19 Tennessee Colleges With Forensic Science Programs


1. Austin Peay State University

BS in Criminal Justice and Homeland Security

Austin Peay State University is one of the few school in America that offer a full-fledged BS in criminal justice (not a measly BA, mind you), with a concentration in Homeland Security. This is definitely a program to consider if you want to work as a police officer or federal agent, as the curriculum is designed with a focus on understanding terrorism (and the terrorists and their motivations), overseeing rescue and recovery operations, as well as methods of crime prevention and protection. The program has been rated one of the Best Buys in online degree training, something to consider if you can’t make it to campus for whatever reasons.

Of course, for this program you’ll need to complete 41 hours (of the 120 required to graduate) in the general core curriculum, and the 39 necessary for the Criminal Justice program. But it’s the final 40 credits where you can really hunker down and focus on criminal justice and homeland security. The specialty courses include general criminal justice, constitutional and criminal law, criminal evidence and procedures. Moving to the international arena, you’ll have courses on terrorism and the law, network security, domestic and international terrorism, and terrorism prevention and management.

The real bread and butter courses include Medico-legal forensics, criminal investigations and administrative law. Some really interesting courses Austin Peay offers are Islam as a World View (which you can use as an elective), as well as Civil Rights & Civil Liberties and American National Government. If it’s your cup of tea, you can also take Ethics in Criminal Justic and Public Budgeting & Finance (but we shiver at the notion!)

The Psychology department at Austin Peay has about four courses that qualify for the BS program, including human interaction, social psychology, group dynamics and abnormal psychology. Likewise, Political Science has courses that you can count in international politics, U.S. defense policy, war (causes and prevention) and diplomacy (for those of you who want to be a federal agent working overseas.)

You can find out more about the program by contacting the program manager, at 931- 221-1477

2. Medicolegal Forensics

Austin Peay offers a 3000-level course in medico-legal forensics. This criminal justice course looks at the science behind solving crimes, such as identifying human remains. More advanced topics you’ll look at are forensic anthropology, forensic odontology, radiology, serology, forensic DNA training, medical examiner work, wound ballistics and forensic trauma examination. This is a solid course to consider if you want to work as a coroner or medical examiner.

3. Belmont University

Belmont University’s CSI Week

Belmont’s Chemistry and Physics departments hold CSI week during February, when students gather and learn about the science and legal framework of forensic science. The dates change, so check with the school if you’re interested in participating.

4. Carson-Newman College

Forensic Psychology

Carson-Newman offers a 300-level course in Forensic Psychology in the spring, during odd years. It’s a general survey course, but you’ll have to have already taken 6 hours in social sciences, or 3 hours of social science and junior standing, in order to enroll. But once you get in, you’ll get a good survey of the field of forensic psychology, particularly the fields you can work in: criminalist, forensic social worker, even a forensic psychiatrist with onward training. The course covers general criminal behavior, including developmental, biological, personality, learning and social causes of criminality. You study kids in juvie and psychopaths both, so you’ll have a full plate. Techniques of predicting crime based on psychological disposition are discussed, as are the correctional options that are available for psychotic, psychopathic or insane defendants.

5. Christian Brothers University

Forensic Anthropology

Christian Brothers offers a 100-level introductory course in the criminal justice department on Forensic Anthropology. This class is not fluff – it is intended for for science or applied psychology students, so you will have to have at least this background in basic familiarity with human biology to start. The only pre-requisite that’s hard-and-fast, however, is Math 105 or higher. After you have that under your belt, the course will teach you how criminalists and police officers interpret skeletal remains and bones to determine sex, stature, age and ancestry. You’ll also look at topics like blunt trauma, and learn to tell what kind of instrument caused that bone damage that lead to death. The course covers a number of cast studies of famous exhumations and bone fragment analyses performed over the years. This is definitely a course to consider if you want to pursue forensics down the line, either as a police officer, federal agent, crime scene investigator or forensic analyst.

6. East Tennessee State University

Forensic Pathology

East Tennessee State offers an elective course in Forensic Pathology for fourth-year medical students. The course covers medicolegal investigations, with a particular emphasis given to on-the-scene investigations that students participate in with forensic pathologists. This includes consultations on autopsies, as well as being on-call during nights and weekends. The course uses primary literature and forensic science case studies, the law surrounding evidentiary requirements and special procedures necessary for evaluation and documentation of medicolegal cases.

7. Freed Hardeman University

Computer Forensics

Freed Hardeman offers a 3-hour course in the MIS program on computer forensics and digital forensics. The course is a broad survey of the field of computer forensics, with the only pre-requisite being the 100-level Computer Applications course (and consent of the instructor). The course starts with general concepts, where you’ll learn about the tools and technologies that are out there for secure, court-sanctioned methods of recovering forensic data. The course takes a real hands-on approach, too, where you will perform forensic examinations on mock digital evidence seizures.

