Best Online Bachelor's in Crime Scene Investigation

Updated November 3, 2022

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What Colleges Have The Best CSI Programs?

Crime scene investigation requires a wide range of skills and specialized training. Our list of the best online bachelor's degrees in crime scene investigation explores the programs that are most likely to help students succeed.

Pursuing a career as a crime scene investigator can be lucrative and exciting. Sometimes called crime scene technicians or forensic investigators, these detectives specialize in crime scene investigation, responsible for identifying, collecting, and preserving physical evidence at crime scenes. Students can learn how to become a crime scene investigator through a bachelor's program.

Employers — especially federal agencies like the FBI — increasingly require crime scene investigators to hold a bachelor's degree. The best bachelor's degrees in criminal justice include coursework in crime scene evaluation, evidence collecting, and documenting crime scene investigations. Many professionals also have specialties in areas like fingerprints, DNA, or tire or footwear impressions.

Crime scene investigators enjoy steady job growth and the potential to earn a high salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual salary of more than $86,000 for detectives and criminal investigators in 2019. BLS also projects a 3% increase in employment for detectives and criminal investigators from 2018-2028.

The following ranking represents some of the nation's best online bachelor's in crime scene investigation programs.

Best Online Crime Scene Investigation Programs

Best Online Bachelor’s in Crime Scene Investigation Programs

#1 Best Online Bachelor’s in Crime Scene Investigation

Florida State University

  • Tallahassee, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

As a leader in online education, Florida State University supports 19,802 distance learners across 17 remote degree programs. Learners hoping to advance in the crime scene investigation field can enroll in the college's online bachelor's in criminology program. The flexible criminology program helps learners complete a college degree.

Enrollees complete industry-relevant classes throughout their studies, gaining broad and specific knowledge of the criminology field. This curriculum, which consists of foundational and advanced coursework, equips students with relevant skills needed to succeed in relevant careers. While enrolled, learners can customize their studies by choosing electives, minors, and degree concentrations.

After earning their degree, graduates often benefit from greater access to employment opportunities and higher earning potential. The median salary for graduates six years after bachelor's degree completion is $39,700, according to the college. The average undergraduate pays $12,568 yearly in tuition and fees after aid. Before applying, prospective students should connect with the department to learn more about admission requirements and application materials.

Florida State University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 19,802

Total Online Programs: 17

Admission Rate: 36%

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,640
Out-of-state
$19,084
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
36%
Students Enrolled
42,450
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Bachelor’s in Crime Scene Investigation

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Liberty University provides flexible study opportunities to distance learners across 161 degree programs. Online undergraduate students can benefit from studying in one of 30 online bachelor's degree programs. The BS in criminal justice and crime scene investigation prioritizes flexibility, making it an attractive option for working professionals and busy students. The crime scene investigation program provides flexibility through customizable study options and classes.

All students complete foundational and advanced coursework throughout their studies, amounting to 120 credits. Students take classes relevant to the crime scene investigation field, as well as completing general education requirements. Majors choose electives, minors, and concentrations to customize their course of study.

A bachelor's degree often connects graduates with numerous job opportunities and a higher earning potential. The college boasts a median salary of $35,800 for graduates six years after completing their studies. Prospective enrollees can meet with the criminal justice department directly to discuss admission requirements, application materials, and other relevant information.

Liberty University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 78,511

Total Online Programs: 161

Online Bachelor's Programs: 30

Admission Rate: 51%

Transfer Credits Accepted: Accepted

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Online Bachelor’s in Crime Scene Investigation

National University

  • La Jolla, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

National University, a private, nonprofit, four-year school in La Jolla, California, boasts a robust online learning community. Undergraduate students can choose from 40 online bachelor's programs. The BS in criminal justice administration prioritizes flexibility, making it an attractive option for working professionals and busy students. The criminal justice program supports flexible study for learners at a distance.

During the program, students complete foundational and advanced coursework relevant to the criminal justice field. The program also incorporates general education requirements that strengthen critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students can modify their degree by choosing electives, minors, and concentrations.

