Forensic Science Degrees in Michigan

michigan forensic science schools

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 Michigan.

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.

The Michigan State Police 2012 Crime Data and Statistics Uniform Crime Report (UCR) shows decreases in totals for certain kinds of crimes in the state between 2011 and 2012. For example, justifiable homicides were down 36.17 percent. Negligent homicide/manslaughter cases were decreased by 25 percent. Other decreases were noted in sexual assault, non aggravated assault, and aggravated/felonious assault cases from 2011 to 2012.

Nevertheless, crime is still occurring in Michigan, increasing the need for forensic scientists in the state. It is the responsibility of those holding forensic science jobs in Michigan to process evidence gathered at crime scenes statewide. The analysis of this evidence is crucial to criminal cases being tried in the state. Students who graduate from forensic science colleges and degree granting schools in Michigan should be well prepared to fill the need for forensic scientists in the state.

Forensic Science Requirements in Michigan

Many employers of forensic graduates in Michigan are looking for job candidates who graduated from programs accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Degrees in forensic science that are available in Michigan and online include:

  • Associate of Science in Criminology and Forensic Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Biology
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Biochemistry
  • Master of Science in Forensic Science

Forensic Science Training in Michigan

  • Michigan State Police Forensic Science – The main laboratory used by the Michigan State Police is located in Lansing and serves all three regions of the state. All of the MSP labs are nationally accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). There are six other MSP laboratories in the following locations that process crime scene evidence:
    • Marquette
    • Grayling
    • Bridgeport
    • Grand Rapids
    • Northville
    • Sterling Heights
  • Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Investigative and Forensic Services Division – This laboratory analyzes evidence from crime scenes throughout Oakland County, Michigan. Analyses performed here include narcotic/drug determinations, composites, physical matches, Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) operations, latent fingerprints, fingerprints, forensic crime scene photography, and expert testimony on blood spatter interpretation.
  • G4S – A private security company with locations nationwide, the G4S office in Auburn Hills employs forensic scientists and investigators in the computer and digital analysis areas.
  • City of Southfield Specialists/Crime Lab – This city police department’s crime laboratory provides forensic analysis of evidence obtained at crimes scenes in the Southfield area. They often coordinate forensic services with other laboratories as well.
  • Grand Traverse County, Michigan Crime Lab – The main crime laboratory for Grand County, Michigan processes evidence collected at crime scenes throughout the county.

Forensic Science Salary in Michigan

The job outlook in Michigan is promising for forensic scientists according to the state’s Department of Technology, Management, and Budget.  They projected the number of forensic science positions to grow by 25.6% in the ten year period leading up to 2018.  Sixty-four percent of these positions are projected to be due to the replacement of people leaving the workforce.

A significant number of forensic scientists worked in Michigan in 2012 according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  They indicated that 190 such professionals worked in the state in 2012.

2012 BLS salary date for Michigan is available for forensic science technicians.  Their average salary that year was $70,650—the third highest of any state in the country.  Experienced professionals commanded substantially higher wages.  The average salary for those in the top tenth percent of their field in Michigan was $159,640.

The state of Michigan pays a range of salaries to its forensic scientists depending on their level of experience and expertise.  Some of the specialties of these scientists include:

  • Chemical/biology
  • Firearms
  • Latent prints and questioned documents

In addition to having jobs as lab technicians, other forensic scientists investigate crime scenes.  For instance, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in Pontiac has a mobile crime lab that will respond to any crime scene around the clock.

Crime scene investigators (CSIs) can be employed as either sworn officers or civilians.  According to, the average crime scene investigator position in Michigan paid $57,000 in the one year period preceding October 2013.

Forensic Science Schools and Colleges in Michigan

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Michigan

University Lake Superior State University, Forensic Chemistry B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $15,000 per year
Program link

The B.S. in Forensic Chemistry combines elements of criminal justice and biology with a strong chemistry program. The forensic chemist analyzes and interprets materials collected at crime scenes, accidents, and at sites of terrorist activities.

The degree is offered in response to strong student, state and local government demand for an undergraduate academic program to prepare students for careers in forensic chemistry. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010 Occupational Outlook Handbook, forensic science technicians will grow much faster than average.

Graduates with a bachelor of science in forensic chemistry work in forensic laboratories for federal, state, or local government agencies or in some cases, work for private investigative laboratories. Some graduates may also go on to pursue a graduate degree.

The Chemistry Program at Lake Superior State University is now accredited by the American Chemical Society (ACS).  According to the 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimator, more people are employed as chemists and chemical technicians than in any other job classification in the life and physical science occupations.  With many free electives and a common general education core, a chemistry degree can also be used in combination with other majors or minors such as pre-professional (medicine, pharmacy, veterinary, law, etc.), engineering, business, biology, and many more to match student interest and career plans.

