Forensic Science Degrees in Kansas

kansas forensic science

Forensic Science

Forensic science combines science and investigation in order to aid and support  the prosecution or defense in criminal and civil investigations. While the profession has been widely romanticized by various TV shows, make no mistake – this job is most likely different that you expect.  In contrast with popular perception, this is a highly scientific role, which often involves detailed, painstaking work. Field duties are limited to a few areas of expertise, and most often than not a forensic scientist will spend his time in the lab.

If you made it this far, though, congratulations! You’re taking the first steps in joining a very rewarding profession and itsGOV is here to guide you through what you need to know and what you need to do to join a forensic science program in Kansas.

Depending on the type of forensic science practiced, different degrees and educational backgrounds may help a candidate get a job and excel in this field. Regarding formal education, requirements vary across jobs, but you should definitely have a solid background in mathematics, biology and chemistry.

The National Institute of Justice, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, offers guidelines for model undergraduate and graduate forensic science degree programs. According to the American Academy of Forensic Science, strong programs should offer a curriculum that concentrates on scientific writing, laboratory skills, public speaking, and computer software application training.

Forensic scientists in Kansas collect, preserve, and conduct scientific analyses on physical evidence obtained in the investigation of both criminal and misdemeanor cases. Their work involves performing chemical, analytical, and physical immunological and instrumental techniques and, often times, serving as expert witnesses in court cases.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s (KBI) Forensic Laboratory Division, through its laboratories in Topeka, Kansas City, Pittsburg and Great Bend, serves the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the State of Kansas.

From its offices in Topeka, Wichita, Great Bend, Overland Park, and Pittsburg, the KBI employs more than 270 individuals and is headed by a director appointed by the Attorney General.

The KBI’s Forensic Laboratory Division is divided into the following sections:

  • Chemistry Section
  • Biology Section
  • Questioned Document Section
  • Toxicology Section
  • Latent Print Section
  • Firearm and Toolmark Section
  • Evidence Control Center

Forensic Science Requirements in Kansas

Candidates learning about how to become a crime scene investigator or forensic scientist in Kansas City can begin by researching the education requirements for their desired position. The Kansas City Police Department employs crime scene technicians – known popularly as CSI agents – and forensic scientists or criminalists as part of its police force, although these professionals are not commissioned officers.

There is a lot of overlap in the general duties and education between CSI agents and forensic scientists in the KCPD, although the CSI agents tend to work more in the field at crime scenes while forensic scientists tend to do more work in the lab. All of the department’s forensic investigators have certain specializations, and candidates who are interested in applying for forensic science and CSI jobs need to meet related degree requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science for positions involving:
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Firearms
  • Toolmarks
  • Photography
  • Latent Fingerprints
  • Questioned documents
  • Bachelor degree in chemistry for positions involving chemistry, such as:
  • Substance analysis
  • Trace evidence analysis
  • Questioned documents
  • Bodily fluid analysis
  • BS in Biology for:
  • Trace analysis of biological materials
  • Serology and DNA
  • A BS in Genetics or Molecular Biology is preferred for Serology and DNA analysis positions

CSI agents receive additional training in the collection, preservation, and identification of crime scene evidence. As these are the minimum requirements and CSI or forensic scientist jobs in Kansas City are in high demand, it is recommended that candidates also possess additional education and experience.

In the Kansas City area and across the state prospective students will find a variety of colleges and online schools that offer relevant forensic science degrees. There are additional forensic science schools and colleges just across the border in Kansas.

Forensic Science Training in Kansas

Forensic science colleges and universities abound in Kansas, with students able to pursue a number of forensic science programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science. This popular degree is designed to prepare students for entry-level work in a forensic sciences laboratory, as it involves study within the context of the criminal investigation and crime detection processes.A Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science includes a strong foundation in chemistry, biology, criminal justice and biological sciences, as well as the forensic sciences.

Individuals who want to learn how to become a forensic scientist in Kansas should first understand the minimum requirements for forensic scientists (often referred to as forensic specialists) working in this state.