The benefits of a bachelor's degree are varied, from increased job opportunities to higher earning potential. The institution reports a median salary of $51,900 earned by graduates six years after completing their studies. To learn more about admission requirements and financial aid opportunities, prospective students should contact the department.

National University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 8,769

Total Online Programs: 98

Online Bachelor's Programs: 40

Admission Rate: 89%

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,320
Out-of-state
$13,320
Retention Rate
50%
Admission Rate
89%
Students Enrolled
16,670
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#4 Best Online Bachelor’s in Crime Scene Investigation

Columbia College

  • Columbia, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A leader in online education, Columbia College facilitates distance learning across 33 online degree programs. Of these online offerings, 23 provide an undergraduate-level education. Students looking for a criminal justice-adjacent career can pursue the bachelor's in criminal justice administration at their own pace. Students in the program can choose from full- or part-time enrollment.

Learners complete industry-relevant classes throughout their studies, gaining broad and specific knowledge of the criminal justice field. Enrollees also complete general education classes, for a well-rounded education. Students can customize their degree through electives, minors, and concentrations.

Graduates possessing a bachelor's degree often access more job opportunities and grow their earning potential over time. According to the institution, enrollees can earn a median salary of $36,300 six years after finishing their degree. Prospective enrollees can meet with the criminal justice department directly to discuss admission requirements, application materials, and other relevant information.

Columbia College at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 7,568

Total Online Programs: 33

Online Bachelor's Programs: 23

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,912
Out-of-state
$10,912
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
9,913
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
76% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Best Online Bachelor’s in Crime Scene Investigation

Salem University

  • Salem, WV
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A leader in online education, Salem University facilitates distance learning across 19 online degree programs. Of its online programs, seven offer an undergraduate-level education. Learners seeking competitive, customizable study relevant to the criminal justice field will find the school's online BA in criminal justice with a concentration in crime scene investigation to be an attractive option. The flexible program helps learners complete a college degree conveniently.

Throughout their coursework, students gain industry-relevant knowledge through general and advanced classes. Students complete classes relevant to the crime scene investigation field, as well as general education requirements. With help from their academic advisor, degree-seekers can modify their course load, choose electives, and declare minors and degree concentrations.

With a bachelor's degree, graduates often increase their job opportunities and earning potential. At the college, students can expect to earn a median salary of $29,500 six years after graduation. Prospective enrollees can learn more about the opportunities available at Salem University, including admission requirements and financial aid eligibility, by connecting with the criminal justice department.

Salem University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 960

Total Online Programs: 19

Online Bachelor's Programs: 7

Average Tuition
In-state
$16,500
Out-of-state
$16,500
Retention Rate
47%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
960
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Online Bachelor's in Crime Scene Investigation Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Top Criminal Justice Programs

What Is a Crime Scene Investigation Degree?

Students seeking a career as a crime scene investigator or forensic technician often seek out a BS in crime scene investigation or criminology, though many schools only offer crime scene investigation as a concentration within a criminal justice or law enforcement degree. These programs also help students develop soft skills in judgment, empathy, and perceptiveness.

Earning a bachelor's in crime scene investigation typically requires coursework in human anatomy, physics, criminology, forensic science, and crime scene photography. Students can augment the degree with a particular specialty through electives like fingerprint analysis, cyber forensics, or blood-spatter analysis.

After completing a bachelor's degree, many crime scene investigators undergo on-the-job training, which can include shadowing a detective or crime scene investigator on an open case.

What Should I Expect From a Bachelor's in Crime Scene Investigation Program?

Bachelor's degrees in crime scene investigation offer a unique combination of theoretical and technical skills. This often includes broad coursework in forensic science that trains students to apply best practices in collecting and preserving evidence. Below are a few example courses that a student in one of these programs might take.

Crime Scene Investigation Curriculum

Crime Scene Photography

A critical skill for aspiring crime scene investigators, crime scene photography courses vary by program. Some programs include basic photography skills in handling equipment, including understanding things like exposure and shutter speed, while others explore more technical aspects, like digital reflex single-lens camera systems, scales/markers, filters, and flash photography.

