Forensic Science Degrees in North Carolina

north-carolina 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 North Carolina.

If criminals knew there were 440 forensic lab technicians working across North Carolina they may think twice before breaking the law. These experts do everything from examining digital evidence to performing chemical analysis of drugs or conducting firearm ballistic tests; all while working in a controlled lab environment. The requirements for becoming a forensic scientist in North Carolina vary from city to city, with some general overlapping education requirements.

Using capabilities available through technological advances, forensic scientists were able to recently link the fingerprints found at the scene of a 1981 murder in Raleigh to a suspect who was determined to have probable cause. Although in some ways the advances in technology came too late as the primary suspect died over a decade ago, forensic scientists were able to bring a sense of closure to the friends and family of the victim. And as criminals learn about the abilities of modern technology they may also reconsider breaking the law.


Forensic Science Training in North Carolina

Forensic scientists commonly work with the following agencies throughout North Carolina:

  • Winston-Salem Police Department’s Forensic Services Division
  • Durham Police Department’s Forensic Services Unit
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Crime Lab
  • Fayetteville Police Department
  • Cary Police Department
  • High Point Police Department
  • Wilmington Police Department
  • State Crime Lab in Raleigh, with two other branches:
  • Western Regional Crime Lab in Asheville
  • Triad Regional Crime Lab in Greensboro

In general, an associate’s degree allows students to prepare to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in forensic science through a scientific curriculum and plenty of hands-on experience in analyzing and processing the physical evidence found at crime scenes. A comprehensive associate’s degree program will incorporate physical science and law in the context of forensic investigations.A bachelor’s degree in forensic science not only provides an education in the technical aspects of forensic science, but in the biological sciences, physics, and chemistry, as well. As such, a bachelor’s degree in forensic science is rather cross-disciplinary, with students engaging in both criminal justice and science courses. Through a comprehensive bachelor’s degree program in forensic science, students are provided with an appreciation of the scientific and social environment of crime and of the criminal justice system.

Forensic Science Requirements in North Carolina

The number of forensic science professionals is growing in North Carolina. In North Carolina, 20 more forensic science professionals were working in 2010, than there were in 2006. This represents a 5% growth in the field. This growth is faster than the national trend for forensic science professionals which shows a 1% increase in the number of forensic science professionals working around the nation.

Forensic Science Salary in North Carolina

In North Carolina, as the number of forensic science professionals is growing, the salaries earned by forensic science professionals are increasing. The mean salary for forensic science professionals in 2006 was $36,050 per year. And in 2010 the mean salary was $43,900 per year.

Forensic science jobs in North Carolina can be found with agencies across the state. Because of the breadth of the field, there are a variety of fields in which forensic scientists can specialize, and the education for these specializations varies accordingly. What is common for all forensic scientist positions at the state level is a bachelor’s degree, and other forensics jobs require either a higher level degree or additional certification. Compared to some other states in the nation, North Carolina has a robust community of forensic science professionals who are working in the field today. According to 2012 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 440 forensic science technicians are working in different areas and in different capacities throughout the state. The average salary of those who are working in North Carolina is $45,480 annually. Over the past several years, the number of forensic professionals in the state has been rising and dropping in waves. The greatest dip was in 2008, when there were 520 professionals in the field, to 2009, when the number dropped to 380. Today, things seem to be going better, and there seem to be more people employed. In fact, employment for forensic science technicians in North Carolina is expected to grow by 24 percent, faster than average, from 2010 to 2020, according to data from Career One Stop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. This growth is stronger than the nationwide projected growth, which is forecast at 19 percent for 2010 to 2020. Most of the people working in forensic science are working in crime labs and with law enforcement agencies throughout the state. The majority of the jobs seem to be in the areas with the higher populations.


Forensic Science Schools and Colleges in North Carolina

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in North Carolina

University Fayetteville University, Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $23,283 per year
Program link

Forensic science engages students in the application of scientific principles and methods for the evaluation of evidence. The mission of the Bachelor of Science Degree Program in Forensic Science is to produce technically skilled graduates equipped with the basic foundational science and laboratory problem solving skills necessary for success in the modern crime laboratory, and who will contribute to the advancement of the forensic science community. Students will receive preparation in areas such DNA analysis, forensic biology, forensic chemistry and toxicology. The program will also provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare reports documenting their findings and laboratory techniques used, and to provide expert witness testimony based onthese findings. Upon completion of the Forensic Science program graduates will be prepared to function as forensic scientists and specialists, or for advanced study in areas such as forensic science, biomedical research, medicine and law.