Graduates with a bachelor of science in chemistry work in many disciplines and industries, and many proceed on to graduate school in natural sciences, medicine, law, or engineering.  Internships in chemistry are encouraged where students can gain valuable real-world work experience while gaining college credit.  In addition, students pursuing the ACS certified degree will participate in an applied research project in close collaboration with faculty members to address meaningful chemical-based problems.  These projects, through the excellent preparation they provide our students, are often cited as important factors in successful job searches and entry into graduate programs.

The LSSU chemistry program has been approved by the American Chemical Society, and may provide a certified degree in Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Forensic Chemistry, and Pre-Professional Chemistry degrees if a student chooses this track.  Graduates completing the prescribed requirements are awarded an ACS certificate signifying their completion of the approved degree and can qualify for membership in the Society upon graduation. The core modules are:

  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Introductory Toxicology
  • Junior Seminar
  • Forensic Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Spectroscopy
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Criminalistics
  • Procedural Law
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology

All LSSU bachelor’s degree candidates must complete the LSSU General Education Core Requirements, or have earned the MACRAO Stamp (Michigan Community College transfer students), or have completed the general education certification (Sault College transfer students), or have already earned a bachelor’s degree (honors bachelor degree from a Canadian university). A minimum of 124 credits (at the 100 level or higher) must be earned for graduation with a cumulative gpa of 2.50 or higher.  A gpa of 2.50 or higher is required in your Major, and a gpa of 2.00 or higher is required in your General Education Core Requirements.

University Northern Michigan University, Forensic Biochemistry B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $15,000 per year
Program link

This major is designed to prepare students for a career in the field of forensic science. It provides the science background required for working as a forensic investigator in a crime lab. In addition, it prepares students for entry into a graduate program in forensic science. The forensic biochemistry curriculum includes courses from multiple departments and is the credit-hour equivalent of a major plus a minor, therefore no additional minor is required. Students who are interested in pursuing this degree should have a strong background in science, including two years of high school algebra and one year of high school chemistry. The capstone course for this major, CH 440, is offered every other year, therefore students should consult with their adviser early in their program to ensure that they are prepared to take CH 440 when it is offered. The core modules are:

  • General Chemistry
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Gas and Liquid Chromatography
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Introduction to Biology
  • General Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Drugs, Crime and the Justice System
  • Criminal Procedure

Northern Michigan University, located in Marquette, Michigan, is a dynamic four-year, public, comprehensive university that has grown its reputation based on its award-winning leadership programs, cutting-edge technology initiatives and nationally recognized academic programs.

Northern Michigan has a population of about 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students.  It offers 147 degree programs, including 25 graduate programs.  The university has two semesters per year, a fall and winter semester, and two summer sessions.  NMU  is one of three Michigan public universities to also serve a community college role for its region, which means the breadth of NMU’s academic programs range from one-year diplomas through master’s degrees. NMU will begin offering its first doctoral program – the Doctor of Nursing Practice –  in fall 2014. NMU’s most popular bachelor’s degrees are art and design, nursing, criminal justice, elementary education and biology.  The university’s fastest growing academic areas are clinical science, biology, and the geographical and environmental sciences.

University Madonna University, Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $16,430 per year
Program link

The Forensic Science program provides students with knowledge and laboratory skills in the biological and physical sciences required to engage in forensic analyses. Graduates are qualified to seek employment as forensic technicians who investigate crimes by analyzing physical evidence. The program was designed with the assistance of regional crime lab supervisors to meet the qualifications needed for practitioners in this field. Also, a dual-track plan is available for students who wish to double major in forensic science and criminal justice.

Beyond the Classroom:
Students with high science grades have the opportunity to join the Sigma Zeta Honor Society, the Math and Science Honor Society for Madonna University. All Forensic Science majors have the opportunity to join the Madonna University Forensic Science Society (MUFSS). Internship opportunities are available for qualified students. In addition, students have the opportunity to do research with forensic science faculty funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and present their research at Madonna University and at professional meetings. The core modules are:

  • General Biology
  •  Genetics with Lab
  • Molecular Biology
  •  Introductory Principles of Forensic Science
  •  Impression and Trace Evidence Analysis
  • Firearm and Tool Mark Analysis
  •  Forensic Biology
  •  Forensic Chemistry
  • Ethics and Expert Testimony

Madonna University receives its institutional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the North Central region of the United States, and thereby grants membership in the Commission. The mission of Madonna University, a Catholic and Franciscan institution of higher learning, is to instill in its students Christian humanistic values, intellectual inquiry, a respect for diversity, and a commitment to serving others through a liberal arts education, integrated with career preparation and based on the truths and principles recognized within a Catholic tradition.

