Online Master’s in Forensic Science Degree

Master of Science in Forensic Science

Offered By: College of Science, Engineering, & Technology


Job growth for forensic science technicians to grow from 2021 to 20311

Master’s in Forensic Science Program Overview

The Master’s in Forensic Science degree from Grand Canyon University (GCU) is designed for both professionals looking to advance their careers in forensic science and those aiming to begin working in forensic science, crime scene processing, law enforcement, medicolegal and criminal professions.

This fully online master’s in forensic science degree program offers an advanced study in forensic science, focused on building a solid foundation of practical skills and theoretical knowledge. The MS in Forensic Science could be the next step you need to move your career toward your goals.

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Earning a master's in forensic science online degree allows you to complete your coursework and assignments from a remote location. GCU’s online forensic science master’s program provides you with the convenience and flexibility of online courses that let you pursue your higher education goals without disrupting your busy schedule.

Skills You’ll Learn From This Master’s in Forensic Science Degree

Throughout the forensic science master’s program, you will develop the advanced skill set necessary for work in the field of forensic science. GCU’s unique forensic science curriculum works with hands-on, in-home laboratory activities and equipment to prepare graduates for the analysis of various forms of forensic evidence. The coursework in this master’s program will allow you to become knowledgeable across a vast array of forensic science competencies, including: 

  • Microscopic analysis of hairs, fibers and cells
  • Integrity and ethical principles in forensic science
  • Effective courtroom testimony
  • Laboratory quality management
  • Chain of custody and authoring
  • Applied forensic statistical analysis
  • Instrumental analysis including microscopy, chromatography and spectroscopy
  • Forensic toxicology
  • Impression evidence comparison
  • Serology, DNA and controlled substance analysis

Admission to the online forensic science master’s program at GCU requires a bachelor's degree in forensic science (or another natural, physical or biomedical science) or a bachelor's degree in any field, including coursework in chemistry, organic chemistry, statistics and advanced biology. If you have questions or would like more information on program admission, reach out to a GCU counselor today.

GCU's master’s in forensic science program also offers graduates an opportunity to study forensic science from the unique Christian worldview. Explore answers to forensic science's ethical and moral questions from a variety of different viewpoints and perspectives, including a biblical one.

Career Opportunities for Graduates With an MS in Forensic Science

To increase your chances of finding employment after graduation, it’s important to gain practical experience through internships or other hands-on learning opportunities during your program. Networking with professionals in the field and being proactive in your job search will help you seek out opportunities through professional organizations or career services.

Employers in the field of forensic science are looking to hire qualified candidates who have graduated from high-quality, accredited programs. GCU has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1968 and prepares professionals for the workforce with advanced skills and capabilities.

By earning your MS in Forensic Science degree at GCU, you may be prepared to elevate your career as a forensic science technician.

The job market for individuals with a master's degree in forensic science can vary depending on a number of factors, including current job market conditions, competition for jobs and specific region or industry you are interested in. Graduates are prepared to find employment in a variety of settings, including government crime labs, private forensic analysis firms and law enforcement agencies.

Graduates of this forensic science degree may also pursue additional skills and specializations in the following:

  • Bloodstain pattern analysis
  • Forensic pathology
  • Medical examination
  • Analytical chemistry

Online Master’s in Forensic Science FAQs

When deciding to advance your skill set with a master’s degree in the field of forensic science, we understand this is a big commitment. We’ve compiled a list of your most frequently asked questions to assist in your decision.

The difficulty level of an online forensic science master’s program can vary depending on several factors, including a student's prior educational background, level of dedication and study habits. However, the curriculum and advanced topics taught in an MS in Forensic Science degree is considered to be a challenging program overall due to the nature of crime scene investigations, laboratory analysis and forensic techniques. Students will need to have a strong foundation in natural sciences, such as biology and chemistry to prepare for the academic rigor of the program.

Students interested in forensic science careers can pursue bachelor’s degrees that focus on forensic science, criminal justice or legal studies. For those who wish to pursue more advanced positions in the forensic science field, a master's degree or higher may be required. A master's degree can provide opportunities for specialized study and research, which can lead to more advanced and higher-paying positions.