Forensic Science

A forensic science course examines scientific methods of processing physical evidence in order to solve a crime. Topics include identifying and isolating biological materials -- like blood, DNA, or hair -- and implementing practices commonly used in the field, like blood pattern analysis and trace evidence processing.

Criminal Law

This course provides students with an overview of crime and punishment, both as a concept and as enacted through the U.S. legal system. Students develop a thorough understanding of common crimes, criminal law terminology, and the burden of proof in criminal defense.

Crime Scene Investigation Careers

Students who pursue higher education and have experience in crime scene investigation can enter their choice of careers. While a bachelor's degree meets the minimum standard for entry-level crime scene investigator requirements, it also provides a foundation for other careers in forensic science or law enforcement.

The following careers are popular among graduates of crime scene investigation programs.

Criminal Investigators

Criminal investigators help solve criminal cases by gathering information and evidence from crime scenes, witnesses, suspects, and related parties. They commonly specialize in a particular type of crime, such as fraud, homicide, or white-collar crime. Many law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, require candidates to hold at least a bachelor's degree and undergo extensive on-the-job training.

Criminal investigators must complete police academy training and be sworn in as law enforcement agents to be eligible for promotion to this position. In addition to physical strength and stamina, candidates should demonstrate strength of character through traits like empathy, leadership, perceptiveness, and sound judgment.

Median Annual Salary

$83,170

Projected Growth Rate

2.5%

Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians collect and process physical evidence at crime scenes to support criminal investigations. They may work as criminalists or crime scene investigators -- focused on identifying and collecting evidence -- or they may work in a lab as a forensic chemist or forensic biologist. Forensic science technicians can also specialize in cyber crime, becoming digital forensics analysts or forensic computer examiners.

Forensic science technicians need at least a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related field, plus on-the-job experience. They must undergo supervised training in specialized lab procedures before they can operate independently, which often requires passing a proficiency exam for each specialty. The field also offers a variety of optional professional certifications.

Median Annual Salary

$59,150

Projected Growth Rate

14%

Police and Detectives

This occupation includes detectives and criminal investigators, sheriffs, and patrol officers, who are charged with protecting people and property. Whether working for municipal, state, or federal law enforcement agencies, they must routinely respond to emergency and nonemergency calls. However, police departments in the United States have faced backlash for corruption and abuse of power, and you should carefully consider your goals before pursuing this career.

Most police jobs require only a high school diploma, though detectives often need a bachelor's degree. Federal agencies like the FBI often require a college degree as well. Police officers must complete police academy training to qualify for entry-level jobs, and most detectives start their careers as police officers.

Median Annual Salary

$65,170

Projected Growth Rate

5%

Popular Questions About CSI Degrees?

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Bachelor's in Crime Scene Investigation Program?

Most bachelor's in crime scene investigation programs take four years to complete, though some schools offer accelerated completion times and flexible scheduling through online courses.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Crime Scene Investigation?

Graduates with a bachelor's in crime scene investigation qualify for jobs as crime scene investigators or criminal investigators within local, state, and federal law enforcement.

How Much Do You Make as a Crime Scene Investigator?

Detectives and criminal investigators earn a mean annual wage of $86,030. The lowest 10% earn an estimated annual wage of $44,860, while professionals in the 90th percentile earn an annual wage of $139,180.

Where Does a Crime Scene Investigator Work?

Local, federal, and state governments employ most crime scene investigators. However, some work for the U.S. Postal Service, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, or colleges and universities, as professors of crime scene investigation.

What Is a Bachelor's in Crime Scene Investigation?

A bachelor's in this concentration of criminal justice or law enforcement introduces students to the standard practices of and science behind crime scene investigation. Earning one of these degrees often meets requirements for employment as a crime scene investigator, although professionals may also undergo on-the-job training.

What Is the Difference Between a Crime Scene Investigator and Forensic Technician?

Crime scene investigators identify and collect evidence at a crime scene. Forensic technicians process that evidence in a lab or scientific facility.

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