Forensic science applies scientific methodologies to the criminal justice system. The field of forensic science has received extensive exposure in recent years and is now regarded as a highly respected discipline among scientists and criminality. Forensic science encompasses a wide array of disciplines including criminology, pathology, toxicology, etc. The educational background of professionals in this field is embedded heavily in the natural and behavioral sciences such chemistry, biology, physics, sociology and criminal justice. An undergraduate degree in forensic science can emphasize forensic analysis from a biological or chemical approach. Forensic biology places emphasis on the measurements and procedures used in the examination of biological evidences and the importance of the information derived from the interpretations. In contrast, forensic chemistry primarily involves analysis of chemical substances for the purpose of identification or purity determination. The core modules are:

  • Financial Literacy
  • General Biology
  • Principles of Microbiology
  • Toxicology
  • Forensic Science
  • Cellular Biology
  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Forensic Principles and the Law

Successful completion of either chemistry or biology concentration will lead to granting of Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science. Graduates of this program are qualified to obtain entry-level position in their selected areas of study or to attend graduate school or professional school. As a part of the degree requirements, students must successfully pass an internship/capstone course which ensures qualification to obtain entry-level position in their selected areas of study or to attend graduate school or professional school.

University Methodist University, Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $29,080 per year
Program link

The concentration in Forensic Science is geared toward students interested in pursuing a career in criminal forensic analysis. Criminalists use scientific methods and procedures, such as DNA analysis, chromatography, and infrared resonance imaging, to analyze evidence in criminal investigations. Our cross-curriculum program is strengthened by the collaboration of several departments, including Chemistry and Physical Science, Biology, and Justice Studies. This full spectrum approach prepares our graduates for entry into this fast-growing field. The core modules are:

  • Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Introduction to Forensic Science
  • Criminology
  • Criminal Evidence and Procedure
  • The Investigative Process
  • Ethical Foundations in Criminal Procedure
  • Internship in Forensic Science

The strength of the Chemistry & Physical Science Department of Methodist University is its size. This is a small department, which allows tremendous opportunities for personal interaction with the professors. However, do not let size fool you, this program is very progressive with excellent faculty and staff who are supportive of the students’ educational endeavors.

University Methodist University, Applied Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $29,080 per year
Program link

The new Bachelor of Science in Applied Forensic Science is part of the Justice Studies Program here at MU, whose purpose is to provide students with a holistic view and understanding of forensic science from the crime scene to the courtroom.  This exciting hands-on program perfectly blends theory and knowledge with the abilities to perform key and essential actions at crime scenes, crime reconstruction scenes, and performing forensic analysis of certain types of physical evidence.  Students are trained to work in all aspects of law enforcement, crime scenes, and forensic science.
Students acquire knowledge and experience in the application of forensic science throughout the entire investigative process, cradle to grave. The students acquire the necessary hands-on skills to expertly locate, document, identify, process, collect, protect, and analyze many types of forensic evidence as well as how to conduct felony investigations and work with forensic scientists around the nation.  This training prepares students for the potential to strive for advanced degrees as well as employment within the forensic science and law enforcement professions.  The core modules are:

  • Applied Statistics
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice
  • Introduction to Forensic Science
  • Introduction to Cyber Crime
  • Introduction to Clandestine Labs
  • Law and the Legal System
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • The Correctional Process
  • Alternatives to incarceration
  • Cyber Crime Ethics and the Law
  • Criminal Profiling
  • Crime Scene Investigation

At MU, there is a comprehensive program regarding the complete forensic science process from crime scene to courtroom. Students study law enforcement procedures, crime scene investigation, forensic firearms, behavioral analysis/profiling, forensic photography, and other investigative concepts.  MU provides a solid base of comprehension and understanding of how all of the varied entities and components of the criminal justice and forensic science communities operate jointly to solve our nation’s largest crimes and mysteries.  MU instills in its applied forensic science majors the tools to become future leaders of the forensic science and law enforcement professions in our nation.  Many other universities have forensic science programs, but most offer only biology, chemistry, or anthropology degrees. Community colleges often offer fingerprint examiner curriculums, but none offer such a well-rounded and comprehensive blend of courses that we offer here at MU.  Class size is limited so that you receive personal attention from professors who have decades of real world experience in law enforcement and forensic science throughout the program to ensure your comprehensive applied forensic science education and training.   Last but certainly not least, the applied forensic science program here at MU offers you the opportunity to conduct an internship with an actual police department to review and analyze an actual cold homicide case and at the end of the semester provide your findings and conclusions to the Chief of Police and Chief of Detectives so that they can determine if reopening the cold homicide case is feasible at that time.  MU students have assisted several law enforcement agencies in solving their cold cases and other agencies are asking for future assistance in this venue as well.

