Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Programs

College Degree Finder

Wildly successful shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000 TV Series) and a CSI: NY (2004 TV Series) have glamormized criminal investigation and forensic work, but what is shown on TV is sometimes far removed from reality. One this is certain however, crime scene investigation is one of most exciting, cutting-edge criminal justice careers. Crime scene investigators and forensic technicians are puzzle solvers–crime puzzle solvers. They must take trace evidence and limited information and reconstruct how crimes occur. Specifically, they:

  • Secure a crime scene to ensure evidence isn’t contaminated
  • Collect, analyze and classify evidence left at the crime scene
  • Store evidence and properly preserve it for use in court
  • Document all their finds
  • Develop theories based on evidence and analysis as to how a crime occurred
  • Prepare detailed, yet easy to understand, reports outlining their analysis
  • Provide expert testimony to juries and prosecutors

Many CSI professional are specialists–focusing in ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, DNA analysis, etc. Crime scene investigators and forensic technicians can earning anywhere from $48,000 to $80,000 a year depending on experience and education.

Job Outlook and Opportunities for Crime Scene Investigators

According to a recent report provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for qualified crime scene investigators and forensic science technicians will grow by more than 30% over the next decade–which represents approximately 4,000 new crime scene investors nationwide. The same report indicates that professionals with work experience and a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study will have the best employment opportunities. While a certificate or associate’s degree will qualify students for entry-level positions, a bachelor’s degree is recommended. Many employers are now seeking professionals with a master’s degree and/or Ph.D. in forensic science or related discipline.

Education and Training

Given the growing demand for qualified CSI and forensic professionals, more and more colleges now offer professional certificates, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and even master’s degrees in crime scene investigation and/or forensic science. Courses students might expect to take in one of these programs include biology, criminology, toxicology, clinical lab science, finger printing and ballistics, among others. Most certificate programs take one year to complete. An associate’s degree can be completed in two years. A bachelor’s degree will require four-year of full-time study. While a master’s degree isn’t necessary for entry-level positions, its highly useful if you want to seek supervisory and administration positions. Earning a master’s degree will also increase your earning potential–especially if you end up working for the federal government.

Below you’ll find a national database of colleges and universities offering online and campus-based degrees, certificates and programs in crime scene investigations and forensics.

Crime Scene Investgation Degrees and Certificates


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