8. King College

Degree in Forensic Sciences

King College combines the best of its departments to offer a solid degree in forensics. Since this is a full-degree, you’ll take courses in pretty much every aspect of a forensic scientist’s career: law, ethics, statistics, psychology, biology, chemistry, math and communications. The program is designed so that when you finish, you’ll have the training and degree requirements you need to become a medical examiner, criminal profiler or forensic engineer. If you don’t want to work right away, you can take the degree to medical school (provided you meet the biology, chemistry and lab requirements), dental school (to pursue forensic odontology), or to a graduate program in forensic science (which seems to be the requirement for most lab directors today).

Forensic Chemistry and Lab

King College offers 4-hour lecture-and-lab combo course specializing in forensic chemistry, where you’ll learn all the stock instruments used in most chemistry, drug analysis, arson and trace evidence labs in the country. During the course, you’ll look at things like gunshot residue analysis (the fragments that impact the bullet target, and the impacted metal alloys on the shooter’s hand); the various chemical signatures given by the likes of cocaine and marijuana on instruments like the gas chromatograph, thin-layer chromatography, and mass spectrometer. The upside of this course is that when you finish, you’ll already know how to use the equipment that is in 90% of the forensic chemistry labs in the world.

9. Lane College

Forensic Science in Criminal Justice

Lane offers a 300-level undergraduate course in Forensic Science. Offered through the criminal justice department, this general survey course offers future crime scene investigators, police officers and federal agents the opportunity to learn about evidence analysis, proper chains of custody, search warrant procedures and evidence processing in the lab. By the end of the course, you’ll have a solid understanding of the reality vs. fiction of crime scene investigation, and know what can and cannot be accomplished in a forensic lab setting. This is a good introductory course for those wishing to work in a lab after graduate, or go on for further graduate training in medical school or forensic grad school.

10. LeMoyne-Owen College

Forensic Evidence

LeMoyne-Owen offers 400-level criminal justice course in forensic evidence. In this class, you’ll get a solid, basic understanding of how evidence is collected at a crime scene, the proper chain-of-custody procedures, and the processing of evidence in a way that allows for successful prosecution at trial. You’ll see how various types of evidence can be collected, learn about the instrumentation used by crime scene investigators and lab technicians, and how the limitations of this equipment impact what can and should be collected on-scene.

11. Martin Methodist College

Forensic and Crime Scene Investigation

The criminal justice program at Martin Methodist offers a really good survey course on forensics and CSI for those interested in pursuing the work, or further study in grad school for a masters in forensic science. This is a hands-on course, where you’ll pick up a number of tricks for working a crime scene in a way that satisfies both the lab technicians, who has to process what you college, as well as the lawyers, who have to present and defend what you college. Balancing this interplay between science and the law is the skills you’ll pick up in this course, when you look at the various sub-disciplines of forensic science. It’s the perfect course to take if you think you might be interested in working as a crime scene investigator, but are unsure of the possibilities that are out there.

12. Maryville College

Science 350: Forensic Science

Maryville College’s 300-level forensic course, according to the instructor Terry Bunde, is popular no matter what your major. Computer Forensics is really popular with the computer science majors. Document examination is something that sparks an interest with English majors. Art majors get a real kick out of painting forgeries performed over the years, and hunters like the ballistics and firearms portion of the course.

Maryville’s Forensic Science Class starts with a basic history of forensic science, looking at things like how fingerprints were first detected, determined to be unique among individuals, and were first used to solve a crime. The class then gets into the controversial aspects of the science — do DNA databases, for example, violate civil liberties if profiles of exonerated criminals are kept. Should the DNA be removed from the database if someone finishes his sentence? How about if he is arrested, but not convicted?

The only restrictions on taking Maryville College’s SCI350 is that you must be a junior or senior non-science major. This loose restriction means that non-scientists can learn about forensics, and you can possibly decide to go to graduate school for forensics with just the core courses under your belt.

13. Meharry Medical College

Forensic Pathology

Meharry Medical College offers a 900-level (yep, no kidding) course on forensic pathology. Designed for students in the fourth year of medical school, it can help you determine if you really want to work in pathology once you graduate. In general, the course will teach you to explain in detail the differences between natural and unnatural death. While there are no official prerequisites for the course, they do recomenda that you take the Surgical Pathology elective before enrolling. Bear in mind that to take this course, you will rotate through the Forensic Science Center in Madison, Tennessee.

14. Middle Tennessee State University

CSI: Forensic Science Camp

Middle Tennessee State offers a 3-day summer camp for high school students on crime scene investigation, forensic analysis and forensic science techniques.

