For those interested, Holy Names also offers the Forensic Psychology masters jointly with a Masters in Counseling Psychology. This is the route you want to take if you see state licensure in your future. Its requires more courses, more work, but may ensure greater employability once you’re done.

Finally, Holy Names offers a Certificate in Forensic Psychology. This is for graduate students who are otherwise working on their MA, Psy.D. or Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. You can find out more about the certificate program and masters programs both by calling 510-436-1000.

25. National University

Masters in Forensic Science – National University

National’s Masters Program in Forensic Science is unique among graduate programs in that its areas of specialization re Criminalistics and Investigations, a break-down between specialties that you often don’t see. The difference, really, comes down to what is required of you as an undergraduate. Note that this degree is a Master of Forensic Science, or MFS, and not a Master of Science in Forensic Science. This is how the program can allow undergraduates without any specific undergraduate degree apply to the program and enroll in the Investigations area of specialization. And unless your undergraduate degree is in a hard, laboratory science, then this is the only area of specialization you can enroll in. Criminalistics is reserved for those with a hard science background.

The core requirements for both programs includes forensic medicine, pathology, psychology (including psychiatry and the law), forensic and crime scene photography, major case investigation, CSI, criminal profiling, and finally a supervised research project.

In the areas of specialization, Criminalistics requires 4 courses: Trace Evidence, Advanced Forensic Toxicology, Advanced Forensic Serology and DNA, and Forensic Anthropology and Archeology. The Investigations area of specialization also requires 4 courses, but they are decidedly less purse and more applied science: Advanced Criminalistics, Fingerprint Analysis, Criminal Procedure and the Constitution and Computer Forensics (or Electronic CSI, as it’s called). For electives, students in either of the two areas of specialization can take courses in the graduate School of Business and Management.

26. Notre Dame de Namur University

Introductory Forensic Biology Course – Notre Dame de Namur U.

NDNU offers an undergraduate-level biology-centric introductory course on forensic science, offering a general survey of the tools, techniques and lab procedures used in crime scene investigation and subsequent lab analysis. Specifically, the class looks at DNA analysis, fingerprint, hair and fiber, ballistics and bullet comparisons. The class also delves into the psychological, looking at courtroom testimony, the fallibility of human memory and how it shapes testimony, and the decision making processes of the criminal justice system and the jury.