Where to Study Criminal & Forensic Science
For those with a love of justice, choosing a major is easy: Criminal Justice and Forensic Science are both majors which would help them achieving exactly. If the majors seem obvious, however, the place to pursue them seems less so. The sheer number of colleges and universities which offer degrees in those two disciplines is enormous. In fact, there are more than 800 school in the United States which offer degrees in Criminal Justice and another 300 which offer degrees in Forensic Science!
Choosing the right school for you is no easy task, so we have prepared this article to help you make your big decision. We will look at important factors that should be considered as you make the decision on where to study Criminal Justice or Forensic Science.
Before deciding on where to study, it’s important to think about what you want to do upon graduation. Do you want to delve into mental health law, perhaps into corrections management, or maybe work in the courts or in the police force? With so many options, it’s important to think about your career so you can determine which of the many programs is best suited to prepare you for that first job. If you are not sure, as many students are not, see if you can shadow someone for the day, or perhaps do a short internship that will expose you to the various aspects of criminal justice and forensic science.
Look at Alumni & School Partnerships
Criminal justice has many ties to the public sector, including law enforcement, local, state, and federal governments, and even national security! As an international student, it may be more challenging to get in the door in the public sector in the US, but perhaps a private company or your government back home may be a more reliable option. Whatever your passion, check to see where their graduates have gone and if the school has any ties to companies in the field.
Geography is destiny, so make sure you pick a school that is located in the kind of place you want to study and will give you the maximum exposure to the field. Some programs, like that of John Jay College of Criminal Justice located in the heart of New York, gives students the opportunity to do an externship in a psychological setting under the supervision of a licensed mental professional. Check to see what opportunities are available in your program, and if you’ll have the chance to get involved in your new community. If you are thinking you’ll want to practice in the field after graduation, then be sure to consider if there are any state restrictions. Some states require certification before you can practice, especially important for those international students who are thinking about CPT or OPT.
Want to work in the US after graduation? Check out our Working in the USA section for more.
Criminal and Forensic Science
To further elaborate, many states require certain qualifying components before candidates are allowed to practice in the field. Be sure that you study in a place that will provide you with the credentials you need to work wherever it is you want to work. At the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, for example, many programs include modules which comply with New York State standards and equip students with the certifications necessary to hit the ground running.
Finding a good value is key. You will want to make sure that you can either afford the cost of your education or that your future earnings will easily cover the costs if you need to take out a student loan. Many schools also have financial aid options, so be sure to ask what’s available and if there is any additional paperwork you’ll need to submit to be considered. Just remember: there are many kinds of financial aid available and it never hurts to apply, and decide later.
Not every school has the same application process, so be sure to check with each program to make sure you fulfill their requirements. There is nothing like waiting to hear back, and finding out you are missing information! Many schools have additional requirements for international students, such as TOEFL scores, so be sure to confirm if there are any additional requirements.
While there may be a lot of criminal justice and forensic science schools out there, if you want to catch the rising tide of employment opportunity for both fields make sure you carefully consider the possibilities and determine which school offers the best program to fit your unique needs. Once you do, you will be well on your way to an exciting new career!