Best Forensic Science Colleges in the US 2024: Top 10 Picks!

Forensic scientist holding caution tape
March 12, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 10/20/23

Are you interested in forensics and are asking yourself: What are the best colleges for forensic science? Keep reading for a list of the best forensic science colleges, including acceptance rates, SAT score requirements for each college, and some frequently asked questions. 

Forensic scientists at a scene

In recent years, true crime shows have become major streaming hits. Making a Murderer, the popular Netflix docuseries, won four Emmy Awards in 2016. Fictional crime shows have also proven their popularity, with NCIS, Breaking Bad, and Criminal Minds being pop culture hits.

These shows may have been your first introduction to true crime, or maybe you’ve always been fascinated with the genre like many of us are. Either way, these series (and many others!) have introduced forensic science to many people’s radars. 

Whether it's the thrill of solving a true crime case, the unique science of online cybercrime, or the promise of a versatile career field that draws you towards forensic sciences, we’ve got you covered! 

Now, let’s get into information on each college’s acceptance rates, tuition fees, and the average SAT score needed for admission into each college. 

Best Colleges For Forensic Science

Below is a table of the best schools for Forensic Science. 

School Location Middle SAT Middle ACT Acceptance Rate Undergrad Enrollment Cost
George Mason University Fairfax, Virginia 1160-1340 25-31 93% 27,014 $13,812/ $37,976
Hofstra University Long Island, New York 1200-1370 26-31 69% 6,110 $53,310
Penn State University State College, Pennsylvania 1210-1390 26-31 58% 41,745 $19,672/ $39,626
Loyola University of Chicago Chicago, Illinois 1130-1320 27-32 72% 11,703 $50,270
Texas A&M University College Station, Texas 1160-1380 25-31 62% 57,512 $11,550/ $39,796

School Location Middle SAT Middle ACT Acceptance Rate Undergrad Enrollment Cost
Towson University Towson, Maryland 1030-1230 19-25 79% $16,861 $11,306/ $28,326
Saint Louis University St. Louis, Missouri 1160-1330
86% 7,426 $52,260
West Virginia University Morgantown, West Virginia 1040-1230 21-27 90% 19,059 $9,648/ $27,360
San Jose State University San Jose, California 1070-1340 21-29 75% 26,863 $7,992/
University of New Haven West Haven, Connecticut 1090-1260 N/A 91% 4,817 $44,100

While there are countless schools for crime scene investigators (CSIs) in the making, there are a select few that go above and beyond the average program offering. For those aspiring forensic scientists seeking top-notch education, it's also essential to consider practical aspects like student accommodation in the US near the best forensic science colleges. The schools listed below offer accredited programs with higher education degrees, optimal research opportunities, and distinctive courses. 

To help you get the most out of your education, we compiled a list of the best forensic science colleges in the US. 

George Mason University

In Virginia's Fairfax, this university offers robust forensic science education, led by faculty with practical expertise. 

Its top-notch program offers two graduate program pathways for Master’s and certificates, featuring standout courses like Forensic Photography. As a result, it offers one of the best forensic science programs. 

With a 93% acceptance rate, an SAT range of 1160-1340, and an ACT range of 25-31, it is also relatively easy to get into! Tuition is approximately $13,812 for in-state students and $37,976 for out-of-state students. 

Hofstra University 

Hofstra’s Forensic Sciences program offers rich opportunities for undergraduates, featuring advanced labs, research, and student groups for industry connections. The Dr. Bruce and Doris Lister Endowed Fellowship provides a $4,000 stipend and extra funds for living expenses.

Hofstra graduates excel in public and private sectors, including hospitals and labs. It is considered one of the most robust schools for forensic investigators. Hofstra accepts around 69% of all applicants who typically have SAT scores in the range of 1200-1370 and ACT scores in the range of 26-31. Tuition to attend Hofstra costs $53,310 a year. 

Penn State University

At Penn State, students choose between Biology or Chemistry tracks and can study at various campuses. Accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), Penn State proves to be one of the best colleges for crime scene investigation. 

Penn State is competitive with a 58% acceptance rate. In-state tuition is $19,672 and out-of-state tuition is $39,626. Competitive applicants should have an SAT score of 1210-1390 or an ACT score of 26-31.

Loyola University of Chicago

Like Penn State, Loyola prioritizes quality and has an Advisory Board ensuring program standards. A minor in “Computer Crime and Forensics” adds a tech perspective. This school has a 72% acceptance rate and tuition costs of $50,270. 

Aim for an SAT score in the range of 1130-1320 or an ACT score in the range of 27-32 for admission to Loyola’s program.

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M’s unique focus on environmental and ecological forensic science stands out. Two Bachelor’s pathways exist: science-focused and pre-law forensic degrees. The school offers diverse courses like Biotechnology and Forensics. Its acceptance rate is 62%, in-state tuition is $11,550, and out-of-state tuition is $39,796. 

To position yourself as a competitive applicant at this top school for forensic criminology, aim for an SAT score of 1160-1380 or an ACT score of 25-31. 

Towson University 

Towson University in Maryland offers three unique tracks: General Forensics, Trace Evidence and Drug Analysis, and DNA. These options suit diverse interests and career goals. With smaller classes and internships, Towson is a top college for forensic science. 