University St. Andrews University, Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $23,540 per year
Program link

Not only will St. Andrews students learn the scientific basis and techniques for forensic investigation, but the coursework will also include ancillary courses that are helpful in the career. These may include courses in law, courtroom procedures, public speaking, crime scene investigation and expert testimony courses. Additionally, internships may play a part in many of these programs. These experiences allow St. Andrews students the opportunity to explore the “real world” of the crime lab or law enforcement agencies. The core modules are:

  • Concepts in Biology
  • Essential Concepts in Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Introduction to Law
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Forensic Science
  • Crime Scene Investigation and Evidence Collection
  • Microanalysis of Trace Evidence
  • Behavior Pathology
  • Personality Theory
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology in Legal Contexts

St. Andrews University, a branch of Webber International University (Babson Park, Florida), is a student and teaching-focused University located in Laurinburg, North Carolina. A broad range of undergraduate liberal arts and sciences majors are available to both traditional residential students and adult learners in a curriculum that is global in scope and practical in its application. The quality of the educational experience has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and GI Jobs among others. In addition to its many academic programs, there are numerous men’s and women’s athletic teams, an acclaimed university press, a nationally competitive equestrian program, opportunities for international study, and an award-winning pipe band.

The University’s mission is to offer students an array of business, liberal arts and sciences, and pre-professional programs of study that create a life transforming educational opportunity which is practical in its application, global in its scope, and multi-disciplinary in its general education core. Students will acquire depth of knowledge and expertise in their chosen field of study, balanced by breadth of knowledge across various disciplines. Special emphasis is placed on enhancing oral and written communication, and critical thinking skills.

The University awards degrees at the associate, bachelor and master levels, and offers students educational opportunities at locations in Florida and North Carolina. Traditional classroom, online, and hybrid learning environments are available. Opportunities exist for students to draw on the courses and programs of study at both locations through online courses and/or periods of residence at either campus. Webber’s programs in Florida focus on the worldwide business environment, and emphasize development of skills in administration and strategic planning, applied modern business practices, and entrepreneurship. The St. Andrews locations offer an array of traditional undergraduate liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs of study.


University Western Carolina University, Forensic Anthropology B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $23,540 per year
Program link

Western’s Forensic Anthropology Program will prepare you to study human skeletons in a legal context. Routinely, forensic anthropologists examine badly decomposed or severely damaged human bodies and work hand-in-hand with local authorities to identify human remains. They are often called upon to assist in the search and recovery of human remains during large-scale disasters such as the bombing of the World Trade Center in 2001.

Through a vigorously designed curriculum, which offers a B.S. in Anthropology-forensic anthropology concentration and a minor, you’ll be trained to compete across the globe and throughout the region with the most skilled in this field of unlimited opportunity.

The courses and lab time are designed to offer you hands-on experience that will adapt to virtually any professional situation to follow in your career. You will become proficient at identifying human remains, determining effects of decomposition on the human body, and analyzing injuries to the human skeleton. The core modules are:

  • Population Genetics for Forensic Science
  • Research in Forensic Science
  • Cooperative Education in Forensic Science
  • The Scientific Method
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Physical Methods in Forensic Science
  • Senior Seminar in Forensic Science

The Western Carolina Human Identification Laboratory (WCHIL) is a fully equipped human identification lab dedicated to the recovery, storage, and analysis of human remains. WCHIL director.The academic programs span more than 120 specialties—including the nation’s highest-ranked entrepreneurship and project management prgrams, a national award-winning teacher education program, a criminal justice program used as a model for North Carolina’s accreditation program, and the nation’s first accredited four-year emergency medical care program.

The distinguished faculty includes national award-winning authors, nationally and internationally recognized experts, and winners of Emmy, O. Henry, and National Endowment for the Arts awards—to name a few., is a board-certified forensic anthropologist and a Fellow of the American of Forensic Sciences and has over 30 years of experience working with the human skeleton and human remains.

University Western Carolina University, Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $23,540 per year
Program link

We currently offer two concentrations for Forensic Science students to choose from.  The Biology and Chemistry concentrations have similar curricula with the exception of specialized science courses taken during the junior and senior years.  The Biology concentration prepares students for work in crime laboratories as DNA technicians.  These students typically complete research projects and internships in forensic science, biochemistry and molecular biology laboratories.  The Chemistry concentration prepares students for analytical chemistry work in crime laboratories handling casework including toxicological investigations, arson analysis, etc.  Neither concentration will prepare students for investigative work at crime scenes. The core modules are:

  • Introduction to Genetics
  • Population Genetics for Forensic Science
  • Molecular Bioinformatics
  • Forensic Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Principles of Biochemistry
  • The Criminal Justice System
  • Instrumental Analysis
  • Crime Scene Investigations

Forensic science is the application of scientific principles and methods to determine facts of legal significance. The B.S. in Forensic Science at Western Carolina University is a laboratory-based degree with a curriculum that focuses heavily on science and mathematics courses.  The outstanding curriculum was designed by the program director, retired F.B.I. agent Dr. Mark Wilson, and seeks to prepare students for work in crime laboratories following graduation.   All students in the program will receive hands-on training on equipment and instrumentation that is found in crime laboratories worldwide.  Additionally, our program boasts a highly qualified forensic faculty to provide you with excellent training in this exciting discipline.


Master’s Degree Programs in North Carolina

There are no Forensic Masters Programs in North Carolina.

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