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Best Global Universities for Forensic Science in 2022-2023

May 27, 2022

Best Forensic Science Universities and Programs in the World

Forensic science, also known as criminalistics, is the application of scientific techniques to the investigation of crimes or the study of evidence that is presented in a court of law. With the increase in the number of crimes and criminals, forensic science has become an important part of the criminal justice system, especially in finding solutions to complex and unsolvable cases. The experts in the field called forensic scientists also known as crime scene investigators use knowledge of natural sciences, like chemistry and biology, as well as computer science to examine and analyze evidence from crime scenes. The results of their findings  are then used in a court of law to identify a suspect and determine whether or not they committed a crime.

The following article discusses what a forensic scientist does and how to become one. It also highlights some of the best forensic science universities in the world and their forensic science programs.

Duties of Forensic Scientists

The majority of the work of forensic scientists takes place in laboratories, where they examine blood, hair, other human fluids, fabrics, narcotics, paint, glass, and other materials. Their job is to gather evidence and examine it to determine whether or not a suspect has committed a specific crime. Some forensic science specialists, such as forensic psychiatrists, work in an office setting where they provide expert opinions on psychiatric evaluations of criminals or assist or treat criminals in prison with mental health difficulties. The job responsibilities of forensic scientists differ based on their specialization, however, the following are some generalized responsibilities to consider:

  • Gather information and evidence like blood samples, fabrics, narcotics, paint, glass, and other tissue samples to test them and determine the cause of crime 
  • Test the evidence in the laboratory using various techniques like chromatography, mass spectroscopy, UV spectroscopy, etc
  • Compiling the data in the form of a report to be submitted to a court of law 
  • Recover data from digital equipment like a laptop, smartphone, and computer
  • Verifying the authenticity of the samples and documents 
  • Stay updated with current research in the field of forensic science
  • Attending autopsies to gather information and evidence
  • Maintaining and testing equipments
  • Mentoring and training newly recruited staff and junior forensic scientists  

Popular degrees to pursue a career in Forensic Science

Forensic scientists normally require a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or a closely related field such as chemistry, or biology, or physics. Some universities even offer associate degrees in this profession to help students get started. Because of the increased competition for forensic science positions, employers now prefer individuals who have a master’s degree in the subject with a specialization. 

A master’s degree is also required for students who want to work as forensic analysts or scientists at a higher level. Roles that require a degree in medicine, such as forensic odontologist or medical examiner, are expected to undergo years of training before commencing out. Doctoral degrees are preferred by candidates who wish to work as independent scientists or enter the academic field.  

Top Forensic Science undergraduate programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Chemistry
  • Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic and Criminal Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Investigations

Top Forensic Science graduate programs

  • Master of Science in Forensic Science
  • Master of Science in Forensic Technology
  • Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Forensic Chemistry
  • Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology
  • Master of Science in Forensic Pathology
  • Master of Arts in Forensic Anthropology

Top Forensic Science doctoral programs

  • Ph.D. in Forensic Science
  • Ph.D. in Forensic Chemistry
  • Ph.D. in Forensic Pathology
  • Ph.D. in Forensic Anthropology

Specializations in Forensic Science

Television shows such as “CSI,” “Criminal Minds,” “Bones,” and “Rizzoli and Isles” have definitely exposed us to the forensic aspects of how crimes are solved. Despite the fact that these shows portray a single forensic scientist performing all of the work, reality is quite different. There are different kinds of forensic scientists depending upon the branch they specialize in, such as

  • Forensic chemistry
  • Computational forensics
  • Forensic DNA analysis
  • Forensic odontology
  • Forensic pathology
  • Forensic toxicology
  • Forensic ballistics
  • Digital forensics
  • Forensic anthropology
  • Forensic dactyloscopy (fingerprint analysis)
  • Forensic entomology
  • Forensic geology
  • Forensic linguistics
  • Forensic podiatry (footprint analysis)

Duration of programs in Forensic Science

Forensic science programs in the USA and Canada are often longer than in other regions of the world. For example, in the USA, an undergraduate degree in forensic science takes four years, whereas, in the UK, it takes three years. In Europe and the rest of the world, master’s and doctoral degrees are also shorter than in North America. The following table contains the duration of various degrees in forensic science. 

Country Bachelor’s Degree Master’s Degree Doctoral Degree
USA and Canada 4 years 2 years 4-6 years
UK 3-4 years 1-2 years 3-6 years
Australia 3-4 years 1-2 years 3-6 years
Others 3-4 years 1-2 years 3-6 years

Career opportunities in Forensic Science

Forensic scientists can find work in both the public and private sectors, such as government-run forensic laboratories (FBI, CBI, etc), public and private investigation agencies, hospital laboratories, and police departments, among other places. Here is a list of the various work opportunities available in this industry.