The Forensic Science program has a high 79% acceptance rate, in-state tuition of $11,306, and out-of-state tuition of $28,326. If you scored lower on the SAT, Texas A&M might be the perfect school for you! Students in the 2023 entering class had SAT scores of 1030-1230 and ACT scores of 19-25. 

Saint Louis University

Saint Louis’s Forensic Science program is accredited by FEPAC, ensuring high quality. Students can engage in internships and independent research at local, regional, national, and international labs.

The program covers chemistry, biology, history, and English for a comprehensive understanding of forensics. With an acceptance rate of 86%, this school is relatively easy to get into it. The majority of admitted students have SAT scores between 1160-1330 and ACT scores between 24-30. Tuition costs around $52,260 annually.

While admission is more competitive, the program offers valuable research and internship opportunities in advanced labs. Saint Louis’s Forensic Science program is accredited by the FEPAC, demonstrating the program’s high academic quality. 

West Virginia University

West Virginia University uniquely provides a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD in forensic science. It also offers mentorship programs to assist first and second-year students in adjusting to college. This school has a high acceptance rate of 90% and low SAT/ACT expectations, with an SAT range of 1040-1230 and an ACT range of 21-27.

WVU also has low tuition rates, coming in at less than $10,000 for in-state students and just over $27,000 for out-of-state students.

San Jose State University

San Jose offers human rights-focused forensic programs at undergraduate and graduate levels. Courses include Digital Forensic Analysis, Human Rights Investigation, Critical Justice Issues, and more. 

San Jose's cultural, political, and forensic intersections set it apart. It is known as a strong choice for those interested in culturally focused forensics. 

This college has a promising acceptance rate of 75% and low score medians: its SAT range is 1070-1340 and its ACT range is 21-29. In-state tuition is just under $8,000 and out-of-state tuition is at least $10,000, depending on how many units you take.

University of New Haven

The University of New Haven offers unique programs like Animal Cruelty Investigations, Forensic Genetic Genealogy, and Healthcare Fraud Investigations. These distinctive options attract students seeking non-traditional forensic routes. This school has a 91% acceptance rate and an SAT range of 1090-1260. 

Tuition to attend this university is $44,100 a year.

Fingerprint on surface


Still have questions about majoring in forensic science? Look no further! Below, We review some frequently asked questions about the best forensic science colleges. 

1. Which College has the Best Forensic Science Program?

No one college offers the best Forensic Science program, but all of the schools featured on our list have top-notch forensic programs. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your top choices, do a bit of research into each school. Look for information on class sizes, faculty profiles, degree options, published research, tuition, and student clubs for each school. These are essential factors to take into consideration while making your decision. 

For example, if you would thrive in an environment with smaller class sizes and support from faculty, Towson University may be the right fit for you. Ensure you choose a school that best supports your education and ultimate goals!

2. Is a Forensic Science Major Worth it?

Absolutely! The high job demand makes pursuing a forensic science major worth it. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for Forensic Scientist Technicians will grow 11% within the next ten years. These professionals are also paid well, with an average salary of $63,740 per year. 

If you don’t want to be a Forensic Scientist Technician, don’t worry. There are still plenty of jobs in the forensic field that are in high demand. Some jobs that are in high demand include: 

  • Arson Investigator 
  • Computer Forensics Examiner 
  • Crime Scene Investigator 
  • Criminalist 
  • DNA Analyst 
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Forensic Autopsy Technician 
  • Forensic Biologist 
  • Forensic Chemist 
  • Forensic Nurse
  • Toxicologist 
  • Forensic Sketch Artist 

3. What Are the Best Colleges for Forensic Science in Texas? 

Texas has a number of great colleges for forensic science, such as Texas A&M. This college is a top choice for environmental and ecological forensic science. Texas State is great for specialized tracks, UT Arlington is known for forensic science and genetics, and St. Mary's University is a noteworthy option for biology-focused programs. 

4. Is Forensic Science in High Demand?

Yes, forensic science is a very desirable degree. New job positions are created in the field each year. The estimated job growth for this field is much higher than others. 

Opportunities within the field of forensics are broader than people may think. Jobs go beyond crime scene investigation, including archaeology, accidents, medicine, and man-made catastrophes. With so many career paths, it is no surprise that forensic science is in high demand. 

5. What GPA Do You Need to be a Forensic Scientist?

The minimum GPA you will need will depend on what college you are applying to. Most colleges require at least a 3.0 GPA score to be considered for admission. 

However, it is always a good idea to try for a competitive GPA score to stand out and impress the admissions committee for the college of your dreams. A higher GPA can also mean qualifying for merit-based scholarships to help you out with your tuition costs. 

Forensic science in lab working on test tubes

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve outlined some of the best forensic science colleges in the US, you’ll have a better idea of where to attend! Each college on our list offers students unique, immersive learning pathways. 

If you are more tech-savvy and interested in the technological side of forensics, Loyola University may be the school for you. If you are more interested in the intersections of forensics and society, San Jose may be the school that best suits your needs. 

With so many options, it can be overwhelming to narrow it down. Remember to do some research on class sizes, tuition and fees, and opportunities before you decide which ones to apply to. Fortunately, if you go with any one of these top-rated colleges for forensic science you’re guaranteed to get a quality education!

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