University Marygrove College, Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 4 years
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $19,866 per year
Program link

Forensic science is an interdisciplinary major and does not require an additional minor to be completed. The requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree with forensic major are a minimum of 59 credit hours in forensic science and related courses. The core modules are:

  • Introduction to Forensic Science
  • Crime Scene Investigation and Evidence Collection
  • Forensic Biology or 440 Forensic Chemistry
  • Special Topics in Forensic Science
  • Senior Seminar: Library Research
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Criminal Behavior
  • Criminal Law

Marygrove College, an independent Catholic liberal arts college sponsored by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is committed to fostering Christian values, to educating students from diverse backgrounds, and to serving the people of Metropolitan Detroit and beyond.

The fundamental purpose of Marygrove College is to educate each student toward intellectual and professional competence; toward career flexibility through grounding in the liberal arts; and toward active compassion and commitment. To this end, Marygrove provides a personalized learning environment which, through excellent teaching in its undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs, sets for its students these goals: competence, compassion and commitment.


Master’s Degree Programs in Michigan

University Michigan State University, Forensic Science M.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $22,450 per year
Program link

Forensic science – the application of the methods of science to legal matters – is an exciting, complex and multidisciplinary program of study. In it one employs the principles of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics, as well as social science theory and law, to help solve crimes and serve justice. Forensic science offers students who have a bachelor’s degree in a natural or physical science an opportunity to apply their knowledge to serve justice. The program includes courses in criminal justice, forensic science, and law. Research in the forensic sciences takes place throughout a student’s tenure.

Michigan State University has long been recognized as a premier institution for research and education in forensic science. The School of Criminal Justice first offered a major in forensic science in 1946, and administers the oldest continually functioning educational degree program in forensic science in the United States. Michigan State University is home to a number of excellent resources for the study of forensic science. The School of Criminal Justice maintains modern laboratory facilities containing equipment and instrumentation for the analysis of virtually any type of physical evidence, from chromatography equipment for drugs, explosives, and arson evidence to microscopy techniques for trace evidence analysis, to genetic analyzers for the analysis of DNA.

The Forensic Science Masters program at Michigan State University is designed to give students a broad theoretical and practical background in the scientific, legal, and investigative aspects of forensic science while providing the opportunity to study one of the major disciplines in depth. There are three concentrations offered: Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Biology, and Forensic Anthropology. The core modules are:

  • Advanced Analytical Chemistry
  • Law and Forensic Science
  • Forensic Analysis of Drugs and Alcohol
  • Forensic Chemistry and Microscopic Evidence
  • Molecular Biology
  • Forensic Chemistry and Microscopic Evidence
  • Conservation and Genetics
  • Osteology and Forensic Anthropology

Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice has some of the most modern research and teaching forensic science laboratories in the country. Housed in the Chemistry Building, the forensic chemistry laboratory contains state-of-the-art equipment including gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, FTIR, capillary electrophoresis, HPLC, fluorescence spectrophotometer, and polarized light microscopy. Additional laboratory instrumentation is available in the chemistry department. The DNA laboratories, located in Giltner Hall, include PCR and genetic analysis equipment (ABI 310 and Beckman CEQ 8000 genetic analyzers), electrophoresis equipment, digital photography equipment, and multiple thermocyclers. The forensic anthropology labs, located in Fee Hall, are equipped with bench space for osteological exams, a stereozoom microscope, an image superimposition center, and a GE portable X-ray unit.

The laboratory headquarters of the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division is conveniently located near the MSU campus. This full-service laboratory is available as a source of research resources and internship placements. Faculty in the Forensic Science Program and elsewhere on the campus regularly consult with the state police and conduct joint research projects with the help of forensic science students.

Through its career development and internship offices, the School of Criminal Justice provides internship opportunities for forensic science students, giving them a chance to learn firsthand how a crime lab works. Many interns carry out research projects under the auspices of laboratory personnel. Academic credit is awarded for successful completion of internship placement.

Although the Master of Science degree in Forensic Science is administered by the School of Criminal Justice (College of Social Science), several colleges and departments cooperate in offering this interdepartmental degree. These include the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Human Medicine, and Natural Science, as well as the departments of Anthropology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Radiology, Resource Development, Statistics and Probability, and Zoology. Also participating are the Center for Advanced Microscopy, the Genetics Program, and the Medical Technology Program.


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