Ladies and gentlemen, after much consideration and consultation, here we present to you the 10 best forensic science bachelors programs in the United States. We have to admit, the competition was stiff. In just the last few years, multiple programs have come to the forefront, reaping the whirlwind of incoming freshmen who grew up watching CSI or Forensic Files. Unfortunately, this is not enough, particularly if you want your graduates to find gainful employment when they leave.
Our list here is based on several key factors. Primary among them is accreditation. The American Academy of Forensic Science is the big boy here. Getting accredited by AAFS (specifically, its Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission) give you a seat at the adult’s table. While we concede that there are several admirable programs without AAFS accreditation, we can state almost unequivocally that such programs will seek accreditation in the future. With work, they can achieve it. However, those programs that already maintain their AAFS accreditation are, at the very least, more mature than those programs that have not. Having seen the accreditation process firsthand, we can say that it is thorough and complete. An online course for unlimited freshman enrollment isn’t going to cut it. The AAFS imprimatur is not to be ignored. It ranks first among our criteria for selection of the best forensic science bachelors programs in America.
Second only to accreditation status is reputation. Some schools have it, and some do not. Be careful not to conflate the kind of name recognition that comes with athletic prowess with academic prowess. Many schools have name recognition only because of the visibility of its athletic wear. What we’re talking about here is academic accomplishment — the heft that is lent by having particular schools listed on your CV.
Third, our ranking of the best schools is tied to flexibility. That is, we give particular weight to those schools who recognize that their incoming students may not know which branch of forensics they want to specialize in. How many 17-year-olds, honestly, know they want to be forensic chemists… or forensic biologists…. or forensic anthropologists? When we were in graduate school for forensic science, 80% of the forensic disciplines today did not even exist. Today, fields such as forensic odontology, forensic psychology and forensic pediatrics were either non-existent, or in their infant stages. Demanding that an incoming freshman declare his or her major from the get-go is just not good practice, for it fails to recognize that nearly 80% of undergraduates change their majors at some point in their undergraduate careers. To this end, we give particular weight to those schools whose programs begin generally, offering introductory courses in crime scene investigation, basic forensic biology and chemistry, and survey courses on digital forensics, forensic anthropology, arson investigation, forensic accounting, and forensic DNA. Only then, equipped with this first experience, is any college student equipped to choose a path. Schools that adopt this approach are, in our humble opinions, schools that are staffed with real forensic scientists — those who have practiced the trade, or themselves knowledgeable of the travails of higher education in forensic science.
So let us begin. Herewith, we present to you, kind reader, the Top 10 Undergraduate Programs in the Forensic Science in the United States…