Forensic Skeletal Scenes

If you’re interested in pathology, or crime scene reconstruction involving analysis of recovered bones, then take a look at Middle Tennessee’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education’s Forensic Skeletal Scenes – Search, Recovery and Documentation of Evidence. The course covers the types of things you need to know to determine the sex, size, age and ethnicity of the bones recovered from decades-old crime scenes.

Seizing and Securing Digital Evidence

The FIRE center at Middle Tennessee State offers an introductory course (P.O.S.T. approved) on the basics of computer forensics and digital forensics. In the course, you’ll learn everything you need to get a good understanding if computer forensics is something you would like to pursue as a career. Discussed are topics about the proper chain of custody documents, how to seize evidence on the scene, how to hand a computer that is powered up when you discover it, versus one that is turned off, and finally how to use the tools in your lab (whether Encase, FTK or open-source alternatives) to analyze the data. Doing it right the first time is critical, especially when it comes time to present the evidence at court and you have defense attorneys pick you apart!

BS in Forensic Science

Middle Tennessee State is offering an upcoming bachelor of science in forensic science, with concentrations available in three areas: biostatistics, biotechnology and health care informatics.

Forensic Accounting

The accounting department at Middle Tennessee State offers a 3-credit course on Accountancy and Fraud Auditing. This is a higher level course, so it’s not the place you would go to get a general overview of accounting; you’ll need to have a moderate background already before you start (or at least the permission of the instructor of completion of External Auditing I or Internal Auditing). With these under your belt, though, this course will give you a great introduction to some more non-traditional aspects of accounting, including litigation, business interruptions, fraud prevention and detection of fraudulent intent.

15. Tennessee State University

Teacher Training in Forensic Science

Tennessee State University offers high school teachers the chance to work at the Biotechnology and Forensic Science Summer Institute learning about various crime scene investigation and forensic lab techniques they can take back to their classrooms and teach their kids. The courses are all free, and everything is paid. The course runs over various 5-day periods throughout the summer, and is held for two groups of 20-teachers. This is definitely something to check out; people pay thousands of dollars for the kind of training that is being offered here for free. Who says teaching doesn’t pay?

16. Tennessee Tech University

Computer Forensics Lab

Tennessee Tech University has a state-of-the-art computer forensics lab in Cookeville, TN, hidden away in one of the school’s academic buildings. If you’re interested, the lab’s coordinator creates mock digital evidence cases that you can do, to get a sense if computer forensics or digital evidence examination is something you may want to pursue later, either as a career or in school. Actual casework takes place here as well under the auspices of the lab’s director.

Computer Forensics and Investigations

Tennessee Tech offers a 3-hour course on investigation, discovery, and analysis of digital computer evidence. You get to work on actually computer hardware, using the forensic software tools that you would encounter in forensic labs throughout the country. The upside here is that the forensics class doesn’t require any prerequisites, only permission of the instructor.

17. University of Memphis

Cyber Security Expo Training

The University of Memphis offers a Cybersecurity Expo, where certified forensic consultants and forensics teachers offer lab training sessions throughout the month of October. The courses look at topics like web application penetration testing, looking at forensically-relevant techniques of exploring the vulnerabilities in online software. This includes SQL injection attacks for surreptitious access to back-end databases, and cross-site scripting attacks. This is really a good course to take to learn about your own website or domain’s weaknesses before the black-hat hackers do.

18. University of Tennessee

10-week National Forensic Academy

The University of Tennessee hosts a 10-week training program for law enforcement agencies, teaching officers how to college, preserve and identify specimens during crime scene investigation. This is a long course: we’re talking 400 hours of training per session, broken down into 170 hours of in-class study and 230 hours of field work. There is a comprehensive final exam at the end, as well as a practical exam.

The forensics school offers modules in pretty much every branch of forensic science: death investigation, WMD, trace evidence, fingerprinting, crime scene photography, tire and footwear impressions, DNA, courtroom testimony, CSI management, ballistics, bombs & booby-traps, arson and auto theft investigation. If you qualify, the program will even grant you 15 hours of undergraduate credit or 9 hours of graduate credit that you can apply toward a masters. If you’re interested in the program, give them a call at 865-946-3023.

19. Vanderbilt University

Forensic Nursing

Vanderbilt offers nursing students the chance to learn forensic nursing, with courses in the fundamentals, concepts, and practical hands-on work. On top of the classroom training, there are 210 hours required of clinical practice in forensic nursing. In the end, you can take what you learned and apply it to psychiatric mental health nursing, domestic violence, SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner), prison & correctional nursing, legal nurse consult, death investigation, child & elder abuse and war & mass casualty investigations.