In general, all forensic scientists must possess a bachelor’s degree in a science, regardless of the area of forensic analysis. Further, forensic scientists who work as DNA analysts must possess college coursework in biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and statistics.

All candidates for forensic scientist jobs can expect to undergo an interview, background investigation, drug screening, fingerprinting, and polygraph test as a condition of hire.

Forensic Science Salary in Kansas

The employment of forensic scientists is increasing in Kansas.  According to the Kansas Department of Labor, the amount of forensic scientist jobs is projected to increase by 18.1% in the period from 2010 to 2020.

Sixty forensic science technicians were employed in the state in 2012 based on information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  They had an annual median salary of $56,760.  Experienced professionals in the top tenth percent of their field made $74,410.

In addition to jobs as lab technicians, many of the positions for forensic scientists involve crime scene analysis.  Crime scene investigators (CSIs) occupy a variety of different type of positions.  Larger departments have specialists in various forensic disciplines such as the processing of latent prints, the analysis of bloodstain patterns, or chemical testing.

Other CSIs document and preserve evidence from the whole crime scene.  One crime scene investigator position in Olathe paid from $38,917 to $55,266 a year in 2013.

Forensic Science Schools and Colleges in Kansas

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Kansas

University Fort Hays State University, Forensic Chemistry Concentration B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $21,448 per year
Program link

Students interested in a career in the chemical industry or graduate study in chemistry should enroll in the Bachelor of Science program. Changes in the program to meet the specific needs of each student may be arranged in consultation with the student’s adviser. Students planning a career in medicine or graduate study in biochemistry should include Biochemistry I and II in their program, or follow the Biological Chemistry (Biochemistry) emphasis. The department of Chemistry also offers a Bachelor of Science degree with a  Biological Chemistry (Biochemistry) emphasis and an Environmental Emphasis. The core modules are:

  • Orientation to Chemistry
  • Chemical Analysis/Lab
  • Advanced Instrumental and Physical Lab
  • Biochemistry I/Lab
  • Analytic Geometry and Calculus
  • Foundation Studies
  • Administration of Justice Systems
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Introduction to Forensic Science

FHSU is the leading forward-thinking, entrepreneurial university of the Midwest. We have an enrollment of more than 13,000 students and offer hundreds of certificate and degree programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels through 28 academic departments. We attract goal-oriented students who want premier learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom combined with extraordinary one-to-one attention and support. Take a look at our College Portrait for an overall view of FHSU.

Our professors are outstanding teachers who motivate students to develop their unique talents. As a result, our students graduate with a deep appreciation of knowledge as well as professional skills and confidence that give them a competitive edge in their careers, now and for a lifetime.

Located halfway between Denver and Kansas City, FHSU is a welcoming community in the heart of historic Hays, a community that celebrates its frontier roots and its modern sensibility – coffee shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants, shopping, and a vibrant arts scene.

University Friends University, Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $24,630 per year
Program link

This degree is intended for individuals who plan to pursue a career in the forensic sciences, including DNA analysis, trace evidence analysis, forensic toxicology and forensic chemistry.  The academic approach to this degree will be to focus on the scientific investigation aspects of the forensic sciences, i.e. the study and analysis of evidence before trial as opposed to criminal justice which is an endeavor that takes place after the trial.

This degree will be offered through the Department of Natural Science and Mathematics (NATS).  Students will take a core set of courses in biology and chemistry, with supporting courses in criminal justice and psychology.  At some point in the course of study, the student will decide on one of two degree focus tracks:  chemistry or biology.  The chemistry track will prepare the student for work in the forensic sciences in such areas as drug analysis, arson investigation, and forensic toxicology or trace evidence analysis.  The biology track will be geared toward careers in forensic biology, autopsy assistant or DNA analysis. The core modules are:

  • Cellular and Molecular Biology & Lab
  • Biological Diversity and Design & Lab
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminology
  • Introduction to Forensic Science
  • Forensic Science Seminar
  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Introduction to Psychology

Individuals with a degree in forensic sciences routinely work in government laboratories (FBI, local and state crime labs), in health care (hospital laboratories) or in commercial laboratories such as those geared toward pre-employment drug testing. Friends University, a Christian University of Quaker heritage, equips students to honor God and serve others by integrating their intellectual, spiritual and professional lives. Friends University does not discriminate against academically qualified students on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities.