  • Forensic scientist
  • Forensic analyst
  • Criminal lawyer
  • Private investigator
  • Forensic science technician
  • Pathologist
  • Forensic investigator
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Forensic science professor
  • Forensic writer
  • Police officer
  • Detective
  • Toxicologist
  • Forensic odontologist
  • Forensic anthropologists

Average salaries for Forensic Scientists

Even within the same country, forensic scientist salaries differ from region to region. Their pay is mostly determined by their education levels, specialization, and amount of experience. Beginners in the field should expect lower pay at first, but with time and expertise, they will be able to earn higher salaries. Doctorate holders start out with a better salary, but the degree requires years of commitment and hard work in the forensic profession.

Country Average salary in USD*/year
USA 60,103 (Glassdoor)
UK 47,486 (Glassdoor)
Canada  62,520 (Glassdoor)
Australia 53,106 (Glassdoor)

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Top 50 universities in the world for Forensic Science based on subject rankings

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
2 7 5 University of Oxford UK Click Here Click Here
3 2 3 Stanford University USA Click Here Click Here
3 3 8 University of Cambridge UK Click Here Click Here
8 17 16 University College London UK Click Here Click Here
8 21 26 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland Click Here Click Here
12 81 33 Nanyang Technological University Singapore Click Here Click Here
16 38 32 University of Edinburgh UK Click Here Click Here
17 28 26 Tsinghua University China Click Here Click Here
18 45 45 Peking University China Click Here Click Here
21 12 22 Cornell University USA Click Here Click Here
26 22 16 University of Toronto Canada Click Here Click Here
27 35 58 University of Manchester UK Click Here Click Here
27 67 51 McGill University Canada Click Here Click Here
27 76 56 Australian National University Australia Click Here Click Here
32 5 4 University of California – Berkeley USA Click Here Click Here
37 33 25 University of Melbourne Australia Click Here Click Here
38 69 28 University of Sydney Australia Click Here Click Here
40 14 14 University of California – Los Angeles USA Click Here Click Here
43 65 41 University of New South Wales Australia Click Here Click Here
46 42 35 University of British Columbia Canada Click Here Click Here
47 51 36 University of Queensland Australia Click Here Click Here
58 80 40 Monash University Australia Click Here Click Here
70 54 64 University of Zurich Switzerland Click Here Click Here
73 151-200 84 University of Glasgow UK Click Here Click Here
82 55 72 University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign USA Click Here Click Here
85 19 7 University of Washington – Seattle USA Click Here Click Here
90 101-150 91 University of Birmingham UK Click Here Click Here
92 101-150 149 University of Leeds UK Click Here Click Here
96 101-150 80 Pennsylvania State University USA Click Here Click Here
103 101-150 151 University of Nottingham UK Click Here Click Here
105 60 101 University of Geneva Switzerland Click Here Click Here
107 23 31 Washington University in St Louis USA Click Here Click Here
108 100 67 University of California – Davis USA Click Here Click Here
108 101-150 66 University of Adelaide Australia Click Here Click Here
111 101-150 151 University of Montreal Canada Click Here Click Here
119 101-150 114 University of Bern Switzerland Click Here Click Here
126 101-150 135 University of Alberta Canada Click Here Click Here
133 201-300 127 University of Technology Sydney Australia Click Here Click Here
157 101-150 108 Michigan State University USA Click Here Click Here
158 56 60 University of Maryland – College Park USA Click Here Click Here
176 101-150 184 University of Lausanne Switzerland Click Here Click Here
186 40 55 University of Minnesota – Twin Cities USA Click Here Click Here
189 101-150 155 University of Liverpool UK Click Here Click Here
206 301-400 244 RMIT University Australia Click Here Click Here
216 101-150 165 Arizona State University – Tempe USA Click Here Click Here
236 301-400 212 University of Leicester UK Click Here Click Here
240 201-300 412 Queen’s University Canada Click Here Click Here
298 301-400 313 Simon Fraser University Canada Click Here Click Here
407 401-500 439 Flinders University Australia Click Here Click Here
455 201-300 174 University of Iowa USA Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the USA for Forensic Science

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of forensic scientists is expected to grow 16 percent between 2020 and 2030, substantially faster than the national average. Over the next ten years, an average of 2,500 jobs are expected. Considering these statistics, students should definitely consider studying in the USA. Prospects with Ph.D., master’s, or bachelor’s degrees in forensic science can readily find work in the many departments of the USA law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI. Here is a list of top American universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forensic science. 

