As a forensic scientist, you can expect to split your time between crime scenes and high-tech laboratories. You’ll employ techniques such as DNA sequencing, facial recognition, photograph analysis, and drug testing to support law enforcement in their quest to identify criminals and give victims justice.

If you’d like to go into a career in this field, read on. We’ve compiled a list of the seven top universities for studying forensic science.

It should be noted that while criminology and forensic science rely heavily on each other, they are two separate fields. The former deals with studying criminal behavior as a whole, the latter gets into the nitty-gritty details of individual crime scenes. This list deals exclusively with the best forensic science schools in the world!

Top Forensic Science Schools

1. University College London

Constantly ranked near the top of multiple university rankings, University College London is the most prestigious university in the world that offers a dedicated and top forensic science program. UCL’s Master of Science in Crime and Forensic Science provides students with an overview of the field and allows them to specialize in areas they’re interested in. Elective subjects include forensic biology, forensic geoscience, and DNA interpretation and simulation for research.

Students interested in doing PhD research can get in touch with UCL’s Department of Security and Crime Science, which runs the forensic science program. The department supports PhD research in collaboration with the UCL Security Science Doctoral Training Centre, or SECReT.

2. The Pennsylvania State University

Penn State University is one of the most prestigious publicly funded universities in the US and a leading forensic science school across the globe. Its forensic science programs are offered by the Eberly School of Science and can be taken both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Penn State’s forensic science programs make use of the Eberly School’s high-tech crime labs to provide students with a mixture of scientific knowledge and hands-on experience.

Forensic science students at Penn State can choose to specialize in either biology or chemistry. Your choice here will determine what aspect of a crime scene you’ll be working with. With a biology specialization, you’ll be working on DNA evidence, microbiology, fingerprinting, etc. On the other hand, you’ll study things like firearms, controlled substances, and fire residue.

3. The University of California, Davis

California is home to some of the best public universities, and the University of California, Davis is no exception. UC Davis  is among the best universities for forensic science in the world that trains both graduates and undergraduates to be world-class forensic scientists who will be employable at labs and law enforcement agencies both in the US and overseas.

At the undergraduate level, UC Davis offers a program in forensic chemistry. This is offered by the Department of Chemistry, so you’ll have access to the university’s state-of-the-art labs and equipment.

Application to the university’s graduate program works in a rather unique way. A list of possible research topics is posted on the program’s website. If you’re interested in working on one of these, you’ll have to contact the thesis chair rather than apply through a conventional portal.

4. Michigan State University

Yet another publicly funded institution, Michigan State University has one of the most respected forensic science programs in the world. Michigan State’s Master’s Degree in Forensic Science takes a multidisciplinary approach to the subject, providing students an extensive background in other fields of science and the law, as well as giving them hands-on investigative experience.

Michigan State’s PhD program in criminal justice allows you to select from a wide range of research specializations, including topics in forensic science.

While Michigan State University does not offer forensic science at the undergraduate level, you can still get a good background in the field by majoring in criminal justice.

5. Erasmus University Rotterdam

If you want to take a psychological approach to solve crimes, Erasmus University’s program in Forensic and Legal Psychology is for you. Here, you’ll learn about why people commit crimes and how to screen suspects.  Erasmus Mundus is an excellent school for forensic science in the world if you want to dig deeper into the forensic aspect of the program. You’ll have the opportunity to specialize in forensic neuropsychology, which gives you an in-depth look into the workings of the mind.

The program is taught entirely in English, making it accessible to people around the world. As one of the few institutes of higher learning in continental Europe that offer a full degree in forensics, Erasmus University will give you a unique perspective into the field.

6. University of Leicester

The University of Leicester has a storied history when it comes to forensic science, having pioneered DNA fingerprinting and identified the remains of King Richard III. Besides these discoveries, plenty of important work is done here, so if you have an idea of an area of research you’d like to pursue, the University of Leicester is for you.

The university’s Master of Science in Forensic Science and Criminal Justice delivers a world-class forensic science program in the world and gives you the tools to conduct fieldwork and analyze various types of evidence. This program caters to those with a full-time job or who can’t relocate to the UK, as it is part-time and conducted fully online.

7. University of West Virginia

With its Department of Forensic and Investigative Science, the University of West Virginia is one of the best  universities in the world that has an entire department dedicated to forensic science. It is also one of the few that offers the subject as a full degree program at the undergraduate, graduate and PhD levels.

One of the university’s strengths is its versatility: students studying for one of its forensic science programs can choose to focus on and do research in a variety of fields. At the undergraduate level, students have the option to focus on forensic biology or forensic chemistry. The master’s and PhD programs let you come up with a research topic from a wide range of topics.


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