University Newman University, Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $23,790 per year
Program link

Forensic Science technicians work closely with law enforcement agencies to process evidence collected at a crime scene into testimony that can assist a jury into reaching a just verdict in a trial. Forensic Scientists must be meticulous lab workers with substantial experience in chemical and biological sciences. The Forensic Science degree at Newman University will prepare you to enter a graduate program in forensic science. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30 percent growth in demand for forensic science technicians over the next ten years. However, the total number of jobs is relatively small for this specialized field. You will realistically need a graduate degree in Forensic Science in order to be competitive.

The Forensic Science major is designed to prepare students for application to a graduate forensic science program. With the addition of Physics 2 and Organic Chemistry 2, the program also prepares students for application to medical school or similar health-related programs.

The program is modeled after the science core for accredited programs (as described in the American Association of Forensic Science program certification guidelines). There are several graduate forensic science programs in Kansas and in neighboring states for students to continue their graduate-level education. The core modules are:

  • General Biology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Forensic Science
  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Bio-chemistry

Newman University is committed to promoting an interdependent global perspective formed by a critical consciousness that hungers and thirsts for justice and peace. More than just an awareness of other cultures, such a perspective affirms the interdependent nature of all of creation. At the same time, it speaks to the ideal of the educated person in the modern world: a person who possesses a strong sense of self yet embraces difference; a person who not only seeks knowledge but effectively applies it; a person of wide vision who remains well grounded. To this end, we seek to engage a diverse array of students in outstanding educational experiences designed to cultivate the knowledge, skills, and values they will need to become leaders in the transformation of an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

University Washburn University, Forensic  Chemical Science B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $22,800 per year
Program link

Consistent with the mission of the University and the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Chemistry is dedicated to providing a broad spectrum of undergraduate students with the necessary understanding of chemical principles to become successful, contributing members of their social, professional and/or occupational communities.

Students entering the Forensic Chemical Science Program come from diverse backgrounds and may apply their acquired chemical skills in equally diverse occupations over the span of their career. The Department of Chemistry addresses this diversity by focusing on individual student interests and strengths through personal advising, small class sizes, individual instruction, hands-on experience with scientific instrumentation, intern appointments, and guided undergraduate forensic research. The Chemistry Department faculty is itself diverse and exemplifies commitment to learning and contributing by engaging in scientific research, collaborating with forensic scientists, presenting and publishing, as well as volunteering to improve the quality of living in the larger Topeka community. The core modules are:

  • Introduction to Forensic Chemistry
  • Fundamentals of Chemistry I and II
  • Forensic Chemistry Lab
  • Organic Chemistry I and II
  • Biochemistry I and II
  • General Cellular Biology
  • Molecular Genetics
  • General Genetics
  • Criminal Procedure and Evidence
  • Forensic Science in Criminal Justice
  • Forensic Anthropology

Beginning courses are designed to give the student an awareness and understanding of scientific chemical principles and problems. Advanced courses in Forensic Chemical Science are planned to meet the specialized needs of students interested in careers in forensic laboratories, which may include graduate studies.

Washburn University is a public institution with more than 6,900 students and 1,000 faculty and staff involved in more than 200 academic programs. Our programs lead to certification, associate, bachelor, master’s, doctor of nursing practice and juris doctor degrees. The broadly-based liberal arts and professional programs are enriched by a long-standing interactive relationship between the campus and Kansas’s capital city community.

Master’s Degree Programs in Kansas

There are currently no master’s programs offered in Kansas.


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