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
3 2 3 Stanford University USA Click Here Click Here
21 12 22 Cornell University USA Click Here Click Here
32 5 4 University of California – Berkeley USA Click Here Click Here
40 14 14 University of California – Los Angeles USA Click Here Click Here
82 55 72 University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign USA Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the UK for Forensic Science

In the UK, there are numerous universities that offer forensic science courses. Many prospective forensic scientists, therefore, opt to study in the UK. The major colleges in the UK, such as the University of Oxford, University College London, University of Cambridge, and others, offer all three types of forensic science programs: doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees. Other UK universities too provide a wide choice of forensic science master’s specialties.

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
2 7 5 University of Oxford UK Click Here Click Here
3 3 8 University of Cambridge UK Click Here Click Here
8 17 16 University College London UK Click Here Click Here
16 38 32 University of Edinburgh UK Click Here Click Here
27 35 58 University of Manchester UK Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Canada for Forensic Science

There is a constant demand for forensic scientists in the Canadian public and private sectors. Therefore, Canada is a good place to study forensic science. Universities like the University of Toronto, McGill University, University of British Columbia, etc., are popular places to study for doctoral and master’s degrees in forensic science. There are also a number of other universities in Canada that offer bachelor’s degrees in forensic science.

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
26 22 16 University of Toronto Canada Click Here Click Here
27 67 51 McGill University Canada Click Here Click Here
46 42 35 University of British Columbia Canada Click Here Click Here
111 101-150 151 University of Montreal Canada Click Here Click Here
126 101-150 135 University of Alberta Canada Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Australia for Forensic Science

Many international students prefer to study in Australia due to its long-standing history of welcoming international students and high immigration rates. The majority of master’s in forensic science degrees are highly specialized ones that last only one year. There are B.A./M.A and B.Sc./M.Sc. options available with respect to the master’s and bachelor’s courses in forensic science offered by Australian universities. 

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
27 76 56 Australian National University Australia Click Here Click Here
37 33 25 University of Melbourne Australia Click Here Click Here
38 69 28 University of Sydney Australia Click Here Click Here
43 65 41 University of New South Wales Australia Click Here Click Here
47 51 36 University of Queensland Australia Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Switzerland for Forensic Science

Switzerland is considered the world’s safest place, and therefore many students go to study there, stretching from bachelor’s to Ph.D. degrees. Although the crime rate is low in Switzerland, many Swiss universities offer exceptional bachelor’s and master’s courses in forensic science. The top Swiss universities, like ETH Zurich, University of Zurich, University of Geneva, etc. are well renowned  for offering Ph.D., master’s, or bachelor’s degrees in forensic science.

QS Ranking Shanghai Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor’s Programs Master’s Programs
8 21 26 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland Click Here Click Here
70 54 64 University of Zurich Switzerland Click Here Click Here
105 60 101 University of Geneva Switzerland Click Here Click Here
119 101-150 114 University of Bern Switzerland Click Here Click Here
176 101-150 184 University of Lausanne Switzerland Click Here Click Here

Academic requirements for studying Forensic Science 

It is critical to have some type of volunteer, internship, or job training, particularly if a student desires to apply to top forensic science universities, as most of the forensic science cannot be learned from books. Students should also possess certain skills like observational, critical thinking, problem-solving, aptitude, logical thinking, and statistical and computational skills. The experience and skills keep the applicant ahead of the competition in getting admitted to their desired college. 

Since the competition for admission to top forensic science universities is high, students can apply through the Gyanberry website to improve their chances of admission. Following are some academic requirements to consider before applying:

Bachelor’s level

  • A high school education with a 3.0 GPA or above with concentration on subjects like biology, chemistry, sociology, and psychology
  • Academic transcripts
  • Valid passport
  • Personal statement 
  • Passport photographs
  • Completed visa application
  • Letter of recommendation
  • English proficiency test scores such as TOEFL (90 and above) or IELTS (6.0 and above)

Master’s level

  • Internationally recognized bachelor’s degree in forensic science or relevant field with a GPA of at least 3.0 
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Passport photographs
  • Completed visa application
  • Motivational letter
  • Resume
  • Recommendation letters
  • Internship or work experience (highly recommended) 
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)

Doctoral level

  • Honours or master’s degree in forensic science or a relevant field with a GPA of at least 3.0
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Passport photographs
  • Completed visa application
  • Statement of purpose
  • Recommendation letters
  • Resume
  • Work experience (highly recommended) 
  • Personal interview 
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

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