Online Master’s in Forensic Science Degree

Master of Science in Forensic Science

Offered By: College of Natural Sciences

Master’s in Forensic Science Program Overview

The Master’s in Forensic Science degree from Grand Canyon University caters to a diverse range of individuals interested in pursuing opportunities in forensic science, crime scene processing, law enforcement and medicolegal fields.

This degree program is offered online and studies advanced concepts 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.

Forensic Science Senior Capstone
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Earning a forensic science online degree allows you to complete your coursework and assignments from a remote location that has an internet connection. This modality can provide you with the convenience and flexibility of online courses that may allow you to pursue your higher education goals without disrupting your busy schedule.

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

Throughout the forensic science master’s program, you will have the opportunity to cultivate a skill set tailored for a career in the field of forensic science. The forensic science curriculum at GCU works with hands-on, laboratory activities and equipment to prepare you for the analysis of various forms of forensic evidence. The coursework in this master’s program will teach you 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 forensic reports
  • 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 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, fill out the form on this page to speak with a university counselor.

This 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.


Estimated job growth for forensic science technicians expected from 2022 to 20321

Career Opportunities for Graduates With an MS in Forensic Science

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers in the field of forensic science are looking to hire candidates who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree.1 By earning your MS in Forensic Science degree at GCU, you can work toward enhancing your qualifications for roles as a forensic science technician while developing valuable skills in the forensic science field.

By earning your MS in Forensic Science degree at GCU, you may be prepared to seek employment opportunities that can allow you to potentially position yourself 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. Please note that certain forensic science labs and specialties may require extra undergraduate coursework for employment based on their accreditation standards.

Graduates may have the opportunity to find employment in a variety of settings, including:

  • Government crime labs
  • Private forensic analysis firms
  • Law enforcement agencies

Online Master’s in Forensic Science FAQs

When deciding to advance your skills 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 your 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. You 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. A significant number of individuals aspiring to become forensic science technicians hold a bachelor's degree in natural sciences and pursue a master's degree in forensic science.1 A master's degree can provide opportunities for specialized study and practical research opportunities.

The need 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 increasing the need for skilled professionals in this field.2 In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for forensic science technicians to increase by about 13% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than average, accounting for an estimated increase of 2,300 jobs in the field.3

The duration of this advanced forensic science degree can vary depending on factors such as the specific program requirements, the course load and whether or not you apply transfer credits. Transfer credits may impact the time needed to complete your degree. For precise information about the duration of a master's degree in forensic science, fill out the form on this page to speak to a university counselor.

Depending on your individual goals and the job market in your area, a master’s in forensic science may be worth your investment. Most programs can provide students with a comprehensive education in the scientific principles and techniques used in forensic analysis, preparing them with a solid foundation.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022, Sept. 8). Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Forensic Science Technician. Retrieved on July 21, 2022.

2 National Academy of Science (n.d.). Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward. Retrieved on May 22, 2023.

3 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Forensic Science Technician, retrieved on Nov. 2, 2023.

Total Credits: 36
Online: 8 weeks
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Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
Online: $590 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

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 Engineering and Technology and the College of Natural Sciences. 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.