15 Best CSI Degree Programs (Rated by Admissions Professionals)

CSI Degrees

The field of criminal justice involves criminology, forensic science, cybersecurity, policing and anything related to the distribution of justice and investigating crimes. Even paralegals and court clerks have their role in the criminal justice system.

If you are looking to enter into this field, you need to decide where your area of expertise will lie. If you are more of a management person, then perhaps a degree in criminal justice is for you, whereas if you want to piece together facts about the crime in a lab, then maybe a technician role is more appropriate. It is helpful to look at job postings for potential job opportunities so you can see exactly what hiring managers are looking for and tailor your education experience to that.

Undergraduate Programs in Criminal Justice

For those looking for quick entry into the field, an associate may be just enough. However, most careers such as working for a police department or working with the FBI require at the very least a bachelor’s, and more often, a master’s degree. Salary is also a factor, and there is a difference in pay for different levels in government jobs both with and without a degree. In fact, several important jobs in criminal justice and government require at least a bachelor’s degree.

Some degrees in criminal justice include:

Undergraduate Programs in Crime Scene Investigation

For those interested in the tactical side of crime scene investigation, then a degree in forensic science may be more appropriate. For these degrees, a strong background in natural and biological sciences is important. Forensic science technicians are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree. There are other aspects to solving crimes, and some require a computer lab rather than a lab that looks at blood or other bodily fluids. These make up the rest of crime scene investigation, where some of the crimes are with the ‘books’ in accounting, and some crimes are cybercrimes involving the computer. Some degrees in forensics include:

Graduate Programs

For many roles, a graduate degree is required or encouraged. In a graduate program, you will build more on a specialization and earn more credits in a specific program area, doing more to render you an ‘expert’ on the subject. Of course, you will still need work experience to gain access to many roles at a crime scene, but you will have a head start if you earn a graduate degree.

There are graduate program options for criminal justice and forensics. Here are some of the programs you might see:

  • Master’s in Forensic Accounting
  • Master of Science in Financial Crime
  • Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS)
  • Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Law Enforcement Intelligence and Analysis
  • Master of Science in Counterterrorism and Homeland Security

Online Programs

Online programs choices in crime scene investigation and criminal justice can be hard to navigate. Not all programs are created equal and it is important that you have the tools you need to be successful in any program. Done well, an online program is interactive and stimulating, and the curriculum is no different than what you would experience in person. The great thing about online programs is you have the opportunity to connect with students from all over the country, you have a wider range of professors available, and you can usually attend at any time of day or night from the comfort of your own home. Now, students have the ability to attend a school in New England while living on the West Coast.

When looking at online programs, be sure to look at the following:

  • Where will I attend class?
  • How do I interact with classmates and the professor?
  • How do I turn in assignments?
  • What career resources are available to me?
  • What is the school’s accreditation?

When you are ready to find a program, try to request information from more than one school so you can compare your options. What you thought might be your first choice may not end up being the case.

15 Best CSI Degree Programs

Are you ready to get started on your search for one of the best CSI degree programs in the country?

1. Ohio State University

If you’re looking for a college with a high acceptance rate and outstanding opportunities for hands-on experience, Ohio State University is the name to know. This criminology program accepts all of its applicants, so anybody will have the chance to explore the different perspectives of crime – and how to prevent it.

2. University of Central Oklahoma

A dual degree in chemistry and forensic science, the University of Central Oklahoma’s crime scene investigation program is incredibly hands-on. It includes studies in toxicology, microscopy, and so much more, and is a great pathway for students interested in pursuing graduate study later on.

3. Florida State University

Florida State University offers an online crime scene investigation degree that’s not only flexible, but comprehensive. You’ll learn all the skills you need to succeed in this competitive industry, and you can even customize your degree by adding electives, minors, or concentrations.

4. Columbia College

Another great online program in crime scene investigation can be found at Columbia College. Here, you can choose to study on a part- or full-time basis. You’ll take industry-relevant courses and choose from a variety of electives and concentrations to make your degree more applicable to your career goals.

5. Madonna University

A Catholic university located just outside of Detroit; Madonna is an excellent place to earn a forensic science degree. It’s just one of 35 schools to receive accreditation from the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission. Here, you’ll receive hands-on training that will get you up to speed on the protocols and procedures currently used in the field.

6. University of Alabama

With opportunities to study topics ranging from terrorism to computer fraud, this crime scene investigations degree offers an inside look at just about every aspect of crime. This school is known for its vibrant student life as well as its exemplary academics, making it a great option for those seeking a well-rounded experience.

7. Penn State University

The BS in forensic science at Penn State University is one of the best for students interested in learning more about civil litigation and the justice system. It provides a solid foundation in core topics like the physical sciences, but also prepares students at a higher level so that they can go on to graduate study if they choose to.

8. Salem University

Salem University, located in Salem, West Virginia, is often considered a pioneer in online education. It has dozens of different online degree programs, and the online bachelor’s in crime scene investigation is one of the most popular. You’l learn everything you need to know about crime scene investigation in this affordable and convenient program.

9. East Carolina University

At East Carolina University, you’ll be able to choose from dozens of different electives in crime scene investigation, delving deep into topics like psychology, sociology, the juvenile justice system, criminal law, and so much more. All in all, you’ll take 120 credit hours with plenty of options for customization.

10. Towson University

You’ll find one of the best crime scene investigation degrees –  a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry – at Towson University. Here, you’ll study everything you need to know and gain vital laboratory skills that will come in handy as you pursue a crime scene investigation career.

11. National University

National University is one of the best schools to choose if you’re interested in an online program. With nearly four dozen other online degrees to choose from, the school offers an attractive bachelor of science in criminal justice administration that’s perfect for the working professional. You can choose from all kinds of different minors, electives, and concentrations to customize your degree.

12. Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University offers a criminalistics degree that addresses criminal behavior theories. You’ll be able to choose from multiple concentrations, including terrorism or homeland defense, and you’ll also gain skills and content knowledge that are relevant in any area, including fingerprint analysis and event sequencing.

13. Cedarville University

The bachelor’s degree in forensic science at Cedarville is an incredible interdisciplinary program. It covers everything from the connection between science and Christianity (Cedarville is a Christian university) to lab work. There are even some hands-on internships. Another bonus? You can even take electives from related fields like social work and pre-law if it interests you.

14. Virginia Commonwealth University

The bachelor’s degree in forensic crime scene investigation at VCU is one of the best choices for students interested in working for law enforcement or in the juvenile justice system. As a public school located in Richmond, Virginia, this is also one of the most affordable options for aspiring crime scene investigators.

15. George Washington University

Finally, we have George Washington University, which has a dual forensic chemistry BS to MFS that prepares students for a career in crime scene investigation on an accelerated track. You’ll be able to study everything from arson accelerants to the role drug abuse plays in crime.