The demand for forensic science master’s program graduates is expected to continue to grow in the coming years, as advances in technology and an increasing focus on forensic evidence in the legal system are driving demand for skilled professionals in this field. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for forensic science technicians to increase by about 11% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than average, accounting for an estimated increase of 2,000 jobs in the field.1

The master’s in forensic science online degree at GCU requires a total of 36 credits for completion. Most of the MS in Forensic Science classes are eight weeks in length. Fill out the form on this page to speak to an admissions counselor to better understand how long it takes to complete your degree.

Depending on your individual goals and the job market in your area, a master’s in forensic science is well worth your investment. Most master’s in forensic science programs provide students with a comprehensive education in the scientific principles and techniques used in forensic analysis, preparing you with a solid foundation in the legal and ethical aspects of the field.

1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Forensic Science Technicians, retrieved on July 5, 2022.

Total Credits: 36
Online: 8 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
Online: $575 per credit [More Info]

Course List

36 credits
Degree Requirements:
36 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course is designed to prepare students for the graduate learning experience at Grand Canyon University. Students have opportunities to develop and strengthen the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology. Emphasis is placed on utilizing the tools for graduate success.

Course Description

This course will cover the Code of Ethics statements published by major forensic science organizations. The role quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) principles play in maintaining high ethical principles is discussed. Issues involving failure to maintain QA/QC and resulting ethical dilemmas will also be addressed. Accreditation and its place within the crime laboratory is included to provide students with a well-rounded understanding of the importance of maintaining quality within the laboratory.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the various procedures used to document, collect, package, and preserve evidence found at crime scenes. The body as it pertains to medicolegal death investigation with an examination of the guidelines for death scene investigations is also discussed. Concepts such as maintaining chain of custody, ethical considerations, and report writing are also covered. Prerequisite: FOR-505.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the use of statistics within various forensic disciplines. Analytical sampling, basic statistical analyses, and uncertainty measurements are covered with respect to comparative disciplines. Statistics as applied to the analysis of DNA evidence, including probability of inclusion, likelihood ratio, and random match probability are also covered. The impact of statistics on the valuation of evidence is included.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to microscopy. Concepts such as compound, comparison, and scanning electron microscopy are covered. The course also covers instruments commonly used in the analysis of forensic evidence. Various chromatography, spectroscopy, and detection methods are covered in relation to the forensic evidence for which they are used. Prerequisite: FOR-515.

Course Description

In this course serological testing of blood, semen, and saliva is introduced through a discussion of various presumptive and confirmatory chemical tests. DNA profiling of various samples types is covered, with a focus on the processes used to obtain a DNA profile: extraction, quantification, amplification, and electrophoresis. The comparison of DNA profiles, report writing, and DNA mixture interpretation are also discussed. Prerequisites: FOR-515 and FOR-525 and FOR-530.

Course Description

In this course students will learn various laboratory methods and procedures for the detection of drugs/controlled substances from both physical specimens and bodily fluids (blood and urine). Instrumental and chemical techniques used to separate, detect and quantitate controlled substances are discussed. The creation and detection of designer drugs is also covered. Prerequisite: FOR-515.

Course Description

This course is dedicated to forensic comparative methods used in pattern-based evidence analysis. Forensic disciplines addressed include firearms and toolmark analysis, fingerprint comparisons, and shoe print and tire tread evidence. Prerequisites: FOR-515 and FOR-525 and FOR-530.

Course Description

This course focuses on the ways in which science is used by the criminal justice system and how to effectively present evidence in court. The impact of landmark court cases, including the Daubert and Frye decisions, are addressed in relation to expert witness testimony and the admissibility of scientific evidence. The role of the forensic scientist in relation to the Federal Rules of Evidence is also addressed. Students also learn how to be an effective expert witness, including how to prepare for testimony, how to properly convey scientific technology in layman’s terms, and how to be perceived as a credible witness. Prerequisite: FOR-530, FOR-540, FOR-560, FOR-575.

Course Description

This course discusses various topics that students are likely to encounter as working forensic scientists. The ways in which the public views forensic science is addressed, with a focus on the CSI Effect and the publication of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Report. Ways in which to address conflicting results from multiple experts is discussed. Prerequisite: FOR-530, FOR-540, FOR-560, FOR-575.


GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.

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